Regular maintenance and inspections are key to extending the life of your bike’s tires. Unfortunately, flats are inevitable.
Don’t let a flat tire take the air out of your ride. Follow these simple steps to prevent punctures.
Check the pressure
Low tire pressure is one of the most common causes of flats. As a general rule, you need enough pressure to prevent pinch flats AND remain comfortable on your ride. Road tires should be around 100 to 105 psi while mountain bike tires have a lower optimal pressure at 30 to 50 psi.
Inspect your tires often
This may seem obvious, but taking the time to check your tires for signs of wear or foreign objects before and after a ride can help you avoid untimely flats. If you ride over a patch of debris, grass, or grit on the road, stop and give your tires a look-over before continuing. If you see something embedded in the tire, gently pry it out with your fingers.
All-Weather tires and/or regular tires with tire liners
Continental Gatorskins, Specialized Roubaix and similar tires are a little heavier but essential for off-season and touring rides to prevent flats caused by road debris. Alternatively, a tire liner (a thin strip of extruded-plastic that fits between the tire and the tube) can also prevent flats from road debris.
If you are constantly getting flats but cannot find the cause then your tires most likely need replacing. Check the tread wear and clean off-road debris when washing your bike.
Apply talcum powder to your inner tubes
Applying talcum powder to a new inner tube prior to installation can help prevent the tire and tube from sticking together, leading to less friction which can cause flats. To ensure proper coverage while also keeping the mess to a minimum, try putting your inner tube in a quart-sized bag with some talc and give it a good shake before installing.
Try tubeless tires
While they may be pricier than other options, tubeless tires can be very effective at minimizing flats and improving your bike’s handling. Without an inner tube, pinch flats are no longer an issue, and you will need less air pressure to properly inflate your tire. These tires can also help with shock absorption on rough terrain.
Tire wipers have dropped off in popularity and are now considered old-fashioned, but they are still an effective way of preventing flats. Tire wipers attach to your bike’s brakes or fenders and use a rubber-coated bar to gently whisk away debris as your tire rotates, thereby minimizing the chances of a puncture.