Author Topic: Need Recommendations for Bike -- Punctured Bike Tubes  (Read 5344 times)

lisahi

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Need Recommendations for Bike -- Punctured Bike Tubes
« on: June 19, 2014, 10:27:20 AM »
I've been biking to work as much as I can for about 4 months or so. It's been great, for the most part. The ride is only 3 miles--downhill on the way to work, and sadly uphill on the way home.

I have your standard road bike. When I first got the bike, there were defects in the tubes that caused them to go completely flat with minimal use. The bike shop that sold me the bike replaced the tubes for free. However, in the past couple of weeks I've had to replace the tube on my back wheel twice. The first was your standard $5 tube. The next was a tube that contained that gel that supposedly stopped small leaks (yeah, so much for that).

I don't believe I'm over- or under-inflating the tube. I'm following the manufacturer's recommended psi. The problem I believe I'm having is the terrible, horrible, awful road conditions. Broken beer bottles, lots of gravel and rocks, uneven surfaces. I even found a big box of spilled nails strewn all over the ground. Needless to say, maintenance of public thoroughfares in my city is abysmal.

Does anybody have any recommendations for sturdier tubes or liners or something that would help out?

Sparafusile

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Re: Need Recommendations for Bike -- Punctured Bike Tubes
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2014, 10:30:02 AM »
Some places sell solid inner tubes:

http://www.amazon.com/Bell-SOLID-NoMorFlat-Bicycle-1-75-1-95/dp/B00005BTJB

That literally cannot go flat. I can't imagine they are too comfortable though. I'm not sure they're still being made, but you can still buy them from a few places.

hybrid

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Re: Need Recommendations for Bike -- Punctured Bike Tubes
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2014, 10:32:39 AM »
I had the same issues last year when I first started commuting. The answer for me was to avoid bad roads and especially shoulders with debris like the plague. Once I felt confident enough to claim my lane on a multi-lane road my flat tire issues - always punctures - went away.

I switched tires to something sturdier and that has probably helped, but really, changing the route and where I biked was the best thing I could do.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Need Recommendations for Bike -- Punctured Bike Tubes
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2014, 10:39:31 AM »
Are you sure there is not a piece of glass stuck in your tire causing it to go flat multiple times?  This is a common problem.  When you changing out a tube, you need to look very closely at what caused the puncture (glass, etc.) and make sure that whatever caused it is gone (sometimes it's a piece of glass the size of a speck of dust...), because if it is not, when pressure is reapplied to that point, voila, another flat!

jfer_rose

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Re: Need Recommendations for Bike -- Punctured Bike Tubes
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2014, 10:39:47 AM »
Do double check to make sure your spokes aren't poking through. Most rims have spoke tape to prevent that but it can wear out and cause the spokes to puncture your innertube.

You could try getting more flat-resistant tires. When I had my road bike I had a Continental Gatorskin on one wheel and a tire popular with bike messengers on the other wheel (sorry I can't remember the make/model).

Angie55

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Re: Need Recommendations for Bike -- Punctured Bike Tubes
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2014, 10:40:12 AM »
My bike store carries extra thick tubes that also have goo inside. Before switching to those I got flats all the time. Stupid thorns and beer bottles. Now I rarely get flats. Call around and look for those. Yes, they are much heavier but way worth having to walk your bike the rest of the way home. I believe they only had them unboxed that they used when you paid to get your tire changed. But they sold them to me anyway.

This reminds me I need to buy some more! My bike I had them on got stolen and I've just now had to use my backup on my new bike.

TrMama

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Re: Need Recommendations for Bike -- Punctured Bike Tubes
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2014, 10:44:50 AM »
Are you sure there is not a piece of glass stuck in your tire causing it to go flat multiple times?  This is a common problem.  When you changing out a tube, you need to look very closely at what caused the puncture (glass, etc.) and make sure that whatever caused it is gone (sometimes it's a piece of glass the size of a speck of dust...), because if it is not, when pressure is reapplied to that point, voila, another flat!

^^^This. Also you may need to upgrade your tires. Crappy, or worn out, or simply old tires will flat frequently and the type of tube used is nearly irrelevant. I have some decent Schwalbe tires on my road bike and they rarely flat even though I often ride over broken glass. My DH rides the same route and was getting lots of flats. I changed his tires and the problem was solved.

Also, when you change the tube, make sure you aren't pinching the tube between the tire and the rim. You also need to make sure the tires are properly inflated before you start riding. If they don't have enough air pressure, they're more likely to flat.

