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Tire/tube flat experience(34 posts)

Tire/tube flat experienceDog
Jun 14, 2001 6:32 PM
As many of you may know, I've have been an extreme weight weenie. I have one fully raceable bike that's down around 14.1 pounds, and it could be even lighter. May "regular" bike is around 16 something, though.

I used to run the lightest tires and tubes (Performance Lunarlights - 50 grams), and got flats around every 250-500 miles. Conti Supersonics were the worst, but even with Michelin Axial Pro Lights and Vittoria Ultraspeeds, I consistently got flats every few hundred miles. With my mileage, that means at least once a week, and about every other long event I've ridden. Sometimes, the flats weren't just pinholes, but slashes. I got really tired of it. A flat at 140 miles cost me a sub 10 hour double, and I really got mad.

So, I gave in. I put on the 230 gram Vittoria Open Corsa's, with kevlar belts, put in the Spinskins and twice as heavy Torrelli tubes, and guess what? I still get about the same flat frequency. I don't get it.

I've about concluded that tire technology is just pretty miserable, and you can't get away from flats until you go with something over a pound which rolls like wood. It seems that within the 170-250 gram range, it makes no difference, and the tubes don't seem to matter, either. If something gets through the tire, it's going to pierce whatever tube is there.

Barring some good reasons, I'm going back to the light stuff. If I'm going to get the same flats anyway, may as well not be carrying as much weight. Anyone have the same experience? Any theories?

Doug Sloan
Fresno, CA
I almost never get flatsHank
Jun 14, 2001 6:45 PM
I ride 150 miles per week, weigh 140 pounds, currently ride Conti Ultra 2000 700x25 tires (roughly 250 grams?) inflated to 100psi with 70 gram Michelin tubes. I get maybe one or two flats per year, and it's usually on a rear tire that is almost worn out. This has been true over the last 15 years in the Midwest, the SF Bay Area and Seattle. And in all my years of racing on tubulars, I never flatted once. Am I just lucky? All I do is watch the road and run my hand over the tires when I think I've run through something. I know there are parts of the country where there are lots of thorns, and where flats are a part of life. I deal with a good amount of glass, though.
re: Tire/tube flat experiencelook271
Jun 14, 2001 7:18 PM
I've used Specialized Comps, which are the same as their Turbo's + a kevlar belt. About 250 gm for 700x23. No f*&%s to date with close to 2k on them. I use regular tubes and am no lightweight at 185lbs. I'm not especially careful as to what I ride over,either.
re: Tire/tube flat experienceJohn Frank
Jun 14, 2001 7:40 PM
I use to run a pair of soft rubber tires (I forget what brand), it seemed that on every ride, a piece of glass would embed itself into the tire and slowly work it way it into the tire and eventually puncture the tube.

Now I've got a pair of Michelin Axial Bi-sports. They came with the bike, they're heavy (292 grams), they've got a low tpi count (33), but the only flat I've had on them is from a bone when I inadvertently ran over some road kill.

The only difference that I can ascertain is that the Bi-sports are made of a harder rubber that's less prone to pick up the glass.
re: Tire/tube flat experiencekyvdh
Jun 14, 2001 7:58 PM
Well, I've got some 27" Walmart specials on my roadbike and haven't had a flat on them yet (over 500 miles). But then that's probably not the answer you were looking for. Yeah, the tubes are from Walmart too. There, I admitted it. Now I feel so much better.
It's gotta be your neighborhood.9WorCP
Jun 14, 2001 8:30 PM
I go Conti GP 3000 or Michelin Axial Pros and use any old tube and I get get like 2-3 flats a year. I logged somewhere between 4-5,000 miles last year by my reckoning. Maybe you should commit weight weenie sacriledge and try a run of the mill Kenda tube or something. Those Torellis are still pretty light-weight comparatively aren't they? From what I've read those Spinskins are royal pain to insert properly and only work as advertised on occasion.
Use your gloves ...Breck
Jun 14, 2001 8:48 PM
Gloves were originally used for cleaning off the tire debris, not for hand comfort.
As you ride thru all the road debris the tires need a scrubbing front and rear.
A disclaimer would be to be very careful and not loose a finger, etc.
Stop and scrub the tires if you are the nervous type.

