Author Topic: Flats while touring  (Read 3691 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline froze

Flats while touring
« on: May 08, 2020, 02:49:39 pm »
A question came up on another post here unrelated to the actual post question so I want to ask a direct question and see what experienced touring members say.

These questions are only for those who tour on mostly pavement, maybe some gravel if necessary, but no backcountry off road touring, also only those who have toured in America preferably, and not something wild like the roads in the Outback of Australia.

First question: On average, how many flats do you get while on a single tour?

Second question:  How many tubes do you carry with you if you are using tubed tires and not tubeless?

Third question:  How many spare tires do you carry?

Fourth question:  Do you patch your flats or replace the tube or both?

Fifth question:  Do you do anything to the tire to beef up the flat protection built into the tire like use flat liners, and or a thorn resistant tube, and or sealants?  Again only tube type tires not tubeless.

I would personally like to know so when I start doing long distance touring I'm prepared.  Right now I do short 2 to 3 days out type of touring and 2 to 3 days back.  I use Schwalbe Marathon tires, inside of that I use a Panaracer FlatAway Kevlar liner, and a regular tube with no sealant.  I then carry 1 spare tube, 1 spare tire, and a dozen patches and a tire boot patch.  So am I under prepared for a long journey touring in America in regards to tire protection?

Thanks for your responses. 

Offline John Nettles

Re: Flats while touring
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2020, 03:24:48 pm »
40+ years of experience is what my answers are based on.  YMMV.

I average one flat about every 1250 miles on pavement assuming I am not in the deep SW (TX, NM, AZ) where they have a lot of goathead stickers alongside the road.  Then all bets are off.  I always carry 2 tubes and a decent patch kit plus I have Tear Aids which also patch tubes.  I do not take a spare tire but I do take a couple of boots made from old racing tires.  I replace on the road and patch at camp.  While some will patch continually, I will patch no more than 3 times before trashing the tube.

As far as prevention, I keep a sharp eye on the road for debris and continually check my front tire as I ride to see if it has debris hanging on.  If so, I immediately wipe it off and check the back while at it.  I use good tires (Schwalbe Supremes) but they are not puncture resistant as others like Schwalbe Marathon Plus but those are beastly heavy and have tremendous rolling resistance.  I do occasionally run puncture resistant tubes on the back (usually though only when doing more off-pavement riding) since I have a Rohloff and it is a bit of a pain sometimes to take on and off.

It is important to know what caused the flat, i.e. a sticker, a pinch flat, a truck tire wire, etc. and deal with the cause or you could soon be getting another flat.  Know the signs for the type of flat you got.

Knocking on wood, I have never been stranded.

When riding across the USA, any Walmart has tubes plus a tire shop should be able to help patch a tube in an emergency.  Even some dollar store places sell stuff.  If you stick to pavement, you should be more than fine on AVERAGE with what you use.

Tailwinds, John



Offline jwrushman

Re: Flats while touring
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2020, 05:42:12 pm »
1) Flats per tour - Approx 1.  The only flat I got from NJ to Anacortes was when, trying to put some extra air in the tire with my Topeak Road Morph pump (Baldwinsport NY), I tore where the valve stem attaches to the innertube. 

2) Tubed tires - I carry two spare innertubes

3) Spare tires - None - I put on new Schwalbe Marathon Plus at the beginning of the season.  They still look good at the end of the year.

4) Innertube repair - Replace the tube during the day.  Patch the old tube when I'm done for the day.

5) Extra tire protection - I carry a Park Tool tire boot but have never needed it.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Flats while touring
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2020, 05:42:18 pm »
Quote
First question: On average, how many flats do you get while on a single tour?
It depends on the locale.  Running tires that are somewhat flat resistant and using some care they are fairly infrequent outside goat head thorn country.  In goat head country it depends on how careful I am but I might get none for a week or more, then get several in a day, then go back to none for weeks.

Quote
Second question:  How many tubes do you carry with you if you are using tubed tires and not tubeless?
Usually two light weight tubes.  I don't carry heavy thorn proof ones.

Quote
Third question:  How many spare tires do you carry?
None.

