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7 WAYS TO AVOID THE DREADED FLAT TIRE DEMON


MXEditor

Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”

 

When trying to enjoy our favorite pastime, Murphy’s Law comes into play …and there are many problems that can rear their ugly head, and none are more unwelcome than the dreaded flat tire. Not only can tire problems end your day of riding quickly, but changing tires and tubes is among the most frustrating (and time-consuming) tasks we can think of.

 

In the ISDE racing, riders must observe strict rules and time allowances for changing tires and do them with no outside assistance. Watching the ISDE racers change tires proves that practice makes perfect and there’s both a correct and efficient way to do it.

 

In this article, we’ll look at ways to avoid flat tires via good preparation and a few products that you can use to save your day when the dreaded flat tire demon strikes.

 

Number 1: CHECK YOUR TIRE PRESSURE

 

One of the biggest causes of flat tires is under and over-inflation. When tires are under-inflated, the tire, rim and especially the tube become much more vulnerable and the resulting tube movement can cause valve stem damage, causing a flat.

 

Over-inflated tires can lead to an increased load on sidewalls, more exposed surface area as well as contributing to shorter tire and tube life in general. Neither situation is optimal and not only lead to flat tires, but also unsafe handling characteristics.

 

Checking tire pressures should be performed prior to every ride without fail...this is easy to forget but important. Always use a low pressure gauge as outlined later in this article. Tires that show problems in your garage certainly aren’t going to get any better after you load them in the truck.

 

What tire pressures should you run? No single answer to this question, but you can find tons of discussion this HERE.

 


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Motion Pro Professional Low Pressure Tire Gauge

 



 

Number 2: INSTALL TUBES WITH CARE AND PATIENCE

 

Many times when the dreaded flat demon strikes when you are within distance of your truck or trailer, the opportunity to fix it presents itself.

 

Relax…Breathe. I’ve seen many riders and racers rush through the tire changing procedure only to find out they’ve punctured the tube during the process and ruin the only spare they’ve brought.

 

A few tips: make sure the surfaces are clean and free of dirt, inflate the tube slightly before insertion, check for debris around valve stem, make sure surfaces have baby powder applied, be extra careful around the rim lock/stem and most of all, take your time. We’ve also found that the factory supplied rim strap is fairly ineffective so we also use a thin strip of duct tape on the rim surface cut precisely to fit in the rim groove against the spokes.

 

The most important thing is to treat the tube with care and be patient when installing it, because once you’re even slightly nicked the tube, you’ll have to start all over again.

 


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Treat these with care!



 


Number 3: DON’T IGNORE THOSE PESKY RIM LOCKS

 

Rim locks and bead locks are strange little items that only off-road motorcyclists know about…because street bikes and scooters don’t have them. Even though they’re a pain in the butt, rim locks serve a very important purpose…to keep the tire from spinning on the rim under acceleration and preventing the tire from coming off if the tube is flat.

 

When rim locks fail to stay in place, they allow both the tire and tube to spin. This places the valve stem in great jeopardy and a few inches of movement will actually shear the valve stem right off the tube, resulting in a catastrophic failure and a non-repairable tube.

 

There are better alternatives to the cheap factory supplied rim lock setup such as the LiteLock from Motion Pro - a lightweight plastic rim lock that features a one piece molded design made from special high-strength nylon composite and a beveled washer that are 10 to 20 percent stronger than cast aluminum rim locks and only half the weight.

 


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Motion Pro LiteLoc Rim Locks



 


Number 4: DON’T USE A CHEAP OR WRONG SIZED TUBE

 

As our sport isn’t cheap, sometimes a bit of penny pinching can occur in the wrong place…like buying tubes.

 

If you walk into your local motorcycle dealer and ask for a common 110/90x19 tube, you may have a myriad of products presented…everything from the standard $18.99 BikeMaster unit to the $44 ultra heavy duty MSR alternative. We’ve used both types and found the MSR heavy duty tubes to be very resistant to punctures and are worth every penny.

 

Standard tubes are also made with street bikes and overall cost in mind and are very thin, while most of the heavy duty options such as MSR, Bridgestone, Dunlop, etc. are usually 2.5mm or thicker so look for this measurement as your benchmark when buying heavy duty tubes. Look for a box marked similar to this one:

 


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Look for the words "Heavy Duty" and "Puncture Resistant" on the box.



