How to Deal With a Puncture

On my commute to and from work, I sometime see people pushing their bikes along the pavement – and for a few of them, the reason is because they have a flat tire!

Flat Tire
Flat Tire

With broken glass and other hazards all over our roads and cycle paths, it’s no wonder that people get punctures. And depending upon where it happens, it’s often quicker and/or easier to continue on foot rather than attempt a roadside repair.

There are, of course, a number of different options available to you in the event of a puncture:

  • Repair it by the road. This may seem daunting to some, but it’s really not that difficult as long as you have some basic tools with you. WikiHow have a rather good guide on how to mend a puncture. You might also like to carry a spare inner-tube with you, as it’s often quicker to swap the whole innertube over, and then patch any holes when you have more time. Make sure you practice taking the tire on and off at home, as this can be the trickiest bit of the whole repair.
  • Lock up the bike and continue by public transport. This all depends on how safe you think your bike will be while you’re away, but it might be your only option if you are running late.
  • Take the bike with you on public transport. It’s worth finding out if you can take your bike on the train, bus or tram – and maybe work out if there are any taxi firms that will transport your bike.
  • Find a local bike shop. Drop off the bike, and let the experts do the repair. Usually costs in the region of €10, and can sometimes be done while you wait.
  • Consult the cycling experts. If you know someone that’s really into their cycling at work or home, then you might enlist their help to do the repair. Alternatively, check if any local entrepreneurs offer roadside puncture repairs. It may be a long-shot but I did hear of one cycle courier firm that offered a puncture repair service.

Of course, the best thing to do is to try and avoid getting the puncture in the first place:

  • Avoid cycling in the gutter. All the debris from the road eventually ends up at the – just where you’re trying to cycle. So help avoid getting a puncture by riding away from the kerb. If you’re out of the gutter you also have more manoeuvring room to avoid glass on the road.
  • Keep your tires inflated. Bike tires seem to lose pressure over time, so you need to check every week or two to ensure the tires are at the right pressure. The maximum pressure for the tire is stamped on the side. If you have under-inflated tires, you are in danger of getting a pinch-flat or “snakebite” (so called because you get two holes in your innertube that looks like a snake’s bite), which is where the rim of the wheel pinches into the tire when hitting a rock or pothole.
  • Get a puncture resistant tire or inner tube. These can add weight to the bike, but will offer very good protection against puntures. I’ve used Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires for a while now, and haven’t had a single problem.

Richard Bloomfield

Richard is the founder of Dublin Bike Blog. He commutes to work every day by bike, come rain or shine, on his Dutch city bike. You can read more from Richard on his blog

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