Author Topic: Flat Tire - Safety Alert  (Read 3629 times)

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Offline Thunder

Flat Tire - Safety Alert
« on: February 17, 2009, 04:19:49 pm »
With the advent of disposed syringes with hypodermic needles on the urban road sides and suburban parks and trails, there is an emerging concern about using finger drag tests for discovering hard to see causes of flat tires [to digress, not all causes of flat tires are immediately evident].

I've had ultra small wires, presumably from radial tires gone bad, that were so hard to find that no other method could discover the little source (and even then, the direction of the drag test mattered). While it hasn't happened to me, the source could easily have been a broken needle tip.

Does anyone know of any known solutions?  I'm certain that gloves won't work - if they are too thick, one can't feel, and if the gloves are too thin, ... .  Any workable Ideas?

Part 2: OK, Sorry, More Details:
1) Needle tips break rather frequently, often in patient arms, but especially when run over by vehicles.
1a) So not only is the needle a threat, so is the glass or plastic shard (but hold that issue for the moment).
2) Experience: Roughly about 80% of the source object cause of flats can be found very quickly (5 min),
maybe 18% can be found with a little diligence (15 min), but 1-2% are extremely difficult.
3) We're talking about that 2%, where one is on tour in the middle of nowhere,
biked through a town in the morning but remote camping tonight,
the kind where your tire goes flat over night and one, maybe, has already changed a tube at least once.
4) We know about where the object is (because of the same tube hole relationship mentioned in a response) but the offending object won't reveal itself except by pressure - This has actually happened to me, twice.
5) Until now, I've done the 'finger drag test' to find the object - Now I don't think that is smart.
6) What solutions exist?

Part III:
7) I failed to mention that in my two tough flat tire cases, both times were on knobbies while on MTB tours.
8) In both cases I had to completely remove the tire and push the tire inward (on the tread) to stretch the insides.
[I moused over an icon and don't know how to rid of it.]

Solutions:
A) In the field, dragging a cloth or cotton ball seems logical and useful. Most people carry rags or maybe even use some article of clothing.  Don't think that I've ever had a cotton ball.
B) In the shop, the Needle Stick sounds like a good idea (a whole new concept to me - thanks). It's probably a little more useful on the tread side of the tire; cotton ball or soft cloth for the inside.
C) Toilet Paper! Why didn't I think of that? Good idea!

Statistically:
A) The odds of a needle caused illness are slim, even remote, but not impossible.  The issue is worthy of a query on a bike blog.
B) As for Needles Breaking and dealing with Broken Tips, I am happy for anyone that has never had to address such an issue. If one were to Google "Broken Hypodermic Needles" one will find way too many pages that address the issue of broke(n) needles. 

Thank You Cyclists!
« Last Edit: March 11, 2009, 05:00:52 am by Thunder »

Offline whittierider

Re: Flat Tire - Safety Alert
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2009, 06:01:36 pm »
Quote
the source could easily have been a broken needle tip.
I think they're intentionally designed to bend and not break, aren't they?  I seriously doubt that you could get the broken tip of a needle, such a short piece that it would be hard to find in a tire.  In any case, note which way the tire came out of the tube, so that when you find the hole in the tube, you can lay the tire back against the tube with the valve at the tire label and see where the offending object came through the tire.  You're much more likely to find it if you only have to search a space of three or four inches.

Offline Thunder

Re: Flat Tire - Safety Alert
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2009, 07:26:22 pm »
Quote
the source could easily have been a broken needle tip.
I think they're intentionally designed to bend and not break, aren't they?  I seriously doubt that you could get the broken tip of a needle, such a short piece that it would be hard to find in a tire.  In any case, note which way the tire came out of the tube, so that when you find the hole in the tube, you can lay the tire back against the tube with the valve at the tire label and see where the offending object came through the tire.  You're much more likely to find it if you only have to search a space of three or four inches.

Sorry "whittierider" I reponded by ammending the original question, I'm new to the these Forum methods.

Offline WesternFlyer

Re: Flat Tire - Safety Alert
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2009, 02:08:19 am »
In my garage I use what in a biology class would be called a “teasing needle,” but I get them from an art supply store where they are sold as a “needle tool.”  It is basically a pencil sized piece of wood with a needle sticking out at one end, they're cheap.  I mount my bike on the work stand and slowly spin each wheel slowly in each direction dragging the side of the needle over the tire.  It has a very sensitive feel for any protruding object even very small hard to see ones.  When I see a cut in the tire I probe it with the end of the needle feeling for glass chards and other sharp debris hidden below the surface.  I have found it can take days and even weeks for glass to cut its way through the Kevlar protective layer most quality bike tires have.  I do this once a week when I am riding around town preemptively, not waiting for the flat to take place.  When I am touring I do the same check everyday except I use a small pen knife or a sewing needle to search and probe.

