Beginner's puncture nightmare

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by smoggytom, 21 Feb 2018.

  1. smoggytom

    smoggytom Regular

    Hi all,

    I'm very new to cycling and I need some advice on avoiding punctures.

    I only started cycling about 10 days ago. I have been out 4 times and have had 4 flats. I must be doing something wrong but I just can't figure out what it is!

    I'm pretty sure my first two flats were a result of over-inflating. The max pressure for the tyre is 70 but I didn't have a clue what I was doing and I filled both to 115. OK, that was dumb. I can write it off to my ignorance and move on. I foolishly didn't have any way to repair by the roadside so I had to call the missus to come and rescue me.

    So I did some research, bought some new tubes, a repair kit, and a clip-on pump. I filled the tubes appropriately and went out again. 10km later my back tire was completely flat. I discovered at this point that the clip on pump that I had bought didn't fit onto my valves, so once again, called the missus for rescue. (At this point I'm starting to think that cycling might not be for me.) When I get home and take a look, I can see that this time, a tiny wooden thorn has pierced right through the tire wall and through the tube, so I pulled it out, repaired the tube and refilled.

    Ride number three was beautiful. Early morning is the only time I get to myself so I was out cruising the country lanes of north yorkshire at 5:30am, just as the sun is thinking about rising. It was hauntingly beautiful and it just felt wonderfully free. No more flats. I figure I had just been super-unlucky. Everything will be fine from now on, right?

    No. Ride no 4 this morning, similarly free and beautiful pre-dawn cruise around the countryside. Awesome. Except that at about half a mile from getting home again, back tire is flat again. Luckily I was close enough to just walk it home.

    I haven't had a chance to actually inspect the last one yet so don't know exactly what caused it, but this can't be right, can it? I have ordered some new gatorskin tyres and some more fresh tubes, but I need to know, is there anything else I can do to avoid punctures? Is there anything that I am likely doing that is causing punctures? I am basically a giant, being 196cm tall and weighing 110kg, so I fill the tyres to their max stated pressure, is that right? Are there any gadgets, gismos, widgets or dark magical invokations that I could look into to that might help?

    This whole cycling thing seems like SOOO much fun when it goes well, but I'm going to get bored with it super-fast if this carries on. Please help.
  2. Jody

    Jody Über legend of a forum GOD!

    What size wheels/tyres are you running? You could just be unlucky or you could have had debris in the tyre that has caused the fourth puncture. Did it go down quickly or a steady puncture?
    mjr likes this.
  3. ColinJ

    ColinJ A big clot!

    Going 45 psi over the rated pressure is obviously NOT a good idea! If the limit was 70 then they must be pretty big tyres? I have been the same weight as you and I didn't need to go to that pressure even on 23C (skinny) tyres.

    A lot of pumps have an end which can be unscrewed and reversed to fit either of the 2 main types of valve. Yours is probably the same.

    You did the right thing when you searched for the cause of puncture #3 and found that thorn. Always work out what caused the problem or the replacement tube may suffer the same fate. I make a note of where the hole in the tube is relative to the tyre, which helps to track down anything penetrating the tyre.

    Causes of flats:
    • Objects penetrating tyres (the obvious cause!)
    • Pinch flats/snakebites (hitting something like a pothole which causes the tyre to be pinched by the rim)
    • Faulty tubes/valves. I've had a few of them - tubes splitting along seams, valves leaking etc. All you can do is buy good quality tubes.
    • Damaged/faulty tyres. I have had tyres split, allowing the tube to poke through the hole. Do not carry on riding in that situation because the tube could explode at any moment!
    • Damaging tubes when you fit replacements. It is very easy to get a tube caught under the tyre bead. Putting a little air in the tube before fitting helps to avoid that, but not too much or you won't get the tyre on. If you have to use tyre levers to get the tyre on, be very careful not to damage the tube with the levers. In my early days of riding I kept doing that and was averaging one puncture a day!
  4. MichaelW2

    MichaelW2 Über Member

    Check your rim for sharp edges, esp at the valve hole. Take sharp edges off with emery cloth. Check that your rim tape is in good condition and well seated. Check tyres for embedded sharps and that they are correctly seated on the rim. Use a tube with a valve of suitable length.
    Elysian_Roads and ColinJ like this.
  5. OP

    smoggytom Regular

    Thanks for the replies. To answer queries - my wheel/tyre size is 700x32.