 


Number 5: GET THE RIGHT TOOLS FOR THE JOB

 

Changing off-road tires is difficult and you can use all the help I can get. There are many products that address this problem and can make this job a lot easier. Here are some of my favorites:

 

Motorsport Products Tire Changer with Bead Breaker: Forget the old 5 gallon bucket…this portable tire changing stand provides a compact answer to both holding the tire and has an integral bead breaker to help with the hardest part of the job.

 

Motion Pro T-6 Combo Lever Set: This tire iron set has everything you need, like compact size, a 32mm hex on the lever end, and on the other a combination 10/12mm for rim lock nuts and a 27/22mm adapter included in the kit to tighten and loosen 22 and 27mm axle nuts, in addition to the 32mm size.

 

Motion Pro Professional Tire Pressure Gauge: When filling tires it’s easy to be off by a few pounds and this is crucial to get correct. I used to use a cheap low pressure gauge but now I use this low pressure gauge. With low accurate low pressure reading and a handy bleeder valve, I feel there is no better tool for this job.

 


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Motorsport Products Tire Changer with Bead Breaker



 


NUMBER 6: BRING YOUR SPARES

 

Our crew always brings tons of fuel, food, brap mix, spark plugs and assorted sundries, but no one seems to have the right sized tube when we need it. It’s up to you to be like a Boy Scout and “Be Prepared” when it comes to tire repairs.

 

Changing tires while at the track or favorite riding area certainly isn’t as easy as it is in the garage and may take even more time and patience, but once it’s done the fun can resume.

 

So don’t forget to pack all the tools listed above and also a manual tire pump, duct tape, baby powder, soapy water in a spray bottle, gloves to avoid the scraped knuckles and a good friend to help you.

 


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Bring all your tire gear and even your manual...It may prove invaluable.



 


Number 7: AVOIDING THIS PROBLEM UP FRONT

 

One of the ways to avoid repairing flat tires is to prevent them from occurring in the first place and in terms of technology, the standard tire/tube/rim lock setup is growing old quickly…alternatives are available.

 

One such alternative to the heavy-duty tube is to replace it with a tire mousse designed for Michelin off-road tires, as Michelin is the inventor of the “Bib-Mousse” product. A bib mousse is a foam insert that fills the tire cavity with a semi-solid object (molded foam) that is not susceptible to punctures in any way.

 

Bib-mousse inserts are a sure way to avoid flat tires, but they come with a hefty price tag (around $125) and are notoriously difficult to install, but offer the ultimate in off-road protection against the dreaded flat tire demon.

 

Another very innovative tire technology that has gained popularity is the TUbliss tire system. TUbliss states “TUbliss replaces conventional inner tubes with a small red 100 psi insert that creates two different pressure zones inside the tire itself. This enables an incredible 100 PSI of rim protection, increased tire stability and eliminates pinch flats. In turn, this allows you to run very low tire pressure for massive gains in traction and a much plusher ride.” Although a bit complicated to understand and install at first, many riders we spoke to highly recommend it.

 


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TUbliss Cutaway Diagram



 


CONCLUSION

 

In conclusion, getting flat tires is a part of off-road riding, are hard to prevent and can ruin a whole day of riding or racing before it even begins. Being prepared in advance can dramatically reduce the risk of flat tires, but no amount of prep can avoid them completely…so be ready for them!

 

If you utilize the tools and techniques outlined above, you’ll be able to cut down on the frequency of flat tires as well as being able to get back up and riding in the shortest possible timeframe.

 

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! :prof:

 

How are you minimizing flats? What are you super-secret, home-brew techniques? Please share them in the comments section below. We'd love to hear from you!



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Been running nuetech tubliss for about 6 years now. Absolutely love them. They are one of the first things I put on my bike when it comes home from the dealer. They eliminate pinch flats, which in my 450s was the vast majority of my flats off road. If you do get a hole in the tire, carrying a streetbike plug and co2 kit will get you riding in no time. I also run a tube of slime in each tire to protect against the small pin holes that you get riding in the desert. Another huge benefit is tire changed are insanely fast and easy once you get used to them. No more struggling with trying to force a ultra heavy duty moose tube into a front tire. I have only ever had one tubliss explode on me and it was do to a fault in the first gen design something that Nuetech has fixed. 

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Remember also, that a 21" front tube will fit in a 18" or 19" rear tire in a pinch. This way, you don't have to carry two different sizes of tubes on the trail. You can at least get back home where you can put the right size tube in.

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second the TuBliss post above - I've been running them for a similar length of time and absolutely love them.

