Deflated tyre is a common and a frustrating occurrence for many cyclists. But is it possible to prevent it? In this article we are going to see how to stop bike wheel getting flat and discuss different puncture protection options.
– Penetration in the tyre. Sharp debris can pass through the tyre and innertube causing the air to escape.
– Low pressure. If the innertube has too little air then when the wheel hits an unexpected obstacle such as a curb or a rock the tube gets trapped between the rim and the tyre and can cause a puncture. This type of puncture called a snake bite as it usually has two little holes next to each other.
– Faulty or lack of rim tape. If the rim tape hardens over time then the edge becomes sharp and can cut the tube. If the rim tape is not fitted correctly or it is missing then the sharp edges of the spoke holes in the rim can cause the puncture.
– Too flexible tyre. Some mountain bike tyres with very thin side walls can flex significantly when cornering and pull the innertube with them. As the rubber surrounding the valve is thicker than the rest of the tube it splits rather than flexing with the tyre. This causes the hole near the valve.
– Faulty valve. Not really a puncture issue but it can cause your tyre to get flat.
Finding the reason of a deflated tyre
If you are getting constant punctures then first analyse what is causing the tyre to be flat. Check your innertube and locate the hole.
If the hole is at the outside of the tube or near the valve then check the rim tape.
In this example the rim tape doesn’t cover the spoke holes or the valve. Reposition it.
If you see that it’s no longer flexible, it’s damaged or it’s missing then fit the new one.
Types of rim tapes:
- Plastic. This type of rim tape comes as one piece and is robust. however it hardens over time and loses its flexibility.
- Rubber. Also comes as one piece and it is easy to fit as it is stretchy. However, it deteriorates over time and breaks leaving the innertube exposed.
- Fibre. This comes as an adhesive cloth tape. It fully covers the well of the rim and it doesn’t slide out of place. However it is fiddly to fit and harder to move once installed.
If the hole is at the outside or the side of the tube then check the tyre for any sharp debris. Put your hand inside the tyre and carefully move it to see if you can feel any sharp objects. Be careful not to cut yourself.
Remove the debris from the tyre.
If you can’t feel anything then visually check the inside of the tyre for any damage to the internal fibres. It might be that the sharp debris is small enough to sit in the tyre without being seen but can penetrate the tube when pressure is exerted.
If you spot any damage check the outside of the tyre and remove the sharp object.
Also check the wear of your tyre. You will need to replace it with a new one if the tread is worn or there are any big cuts
Solving a deflated tyre problem with puncture resistant tyres
There are many tyres on the market with varying levels of puncture protection.
They are usually lined with a strong puncture resistant compound.
The thicker the lining the more protection is offered.
However they are more expensive then standard tyres and harder to fit. They are also heavier which may be disadvantageous for competitive riders.
Puncture resistant innertubes.
Some innertubes can also increase the level of puncture protection.
Self sealing innertubes. These tubes are filled with a special liquid that can seal small holes on the tread of the tyre. However, the liquid can block the valve and it can leak from a larger hole in the tube causing a lot of mess.
Puncture resistant tubes. The layer of the rubber that lies against the tyre is much thicker than the standard tube making it harder for smaller sharp debris to penetrate.
However because of its thickness it stretches less and may cause the tube to split at its weakest point, the seam.
To further protect your tube from punctures you can use a tyre liner. This is made usually from a plastic material and is designed to sit between the tyre and the innertube creating a barrier.
This is a fairly cheap option however, It can be difficult to fit correctly and it only protects the area it covers.
If you’re not sure how to replace the tyre and the tube check our article here.
Once you replace the tyre don’t forget to pump it up to the correct pressure to avoid pinch punctures. Our article here will guide you through the process.
Tubeless system – a remedy for a deflated tyre?
This option offers a significant reduction in punctures compared to a tyre with an innertube. As there is no tube you pump the air directly into the tyre
and a special fluid seals most of the small holes caused by sharp debris.
You can run the tyre at a low pressure without causing a pinch puncture.
However, tubeless systems are difficult to install and not all the wheels are compatible. Also, you will have to replace the fluid from time to time as after a while it dries to a rubber film.
Solid tyres or inserts – No more deflated tyre
Another alternative are solid tyres and solid tyre inserts.
Their biggest advantage is that they offer full puncture protection as there is no air to escape.
However, they are not pneumatic and therefore have a higher rolling resistance, are not as comfortable to ride and are really difficult to install.
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