Avoiding flat tires

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Avoiding flat tires

Postby Florian » Mon Nov 12, 2007 10:59 pm

I had to replace a bike tube last week so I thought I’d share my story. I grabbed my mountain bike one morning and the front tire was flat. I filled it with air and went for a ride but the next morning the tire was flat again. After checking the tire I found an old ¾ inch nail stuck straight in it. It was a typical slow leak but I was pretty darn happy the tube survived during the ride and who knows how long the nail was in there until the tube finally had problems. Anyways….

Over the years I’ve gotten into the habit of keeping a stack of six spare tubes in my garage and one in my Camelbak. Whenever I get a flat, I’d use the oldest spare tube in my Camelbak. Later I’d buy a new tube and add it the end of the stack of spare tubes in the garage. I’d grab the oldest tube in the stack and put it in my Camelbak.

I don’t keep a record and knock on wood, but with this little rotation, I only go through 1 or 2 spare tubes a year and sometimes none. The tubes are the same weight but they just seem tougher having sat around a few years in my garage than brand new bike tubes. My thought process is that a garage, unfinished basement, etc is humid and goes through daily heat cycles, hot during the day and cold at night with varying degrees depending on the season. I’m no engineer but if you put a rubber tire through a heat cycle, the tougher it gets and the less likely it would break. A little humidity would keep the rubber from drying out and cracking.

I remember watching an old episode of the Tour De France or something and Discovery Team’s French mechanic said he stored the team’s bike tubes in his basement for seven years. The tubes looked half inflated or less but it was hard to tell. He claimed this process would keep them from going flat. I don't know the physics to this but it seems to work. Anyone else try something like this?
mmm, sweet spds
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Postby Indy » Tue Nov 13, 2007 1:11 am

Interesting theory. I don't have anything conclusive, but to be honest, I can't quite remember the last flat I had. To be fair, I haven't ridden all that many miles over the past couple years, either.

Still, most of my tubes are going on 3 years old now. Even the tubes currently on my bike are probably pretty close to that age. That was probably about the last time I had a flat, and was also the last time I really rode a lot (I was working in a shop then). Prior to that, though, I still did not flat often. Maybe once every 500+ miles or so.

I attribute fewer flats to better tires, though. Sometime around 2000, I switched to using 120tpi or better tires (some come in 127tpi). Before switching tires, I was getting flats very often...sometimes multiples in the same ride. I tried the tire liners, too, with limited success. I once had a honey locust thorn puncture my tire, tire liner, and tube with a good 1/4 inch of thorn inside the tube. That was with cheap 60tpi tires, though. Ever since, my flats have been limited to the occasional pinch flat.
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