After my experience with a flat two weeks ago, and a warped tire last week, this e-mail from Don in California hit home:
Flats have been bugging me for what seems to be the past month. I had a double blowout with old tires. I put on new tires and am still getting them, including averaging about one a week to the point that I’m considering changing to a different type of tire. The ones I’m using now are Forte Pro DC, the same tire that came with my bike. I had only ONE flat in about the first 1800 miles of riding. Now they are coming on like lemmings. Should I look at changing tires? If so, what brands should I consider or should I just try to ride this string of flat luck out?
My reaction to times like this has been to change tire brands. I’ve run Specialized, Vittoria, Hutchinson, and Continentals. I have yet to find a tire that will last a full year on the bike, although one managed to hang on for over 2,000 miles. Kevlar belts seem to help, but they’re not a panacea, either.
Furthermore, I have a special request of Bike Noob readers: Give Don a suggestion in Comments about dealing with flats, but send me a separate e-mail naming your favorite make and model of tire. Include a line or two about why you like them best. I’ll collect the votes and see if there’s a single tire that’s head and shoulders above the rest, and I’ll post about it at a future date, when I’ve got enough data.
I run Continental Gatorskinz on (2) road bikes with tire liners. No issues, apart from a couple of pinch flats, which was my own doing (I did not know you had to inflate your tires to optimum pressure before each ride).
Don, ake sure the rim isn’t causing your flats. A friend kept getting flats on every ride and eventually discovered the rim tape had gotten moved a little, and throughout a ride the spoke would rub a hole in the tube.
Ramon, those tire liners are surely overkill with the Gatorskins.
In this particular case, I will go with the overkill :o)
@Shawn: These flats aren’t being caused by the rim, these are objects coming in through the tire tread.
I have to say this email sounds like deja vu… Exactly the same thing was happening to me. I got so disheartened by the constant flats that I almost didn’t want to go riding.
A friend was looking at my wheel and was really surprised when he looked at my rim tape. It was there and there was no sharp spokes sticking out, but it appeared to be “sucked” down into the spoke holes. I went to Performance, bought some cheap cloth rim tape, put a new layer on and so far, so good. (knock on wood) It just happened that these craters were deep enough to allow the tube, under pressure, to stretch out to the point of popping.
Another big tip, I’ve found helpful is checking the tires before each ride for glass shards. I’ve been told, flats from glass aren’t usually instantaneous, but rather caused as the glass is pushed in the tire. Check for glass before your ride, during any breaks and after.
fyi… my bike came with some Maxxis tires and I have changed to Vredestein Fortezza. The flats were on both tires.
I once had a flat on a supported ride, and the mechanic in the sag wagon who helped me used electrician’s tape as a “temporary” rim tape. The temporary tape stayed on the wheel for over a year, and worked just fine.
Cyclin Missy says
I’ve been riding on a set of Maxxis Columbiere tires and Easton Circuit wheels for about 2000 miles, and they were on the bike for some time before I bought it, too. I haven’t had a flat yet (knock on wood!).
Schwalbe Marathon Plus or Marathon Supreme. Pluses are heavy but the nearest thing to bullet proof. I get more flats mounting them (frigging tight) than running them. Expect 6-8000 miles with flats so few the glue in your patch kit will dry out.
Supremes are lighter but not quite as puncture resistant. They also are designed for touring and don’t come in sizes smaller than 32mm in 700c. Your patch glue will still be at risk of drying out during the 5-6000 mile life cycle.
I meant 6-8000 miles without flats in the Plus description…
Wes Robinson says
I’ve had good luck with Conti’s Gatorskins as well. I hear Specialized’s Armadillos work well too. Rim tape is cheap and easy to install so if there is any doubt, put some new tape in. Always check your pressure before every ride even if it is just a simple squeeze because you pumped it up that morning. Finally, have you identified the debris causing the flats and do you ride the same roads regularly? You may just have a nasty section of roadway that was recently littered with glass and, like Ray said, glass sometimes takes time to work its way into the tube. Tiny metal wires from steel belted truck tires are invisible until they get into your tire and the create slow leaking holes. I hope some of this helps.
i’ve been riding a set of bontrager hardcase tires since March or so (~4000 miles) and they’ve been fantastic. i have a gatorskin on my spare wheel and it’s been pretty good, but not perfect.
concur with the thoughts on rim tape and also basic pre-ride pressure and debris check.