Author Topic: To have and have not - spare tyres when touring?  (Read 5462 times)

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Offline sanuk

To have and have not - spare tyres when touring?
« on: May 27, 2010, 04:15:40 am »
Another day, another dilemma.  I have a new spare tyre sitting here -Continental Travel Contact, like the tyres I already have on the bike and which are relatively new.  The spare was picked up in Germany by my partner at my request.  I know they come in a foldable version, and did specify that, but she's not sure now if it is, although she says she thinks it was folded when she got it.  OK, she had other things on her mind, and the question exactly why she unfolded it remains moot for the sake of the relationship.  So, what's the consensus on taking along a spare on a two month road trip in the US?  More weight more bulk, or more peace of mind?  These particular tyres are supposed to have some degree of Kevlar protection and I've never had a flat or blow-out so far even in the heat and on rough surfaces of SE Asia - fingers crossed.  And anyway, how would I know if this tyre I hold before me is in fact a foldable tyre, and if I should decide to take it, how do I actually go about folding it - assuming it is capable of being folded?  They tend to wriggle quite a bit and I'd hate to destroy a good tyre in the process.  Of course, I could buy a ready folded new tyre as a spare in the US but I am trying to keep within budget. :-\

Offline staehpj1

Re: To have and have not - spare tyres when touring?
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2010, 06:58:05 am »
Another day, another dilemma.  I have a new spare tyre sitting here -Continental Travel Contact, like the tyres I already have on the bike and which are relatively new.  The spare was picked up in Germany by my partner at my request.  I know they come in a foldable version, and did specify that, but she's not sure now if it is, although she says she thinks it was folded when she got it.  OK, she had other things on her mind, and the question exactly why she unfolded it remains moot for the sake of the relationship.  So, what's the consensus on taking along a spare on a two month road trip in the US?  More weight more bulk, or more peace of mind?  These particular tyres are supposed to have some degree of Kevlar protection and I've never had a flat or blow-out so far even in the heat and on rough surfaces of SE Asia - fingers crossed.  And anyway, how would I know if this tyre I hold before me is in fact a foldable tyre, and if I should decide to take it, how do I actually go about folding it - assuming it is capable of being folded?  They tend to wriggle quite a bit and I'd hate to destroy a good tyre in the process.  Of course, I could buy a ready folded new tyre as a spare in the US but I am trying to keep within budget. :-\

Different strokes, but I have never carried a spare.

It should be easy to tell if it has a wire bead or not.  My guess is that if you can't tell it is a not foldable and it was just folded into the three rings that non foldable can be folded into.

Any wire beaded tire can be packed small enough to fit in a pannier or strap on top.  Check out:
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/video/tire-folding.html

Offline tonythomson

Re: To have and have not - spare tyres when touring?
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2010, 08:53:23 am »
I always carry a spare tyre, as stated even a non foldable can be turned to fit a pannier.  However, for 2 months you could take a chance on good new tyres. 4000 miles on mixture of roads and haven't wrecked a tyre yet here.  Maybe tomorrow??

But for my piece of mind I carry a spare.
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline rvklassen

Re: To have and have not - spare tyres when touring?
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2010, 10:14:56 am »
If you've ever handled a foldable tyre, you will immediately know whether the one before you is foldable.  Foldable tyres pretty much flatten out when not folded, and can be folded without any twists.  They fit in a smaller package as well.  They are somewhat lighter (but only marginally), and in my limited experience seem to be easier to mount.  Also in my limited experience I've yet to find a foldable tyre that isn't more expensive than its wire bead original.  Based on a) the ease of mounting; b) the slightly smaller packing size; and c) the theory that wire bead tires are less tolerant of rim heat on a tandem, I always (when on tour) carry a foldable spare. 

But I'm on a tandem.

