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Fixing a Flat


This article first appeared in the Summer 1996 edition of the Bicycle Habitat newsletter.


Ask Hal: No More Flats!
by Hal Ruzal

The flat tire is the bane of the cyclists' existence. Many a good ride has been cut short by the dreaded flat. The quickest way to prevent flats is to check your tires a couple of days before the big ride.

Check the sides of the tires first. Are they dry-rotted? Dry rot is characterized by discoloration and flaking of the sidewall. If your tires are dry-rotted, throw them out! If you don't, they will blow out. Also, be sure to check that the tire has no sidewall cuts.

If the sidewalls pass, check the tops of the tires. Is the tire so warn out that you can see the casing cords? That's another reason to buy a new tire.

If your tires are new and still get flats, you should think about investing in Kevlar belted tires. Kevlar is a miraculous material that stops bullets and most broken Budweiser bottles. These tires are more expensive, but will worth the investment.

If you're still getting flats, are you riding with proper air pressure? Tires have their recommended pressure ratings written on the sidewalls. Inflate the tires to that pressure. Unless you're really experienced, you'll have to purchase a tire gauge to prevent unexpected blow-outs.

Cheapo rim strips can also contribute to some flats. Replace those cheap rubber ones with adhesive-backed, cloth ones. The $6.50 investment will save you money in the long run.

If you're still getting flats you probably need Mr. Tuffy tire liners. They fit between the tire and tube and give an extra measure of safety from broken glass.

Try to avoid potholes and jumping curbs. This will prevent pinch flats and save you from having to replace bent wheels.

Ride on, brothers and sisters.