Author Topic: The evil plant!  (Read 1952 times)

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Offline LexieCali

The evil plant!
« on: July 07, 2011, 09:58:43 pm »
Cycling in SoCal, I punctured my tires in two place on some kind of barbs or thorns that apparently broke of some kind of local plantlife. Ended up walking my bike 5 miles to the nearest LBS. Now pulling my hair out thinking I should have gotten some kind of sealant, but not sure whether it would hold. Can anyone recommend a sealant, and while we are at it, a good light tool kit I can attach to my bike.
Thanks and Happy Riding!
Lexie

Offline whittierider

Re: The evil plant!
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2011, 11:29:25 pm »
I'm not too fond of sealants.  They can separate after a few months and become ineffective, or dry out and make noises (I helped a friend diagnose this one, and when we figured it out, he gave me permission to cut the tube open to see this piece of solidified sealant that was flapping), and, in the unlikely event you ever get a blow-out, it makes a mess everywhere and it's slippery, making the tire extra dangerous until you can get the bike stopped.

I live and ride in southern California and use Continental Grand Prix 4000 road racing tires which, although they have one of the best performances on the market in terms of rolling resistance and wet grip and lifetime, they also have a vectran breaker layer that is very resistant to flats.  I seem to average about 2,000 miles between flats, more than I ever got with any other brand, even when I was using thicker more touring-oriented tires.  I use the ultra-thin 49-gram Performance LunarLite innertubes which are less than half as thick as standard tubes.  A couple of years ago I even pulled a box staple out of the rear tire, but it had not penetrated the vectran breaker layer, so I didn't have to fix a flat.  Continental definitely did something right in this tire.

As for tools, you should always have with you what you need to fix a flat, plus the few allen wrenches that fit things on your bike.  An adjustable wrench won't do you a bit of good if it's a road bike.  There's absolutely nothing on the bike that it will fit.  It's good to have a spoke wrench too, so you can true the wheel up a bit if you ever break a spoke.  I carried a chain tool for many years until I realized I never needed it on a ride and probably never would, so I quit.  I do carry a spare master link though.

The flat-fixing supplies mean generally a spare tube, a patch kit, a set of tire levers, and a pump.  A CO2 inflator is quick, but it's good to have at least a mini pump for backup.  It's good to have a few tire boots made of tire-liner material, and for really big cuts or rips in a tire, a boot made from another worn-out tire with the beads cut off.  With these, there is virtually no situation that will keep you from finishing a ride.  You will never need to carry a spare tire.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2011, 02:13:03 pm by whittierider »

Offline staehpj1

Re: The evil plant!
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2011, 06:59:50 am »
Whittierider is correct IMO.  Sealants are not very effective, they don't last forever, they are messy, and they add weight in a place where its' negative effects are most problematic.

Ride carefully and carriy spare tubes and a patch kit.  Learn what local flora causes the problem and avoid it.  In much of the country that would be the goat head thorn.  It is often a tiny low growing plant that looks completely innocent at a glance.  These thorns are awful.  Check out:
http://www.socorro.com/fattire/goatheads.html

Offline litespeed

Re: The evil plant!
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2011, 09:21:26 am »
In goathead thorn country (Nebraska is the worst) STAY ON THE PAVEMENT. Avoid wild grassy areas in particular. You will still get flats but going off pavement is really asking for trouble. Try to avoid going off pavement when you stop to eat, pee, rest or whatever. I learned this the hard way. Carry plenty of tubes and install good tire liners.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2011, 09:24:08 am by litespeed »

Offline John Nelson

Re: The evil plant!
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2011, 09:41:43 am »
STAY ON THE PAVEMENT. Avoid wild grassy areas in particular. You will still get flats but going off pavement is really asking for trouble.
+1 In addition to keeping your bike tires on pavement, stay away from the very edge of the pavement too. Ride as far out as traffic will allow. If the road is deserted, ride in the same tracks as the car tire. If you do have to take the bike off the pavement for any reason, inspect the tires carefully before riding again.

Offline staehpj1

Re: The evil plant!
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2011, 09:46:11 am »
In goathead thorn country (Nebraska is the worst) STAY ON THE PAVEMENT. Avoid wild grassy areas in particular. You will still get flats but going off pavement is really asking for trouble. Try to avoid going off pavement when you stop to eat, pee, rest or whatever. I learned this the hard way. Carry plenty of tubes and install good tire liners.
Great advice...  That is mostly what I did and I now have literally 1/10 and many flats.  I am not a fan of tire liners though.  My preference is for a moderately robust tire (Continental Ultragatorskin), thin tubes (not thornproof), no liner, no slime.  I'd rather have a lively ride than a bomb proof tire.  I then rely on being careful and if I still have a flat once in a while I don't see it as a big disaster.  Five minutes fixing a flat is just not a huge deal unless you have them all the time.

