Fixing a Flat Trailside
With fall soon upon us and plenty of endurance races to test our physical and mental preparedness, I thought it might be good to share a bit of know-how when it comes to fixing flats trailside. I’m assuming everyone who dares to go do endurance rides in the backcountry runs tubeless with some sort of goo like stans in your tires. If you don’t you really should…enough said.
Bottom line when you get a flat is to try and fix it WITHOUT breaking the bead and giving up your tubeless setup. Putting in a tube should really be your last resort and that tube better have either stans or some sort of sealant in it.
So, your tire is flat..now what. Well that kinda depends on the type of cut/puncture. If you pinch flat your tire, you’ll most likely end up with two holes, one near the bead, and one further up the sidewall. These kind of holes can be sealed with the tampon method…stuff a piece of rag in with a small hex wrench and the sealant will coagulate around the rag and create a ball that will be bigger than the hole. This also works with a small sidewall slice but has less success the bigger the cut.
For bigger cuts but not completely through the sidewall, the key is to drop the pressure to give stans a chance. Stans needs to coagulate to work and even 25psi will cause it to squirt through the cut. Take some superglue and drip it on the area. Put a piece of gorilla tape over the top. I literally finished 85 miles of the Gila100 with this fix.
To even further improve the robustness of these fixes, I’ve sewn an auto tire patch over the top of the cut on the outside of the tire…
If the cut is through the sidewall but not really huge (ie, bead to tread), dont break the bead! Sew it up with a curved needle and dental floss and put a little superglue/gorilla tape. If you have a long way to get back, put a patch on it. Inflate slowly letting the stans set up. This fix has worked for me several times. Check out J-Bakes blog here…he did a great write up of the method… Tubeless Tire Sidewall Repair | Rocks N Blogs
If the cut is really big, it’s time to break the bead and put in some sort of boot and a tube. All kinds of boot materials but spend a few bucks and bring along some Park boots. Damn things are amazing. I saw dtownmtb boot a tire that had about a 2” slice with two of those and rode it 15 miles back to the car…amazing.
Another option if you had to break the bead, is to do all your fixing (sewing, patching etc) and reseat it tubeless. I’ve been successful doing this will small CO2 cartridges but obviously success with depend on your rim/tire combo.
So, in your bag of goodies, be sure to pack
1. Curved needles (walmart sells them in a pack)
2. Dental floss or upholstery thread
3. Rubber cement
4. Super Glue
5. Gorilla Tape
6. Park Boots
7. Auto tire patches (monkey grip kind…the kind with the blue layer suck)
8. A couple of small bottles of stans
9. CO2 cartridges and inflator
Hope that helps...I'm sure there's more cool tricks so share if you have them!
thanks for the ideas Ray, couple items to add to my kit.
Minor hijack, but I recentlty bought a jar of vulcanizing solution. I was not able to find this at HD, Lowes or Autozone.
Amazon.com: Rema 8oz Patch Glue: Sports & Outdoors
Rage told me they plan to start carrying the patch-kit sized tubes of vulcanizing solution, separate from patch kits - note that its not the same as rubber cement, it actually melts the rubber for bonding, vs. a glue. Rage also just ordered a couple Revelate bags for me - on my way to pick them up!! Joe at Sunday Cycles is also willing to help you get this type of gear.
Good stuff, Ray.
Regarding the large side wall cut and Park tools boot - you have to take the tire off and probably clean off Stans before putting the boot in.
Do you then put a tube in it OR do you reinflate it tubeless ?(assuming there is Stans in there left or extra added)
You know, after reading this I am feeling better for having to spin the extra 200 gm in my UST (thick sidewall) tire.
The park boots are damn sticky, but cleaning off the stans can only help. I've never tried to re-inflate them tubeless with a park boot, but if I did, I'd probably want to stitch down the park boot to the tire. Just can't imagine the seal would be that good. Having a tube in there pushing on it helps, but without a tube, I'd think you'd need something else to hold the patch in.
BTW sewing needle and dental floss can also serve to close large wounds - it's a bit rough though, could also use gorilla tape and superglue on wounds
it's just nice that a lot of those things you carry can double as medical kit
I wonder if you could close a tire tear with a large bore surgical needle and stitches?
Edit, just saw Ray's link above to Jonathan's site.
I've seen too many riders fix their tubeless flat by quickly putting in a tube, sometimes followed by a second tube minutes later (hint). I have to bring this up because some riders don't seem to realize it, especially if when a shop does their tubeless setup. Racers too, when in a hurry, they can't waste time.
A tubeless tire picks up thorns that stay in the tire after the sealant does its magic. When you put in a tube into a used tubeless tire, the first thing that happens when inflating the tube is it gets punctured by the thorns inside the tire.
Before putting a tube into a flat tubeless tire, you first have to check the entire inside of the tire, sidewalls and tread. Remove every foreign object stuck in the tire that could cause the tube to go flat. Then the tube can go in the tire.
Haha, is that some kind of bad tubless joke, that requires you to carry all that stuff and take all that time/care to fix it before figuring out you just have to throw a tube in there
Part of ANY flat is finding out why it flat and making sure it's not a sidewall tear.
(and yes, I'm running tubeless and yes, it saved my a$$ a few weeks back)
"It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth
You're turning black metallic.
yeah, rule #1 when putting in a tube ( tubed or tubeless setup) is to check for thorns. unfortunately, if you are running tubeless there are probably a LOT of thorns in your tire. I remove as many as possible and then put in a slime tube. That usually handles the ones I missed.
Originally Posted by Mtn-Rider
Haven't tried sewing up, but may do that next time. It seems that would work best if you have a decent amount of sealant already in the tire or brought a little bottle of extra along.
BTW, bringing a small bottle of sealant along can bail you out on those times when you get a simple puncture and realize the sealant in the tire has dried up. That has saved me on multiple occasions.
I have been guilty of the scenario that mtn-rider described...flat on a tubeless set up, throw in a tube & flat again a few minutes later. Even after checking for thorns, etc, I still flatted on tube # 2. I run UST tires and weigh 155, and have not had issues in over a year.
This guarantees that I will slice a sidewall tomorrow......doh!!
I use a rock to crush/grind/pulverize any thorns on the inside of the tube I can't pull out.....I do this before I put in my slime tube....it's worked for the past few years. I've found that most thorns get nice and soft and squishy after rolling around in that ammonia formula from Stans......if you're not rolling stans, then I can't comment.
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