WHY DO I KEEP GETTING FLATS?
Over here at Cycle Portland, we fix a lot of flats! We have been hearing a good deal of confusion and frustration about frequent and repeat flat tires. Do you find yourself dealing with flat tires or slow leaks twice a month or more? Mike decided to give the issue a go for this edition of Mike’s Bike Advice to clarify why you are getting flat tires and how to prevent them in the future. If you have further questions, unusual issues or want to get a flat fixed for $13 (tube and labor), come on in to Cycle Portland and ask for Mike.
So without further ado, here are some reasons why you are getting flats:
TIRES ARE WORN, OLD, NEED REPLACING – Flats are one sign your tires no longer protect your tubes from the outside world. Regularly inspect your tires for wear (thinness, gouges, bald spots) in the tread, wear or cracking of sidewalls and sharp objects stuck in tires.
PUNCTURE PATCHED WRONG OR SHARP OBJECT NOT REMOVED – If you like to patch your tubes make sure that you are properly placing, gluing and drying the patch. Also, make sure to inspect the corresponding spot on the tire once you find the hole in the tube. This will help you find what caused the puncture so you can remove the sharp object from the tire. Always inspect the inside of the tire and wash or wipe all debris out.
WRONG TIRES FOR TYPE OF RIDING – Some types of road/racing/cross tires are not suited to commuting through the city. The lightweight, “sticky” nature of speedy slick and cross tires means they are much worse at avoiding pieces of glass or metal. Come by Cycle Portland to hear our pick for best puncture protection and long wearing tires.
RIDING AT TOO LOW PRESSURE (PSI) – Riding at too low of a pressure can cause pinch flats in the tube in addition to potentially damaging your rim. Make sure to check your PSI before heading out the door to avoid rim strikes and snakebites in your tubes. Proper tire pressure for road bikes is generally in the 80 – 120 PSI range, Mountain bikes run at 30 – 65 PSI and city bikes are generally best at 50 – 80 PSI.
TUBE IS PINCHED FROM BEING IMPROPERLY INSTALLED – Do you find you get flats just after replacing a tube? The problem might be with your tools or technique for installing the tube and remounting the tire. When putting a new tube in, make sure the tube in completely inside the tire and that the tire is not pinching any of the tube before inflating.
RIM STRIP IS OFF OR IN BAD SHAPE – While changing your tube, take a good look at the strip of fabric tape that protects the tube from the spoke holes in your rim. If the strip is torn, pushed to the side or frayed, the pressure of riding the bike can wear or puncture your tube.
VALVE STEM BROKEN – Both Schrader and Presta stems can break away from the tube if the stems are rocked back and forth trying to attach a pump or due to tube slip at low pressure. Presta valve cores also have a tendency to bend when attaching a pump.
WRONG SIZE TUBE – Make sure the size of your tube matches the size of your tire! Running a tube that is too big for your tire leads to folded tubes and friction. Running a tube that is to small creates space for the tube to shift, which can cause pinch flats and broken valve stems.
BRAKES RUBBING ON SIDEWALL – When adjusting rim brake pads always check that they will not be rubbing on sidewall. This creates a thin spot in the tire sidewall that can unexpectedly cause a blow out.
RIDING AT TOO HIGH PSI – Conversely, do not exceed the recommended PSI for your tires. This will cause your tubes to blowout.
AVOID DEBRIS – And always remember to avoid riding though debris, leaves and deep puddles. It’s always a good idea to avoid riding through anything where you don’t have visibility. Also, don’t ride near the curb as all the debris from the road collects there. Ride defensively and take the car lane or bike lane so you are not forced to ride in the road grit.
Fixing flats is easy and quick once you get the hang of it. At the shop we have all the tools you need and spare tubes. A basic kit to always keep on your bike includes tire levers, spare tube or patch kit and hand pump. If you don’t have quick release skewers you can also carry an Alan Key set and/or a 15mm wrench.
At Cycle Portland you can get your flat fixed in a jiffy for just $13 boner dogs! No appointment ever required for service. Drop your bike off anytime; we are open 9am – 6pm everyday!
Here is what Sheldon Brown has to say about getting, preventing and fixing flats: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/flats.html