PindyStache

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Re: Need Recommendations for Bike -- Punctured Bike Tubes
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2014, 10:55:37 AM »
One other thing to check for might be holes in the tire from previous punctures, that are now letting small bits of sand/gravel through and causing holes in the tubes. My tires are pretty worn so I had this happen to me recently (4 or 5 tubes within the course of week catching very small punctures/causing slow leaks). Solution is to just put some tape on the inside of the tire over the holes. At least this is what worked for me--I'm no pro. I think electric tape is recommended, but I just had duct tape and that's held fine for several weeks at this point.

Good excuse to practice changing/patching your own tubes!

lisahi

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Re: Need Recommendations for Bike -- Punctured Bike Tubes
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2014, 10:58:51 AM »
I had the same issues last year when I first started commuting. The answer for me was to avoid bad roads and especially shoulders with debris like the plague. Once I felt confident enough to claim my lane on a multi-lane road my flat tire issues - always punctures - went away.

I switched tires to something sturdier and that has probably helped, but really, changing the route and where I biked was the best thing I could do.

I've been thinking about the route. There are parts of my commute where I'm on the road, and it's fine. Then there are others where it's 50 mph traffic, no shoulders, narrow lanes and blind corners. In those areas, I'm on the sidewalk. I've nearly gotten hit multiple times in my car on that stretch of the road--I don't know if I would ever feel comfortable biking it. The roads and the sidewalks are both terrible. It could be the sidewalk portion of my ride that is getting my tires, so I've been researching alternate routes. I've found only one workable route. It increases my ride from 3 miles to 4.7 miles and takes me along a freeway access road. The access road has a sidewalk, so I wouldn't be dealing with speeding cars coming off the freeway. It also takes me down another heavily used residential road. I would need to check if there are shoulders and how narrow the roads are. I do notice from Google Maps that it's a 2-lane multi-way road, so no place for cars to go around me without moving into oncoming traffic.

There really isn't any other workable route that could make much difference. My home is literally a straight shot down the road from work. That road starts on a 60 mph Loop and ends at I-35, with cars exiting at 70 mph. There's only so many ways to get to work through side streets, and the one I mentioned is the only route that allows me to avoid the worst part of my ride--the completely unpaved, rocky, glass-strewn brushy area that I'm required to walk through with my bike. It is the area with the biggest blind corner if I were riding on the road, and it's right off of the freeway. The other side is also unpaved.

So I will consider trying the longer route to see if it's better. Not a fan of riding along an access road, but maybe it's not too bad.

lisahi

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Re: Need Recommendations for Bike -- Punctured Bike Tubes
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2014, 11:03:12 AM »
Thanks for all of the suggestions! I'm still new to biking and I'm learning how to maintain my bike, so this is all good information. The bike I bought sat in a bike shop for over a year, and I know that the tubes were defective when I bought it. The tires could have been bad, too. Either that, or just cheap. And yes, there's a possibility that something got caught in the tire and is still there, or there's a hole in the tire that is letting debris in. The number of broken beer bottles I have to try and avoid each commute... well... I know I can't avoid them all.

daveydinner

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Re: Need Recommendations for Bike -- Punctured Bike Tubes
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2014, 11:04:29 AM »
1. As lisahi mentioned, the ultimately Moustacian thing to do is to get comfortable patching your tube. http://www.rivbike.com/product-p/tu3.htm  It's a frugal mark of pride to get a flat, pull out the tube and find a dozen old patches on it! One patch kit will repair a dozen times, less than the price of a single quality tube. Carry the kit everywhere and you'll never be stranded.
2. Check to make sure the spokes arent poking through the rim, get rim tape if you need to.
3. Make sure your tire is mounted correctly and the tube isn't twisted or pinched by the tire.
4. Slow leak may indicate a piece of debris stuck to the tire, run your finger along the inner tire surface to check, also check that the valve stem is securely attached to the tube, they can leak out there.
5. Spend a little on bigger commuting tires. Skinny tires get pinch flats from the road pinching the tube against the rim. Big volume tires prevent that. Commuting tires like the schwalbe marathon are more expensive but last forever and very rarely flat if installed correctly. You get what you pay for in tires.

davisgang90

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Re: Need Recommendations for Bike -- Punctured Bike Tubes
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2014, 11:16:13 AM »
I got several flats in a row then I bought gatorskinz by Continental.  Problem solved.  Haven't had a flat since.

kendallf

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Re: Need Recommendations for Bike -- Punctured Bike Tubes
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2014, 11:20:03 AM »
If your bike is a road bike (skinny 700c tires) I'll mention my newest cheap "go to" tire: the Thickslick.  ~$20 at my local shop that caters to hipsters with fixies, and they are really tough.  Otherwise, the Schwalbe Marathon, Vittoria Randonneur, Conti Gatorskin -- something tougher will help immensely.