Past that my pikk on the rough local roads is Velox rim tape,
Conti 3000GP tires, full sized butyl tubes.
Size should not be a factor here :)

Funny you should mention thatmike mcmahon
Jun 14, 2001 10:35 PM
One morning a few years back, I met up with a friend and we were riding together to the start of a group ride. He rolled through some glass and reached down to run his glove over his front tire at about 10-12 miles per hour. I still don't know for sure what happened but it seems likely that he put his hand behind the fork rather than in front of it. He really almost did get his pinky pulled off: It looked like a question mark. In addition to breaking his finger, he scraped up his face and lodged a piece of plastic from the frame of his glasses in his upper cheek. Rather than doing the ride, I spent a couple of hours in the e.r. with him. He's an experienced cyclist who just had a brain fart and put his hand in the wrong place one time.
he done wrong.Breck
Jun 15, 2001 8:07 AM
My nemesis Big Ring posted instructions on this on the Old Board and like me, was {even so} reluctant to do so because of those seem got no brain cells 'atall :)

Campy Man (now 70 yrs. old ...all fingers intact:) of the Old School taught us(me, wade kelly, big ring) three important things:
1) scrubbing the tires with the crotch of the glove AHEAD of the fork brake caliper front wheel; between the seat tube and seat stay, rear wheel(suggest you look back and down for this task using the thumb as a guide [again, Do NOT DO this if you have no talent for it].
2) chain wax, a lost art.
3) chamois creme applied *sparingly* to the pad.

*ubiquitous note :)
the most puller offer of pinkies( 2nd one in) may be the common wedding ring.

Funny you should mention that alsomike mcmahon
Jun 15, 2001 3:23 PM
I also know a guy who lost his ring finger when his wedding ring got caught in a pickup truck tailgate. I know some folks who have had bad luck with fingers. Breck's right: always wipe from in front of the brake caliper on the front if you want to keep all finger intact.

The damage is already donemr_spin
Jun 15, 2001 9:17 AM
I do the glove thing because I was taught it and it has become instinctive, but I've come to believe that it doesn't help much. I figure if you've already done a full rotation of the wheel, the glass has already been pressed into the tire. You'll probably get several full rotations in by the time you get your hand down there. And since you can only do one tire at a time, any glass in the other tire is really getting embedded while you work. It's not worth it in my opinion. Maybe you'll brush off a few pieces that are on the sides of the tire, but those would have fallen off over time anyway.

If your tires are in good shape, you'll probably escape most encounters with glass. If you are a worrier, stop immediately after riding through glass and scrub your tires. Don't keep riding--it will only increase your chance of getting a flat. Otherwise, try to avoid it, and if you can't, pray that it's not your turn ro flat that day.
Agree, but ...Breck
Jun 15, 2001 12:31 PM
It's ritual riding with Campy Man. The old dude is still turning those Chorus cranks over at age 70. It's a sign of respect. I will always do this now and then remembering the old man.

Not My experienceMeDotOrg
Jun 14, 2001 8:58 PM
I definitely flat more with gummy racing tires. The Vittoria Corsa CXs being the worst. Just finished a 575 mile week on Panaracer Pasela TGs, and I was very impressed. Low rolling resistance for a training/touring tire. I got a new pair of rims last week and put Conti 3000s on them. So far I like them, but only abouyt 65 miles, so too soon to tell.

But the best puncture resistant tires I've tried are the Panaracer Pasela TGs and the kevlar-belted Michelins (although the Michelins seems to have more rolling resistance.
re: Tire/tube flat experiencepeloton
Jun 14, 2001 9:14 PM
My usual setup is Velox cloth rim tape, Specialized Ultra light long stem tubes (presta), and currently Hutchinson Gold tires (Michelins are still my favorite though). I weigh about 190 and run 20's. I rarely flat. I have had one flat in the past 1300 miles on the Hutchinsons. I have had even better luck with Michelins. I think that flats have more to do with luck and road conditions than they do with the setup you are using on your wheel. FWIW
I have had great luck with Vredestein Tri-CompsAllen D.
Jun 14, 2001 10:29 PM
I ride all year round, approx. 10-15 hrs/week. I have been averaging two flats per year. Sometimes it is my fault because I didn't check the tires for debris before a ride. I run them at 130psi.

They are so reliable that I carry a minipump now, (except in winter).

