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Four things that help prevent flat bicycle tyres on tour

Alia Parker's picture
Mr Tuffys bicycle tyre liners to prevent flat tyres.

Cycle travelling can really put your tyres through the ringer and suffering regular flat tyres is not fun. The bad news is you can't prevent flats forever, especially on epic tours on rough, rocky thorny outback roads. The good news is you can reduce them. Here are four things that we've found that will help you spend more time pedalling and less time on the side of the road.

 

1. Mr Tuffy Kevlar Tyre Liners

I love this stuff. Kevlar is what bulletproof vests are made of and when used as a tyre liner, it can make a huge difference to the frequency of flat tyres by protecting the tube from sharps that may poke through the tire. The liners, such as the leading Mr Tuffy brand, can be bought in different widths and the length can be cut down to size. I've used Mr Tuffys while mountain bike touring and racked up 4,500km before my first flat. Kevlar liners are superior to other types of tyre lines, such as slime liners, and can last a lot longer. One type of flat kevlar can't prevent is a pinch flat, so always run your fingers around the tyre bead (the stiff edge of the tyre that holds it into the wheel's rim) when you're fitting a new tube to make sure the tube doesn't get pinched between the tyre and the rim. Also make sure the tyre pressure doesn't drop too low because a tyre with insufficient air can also cause a pinch flat.
 

Slime Tubes, Cycle Traveller2. Slime tubes

Slime makes self-sealing bicycle 'smart tubes' that are full of green slime that blocks and seals small punctures caused by sharp objects. The tubes are available in various sizes in both presta and schrader valves. Slime tubes are really only needed in places where there are very sharp thorns or spiky plants. Some thorns, like goats heads, are known to even pierce kevlar. In these circumstances, slime tubes are fantastic and will allow you to go much further without getting a flat than you would without them. However, slime tubes can be a little annoying if you're travelling on planes and need to let the air out of your tyres!
 

3. Good tyres

Cheap tyres may wear quickly, making it easier for sharp objects to penetrate the rubber. The tyres may also be more susceptible to splitting or tearing along the bead. A good quality tyre, especially one designed for the right terrain you'll be riding on, will get you much further down the road. Some touring tyres come with kevlar built into them or specially designed puncture protection. If you're mainly on road, one of the leaders in the touring tyre market is the Schwalbe Marathon Mondial (the successor of the Marathon XR), which is an exceptional tyre. If using panniers, a wider tyre like the Marathon Mondial is perfect for carrying the added weight and this will help prevent pinch flats. If using a trailer, you can get away with thinner road-bike tyres because there is less weight over the back wheel. If hitting the dirt, one of the most popular tried and tested tyres is the WTB Veloraptor, however, there are many other great tyres on the market. If you're unsure, ask your local bicycle store for advice.
 

4. Rim tape

Your bike wheel would have come with rim tape on it when you purchased the bike, however, rim tape will likely need to be changed overtime, especially if you ride frequently. Rim tape prevents the inner tube from expanding into the spoke holes and and stops the spoke nipples rubbing on the tube. Whenever you're changing a tube, run your fingers around the inside of the rim to make sure there is no grit stuck inside that may rub on the tube. Also check that the spoke nipples haven't broken through the tape. If you need to replace the rim tape, thoroughly remove the old tape, clean the rim and replace it with purpose-made tape that is the right width for the rim. If it's an emergency, a few layers of electrical tape will do the trick.
 
Image: 1. Mr Tuffy Tyre Liners. 2. Slime tubes.

Comments

Drivers don’t see cyclists because when they look they are looking for other motorists.
1.5 metres is the passing distance for a car around a cyclist. It is not adhered to.
Road markings for cyclists are ignored by most road users. Unless the cyclist is turning left the should not be on the inside and should never be on the inside of a large vehicle at junctions. I’ve come off my bike a few times with cars turning left and not indicating. we need to separate cyclists and motorists as having the two on the same infrastructure is evidently quite dangerous. They will get authentic information from this site. http://empireroadbikes.com/

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