Have a smooth ride with our top tips for puncture prevention
The simplest way to avoid punctures is to use solid wheels, but these are impractical and uncomfortable to say the least. So, if you want a pleasant, cushioned ride when training for and taking part in Ford RideLondon, air-filled bicycle tyres are hard to beat – even though they do tend to go ‘pop’ every now and then.
To help you prevent pesky punctures and spend more time moving problem-free on your bike, read on for our top tyre tips and ideas.
The first way to avoid a flat tyre is to improve the quality and toughness of your tyres.
Unless you’re buying ultra-thin racing tyres, most modern bicycle tyres feature a layer of protective material of some sort. But – if you to take things to the maximum – you might want to consider puncture-resistant tyres, which feature a layer of extra thick rubber or other material underneath the tread to help stop sharp objects getting through to the inner tube.
Self-sealing inner tubes
This leads us neatly onto the next thing for you to check – the quality of your tyres’ inner tubes.
Most inner tubes are made of thin rubber. When that rubber is broken mid-ride, you can expect to face a training session on the roadside fixing a flat tyre. However, self-sealing inner tubes contain a special liquid sealant which plugs any puncture hole (up to a certain size – they’re not magic!). Self-sealing tubes are a bit heavier and more expensive than normal inner tubes, but every little bit of puncture protection helps – so they could be worth the investment for a smooth Ford RideLondon experience.
Reliable rim tape
A great deal of punctures, especially on new bikes with relatively low-cost wheelsets, are caused by the enemy within – faulty or poorly placed rim tape.
Rim tape is used to cover the ends of the spokes and stops them poking into and damaging your inner tube. However, rim tape is not always lined up perfectly, and some tape is so thin it’s hardly fit for purpose. Take off your tyre, remove your inner tube and have a look at your rim tape, then replace if necessary.
You could remove many potential problems in one single swoop by switching to tubeless tyres and wheels.
To make the rim airtight on regular tyres, the spoke holes must be covered by a thick tape, which would eradicate inner tube damage caused by spokes. Tubeless tyres, meanwhile, don’t even use inner tubes, which means a potential problem avoided altogether! You can also run sealant inside tubeless tyres to plug any hole as it occurs, making them even more resistant to punctures.
Finally, here’s a recommended upgrade that won’t cost you a thing – an upgrade to your approach to cycling.
If you want to avoid punctures, use your eyes and common sense. Try to avoid riding too close to gutters, as this is where road debris tends to gather. Look out for shiny, sharp objects such as pieces of glass and metal too – and, wherever possible, don’t hit potholes or uneven surfaces at speed!