I had bad luck with Conti Grand Prix's. A few sidewall gashes and that was it.
re: Tire/tube flat experiencetr
Jun 14, 2001 11:04 PM
I put in quite a few miles every year and have tried a lot of different tires. I flat maybe 2-5 a year. I usually ride vredstein or veloflex at 22 or 23 width with a tire pressure of 120 psi usually. I lived in california for several years and i think were you are has some effect. When i rode several other tire brands i flatted more. I am 6'1 and 195 and ride in the Seattle area. I haven't noticed my tubes to make a difference, i think it is more tire than tube. Probably notice my path more than the average guy.
Knock on wood..DINOSAUR
Jun 14, 2001 11:06 PM
I've had real good luck with the new Conti GP3000. I am a real stinker about changing my velox rim tape each time I add a new tire.
Kock on wood, I have'nt had a flat since last November after I ran over a patch of broken glass while descending. One little thing that helped me is that I started to ride with clear lenses in my riding glasses. The smoke colored lenses always managed to accumalate a little sweat and grim during the summer. I carry a heavy duty folded up piece of paper towel in my jersey pocket and about every 20-30 minutes I'll swipe my tires and hopefully knock off any debris that I might have picked up. If I do it with my gloves they get dirty real fast, easier in the winter when I wear long fingered gloves. I avoid ultra light tubes, tendency for punctures around the valve stem.
Alas, you can't get away from flats if you put in enough miles. I just replaced a new Conti that had about 500 miles, as I managed to cut a big chunk of rubber out of the tire casing.
A perfect world for me would be starting off each month with a new set of tires and rim tape and chuck them at the end of the month.
I could probably do that now, but my wife would probably end up chucking me......
Nice to see you posting again Doug
Ride Safe
PSI and some other thoughtszelig1
Jun 15, 2001 2:41 AM
The area you live in doesn't strike me, especially being in California, as having tons of glass or road debris so here's a couple of thoughts. Any of your riding buddies having the problem?

PSI- Lots of people inflate to or above the PSI listed on the tire sidewall (thank god there's none of that on tubs). I'm sure you know, but that's the max. suggested by the manufacturer, not necessarily the recommended pressure for riding, depending upon rider weight, road conditions and type of application. Even the heaviest pro's are unlikely to be riding more than 9 bar in the rear and a bit less in the front. Given that you still have the problem after your radical change in tire/tube combination plus Spinskins makes me wonder about the PSI.

You mention that you get not just pinholes but slashes in your tubes. I assume that these are the lightweight one's. You don't mention what sort of damage occurs to the tire but I'll assume that the casing's not been slashed. The slashing effect, some of it due to the lightweight of the tube (thiness of material), may be due again to excessive PSI or chafing. Are you using a lot of talcum powder on the tube when mounting (not talking about side of the road stuff)? Also, after effecting a roadside change (new tube?), do you change the tube again when returning home? If not, you may still have some road grit inside the casing when doing the roadside change so it might be worth rechanging the tube (don't forget the talcum powder) and cleaning out the inside of the tire.

I'm sure you've carefully looked at rim related issues including roughness, rim tape, etc.

Last thought. What sort of pump are you using to inflate your tires and what type of lube are you using on the chamber washer? Depending on your type of tube, petroleum-based lubricants will weaken/dissolve latex rubber given time. It's a reach, but you asked for theories.

BTW, sorry about your partner's passing. I assume that you weren't able to do the Oregon ride you had posted about a few weeks ago. Hang in there and I hope the firm doesn't have any partnership equity issues that can't be resolved.
You made me do it....Len J
Jun 15, 2001 6:09 AM
& I hold you responsible if I now get a flat. I have not had a flat in over 5000 miles. (Damn, I just heard thunder)

Seriously, I use Axiel pro's, inflated to 110 (I actually pump them to 115 to 117 and know that I lose some air when I release the pump., Old mechanic taught me that) Wipe the tires as others have indicated, keep a lookout for glass & proably change the tires before they really need it.

