A possible Bike Delaware goal for 2012 is reform of DelDOT’s sweeping policy to prioritize those areas which suffer chronic debris accumulation. Among our member’s chief complaints are tire punctures, but even if DelDOT responded to our every request beginning now, all it takes is one driver throwing a bottle and your day can be ruined.
Flat tire 101 should be at the top of every bicyclist’s list, but equally important is avoiding them in the first place. Here are several tips for how you can seriously reduce or prevent punctures, all available on line or at your local bike shop:
Tire Liners. A tire liner is a barrier strip inserted between the tube and the tire. The “Mr Tuffy” brand is probably the most widely sold, is very effective, and can be found in most bike shops for all different tire sizes.
Slime. This is non-toxic clotting “pulp” that is injected inside the tube. You can buy pre-filled tubes ready for use, or look for tubes with Presta or Schraeder 2 piece valves. The latter allows the core to be removed, and you can purchase Slime separately and fill them yourself. Slime automatically seals punctures up to 1/8” in length, which accounts for most barring slashes or razor cuts. Using this method, always make sure the valve is pointing down (12 o’clock position) before pumping, otherwise the slime might force its way out and choke the valve.
Puncture “resistant” tubes. Thicker, heavier tubes that provide additional protection against punctures.
Armored tires. Armadillo, Gator Skins – these are just 2 examples that are great at resisting punctures. The only possible tradeoff is a slightly harsher ride, and for the Specialize brand, it can be much harder to get the tires on and off the rims. In any case, only use levers designed for tire removal, and be very careful never to pinch the tube between the lever and the tire bead or rim or you’ll have a home made puncture.
Combinations of the above. Any one of these products by itself may afford some protection, but using more than one can be a powerful combination.
The author started using on a combination of “Mr Tuffy” tire liners and “Slime” tubes about 5 years ago, and since has never been left stranded. Even nails or larger thorns can pierce the tire and go unnoticed. The above was discovered during a tire replacement. It wasn’t until the tube was pulled that liquid (Slime) began to emerge from the puncture, below.
Above: Slime tubes are easier to patch than standard tubes for obvious reasons. Thoroughly cleaning the surface with alcohol beforehand is critical. Then, use Cold Vulcanizing Fluid for glue on both the tube and the patch, and let each dry to a film for several minutes before application. The result will be a bond only a chisel can remove.
The author’s most prized possession above; a Slime tube with 18 – count ’em, 18 – successful patches. Using the method described above, it almost takes valve failure to render a tube non-repairable. At $5/tube, the savings in this case comes to $90.
Above: Is it any wonder punctures are a routine headache in Delaware, with intersection shoulders left in this condition? Most of DelDOT’s sweeping miles occur on open and relatively clean roads, as there is no real system in place to prioritize those areas that need it most. Volunteer willing, Bike Delaware hopes to make efficient sweeping operations a goal in 2012.