I never carried a spare tyre on a single.  Living dangerously? Perhaps.  It is rare (but not unheard of) to damage a tyre beyond the point of usefulness - it happened to us the other week for the first time in 40 years of riding - tear just above the (wire) bead: probably due to a failing rim; any really bad blowout means a new tyre but most can be booted until you get to a store.   However, the tyre you get at some random store won't necessarily be a tyre you like.  Normally you can see when a tyre is approaching end of life, so it's not catastrophic.

Offline whittierider

Re: To have and have not - spare tyres when touring?
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2010, 12:36:51 pm »
+1 to staehpj1's post!  And thanks for the link to the video on how to curl a non-folding tire to make it smaller.  Now I won't have to try to describe it in text.

To add to rvklassen's post:  A foldable tire can truly be folded, not just curled.  The bead is not stiff at all, and can be folded sharply without damage, and won't tend to hold the folds when opened out.

I find however that the folding tires are harder to mount, because they don't hold their shape in the process like wire-bead ones do.  Instead, the folding tires tend to curl into figure-8's or turn inside out and things like that when you're trying to mount them.  Unfortunately it seems like none of the better tires come in a wire-bead version anymore.

Quote
I never carried a spare tyre on a single.  Living dangerously?  Perhaps.  It is rare (but not unheard of) to damage a tyre beyond the point of usefulness - it happened to us the other week for the first time in 40 years of riding - tear just above the (wire) bead: probably due to a failing rim; any really bad blowout means a new tyre but most can be booted until you get to a store.   However, the tyre you get at some random store won't necessarily be a tyre you like.  Normally you can see when a tyre is approaching end of life, so it's not catastrophic.

So true.  Even a 1/4" cut, booted well, can be perfectly reliable, even on the sidewall, even on the front.  Pieces of Mr. Tuffy tire liners make good booting material, and you don't have to glue it to the inside of the tire.  The pressure of the tube against the inside of the tire will hold it in place plenty well without glue or adhesive.  Pick a tire-liner width a little wider than you would use for your size of tire.  If the hole pretty big, use two pieces of the tire liner, one over the other.  We've ridden tens of thousands of miles on booted tires, and they have never been a problem.  In fact, after booting one place, we have, a few time, gotten a cut in another part of the tire, ending up with two boots, before the tire is worn out.  Yet after buying and maintaining somewhere near 200 tires for myself and my family over the decades, every single catastrophic or near-catastrophic tire problem we've had has been with a new or nearly new tire (indicating a manufacturing defect), never a booted tire.

For the ultra-bad tire situation (like a blowout on one of the new tires I was talking about), you can carry a piece of a thin, worn-out but otherwise undamaged tire, cut to maybe 2"x3", and with the beads cut off, as booting material.  Ride the tire until you get your first chance to replace it.

This tire, with the pencil stuck into the hole to show the size,



was booted and ridden with the cut for the last 1,500 miles on the rear, including bombing down a lot of curvy mountain roads, until it was worn out.  It was booted with two 1.5" strips of Mr. Tuffy tire liner (our usual boot material), oriented oposite directions, so there was no bulging at full pressure.  I took the picture just before putting the tire in the trash.

This one



is on a bike which doesn't get ridden much, so although it has somewhere near 2000 miles on this boot job, it has been this way for many years.

The following front tire has the biggest sidewall cut I've ever booted.  The boot job made it safe for the last third of its wear life.



A friend who's new to cycling had the same as this happen to his tires when they were relatively new:



and the shop told him the tires were toast and that he had to buy new ones.  I don't know if they just wanted to take advantage and make money, or if they were just ignorant, or maybe just didn't want to be blamed after something unrelated happened, or what.  What's frayed here is only the outside edge of the fabric that protects the bead area from tire levers.  All the fabric behind the side of the rim is perfect, and I rode this tire thousands of miles more.