Maybe you are just running through a bad strech of luck. I know that doesn't help, but it's all I got.
ps. Have you checked to see if your spokes are causing a problemLen J
Jun 15, 2001 6:14 AM
Loose spoke nuts coused a similar problem with me several years ago (sorry I just remembered). The only thing I could figure was that the spoke nut movement wore a hole through the tube over time. I was not using rim tape (weight weenie) at the time. I would flat out at about 150 to 200 miles. Just a thought.
Tube slasheswhygimf
Jun 15, 2001 6:37 AM
Seen my tubes 'slashed' after flatting on a cheapo trainer.
Heat related obviously. How much does the psi change
on hot pavement/descents/braking?
follow upDog
Jun 15, 2001 7:06 AM
I routinely inflate to about 10 psi over the recommended level; maybe excess pressure is contributing; hmm, I'll try lower

I know it's not a problem with rim tape, as I almost always use my Ksyriums - no rim tape needed

I've never had a flat due to the rubber coming apart around the stem, even with the lightest tubes; these are always punctures through the tire

I wipe fairly frequently, but the problem I've noticed is that I get flats nearly always in places that appeared ok; in othere words, it's always the hidden thorn or glass that gets me

I've flatted tubulars, too, but I use them for racing only; got a flat 10 miles into my first race this year on tubulars

I seem to get more than my riding buddies; hmm; can't figure the variables, though; I'll ask around

Thanks all.

follow uppeloton
Jun 15, 2001 10:36 AM
I have a buddy that I ride with from my shop that uses the same tire, tube, tire pressure, tire size, and tape setup that I do. I'm bigger than him, so I should in theory flat more often. He flats four times as much as I do, even on the same roads. No real explanation that I can come up with except some people are just unlucky. A couple of years ago, it was me that flatted more than he. I think when it is your time to flat, it's your time to flat. Maybe the cycling gods are angry at him?
follow upHank
Jun 15, 2001 11:47 AM
yes, I'd try 100-110 psi for a while, maybe consider wider tires, see how it goes - what are you doing, 150psi on a 700 x 20?
Plants?Jim A
Jun 15, 2001 1:49 PM
I was going to say low tire pressure, but your last post gives the best hint yet. Thorns. Your flats may be a function of the plant life in your area. I've heard from the touring crowd that there are stretches of road in the desert southwest where wind-blown, thorny plant debris virtually guarantees flat tires.
My $.02Ian
Jun 15, 2001 7:52 AM
The first couple of years that I started riding, I used whatever tire was on sale. Never really had any problems.

Then I upgraded to Axial Pros, again no problems.

Then I bought a new bike w/ Vector Comps. They require long stem valves and most long stem valves are lightweight tubes. I put on a new set of Axial Pros. I had 8-10 flats in a 2-3 month period. The problem was the lightweight tubes. They would just develop a pinhole leak, anywhere in the tube, at any given time. Maybe it was a bad batch, but I swore them off. The funny thing is, I run lightweights in my MTB and have not had any problems. I guess it is the PSI.

I have been running Vredestein Tri-Comps for the last 1000 miles, no problems, great tire.

That is my personal experience, here is what I saw in the shop.

Conti GP 3000's seem to cut easier than Axial Pros or Tri-Comps. Everytime I worked on a road bike with 3000's I would pick little pieces of debris out of the rubber. They just seem to pick up more debris than any other tire I've seen.

And, by the way. Check the valve stem hole on your Ksyriums. I had one in the shop that had the slightest sharp edge on it and was causing flats. I cut a 4" piece of Velox just to smooth over the hole and the problem went away.
You Just Might Be A Flat Magnet....Greg Taylor
Jun 15, 2001 7:59 AM
...You know, every group has one. The guy (or woman) who consistently has trouble with tires.

I'm one of those guys that takes their time fixing a flat, making sure that I understand why the tire went down. I even put a mark on my tube to know how it was oriented in the tire so I can reconstruct the problem after I pull it apart. Compulsive.

Since most of my miles are doing the commuter thing (30 miles a day), the vast majority of my flats are caused by running over something. The big culprit for me is small bits of glass getting in the tread and working their way through the casing. I was running Vittoria Couriers (kevlar belted), but they really don't work any better than my cheap Michelin Axial Sports.

As for a "performance" tire, I have had EXCELLENT luck with Panaracer. Their Stradius tire is really sweet. Nashbar has them on sale for under $25.
Wheel setupRed Owl
Jun 15, 2001 8:00 AM
I have a pair of touring/training wheels with 700c Specialized Air-Loc tubes, and two weeks ago I accidentally rode them over a jagged broken bottle in an alley without flatting. Definitely a heavier setup, but so far they've been pretty reliable at warding off the flats for me.
Two pieces of advice from someone who RARELY flats.boy nigel
Jun 15, 2001 8:45 AM

Since I've gotten back on the bike last summer, I haven't flatted. Granted, I've only ridden five miles since then, but... KIDDING. :)

1) Seriously, though, I'm careful to brush my tires off with my glove during rides, especially if I think I've ridden through something (stones, glass, debris, etc.). I can't see Doug Sloan NOT doing this with all of his experience and going for personal bests like he does. A flat can truly ruin a perfectly ridden time trial.