    I think my pump problem was caused by my valves being too short. I've ordered some long valve tubes now.
    ColinJ likes this.
  6. ColinJ

    ColinJ A big clot!

    I've had that problem too!

    And THAT one ... (split rim tape and/or misaligned tape)

    I'm not so bothered about the length of the valve (though too-short is a pain and too-long looks ugly) but it is important to make sure that the valve is perpendicular to the rim at the valve hole. I put one tube in too far round, putting sideways strain on the valve. The valve later ripped off as I was riding along. Normal punctures usually take a few seconds to a few minutes (or even hours) to let a tyre go flat. A torn-off valve is a catastrophic failure. My tyre went flat and peeled off the rim in about 1 second! :eek:
    ADarkDraconis likes this.
  7. mjr

    mjr Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next

    Others have written loads of good stuff, but I've two little extras about this:
    1. Use plastic or plastic-coated levers to reduce the risk and realise that most levers work by sort of cupping the tyre bead (edge) and then the lever rolling around or half-sliding over the rim rather than simple levering (which will snap many cheaper levers before the tyre bead is back over the rim). Some levers have a notch to ease this.

    2. After you've got it all back on, squeeze the tyre sidewalls together to check you can see rim or rim tape past the tube on the side(s) of the tyre that you took off the rim, all the way round. That should make sure that the inner tube is snugly inside the tyre and not pinched between tyre and rim.
    mangid, ADarkDraconis, Alan O and 2 others like this.
  8. byegad

    byegad Guru

    NE England
    The golden rule of punctures is to practice at home. I don't repair inner tubes these days. I do carry spare tubes, pump, CO2 inflator and a repair kit for emergencies. When away for the weekend I carry a spare tyre (folding) too.
  9. MossCommuter

    MossCommuter Guru

    Irlam (Salford)
    I bet you 50p that that thorn caused them all ;)

    When you fix a puncture always be 100% sure the cause has been identified and removed from the tyre.
  10. OP

    smoggytom Regular

    Well, the first 2 were pretty much simultaneous front and rear.

    ... so ... do you wanna send me, like, a postal order or somethin ? :tongue:
  11. MartinQ

    MartinQ Über Member

    My money is on a thorn as well. When you take the tube/tyre off, mark where the valve is on the tyre. When you find the hole in the tube, its easy to find the region in the tyre and check for thorns... very carefully
    MossCommuter likes this.
  12. Crackle

    Crackle Pah

    Riding over the same bit of road where the hedge has just been cut will do it too.
  13. I like Skol

    I like Skol I'm adamant I haven't got any PPI....

    THIS! Fixing a puncture should be as natural and stress free as stopping to get your rain jacket out if caught in a rain shower. Once practiced several times you should have no fear of the experience happening unplanned when out on the road. Make sure you practice with the equipment you will carry on the bike so you know everything works as it should. Always carry a spare tube and patch kit just in case you suffer multiple punctures.
    Last thing, while you may need tyre levers to get the tyres off, 700x32 should go on quite easily by hand without needing levers. This reduces the chance of pinching the tube when refitting to almost nil.
  14. gom

    gom Active Member

    Lots of good advice but I’d just like to re-emphasise thoroughly checking the whole tyre for thorns etc. If you’ve been unlucky enough to ride over hedge clippings there may be many working through. My record is 17 thorns removed while sitting in the rain (largely my fault for not paying sufficient attention to the road). After that I fitted my space tube!

    Also, you can find a particular tyre just somehow punctures every tube you fit however many times you check it & find nothing. Not common but it’s happened to me 3 times I think in 40 years of cycling.

    Or maybe you’ve just been unlucky- someone has to be.
    ADarkDraconis and Rickshaw Phil like this.
  15. BalkanExpress

    BalkanExpress Veteran

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