I once found two nails in my rear tyre which wouldn't hold pressure, but with the TuBliss inflated, and no air at all in the tyre,  the bike still ran fine - great traction and no wobble. I eventually did a tubeless repair on the tyre, ran the tyre for a few months more then changed it once it had worn out.

One of the best mods I've made on my bikes.

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Ran the Nutech's for about 4 years, less flats but still sliced open (beyond plugging) many tires. I ride in nothing but rocks. Last summer,bit the bullet and installed Bib Mousse in both ends.Flat problem solved! Not fun to install or take out, but it's a lot less fun to pay $120 to ride a 2-day dual sport and get a flat within 35 miles on day 1, and within 15 miles on day 2.

Bibs for me for good!

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Greate article!  was just about to buy the Bib Mousse until I saw you can't use them on the road :(

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Nothing ruins a day of trail riding like a flat -- with the possible exception of a flat followed by another flat after pinching the new or repaired tube.

 

I do carry a 21-inch tube (sometimes an 18, too), a couple of irons (the longer, the better, I find), and a CO2 inflator. Just remember, you can be 50 miles from your truck or a source of replacement parts when you lose a tube. 

 

I originally balked at the Tubliss solution because of its cost, but when you consider that paying a dealer/shop to R&R the tire, replace the tube and possibly balance the assembly is gonna cost 40 bucks or more, I'm thinking it might be cheap insurance.

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Check out the tube saddle.  www.tubesaddle.com  It is a cheater setup that is basically a small insert between the tube and the rim that makes it impossible to pinch flat.  Allows to use 8-10 PSI out west in rocks where most require 15-18 PSI.  I have used Mousses, ultra HD tubes, and other "flat preventers" and the tube saddle is far and away the most sano.  No lubes, balls, greases, etc.  Just install and air it up.  Works great.  

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Great article! The past few years I've messed around with tubes, TUbliss and mousses, eventually settled on the TUbliss and made the video below as I got a lot of questions. I still think the mousses may better suit the serious racer, very aggressive rider, or someone who always rides in very rocky terrain but in most other cases I think the TUbliss is the winner hands down. 

 

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Remember also, that a 21" front tube will fit in a 18" or 19" rear tire in a pinch. This way, you don't have to carry two different sizes of tubes on the trail. You can at least get back home where you can put the right size tube in.

For what it's worth, I bought into the 21" spare theory until I actually tried it.  I put a 21 in the 17" rear on my KLR in hopes of getting home after a flat.  Took care to spread the excess length evenly around the tire and to work out any overlaps.  It lasted 50 miles, then split far too badly to patch.  So my experience is it will "get you back home" if you live within a 50 mile radius.  If anyone can tell me what I did wrong, I'd appreciate it.   Meanwhile I'm back to carrying two tubes.  

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I carry a patch kit. it is much lighter and easier to carry. I have ridden with the patched tires until the tire wears out and never had a patch go bad. I use heavy duty tubes and rarely get flats with 11lbs in the rear and 12lbs in front.

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I pump in a couple of shots of slime and run 14 psi. Id say 250lbs with gear. Cant say how effective cause yet to have a flat with this method. Impact hard enough to ding front wheel and when I removed tire there was a small amount of slim between tube and tire but no flat.

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For what it's worth, I bought into the 21" spare theory until I actually tried it.  I put a 21 in the 17" rear on my KLR in hopes of getting home after a flat.  Took care to spread the excess length evenly around the tire and to work out any overlaps.  It lasted 50 miles, then split far too badly to patch.  So my experience is it will "get you back home" if you live within a 50 mile radius.  If anyone can tell me what I did wrong, I'd appreciate it.   Meanwhile I'm back to carrying two tubes.  

I went the other extreme. Was caught with only a 18" tube and needed to repair the front. Stretched it onto the rim and rode for the rest of the day (hard and long)... it was quite OK.

 

A couple of my regular riding buddies use the Tubeliss system, with limited success. They have experienced a similar amount of failures to the regular tubes guys (but don't consider these flats... just failures - strange).

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only words to my knowledge with small wheeled bikes. but i had a 1990 kx80 small wheel that had a flat front tire when i got it. after realizing how sketchy it is to ride with a flat i quickly got to thinking. i was waiting on my buddy to take me to the parts store for a tube when a buddy suggested something that will never go flat. so i had my dad bring me home a full sized pool noodle that you float on home from work. cut it down the middle. stuffed it in. squeezed that tire on. NEVER went flat again. only negatives to it would be cant change psi for on road or off road use. but it worked well. road it hard for 3-4 months before i got rid of the bike. still same noodle . only used it on the front tho.

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