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Thread: Flat on Commute

  1. #1
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    Flat on Commute

    I am a newbie to commuting as of this summer. Having a flat rear tire in the northeast on a backroad at 7PM in November made it a tad dark, but all was good as I had the mini-flashlight, a set of tire levers, a spare tube, and a pump. In some ways, I am glad this was my second flat, so I had recent experience to changing tubes in daylight, otherwise I'd be fumbling until sunrise.

    Perhaps I have been spoiled by car tires, but I am a bit surprised by having two flats in 600 miles. The tires at 700x38 and they don't get abused. I have heard of heavier tubes, slime and the like, but it seems there are mixed reviews on how well these products prevent flats. Does this equipment help?

  2. #2
    I'm SUCH a square....
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    Flats seem to come and go in waves; I went a year and a half without one, then caught five in two months. Sometimes, sh** just happens.

    Other than that, I'd suggest being more vigilant about the 'path' in front of you. There's a lot of stuff that pops up, seemingly out of nowhere.

    Unless your tires are worn, I'd put those other products on the back burner. Success is mixed, at best.
    A bike is the only drug with no bad side effects....

  3. #3
    Ovaries on the Outside
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    I go long periods without flats on my commuters. Several things that help- tire pressure vigilance. Checking tires for debris- I only do this once a week, but I often pull out several shards of glass. From there I'd just be sure that your rims strips are in good condition, that there aren't objects sticking through the tire from the inside, check for holes, etc.

    Have an extra tube in your pack and just pull the flatted tube, replace it, patch it in the comfort of your own home and it becomes the back up tube.

  4. #4
    Bedwards Of The West
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    I pack an extra tube also,and do the patching at home. For the slow leaker, I carry a CO2 inflator...if I'm sure I can get all the way to work on it, or all the way home, I give it the quick blast and keep riding. CO2 is normally reserved for the way TO work, since time is more important, and the stuff is expensive. I keep a floor pump at work and throw in the spare during lunch.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  5. #5
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    I have a long commute (15 mi each way) so I can't limp along with a partial re-inflate. In the winter the roads here are often wet making it impossible to see glass. As a result, I run insanely heavy tires (Schwalbe Marathon Plus) but I've never had a flat with them.

    When it's dry, I ride my lightweight road bike with light tires and just watch the road in front of me carefully. I still get flats occasionally. I'm thinking about giving the Specialized Armadillos a try. A couple fellow bike commuters I know swear by those.

    A friend who also bikes to work had an experience that supports the "flats come in waves" theory. He went a long time with no flats and then had something like 5 in a week. We both attributed this to him riding through some broken glass which gradually worked its way through his tire and caused punctures over time. So, like Umarth suggested...checking your tires every so often might be a good preventative measure.

  6. #6
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    Keep practicing because you never know.

  7. #7
    weirdo
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    Punctures definitely come in waves for me. Pinch flats are sort of another story and I can usually attribute them to my own laziness or stupidity (either not pressuring up when I know they`re getting a bit soft, or going too fast on a route that I know I have the wrong tires or bike for). Once in a blue moon I get a snake bite that`s just plain bad luck.
    Recalculating....

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    Thanks for the advice everyone.

    As it turns out, the wave of flats is still coming as I had my third flat this weekend on the rear due to what looked like a thorn. I was on an exercise run on a local gravel rail trail on my way back with about 8 miles to go. Although it was 6AM and still dark, it happend at a well lit intersection so I can't complain. The 24 degrees was a bit of a pain for dexterity, but it motivated a quicker change.

    Practice makes perfect and at $6 a tube, I might start to carry two. I did end up picking up a fresh set of Bontrager tires that seem to have more sidewall rigidity so we'll have to give those a go.

  9. #9
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    As someone else stated, keeping tires inflated properly will keep you from picking stuff up, but also keep in mind that worn tires will pick up stuff and cause flats a lot more than a new tire.

    If you're continuing to get flats a Slime tube and/or something like a Mr. Tuffy liner would be ideal for commuting. The thing I like about the Tuffy liners is that they prevent the tube from being punctured in the first place. And while they won't prevent a nail from puncturing your tube (I had a roofing nail go through my tire, both sides of my tube and my RIM one time) they'll keep most roadside debris from penetrating. Sometimes Slime tubes will still leak a bit before they seal up. If you do get a flat, the Tuffy liner will protect your new/repaired tube.

  10. #10
    Wierdo
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    I carry two tubes since I double-flatted when I blasted through a bunch of glass on a 30 MPH downhill. By the time I saw the glass, it was too late to avoid it.

    I prefer to just change out the tubes and patch later. I rotate the patched tubes back onto the bike. I'll go up to three patches on a tube before I toss it.