None of these (and there are plenty more) have ever given us any problems like the new tires did that started coming apart from the inside with 200 miles or less, sometimes on the very first ride, evidenced by the lumping and a bad S-bend developing quickly, which if not caught right away, results in a blowout.  The last tires I had this happen on were a pair of new Vredestein Fortezzas (not even 200 miles on them) at 95-100psi (way below their rated max), not seconds, and not cheap tires, although not the most expensive either.  Unfortunately I didn't take pictures before throwing the tires out.

We usually wear the tires out until the strings are showing, like this:



After retiring one that was more worn than this, I cut across it to see what was left on the inside, and I was pleasantly surprised that the carcass was really unaffected, all still there.  Some will say you get flats more easily when the tire is so worn.  In this case however, it's a Continental Grand Prix 4000, which has a vectran breaker layer inside (supposedly better than kevlar), and that breaker layer is not at all affected by tread wear.

The strength of the tire is not in the rubber, so wear or cuts on only the rubber are inconsequential.  Cuts to the carcass need to be booted, and if done properly, can be at least as safe as a new tire.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2010, 04:57:44 pm by whittierider »

Offline Tourista829

Re: To have and have not - spare tyres when touring?
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2010, 12:50:35 pm »
Weigh in on carrying a spare tire. If you have it you probably won't need it. if not, you might. In Florida, in the summer, i always carry a small umbrella.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: To have and have not - spare tyres when touring?
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2010, 12:02:29 am »


  It is rare (but not unheard of) to damage a tyre beyond the point of usefulness - it happened to us the other week for the first time in 40 years of riding

I did it last year on the first day of a tour--a major screw through the side wall and the tread.  I was back on the road in 15 minutes, thanks to the spare I was carrying.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline valygrl

Re: To have and have not - spare tyres when touring?
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2010, 12:42:06 am »
I carry one on long trips, have used it 2ce.

Offline sanuk

Re: To have and have not - spare tyres when touring?
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2010, 05:17:31 am »
Thanks for all that info. and the pix.  That's what makes this site - practical advice from experienced cyclists.  So, as I understand it a foldable tyre lacks wire beading on the edges.  Mine definitely has wire beading, thus it is not foldable.  Correct?  The photos help boost my confidence: there's no way I'd let a tyre get that bad before replacing it so I should be alright.  I'll look for some 'booting' tape as my back-up.  One dillema less.

Offline rvklassen

Re: To have and have not - spare tyres when touring?
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2010, 09:16:11 am »
So, as I understand it a foldable tyre lacks wire beading on the edges.  Mine definitely has wire beading, thus it is not foldable.  Correct? 
Yes.  Folding tyres have kevlar or the like in their bead, not wire.  You can fold the bead with only a mm or two of air gap in the inside of the fold.

Offline whittierider

Re: To have and have not - spare tyres when touring?
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2010, 01:03:12 pm »

Quote
So, as I understand it a foldable tyre lacks wire beading on the edges.  Mine definitely has wire beading, thus it is not foldable.  Correct?

Foldable tires do have a bead, but it's so flexible it can be folded (not just bent) back on itself without damage.  The kevlar strands in the bead are much, much finer than human hair.

Quote
The photos help boost my confidence: there's no way I'd let a tyre get that bad before replacing it so I should be alright.  I'll look for some 'booting' tape as my back-up.

Unless there's something I don't know about, I will say that tape won't do it, or at least won't last.  Tire liners are very tough strips of plastic that are made to out-last many, many tires, and they are normally for putting inside the tire to improve the flat protection.  Most foreign objects that will penetrate inexpensive tires can't get through the tire liner.  What I'm recommending is taking a piece of this tough, very durable tire liner, in a width a little wider than you would use on the tire of interest, cut a couple of inches long, rounded on the ends and with no corners or sharp edges.  Keep a few of these with your tire-repair stuff.  For the biggest holes I showed above, use two layers.  We want to be able to pump up to full pressure, and go down the mountain passes at full speed, with full confidence.

For the absolutely huge hole (like an inch long) that hopefully you'll never get, carry a 2"x3" piece of thin tire with the beads cut off, to use as a boot.

