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Top Ten Ways to Prevent Bicycle Tire Puncture Flats
Ppsssttt. Not another Flat! Since the dawn of innertubes inside rubber tires, flat tires have been dogging bicycle riders and stealing the fun. Inventors have come up with many ways to stop these puncture flats. Here are the top 10 available today.
By: Randy Kirk & Associates
"There have been dozens of methods and products over the past 50 years or even longer that provide good protection against bicycle inner tube punctures. But the real breakthroughs came about 30 years ago. Today there are very high tech answers to flats, and yet riders continue to put up with the saddest sound in cycling…..psssffftt."
Here are the top ten ways to prevent flat tires, with number with number 1 being the best overall solution, taking into consideration effectiveness and cost.
10. Flat resistant tires. Many tires today have extra rubber, added layers, or other methods designed to provide resistance to thorns, stickers, rocks, and other road and off road debris. This is a high cost solution, and tires designed to be flat resistant are trading off other benefits such as weight or comfort.
9. Heavy duty inner tubes. These are merely inner tubes that are extra thick. They do provide some benefit, but the trade off in weight is only worth it in the special case seen in #2 which follows below.
8. Airless Innertubes - The most popular of these is a very thick rubber hose that gets the needed rigidity from the thickness of the tube, rather than air pressure. They are fairly expensive, very heavy, and for any but the shortest ride are very sluggish riding.
7. Wrapping an old inner tube around the new one - Some folks do a DIY method of flat prevention. They cut open an old inner tube and wrap it around the new one. This is more effective than a heavy duty tube, but not by much. The cost is perfect. Only your time.
6. Inner tube sealants - The idea of this product is that you have a liquid chemical in the inner tube that is always on the ready to find any hole and fill it up. These products have varying degrees of effectiveness, but are generally good at what they do. There can be issues with valve stems being clogged and removing the tube from a tire after a few leaks can be difficult.
5. Kevlar tire liners - These are very effective at preventing flats. They are the most expensive solution and do have a rap for not lasting very long. Some reviewers say that they disintegrate inside the tire after a few years.
4. Single durometer urethane tire liners - About 30 years ago, the plastic tire liner revolutionized flat tires due to inner tube punctures. Today, such products are divided into inexpensive liners where the plastic is all one type. These are more likely than their more expensive brothers to get punctures and they are also more likely to cause flats due to sharp edges. However, they are very effective and low cost.
3. Dual Durometer urethane tire liners (standard plastics) - By using two different plastics in tire liners manufactures were able to improve the puncture resistance of the side of the liner closest to the tire while making that portion next to the tube softer and less likely to do damage to the tube. This breakthrough became the standard until 2011. Inexpensive and very effect. Light weight.
2. Combinations - Using a combination of tire liners and either heavy duty tubes or tube sealants has been a successful way to deal with the worst thorns in desert or tundra regions of the US throughout the Western 10 states. This can be expensive and very heavy, but not as heavy as the
airless inner tubes, and generally the ride is better, too.
1. RhinoDillos Tire Liners - In 2011, a West Coast bicycle products company brought a new tire liner to market. The big difference was an improvement in the quality of the plastic. Using the dual durometer approach, the company was able to significantly improve puncture resistance while maintaining or even reducing the suggested retail for dual durometer liners. With this product there really is no reason to double up with other products.
So, don't take a chance on ruining your day with a flat. The bicycle industry has plenty of great approaches that can save you embarrassment, time, and stress.