Quote
Fourth question:  Do you patch your flats or replace the tube or both?
Sometimes I patch right away, sometimes I patch in camp in the evening.

Quote
Fifth question:  Do you do anything to the tire to beef up the flat protection built into the tire like use flat liners, and or a thorn resistant tube, and or sealants?  Again only tube type tires not tubeless.
No, none of that.

You didn't ask, but I am loving the tubeless setup on my MTB.  I never have to patch I used to get at least one flat per week due to thorns and with the tubeless setup get none.  I may at some point try touring on tubeless.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Flats while touring
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2020, 05:47:33 pm »
If you want six opinions, ask five bike tourists.  :)

On tour, riding for 4-6 hours a day, I average about a flat every couple weeks.  I normally carry 1-2 tubes commuting and riding on weekends, along with a patch kit.  On tour, I'll carry 2-3 tubes and take a spare tire.

I've had to replace 2 tubes in a day on several occasions, and 4 tubes (had to patch one before installing it) on one memorable, miserable day.  I was grateful to have a spare tire that day.  I've also ridden 60 miles very gingerly to the next bike shop a couple times when I noticed the tire was worn down (fixing a flat, naturally) and didn't have a good tire with me.

Keep in mind that a glueless patch may not stick, and the glue in a normal repair kit may have dried out.

It's said you're never more than an overnight shipment from a replacement tire.  That's almost true.  I'd say you're never more than a long day's ride, or a hitchhike, and a long weekend from a replacement tire in the U.S., although you'll pay twice the price of a tire for overnight shipping.  And maybe a half a week if the COVID warehouse slowdowns continue...

It all comes down to your personal decision, once you start riding.  Do you start with fresh rubber, cross your fingers, and hope to get done before the tires wear down?  Or do you carry the extra load of >2 tubes and a tire?

Offline staehpj1

Re: Flats while touring
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2020, 06:05:18 pm »
Pat raised a couple other issues.  Glueless patches...  I never use them.  Patch kits...  Be sure you have ones with fresh glue.

I used to start with fresh tires on every long tour, but stopped doing that and now figure that on a tour of a few weeks or more replacing tires during the tour is better than wasting the last several hundred miles in a set of tires.  I used to think I'd use them at home if I took them off before a tour, but never did.

Offline John Nettles

Re: Flats while touring
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2020, 06:30:57 pm »
I used to think I'd use them at home if I took them off before a tour, but never did.


But how else can you obtain a collection of 20+ somewhat good tires over the year to sit in the garage until you get fed up with it and give them to the local bike co-op? Speaking from experience! :D

Tailwinds, John

Offline froze

Re: Flats while touring
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2020, 06:35:00 pm »
I know a lot of people won't use glueless but that I found is because they either used some goofy brand that doesn't work, or they failed to prepare the tube correctly.

I started out using glueless patches when they first came out about 30 years ago and I've never looked back.  They were originally made by 3M who then sold the rights to Park Tools which are called Super Patch, those are the ONLY ones I've found that will hold for the life of the tube, all others I've tried failed within 24 hours of application, even the expensive ones like the Lezyne! 

I think, but not sure so I won't be trying them, that the Topeak glueless patch is from Park because the patches looks exactly like the Park's except Topeak puts their trademark on it.

To properly prepare the tube it's almost similar to glue on, but once I'm done with roughing up tube a bit I clean it with an alcohol pad, now I've done it without using an alcohol pad and they didn't fail either but I think the insurance of cleaning the area is worth the extra time.  I only pick up one corner of the patch in the smallest area I can possibly touch so oil from my finger doesn't get over a larger area of the patch, and then apply the patch and press as hard as I can between my fingers and thumb for 30 to 40 seconds, then look at the patch, if I see any frosty looking areas repress those areas for 30 to 40 seconds, once there are no more frosty areas that tube is good to use and that patch will not fail.  My very first glueless patch I ever did failed, and at first I thought great I got junky patches, but I tried again and it worked, that's the only glueless patch that ever failed for me that was either 3M or Park brand and that was 30 years or so ago.  I tried peeling off a glueless patch that had been on a tube I was throwing out due to stem failure for about 5 years to see how difficult it would be to remove...I tore the tube!