When you don't follow Litespeed's advice and do go off pavement, check for thorns before starting off again.  Also when you fix a flat find the cause and remove it otherwise you will continue to get flats from the same thorn, glass, or metal wire.

Oh and one other thing...  Watch out even on the shoulder if it is cracked up and has low plants in the cracks.  Sometimes goat heads thrive there.

Offline ChromolyWally

Re: The evil plant!
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2011, 01:40:54 pm »
When I saw the title of this thread I was sure it was going to be about poison oak/ivy, the bane of my existence.

Long ago I was commuting home from work and had to cross about 5 feet of dirt/grass (so I thought) from the road to a dedicated bike path.  Normally I would have been on that bike path sooner but traffic prevented me from getting on at the usual location.  I picked up 14 goatheads in that 5 feet.  Flattened both tires.  That was the experience that taught me to always carry spare tubes.  Didn't have enough patches to fix all that, ended up walking the bike home, about 6 miles.

Offline whittierider

Re: The evil plant!
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2011, 02:39:12 pm »
Quote
I am not a fan of tire liners though.

I don't use them anymore either, but not because there's anything particularly wrong with them, but because although they're very effective with tires that need them, they're not as effective as just using tires that are more puncture-resistant in the first place.  Back when I didn't think I could justify spending almost as much for my bike tires as for my car tires, I got lots of flats and spent the difference on patches and the fact that the tires lasted less than half as many miles as the GP4000's I'm using now.  Putting the Mr. Tuffy tire liners in reduced our (my and my family's) flat rate 80% or more, although we did find out you need a lot of talc in the tire to keep the edges of the tire liner from wearing a slot in the tube and producing flats from a different source.  Occasionally something, including goat heads, did get through.  Now we just use better tires and leave the liners out.

The tire liner is a very tough, but thin and very flexible, strip of plastic that goes between the tire and the tube.  It does not present nearly the energy loss in flexing that you get with the super-thick puncture-resistant tubes, so it does not increase your rolling resistance much like puncture-resistant tubes do.  Also, since it's so flexible and only covers the tread area and not the sidewalls, it does not impact the ride as much as the puncture-resistant tubes do.  When I used puncture-resistant tubes for awhile in the 1970's, it felt like I had 200-300psi in the tires which really beat me up, and I had more rolling resistance too.  The tire liner just gives a tougher barrier that's harder to puncture, whereas the puncture-resistant tube just relies on its thickness to keep short thorns like goat heads from going all the way through and penetrating the air chamber.

A couple of the tires that have the best reputation for avoiding flats are the Continental Ultra Gatorskins (mentioned earlier) and the Specialized Armadillos.  I have not tried them, but I understand the Armadillos are slightly tougher but also give a harsher ride.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2011, 02:42:59 pm by whittierider »

Offline litespeed

Re: The evil plant!
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2011, 06:30:00 pm »
I used to use Continental 2000 tires. When they quit making them I went to Schwalbe Marathon Supremes. I have had noticeably fewer flats with the Marathon Supremes. They seem more puncture resistant to me. They also seem to wear less - last longer.

Offline LexieCali

Re: The evil plant!
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2011, 07:09:36 pm »
Thank you everyone. I can honestly say that this is the most good advice that I have ever had on any forum. You guys are so cool! Thank you. :)

Yes, the plant does look like the goathead you posted here. Looks so innocent though! I had no idea - I did not connect this cute green looking plant with the awful barbs.

About the tires, incidentally I am a big fan of the Continental. I think it is the most undervalued tire maker in US (at least, for car tires), although it is German and anything German is usually viewed as high quality.  When recently shopping for the new tires for my Bimmer, I discovered that the Continentals all-weather are one of the least expensive yet have the highest customer reviews. I am going to check out the Continentals you recommended at my LBS. Tire liner - bad, decent tires - good. ;)


Now looking for the tool kit containing all the tools recommended by whittierider. Will update on this later.

Happy Happy Pedaling!
Lexie

Offline Mark Manley

Re: The evil plant!
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2011, 02:08:57 am »
I have had a similar problem cycling along the canal network here in England, they are often bordered with hawthorne hedges which when trimmed create a bed of nails like surface. The problem was solved by fitting my tyres with slime filled tubes which works well, one tube has at least 10 holes in it and is still up. They do add a little weight but it is worth it for the convenience.

Offline ChromolyWally

Re: The evil plant!
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2011, 02:09:36 pm »
My experience with Slime was not as good as yours.  Two of us were touring on an unpaved rail trail.  My friend had slime, I had thick tubes and liners.  He got 5 flats, I got none.  The slime did nothing for him but ooze green goop all over, making it impossible for us to get a patch to hold on the tube.  Thankfully we had spare tubes. YMMV, I guess.