ohyonghao

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Re: Need Recommendations for Bike -- Punctured Bike Tubes
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2014, 11:20:30 AM »
1. As lisahi mentioned, the ultimately Moustacian thing to do is to get comfortable patching your tube. http://www.rivbike.com/product-p/tu3.htm  It's a frugal mark of pride to get a flat, pull out the tube and find a dozen old patches on it! One patch kit will repair a dozen times, less than the price of a single quality tube. Carry the kit everywhere and you'll never be stranded.
2. Check to make sure the spokes arent poking through the rim, get rim tape if you need to.
3. Make sure your tire is mounted correctly and the tube isn't twisted or pinched by the tire.
4. Slow leak may indicate a piece of debris stuck to the tire, run your finger along the inner tire surface to check, also check that the valve stem is securely attached to the tube, they can leak out there.
5. Spend a little on bigger commuting tires. Skinny tires get pinch flats from the road pinching the tube against the rim. Big volume tires prevent that. Commuting tires like the schwalbe marathon are more expensive but last forever and very rarely flat if installed correctly. You get what you pay for in tires.

I was reading through this thread and wondering why someone is going through tubes with every flat.  My current tube has 3 or 4 patches in it.  The first one was an innocent normal leak, the next three were from when I changed the tire and didn't notice I was pinching the inner tube with the rim.  Got it up to about 80 PSI then BOOM!  Yeah, I'll never do that again, after I fixed that leak with a hole about the size of an eraser, I carefully checked my inner tube when putting it all back together, then pumped it up 20 PSI and checked again, and again at 40 PSI, and 60 PSI.  Only takes one loud blast in your ear to start being more careful.

Patching tires is pretty simple, and I highly recommend getting the kit now instead of waiting until you need it.  I got mine when I bled my hydraulic brakes and it was a couple months before I needed to patch a tire.  Since the tire explosion I've also purchased backup inner tubes just in case I can't fix the next one.

While in Taiwan it cost about $1.50 to have them fix a flat, but the shop would only allow us to get up to three patches on a single tube :-(

enigmaT120

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Re: Need Recommendations for Bike -- Punctured Bike Tubes
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2014, 11:27:45 AM »
I like my Schwalbe Supremes, but Mustachians may get sticker shock from them.  I have better things to do than change out a tube in the dark, in the rain.


TreeTired

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Re: Need Recommendations for Bike -- Punctured Bike Tubes
« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2014, 11:43:06 AM »
I got several flats in a row then I bought gatorskinz by Continental.  Problem solved.  Haven't had a flat since.

My son was on a very tight budget going into his solo bike trip.  He skimped on everything except he splurged and bought gatorskinz.  Turned out to be a wise investment.  He rode across the country in 45 days without a flat tire.  (He had to replace the rear WHEEL twice, but no flat tires) 

lisahi

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Re: Need Recommendations for Bike -- Punctured Bike Tubes
« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2014, 12:36:58 PM »
Thanks for the brand suggestions. I'll look into all of them.

And yes, now I understand that patching the tube is probably the best way to go once I have good tubes. I don't think I have good tubes at the moment. I have bargain basement tubes (I know because I paid very little for them). I would like to get some better tubes and perhaps better tires. My boss (who bikes, although not to work) mentioned getting bigger tires for the durability.

I've already got a patch kit and a portable bike pump in my cart at Amazon. I'm only waiting for my Amazon points to apply from my last credit card payment so I can get a bit of a discount.

frugalnacho

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Re: Need Recommendations for Bike -- Punctured Bike Tubes
« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2014, 01:23:04 PM »
Sounds like you are biking in the metro detroit area.  I see new smashed glass on my route every day.  Hundreds and hundreds of smashed bottles.   It's insane how much glass there is on the road, side walk, parking lots, everywhere.  It's unavoidable.  I generally just ride through it, unless it's a large pile then I try to skirt around the bulk of it.   I've gotten 2 flats in the last few months.  I couldn't manage to patch the last puncture, so I replaced it with the tub that has the goo inside to prevent punctures.  Hopefully it works.

electriceagle

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Re: Need Recommendations for Bike -- Punctured Bike Tubes
« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2014, 05:42:58 PM »
Second toughest tires in the world: Specialized Armadilllo
Toughest tires in the world (German, sometimes hard to find): Schwable

Either tire is well worth the expense for the frequent rider.

phred

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Re: Need Recommendations for Bike -- Punctured Bike Tubes
« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2014, 09:17:36 PM »
Could you spend a Saturday morning sweeping the worst areas of the sidewalks?

While the tire is still on the rim, mark the tire at the valve stem location.  Then, when you find the hole in the tube, you can check that part of the tire.

Ensure the rims have  rim bands or rim tape.  Without, the ends of the spokes can puncture a tube when you hit the edge of a pothole.

If you can easily squeeze the tire's sidewall together (when unmounted) from bead to tread, you need new tires with a bit more stiffness