However, I am contemplating taking a pack of glue on patches with glue in addition to the glueless just in the unlikely event something goes wrong when I'm touring.


Offline John Nettles

Re: Flats while touring
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2020, 06:43:22 pm »
I started out using glueless patches when they first came out about 30 years ago and I've never looked back.  They were originally made by 3M who then sold the rights to Park Tools which are called Super Patch, those are the ONLY ones I've found that will hold for the life of the tube, all others I've tried failed within 24 hours of application, even the expensive ones like the Lezyne! 
Again, try Tear Aid glueless patches.  They work on a ton of stuff.  There are two types; Type A and Type B depending on your need.  Do a search on CrazyGuyonaBike.com for Tear Aid and there was a forum post about 5-8 years or so that got me hooked onto them.  I patch tubes, panniers, air mattress, clothes, etc.  They are great and they are fairly cheap and come in different sizes.

Tailwinds, John

Offline froze

Re: Flats while touring
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2020, 06:47:14 pm »

Again, try Tear Aid glueless patches.  They work on a ton of stuff.  There are two types; Type A and Type B depending on your need.  Do a search on CrazyGuyonaBike.com for Tear Aid and there was a forum post about 5-8 years or so that got me hooked onto them.  I patch tubes, panniers, air mattress, clothes, etc.  They are great and they are fairly cheap and come in different sizes.

Tailwinds, John

Geez, never even heard of those, I'll check them out, not sure if I want to risk using something I'm unfamiliar with on a tour, but I will look into them, thanks.

So how do you prepare those Tear Aid patches to take to the tube?

Offline John Nettles

Re: Flats while touring
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2020, 06:50:28 pm »
I just clean the tube with a little water and a shirt tail and stick it on and press real hard for about 30 seconds.  Buy a small set on eBay to test them out if you like but I bought a roll of 100.  John

Offline froze

Re: Flats while touring
« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2020, 07:30:19 pm »
I just clean the tube with a little water and a shirt tail and stick it on and press real hard for about 30 seconds.  Buy a small set on eBay to test them out if you like but I bought a roll of 100.  John

I'm always game at experimenting, so I'll try to find a small amount and see what happens.  I never had the Park patches fail, but if it's raining out I doubt the Parks would work on a wet tube, and from what your saying, it sounds like the Tear Aid Type A will or might work on a tube that's damp from rain?

Offline John Nettles

Re: Flats while touring
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2020, 07:32:33 pm »
They should.  They are used to patch rubber rafts at sea too.  John

Offline wildtoad

Re: Flats while touring
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2020, 07:46:37 pm »
Flats on tour:  Well, I'm going to curse myself here and potentially end my lucky streak, but I've not had a flat on tour during the last 7 years. Now, I have not done an epic tour during that time, mostly 14 day-long or so tours, 7 or 8 of them during that 7 year period time. Across my riding more broadly, maybe a flat ever 1200-1500 miles or so on pavement. I haven't ridden in thorn country, and I'm pretty on top of replacing tires proactively.

Tubes: I carry 2 tubes for self-contained touring, one tube for all other riding (plus patch kit). Bad experience glueless patches. Great results w/ the Rema patch kits, but do make sure your cement is not dried out!!  I will check out the Tear Aid product mentioned above, never heard of it but always open to potentially good stuff.

Spare tires: Never carried one. It's been a couple of decades since I've torn a sidewall on a road tour, and I think I fixed that w/ the old dollar bill tire boot.  Again, I've not done an epic long tour in ages. If I'm gonna be in nowhere land for a very long time, I might well bring along a folding tire.

Patch or replace:  Both. Generally, replace on side of road, patch at home (day ride, bike overnight)/campsite (tour).

Extra Tire Protection:  I carry a Park tire boot in toolkit for all of my bikes.  That's it, no liners and no sealant in the tubes.








Offline staehpj1

Re: Flats while touring
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2020, 08:14:16 pm »
I may have to give Park glueless patches a chance.  I carry alcohol for the stove any way as long as yellow Heet works for cleaning.  The Tear Aid type A sound interesting for rainy days when patching can be a pain.