Author Topic: Carrying a spare tire on tour?  (Read 4186 times)

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Offline MrBent

Carrying a spare tire on tour?
« on: January 14, 2019, 03:14:51 pm »
How many of you carry spare tires?  I've almost always carried one--actually two because I ride recumbents with different wheel sizes.  However, I have NEVER needed one, even after many thousands of miles of touring.  Has anyone actually needed a spare tire on the road? Do you carry a spare?  I'm leaving on a tour in about five days and debating on whether or not to carry the dang things.  I'll be riding on "experienced" Schwalbe Marathon Racers that still have some decent tread, enough for the 600 to 700 miles of the tour.



Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Carrying a spare tire on tour?
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2019, 04:16:01 pm »
I carried one for a 10-day tour and never needed it. Even on my nearly 4 month, 6,000 x-country + tour I never needed a spare, though I did change out the tires in Minneapolis and got a third rear tire in NH while heading south after reaching ME.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Carrying a spare tire on tour?
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2019, 07:20:28 pm »
If you start on new tires, you’re probably good for several months. But I like to finish wearing out my current tires, so when I start with used tires, I carry a spare. When I’ve started without a spare, I’ve never needed one. But when I’ve started with a spare, I’ve always used it. I had an old tire explode at 8000 miles. I’d have been stopped cold without the spare.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Carrying a spare tire on tour?
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2019, 08:58:38 pm »
I've carried, and used, a spare tire.  There was a wire in the sidewall of my touring tire that broke and caused 5 flats before I found it.  I put on the spare tire and, enraged, walked the old one down the road 50 yards to toss the old one in somebody's garbage can.

The replacement wore out, but I was able to baby it 100 miles after it flatted and I noticed the cords showing through the tread until I could buy a new tire (great LBS in West Yellowstone, FWIW).

So it's certainly possible to need a new tire on tour.  How do you decide?

Standard tire sizes (700C and 26") are fairly easy to find if there's a bike shop nearby, and (for the 26" size) at Wally-world.  Other tires (650B, for instance) are going to be hard to find.  Can your schedule and finances order a tire online, FedEx delivery, and you sit and wait for it to arrive if your tire can't be fixed?

How far are you going?  How heavy is your loaded bike?  How hilly is the route?  I wear most tires out in 2,000 miles.  Some tires (Continental Contact, Specialized Armadillo) last 2-3 times longer.  My daughter, the featherweight, rode used tires all the way across the country with me and for another couple years before hers needed to be replaced.

How isolated is your route?  If you're riding well-trafficed roads between good sized towns or cities, you can probably get a lift if you need one.  If you're riding little-used dirt roads where traffic is measured in vehicles per month, you might want to carry spare tires.

How diligent are you about checking tires?  I tend to ignore tires (except for pumping them) until I have to look for what caused a flat.  If you are starting with fresh rubber, not going more than perhaps a month, and checking the tires regularly (so you can get a replacement shipped ahead if necessary), there's less cause to carry a spare.

Finally, have you considered carrying lightweight folding spares? Some models are three times the weight of others.  Consider taking a light tire, and if you have to mount it, order a new heavier tire or buy one in the next town and swap them back out when you get the sturdier model.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 09:34:54 pm by Pat Lamb »

Offline litespeed

Re: Carrying a spare tire on tour?
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2019, 09:56:18 pm »
I got a cut on a tire once just south of Tallahassee. I was unable to repair it enough to keep it from leaking air. I didn't have a spare tire so I rented an SUV and drove the 300 miles back home where I had two tires - Schwalbe Marathon Supremes - and back to Tallahassee. I returned the rental, replaced the tire and continued on to Utah. The rental cost me $40+gas - cheaper than buying new tires. And maybe even quicker. Few bike shops carry them so there would have been a day or two wait for the special order.

I have packed a spare tire while touring ever since. You never know. It's just a few ounces. The peace of mind is worth it, especially on long tours and those long, empty stretches out west.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2019, 10:34:11 am by litespeed »

Offline canalligators

Re: Carrying a spare tire on tour?
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2019, 07:25:54 am »
I had not carried a spare and have had to boot them twice, to get me to a store for a new one.  Once I had to get quite creative with booting.  In a fit of anger after walking the tandem five miles, i put a spare in the bag.  So now I carry a spare for the front of the bent tandem, but not for any other bike.  And I carry that spare for all riding. 

I also went back to Kenda K193 tandem tires, no problem since.

Offline Bclayden

Re: Carrying a spare tire on tour?
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2019, 11:06:17 am »
I’ve always toured with a spare but never used 30,000 + touring miles. I just take along an old folding tire that still has a bit of tread left. I tour with Gatorskins so my big concern is a cut on the sidewall that could leave me stranded. Carrying a spare is a small weight/space penalty that just might save the day.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Carrying a spare tire on tour?
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2019, 11:44:20 am »
Over 40 years and tens of thousands of miles of loaded touring (plus the additional regular ridging), I have never had a catastrophic blowout where the tire is no longer usable.  I almost always start on a newer set of tires if the tour is 30+ days and don't try to get every last penny out them.

I have never carried a spare (from the start) while on a paved tour.  I have carried a spare for a week or so mid-tour (multi-month) as I picked up an extra rear tire when the rear was starting to look a little iffy.  I finally got around to changing it about a week later during a rest day.

I have carried a spare on an mostly off-road tour as not only are there no stores, frequently there are no other drivers to give you a lift for a couple of hours.

That said, regardless of the tour length (even a couple of days), I do always pack a couple of tire boots, a small roll of duct table, and a large "boot" cut from a pop can.

Tailwinds, John

Offline BikePacker

Re: Carrying a spare tire on tour?
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2019, 11:26:43 pm »
Has anyone actually needed a spare tire on the road? Do you carry a spare? 
Never carried a spare (what a pain it is to do so :- ) until I had a good quality tire fail so badly I had to fully replace.
Because this occurred on the backside of no where, it was so disruptive that it nearly ended that tour.
Since that time I have always carried a spare tire.

Offline LouMelini

Re: Carrying a spare tire on tour?
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2019, 01:09:06 pm »
My wife and I have used our spare tire twice in approximately 13,000 miles of touring since 2005. Once was a badly cut tire and the other was a broken wire bead on the tire. We carry a light weight folding tire for that rare need and peace of mind. We also carry tire boots. We have not had to use the spare since 2009 perhaps due to better tire selection at the beginning of our trips.