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High speed front tire failures?(10 posts)

High speed front tire failures?Trux
Apr 21, 2003 10:38 AM
I ride a lot of mountain passes and have always wondered what I would, or could, do on a high speed descent (45 mph+) if my front tire suddenly failed. My questions are: 1. How common are high speed tire failures and 2. What can you do in such an event?
re: High speed front tire failures?gtx
Apr 21, 2003 10:49 AM
1. not too common, especially if you inspect your front tire frequently, maintain proper tire pressure and avoid sharp objects.

2. Get your weight back/unweigh the front wheel as much as possible, get on the brakes and don't try to turn.

btw, tubulars behave better in these situations than clinchers.
3 thingsLC
Apr 21, 2003 10:50 AM
No too common, but it did happen to me and I managed to get the bike stopped without crashing. If I had to turn or stop in any hurry I would have gone down for sure.

1. Don't turn, keep the handle bars strait.
2. Don't hit the front brake.
3. Stay relaxed and pray!
good pointsDougSloan
Apr 21, 2003 7:33 PM
Also, keep your weight back.

Don't turn -- most important.

I did this at 45 mph and survived ok; was in between cars descending fast on Pacific Highway 1 in a double century; hit something and blew bigtime. Dented my rim, too.

Try to remember which brake lever is which. Practice what you would do ahead of time.

saw one, but still do itmohair_chair
Apr 21, 2003 10:56 AM
Was behind a guy descending Hwy 84 into Woodside (California), going about 35 mph. Near the bottom, on a right hand turn, he was wide and hit one of the raised reflectors on the center line. That was all she wrote. The front tire went, the whole wheel quickly followed, and he went down pretty hard. It was quite a sight. He came out of it shaken and stirred, with just scratches and bruises. He was very lucky. The wheel was completely taco'ed, the bars were whacked, etc. All in all, not bad, considering how bad it could have been, up to and including death if there had been a car coming up the other lane. We stopped and checked him out, and called his girlfriend when we got to a phone.

So, what can you do? The only truly effective thing you can do is stop doing high speed descents. That's just not an option for me! More realistic is to make sure your tires are in good shape, and when descending, don't be afraid to take the lane, cars be damned, especially if there is crap on the shoulder. (A lot of the descents I do, I can go as fast or faster than the cars, so it's not usually an issue.) At high speed, don't ride over stuff in the road or into potholes. Beyond these simple suggestions, luck plays a huge role, far greater than you can control. You can worry about it, or you can enjoy it. Your choice.

We still scream down Hwy 84 as fast as we can. When I go past the spot I think about the guy who crashed, but just because his luck ran out doesn't mean mine will.
I had one...DINOSAUR
Apr 21, 2003 11:51 AM
I was not not going very fast (25MPH?), but it did not take much. I was making a left turn when my front tire went flat and I went down, big time, knocked unconscious and fractured a bunch of ribs (yes, I was wearing a helmet). Lesson learned is WATCH what you run over and if in doubt stop and take a look at your tire. I ran over two large chucks of gravel and since I did not flatten right away I thought I was o.k. it took a couple of tenths of a mile before I lost all my air.

I blew a rear tire last month while descending, again-not that fast (35 MPH). Front tires can be deadly as you loose your steering. Best thing is not to panic and try to stay off of your brakes as much as possible and ride it out.

It took a long time to forget about my crash (a couple of years). Now I'm real fussy about my tires, I usually wear clear or amber lenses in my riding glasses so I can see what is in front of me. If I think I ran over something, I'll stop and check my tires.

Tires usually fail if you damage the sidewall and the tire pressure will cause the casing to fail. I blew the sidewall of a Conti 4-Season, which are supposed to have reinforced sidewalls, but I found the opposite. I ended up trashing both of mine and they did not make it to 1K.

I clean off my tires after each ride and inspect them. Any doubt and I'll pull them off. And I never exceed the manufacturers recommended psi rating. I was over inflating the 4-Seasons by ten pounds because of a defective guage on my floor pump. But I don't think that was enough to blow the tire, just bad luck or bad tires....

Oh- and my crash happend about .3 miles from my driveway, so just because you are almost home, don't think you are home free....

Crashing at 45 MPH would be very ugly....I kinda worked up my climbing skills and learned to take the descents a little slower....

Blowing sidewalls are pretty uncommon, I've only had a couple in about thirty years of riding..
Happened to me - twicealansutton
Apr 21, 2003 12:12 PM
Both happened in the same place- the Ice Cream Grade near Santa Cruz. There is a long steep straight section followed by a bridge crossing then a sharp right then left. Upon exiting the bridge, I hit a lifted expansion joint at about 50mph and heard the familiar WHISSSIPISSSIPISSSIPISSIPISSSIPISSS as the front tire rapidly deflated. I grabbed the rear brake hard at the same time I shifted my weight to the rear wheel. The front tire was totally deflated when entered the corner and it rolled off the rim as I tried to steer into the turn. I was doing about 35-40 now, the rear brake not very effective. About 1/3 into the corner, while front rim was grinding ineffectively at the pavement, I locked up the rear wheel. I when down hard, slid across the road into a ditch and ended up in a cactus plant. That was a bad day.
The second time happened a month later. I hit the expansion joint but this time the tire didn't deflate so fast and I was able to use the front brake to slow down before the turn.
ouch! nmPdxMark
Apr 21, 2003 1:53 PM
Where's the wood to knock on?brider
Apr 21, 2003 12:42 PM
I've never flatted a front on a descent. In fact, I've only flatted a front twice, but in crits. The first, I was leading the pack through some corners, took one close, and ran over a rock embedded in the tar. Hard hit, but didn't think I'd flatted. One block later, I feel it going soft. I go to the outside of the next turn to get the speed down and let the pack go by. Unfortunately, I didn't get it down fast enough, and I was on the inside of the next corner with nowhere to go. I wasn't going all that fast, but the tire was completely gone, and I had to turn or T-bone the other riders going around me. Down I went. Only skinned up my ankle a bit.

Second time, hit a bad joint in the concrete street. Fortunately, it was uphill so I could scrub off speed quickly, but again I was on the inside going into the turn at the peak. Very slow speed, but absolutely NO traction. Went down (sort of), but trapped one other rider inside me.

So where's that wood to knock on?
Not common..terzo rene
Apr 22, 2003 8:03 AM
In 20 years of riding I have only had it happen once. I was descending at around 45mph on a highway going into an off-ramp. Fortunately it was timed just perfectly so I was able to keep going straight long enough to get it slowed down and slowly make the turn (tubulars of course).

Tubulars are far better in those situations. They flat less, tend to lose air slower and with a good glue job you can ride it slowly home if you don't want to stop.

Like everyone else said stay loose, don't panic and go straight ahead only. It is also a good idea to be young so it won't hurt so much and your bones won't be so likely to break if you go down.