When I come to a fine metal punctures that I can't remove with the needle tool I try needle nose pliers or strong tweezers.  Some times it helps to let most but not all of the air out and pinch the sidewall beside the puncture.  When that fails I remove the tire from the rim.  Sometimes it is protruding enough on the inside to pull through.  Sometimes I use the needle tool and push the wire or metal fragment completely through to the other side. 

When I do get a flat I go through the same procedures with both tires and I do the above check before I take the flat tire off the rim.  If you picked up a piece of glass in one tire there is a good chance you got one in the other.  I use foldable tires and I turn the flat tire inside out and do the same test on the inside when it is off the rim.  Last weekend I came back from a city ride and pulled a total of four pieces of glass out of my tires even though I didn't have any flats.

I certainly agree in safety first.  If an object is sharp enough to cut or puncture the tough rubber of a touring tire it can easily cut your fingers and who knows where it has been.
Western Flyer

We must ride light and swift.  It is a long road ahead.

King Theoden

Offline biker_james

Re: Flat Tire - Safety Alert
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2009, 06:50:09 am »
I have read that the best approach for finding an object in the tire, is to use a rag or cloth, and drag that, so the metal snags it, and doesn't cut your hand. Seem preferable to me, whether its a needle or one of those nasty pieces of wire out of a shredded tire. I will say that I hadn't considered the needle risk before, but it does seem like it could be possible.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Flat Tire - Safety Alert
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2009, 08:40:20 am »
With the advent of disposed syringes with hypodermic needles on the urban road sides and suburban parks and trails, there is an emerging concern about using finger drag tests for discovering hard to see causes of flat tires [to digress, not all causes of flat tires are immediately evident].
Sounds kind of paranoid to me.  What are the odds that you would get a puncture from a syringe, prick yourself, and contract something.  Got to be one in a billion or something.  I would be willing to bet that this is something that has never happened to anyone anywhere and never will.

That said I have seldom resorted to the finger drag test.  If I know how the tube was in the tire and find the hole in the tube, I then have a very small area of the tire to look at.  At that point I have always been able to find the offending object visually as easily as with the finger drag method.  The times when it is hard to find it visually there is nothing sticking out so the finger drag doesn't work either.  In those cases flexing the casing (sort of pushing a section inside out) in the suspect area sometimes helps.

I have heard that dragging a cotton ball will leave a bit of cotton on the object, but I have never tried it.

Online RussSeaton

Re: Flat Tire - Safety Alert
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2009, 09:35:17 am »
You're making stuff up about the needles breaking.  In 30 years I've never had a needle break.  They are tough and will bend, never break.  After a week or two or three of use they eventually get dull.  Needles are not fragile.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Flat Tire - Safety Alert
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2009, 04:01:17 am »
I have had many many punctures in my tires and tubes even with Mr. Tuffy tire liners. Exactly as you say, the offending item is almost always a wire piece from a radial tire. I have had such punctures with a kevlar belted tire too. The wires somehow find their ways around the belt and come in from the sides. It is diabolical. I do remember seeing some tossed away hypodermic needles along the roadsides, but not all that many, and they have never been any matter of concern to me. The possible scenario you mention can happen; a small part of an infected needle could possibly become lodged in your tire. With that consideration in mind, feeling along using the finger-rub method inside your tire when it is bent back to detect some unseen wire tip might put you at some risk of contraction hepatitis or some other nightmare health hazard. As for myself, I have never given it a second thought. Thinking on the matter, this is about the only thing I can think of right off the bat. Instead of using your finger, use a tightly rolled cotton ball. Perhaps the cotton might catch on the tip and give you an indication of where to pick at with your tweezers. I use tweezers.

Actually though, roadside needles have never been a concern of mine.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2009, 05:23:33 pm by Westinghouse »

Offline ROB/OPTIMO

Re: Flat Tire - Safety Alert
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2009, 12:25:14 pm »
I keep a pair of the cheap jersy gloves in my seat bag with my flat repair kit and spare tube, if i get a flat tire I use the cloth jersy gloves to check for wire,glass or any thing protruding thru the tire, and it also keeps my hands clean.
Rob

Offline PeteJack

Re: Flat Tire - Safety Alert
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2009, 06:54:09 pm »
I've never done this but here's thought. If you don't have a rag or cotton ball an old sailor's trick for finding snags in wire rope is to wipe with toilet paper, something every well prepared cycle tourer should be toting. This may get a bit ugly in the wet mind you.