  11. #11
    Bedwards Of The West
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    ^^ I have had at least 7 patches on a tube before with no ill effects. I use the glueless ones though, and the cheap ones (Slime) get weaker everytime you deflate/inflate, because they don't flex as well with the tube. The nicer ones (Lezyne) seem like they just become part of the tube, and will last forever.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by RevRacer
    Thanks for the advice everyone.

    As it turns out, the wave of flats is still coming as I had my third flat this weekend on the rear due to what looked like a thorn. I was on an exercise run on a local gravel rail trail on my way back with about 8 miles to go. Although it was 6AM and still dark, it happend at a well lit intersection so I can't complain. The 24 degrees was a bit of a pain for dexterity, but it motivated a quicker change.

    Practice makes perfect and at $6 a tube, I might start to carry two. I did end up picking up a fresh set of Bontrager tires that seem to have more sidewall rigidity so we'll have to give those a go.

    Look for a tire with a much stronger and thicker contact strip....especially if you are runnin on gravel...

    Something like a Conti Sport Contact...

  13. #13
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    My greatest flat adventure was 5 on a 100 mile gravel ride. I was riding a road bike with 25c Panaracer T-Servs. This model has served me very well in the past and has even made the gravel journey successfully. I picked up glass early on our way out of town. No one on the ride had CO2 so I used my frame pump to inflate the tires. I just couldn't get the pressure I needed to withstand the rough ride and suffered for the rest of the day.

    Since the ride I have purchased CO2 and I look forward to not having to gingerly creep my bike along some ripping fun gravel roads.

    The moral is: be prepared. Frame pumps are great, but you need the right conditions for them.
    Kevin Jargo
    Product Manager
    VETTA/Acumen Inc.

  14. #14
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    To the horror of many cyclists, I would recommend using a tire liner like Mr. Tuffy to help prevent flats in addition to keeping the tire new. Flatting while commuting can be dangerous unlike most other forms of riding because it can be dark, it can happen in a bad neighborhood, and stopping in traffic.

    I use liners for my commuter bikes only, but then again, I replace my tires on a yearly basis.

  15. #15
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    Like most, mine too came in a wave. I hit 1,000 miles this week on my commuter, and two flat tires came between 650~675 miles, and one more at around 745 miles. Since then, I'm still rockin' the same tubes with three patches respectively.

    Like CommuterBoy, I too carry a CO2 cannister, just in case I need to do a NASCAR pitstop on the way to work. Then I pump it up with our air compressor and then check it again before leaving work at the end of the day to make sure it held air.

    I used the slime tubes and don't understand how that crap even made it in the market. Maybe some had good experiences, but I was one that had to see for myself why it had so many bad reviews. Hope you don't get stranded any more from here(at least anytime soon!)

  16. #16
    jrm
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    I just stick to ordinary stuff

    I try to find the nexus between performance and security when i look for tires. I dont use any liners or thick tubes because i dont like the additional rotating weight.

    In addition to tubes, levers and a pump i carry tire blocks also. These have gotten me home when the bead-sidewall blew out on me on a dark winter night commute.

    Tires i like so far: 30c conti 4 seasons, 28 or 32c panaracer tservs and the discontinued 30/32 WTB all terrainasuarsas. O hand the best tire block ive found are offered by park tools.

    Cheers

  17. #17
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    I leave for work 1/2 hour early. Most days I enjoy breakfast in our break room while I cool down from the ride. If I get a flat I can do mixed run/public transit (free- PDX fareless square) and still be to work on time, skipping breakfast.

  18. #18
    otg
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    Get Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires.
    I've ridden mine for probably 4,000 miles, no flats.
    Granted, the roads don't have a lot of nails around me (northern VT), but I'm constantly riding through piles of glass.

    They're not cheap, but you can sometimes find sales, and I've seen other companies make similar tires (thick layer of rubber under the tread). I think Michelin has one, and I've seen one on the Performance website.
    And it's so much nicer than changing a flat tire in the dark at 6 am when it's 35 & raining.
    Also they have reflective sidewalls.

    They are heavy, but I have a hard time seeing how the seconds you may save with a lighter tire could outweigh the minutes lost fixing a flat.

    If you can't fit them on your bike (the smallest size, 25mm, is more like 28mm), then try the tire liners.
    You might also try tire sealants.

  19. #19
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    I'm a lucky commuter - 1 flat since going bike only 2 yrs ago and it was self induced. I have a nice riding 70's Zues that I take out rarely. It's got tubulars and on that day I took a deliberately long route to the office. Flatted on a rough patch of roadside gravel/glass/whoknowswhatever.

    Does anyone have experience with http://www.bicycling.com/gear/detail...1493-0,00.html?

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