Preventing punctures

If you ride a bike, you’ll almost certainly get a puncture at some point (no pun intended).  Just a reality of cycling I guess but there are things you can do to minimise this downer (is that another pun?).

Preparation

Buy puncture resistant tyres.  There are quite a few around and the best so far for us are the Gatorskins by Continental.  Better than Pasela Panaracer Tourguards, as shown in the above photograph.

  • The above photograph is me prising a thorn out of a Pasela Panaracer Tourguard and these aren’t too bad but can be improved.  In my view the extra cost is, without doubt, definitely worth it.
  • Before you fit the tyres, make sure the rim tape is in good order and protecting the inner tube against any sharp spokes etc.
  • When you fit the tyres, have a little talcum powder and spread this onto the inner tube.  You only need a little bit for the inner tube to be less sticky, less grippy and easier for the tyre to pop over the rim into place.  Don’t use a tyre lever to prise the tyre onto the rim.  If you do, the chances are you’ll puncture the inner tube before you have even pumped it up.
  • Keep the tyres pumped up to the stated pressure, or at least, close to it.  This means MTB tyres at 40 – 60psi and road tyres around 100psi, less for a hybrid.  By keeping the tyres at their optimum pressure, there is less scope for bits of grit or thorns getting pressed into the tread.  More likely it will be flicked away.
  • As you inflate the tyre, make sure it is completely seated and not bulging as this could cause it to blow off the rim.  Believe me, it is such a loud bang, you’ll think you’ve just been shot.

On the road

  • Be careful of debris on the road: glass, thorns, bits of sharp grit etc.  This means choosing the right line on the road to miss anything.  Yes I know, easier said than done sometimes.  If a farmer has been cutting hedges, use a different road if possible over the next few days.
  • You are more likely to pick up a puncture if the roads are wet, presumably debris sticks to the tyre more easily but this is one of the mysteries in the world of cycling
  • Check the tyres from time to time, you might be able to prise out a thorn before it causes any problems.
  • When riding, avoid curbs, potholes or anything that could cause the tyre/tube to puncture by being pinched against the rim
  • You could consider other lines of defense such as investing in a kevlar layer in between the tube and the tyre.  I have used these but I’m not convinced they work very well.  They also add a little extra weight..  Talking of adding extra weight you can get some ‘orrible slime to squirt inside the tube as a self sealing measure.


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