Offline sanuk

Re: To have and have not - spare tyres when touring?
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2010, 09:08:53 am »
Sorry, but I still find this confusing.  I'm not technically very savy on this, but the beading on the inside circumference of the tyre I have certainly feels and looks like there's a fairly substantial piece of wire of some sort inside and they don't feel like they're going to take too easily to being folded flat - or if they did, I doubt they'd just pop back to their original state right away - if ever.  Feels to me like they'd be permanently bent out of shape or deformed in some way.  I've seen someone just give a tyre a kind of figure 8 twist to pack it, but that doesn't look too healthy a way of doing things either.
Second point: Using tyre liner or any other material much thicker than a tube patch or duct tape on the inside of a split/cut/blown-out tyre.  If it's anywhere near the road contact surface of the tyre surely you'll have a bump, especially if you inflate to the max?  On the tyre wall it might not matter so much until you take a corner downhill.

Offline tonythomson

Re: To have and have not - spare tyres when touring?
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2010, 09:25:11 am »
Never had a problem when coming to use the tyre after folding into a figure of 8.  Had them like that for extended periods and all OK when needed.

Stop worrying and get riding  it's the only way.  But I do understand your concerns as I'm the same before a long tour and if you've been riding in SE Asia (I think that's where you said you are from) then USA is going to be a breeze.
Good luck
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline whittierider

Re: To have and have not - spare tyres when touring?
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2010, 12:16:27 pm »

Quote
Sorry, but I still find this confusing.  I'm not technically very savy on this, but the beading on the inside circumference of the tyre I have certainly feels and looks like there's a fairly substantial piece of wire of some sort inside and they don't feel like they're going to take too easily to being folded flat - or if they did, I doubt they'd just pop back to their original state right away - if ever.  Feels to me like they'd be permanently bent out of shape or deformed in some way.

Then you have a wire bead.  It's a thick steel wire.  If you bend it sharply, it's not only bent, but possibly damaged.

The Kevlar bead in a folding tire is floppy.  Although its strength makes it difficult to cut, if you do cut it you'll just find fuzz in there, because the fibers are so much finer than human hair.  A folding tire can be folded or rolled up tight like a tube, and can be put in a box with very little air space.

Quote
Second point: Using tyre liner or any other material much thicker than a tube patch or duct tape on the inside of a split/cut/blown-out tyre.

Right.  A patch is nowhere near adequate to use as a tire boot.  A patch is only meant to be air-tight, not give mechanical strength.

Quote
  If it's anywhere near the road contact surface of the tyre surely you'll have a bump, especially if you inflate to the max?  On the tyre wall it might not matter so much until you take a corner downhill.

Tire liners, although extremely tough, are also floppy-- very flexible, but not stretchy.  If you do a good job at booting a hole, there will be no bulge, even at full pressure.  Parts of a bike trail that runs near our house were recently repaved, and the surface is the best I've ever experienced on any road.  Now for the first time ever, I am able to feel a boot bumping along; but detecting it required a perfect road surface.

Offline univac

Re: To have and have not - spare tyres when touring?
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2010, 01:06:09 pm »
FWIW, I used Schwalbe Marathon Pluses on my X-Canada tour last year of > 8,500km (>5300mi).  I did not get one flat on the entire tour, which isn't that unusual these days, from what I've read.  I still had some tread left after that tour and indeed Schwalbe rates the Pluses up to 14,000km or so.  Yes, I've had 2 nails, at 2 different times, right thru an earlier Marathon Plus, so that can happen to any tire.  It's nothing a little piece of Tyvek can't fix.  I actually continued using that 'damaged' tire, with the Tyvek in place, for 2 more years!

As for my upcoming tour, planned for 2012, of the circumference of Australia (15K - 20K km), I will likely have a pair of replacement tires mailed to me at the 1/2 way point.  The Marathon Pluses weight almost a kilo each (2.2 pounds) so it's a lot of extra weight to drag around.