2) I got into the habit of checking my tires every so often before rides; sometimes only after rides, but the results are the same: I've found wee pieces of glass and other things lodged in my Hutchinson Krono Gold tires. These tires are decent-quality racing tires, and Hutchinson claims that they've got high puncture resistance for such a tire; so far, this has proven true. In the thousand or so miles I've got on them, I've yet to have a flat. Anyway, I keep a partially unbent paper clip in my toolbox as my "scalpel." When I'm quickly checking the treads pre- or post-ride, I've dug/picked glass and such out of the tires. I count each extraction as a personal victory of sorts, since the offending particle would almost certainly have cost me a flat if not removed.

That's my experience and my advice. Hey Doug, how often do you check your tires before/after rides? Do you do this already? If not, all that great, lightweight kit you're using may not be able to help with times if you're fixing a flat--a real shame. All the best to you for smooth, speedy, flat-free rides.

from a reliable source: 6+ years of high mileage, no fl*ts.Haiku d'état
Jun 15, 2001 9:37 AM
continental ultra 2000s with mr. tuffy tire liners. not allowed to divulge the source, but it's a sure thing.

have over 1000 miles on my bianchi with 700x23 panaracer elites and ritchie blue cloth rim tape, only one fl*t (ok, two, but the other one was at the stem from me yankin' on it when inflating the tire), and i keep 'em at 120+ psi.

one thing i did find: at 500+ miles w/out changing the tube, if you haven't put some talc or something in there, the tube molds to the tire. ugh.

good luck.
A sacrifice....Lazy
Jun 15, 2001 11:13 AM
I remember a few months back when Kristin was having similar trouble we came up with the only real solution: a sacrifice to the cycling gods must be made!

I don't remember the particulars, but it involved burning some punctured tubes and tires and other unpleasantness. Not very environmentally friendly, but super effective.

FWIW, I ride Michelin AP's with Conti tubes. I have had super luck. I've only had two flats in the last year (2K+ miles). I think the responses involving karma (sp?) are probably the most truthful. When it's your time to suffer sudden deflation syndrome, it's your time to suffer sudden deflation syndrome. I guess all we can do is hope the sudden deflation syndrome won't lead to sudden deceleration trauma.

Good luck, welcome back.
Speaking of KarmaLazy
Jun 15, 2001 11:20 AM
Maybe this is your penance for cutting that star fork too short! ;-)
The difference in experiences on this issue is pretty amazing.bill
Jun 15, 2001 11:46 AM
I hear you guys all of time talking about flats, and, I've got to say, in three years of road riding (and I realize I'm tempting the gods here), I've suffered exactly one flat.
I run my tires at or below rated pressure. I go over them once in awhile, but nothing anal. I don't use lightweight tubes. I try to use decent tires, don't wear them down to the cord. I use talcum powder on the tubes. I don't know what else to say.
And I'm not light, either (about 170 lbs).
last time this conversation came up ...bianchi boy
Jun 15, 2001 1:40 PM
I had my first f**t in a couple years, so I will avoid using the F word. I've ridden 4,000 miles since last August and I've had one f**t during that time, right about the time everyone was discussing f**ts on RBR. The last time I had a f**t before then was several years ago.

I was gonna suggest that Doug has more f**ts merely because he rides so many more miles than most of us, but he says they occur every couple hundred miles, so that can't explain it. Maybe our roads are just cleaner here in NC, or all the rain washes glass off much quicker.

BTW, I have been running M Axial Pros almost exclusively since last summer. My rims have strips but I never change them. I try to refill my tires to 110 psi before every ride but sometimes forget.

I sometimes wonder why I carry a pump, tube repair kit, CO2 cartridges and spare tube, when I rarely ever f**t. But the last time it happened was right after I got the CO2 filler and I wasn't carrying a pump and only one cartridge, and I didn't have enough CO2 to refill my tire. That won't happen to me again.