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6 Reasons You Keep Getting Punctures

Here are the most common causes of repeat offences..

Nobody likes a puncture – that soul destroying ‘hiss’ noise and the ‘thud, thud’ of a wheel that’s losing its pressure and grip on the road is always upsetting. Some punctures are just unavoidable – you can’t spend every ride with your eyes glued to the road looking for offensive sharp objects – but there are some caused by avoidable mistakes. 

Here’s a look at some of the puncture causing errors, so you can avoid them… 

Not sure how to fix them? Check out: 

How to: Change an inner tube

How to: Repair an inner tube 

Not checking the tyre

Punctures are generally caused by a small, sharp object (flint, glass, thorns) poking through the rubber and piercing the inner tube. Quite often the item stays lodged in the tyre – so if you don’t locate it and remove it, when you replace the inner tube it’ll only be quickly deflated by the very same little blighter.

Before you replace your tube, check where the valve is in line with the writing on the tyre (this is why mechanics try to line the two up), then pump up the damaged tube. Locate the snag by running the tube along your hand to find the area that’s hissing, and work out where in the tyre the object is likely to be. Then very carefully run your fingers along the inside of the tyre.

It might be that you don’t find anything, but if you do, remove it before fitting a new or mended tube.

Old tyres

Tyres are a consumable item – they don’t last forever and do need replacing – on average every six months to a year (though it does depend on the tyre and usage).

A tyre needs replacing if you can see little tears in the surface, if you have one big tear that’s clearly going to leave the tube vulnerable, or if there are cracks or clear signs of wear along the centre.

New tyres will not only cut down the number of punctures you get, they’ll also feel amazing – since the tyre is your key contact with the road.

Pinch flats

Pinch flats are incredibly frustrating. They’re caused by the tube being pressed against the wheel rim, and either ripping or ‘exploding’ with a loud bang as soon as you start pumping.

TWC Recommends: Best Pumps for Faff Free Inflation 

Which type of inner tube: Presta or Schrader 

This is often the result of the rider being in a hurry, and inserting the tube in a bit of a haphazard fashion. To avoid this, always part inflate the tube (by as little as 10psi) before fitting it – that will mean it’s less likely to get caught.

You can also cause yourself a second puncture by ripping the tyre through overzealous use of tyre levels – be careful as you pop the tyre back on that you don’t catch the new tube.

Incorrect tyre pressure

A tyre that is under inflated will deform against every little bump or obstacle in the road – and that leaves it susceptible to pinch flats as the tube can get stuck between the rim and tyre. Not only that, by having the pressure too low you’ll massively decrease your efficiency – it’ll take more effort to propel yourself forwards, so unless you particularly wanted a high resistance workout riding will be less fun.

If you have too much pressure in your tyre, it will struggle to deform against any object, remaining rigid and therefore it’ll be more likely to go ‘bang’ if you hit a pot hole or similar obstruction.

The correct tyre pressure will depend upon your tyre width, weather conditions, and your weight. Check out this piece for more advice.

Riding through pot holes

This one goes for riding over pot holes, glass, large unavoidable patches of gravel and other obvious causes of punctures: sometimes you have no choice, other times you can save your tyres by clocking the danger in advance and moving around it.

How to Avoid Pot Holes

How to Ride Over Gravel (when you have no choice) 

When commuting, try to ride around a metre away from the edge of the road – this means that if something does appear in your path, you’ve got space to move around it, and the edge of the road is also the place where most of the undesirable debris tends to get washed up.

Incorrectly set up brakes

If you use rim brakes, your brake pads are meant to sit over the braking surface – the wheel rim. It is possible to set them up incorrectly, so that they’re actually sitting on the tyre. Over time, this will cause the tyre to become worn, and thus more likely to become damaged.

This isn’t going to cause you to crash immediately – but it does reduce your braking efficiency and can result in the tube ‘blowing out’ with a loud bang and a very sudden deflation, so it is best avoided at all costs.

To check your pads are in the correct place, simply spin the wheel, pull on the brakes and check where the pads land. They should be on the rim, if not, check out this guide on setting them up correctly.

Punctures are annoying, and it’s impossible to completely eliminate them from your life if you’re using tyres with inner tubes. The best form of offence is defense – avoiding the causes above – but do make sure you know how to repair a puncture before you head out on the road and always take a tube, tyre levers, patches and a pump with you. 

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