Punctures: When Good Tyres Go Flat

Punctures were going to be an inevitable part of any cycle touring journey. Some cycle tourists have the ability to pinpoint the exact moments in their journey they were going to get one. We haven’t had that much, but it is early days. France has god roads and a nice seal and our wheels/tyres are brand new.

We have running a “Puncture Challenge”. The loser buying the other dinner in Greece.

The first of many punctures

The first of many punctures

Currently (as of 17th August and 1,500 km) Tam is losing the challenge at 3-0. While this may be relatively good for me, it ultimately is a pain as I am the one who ends up changing them. Although I’m sure she can do it herself, I don’t like waiting – especially on a hot afternoon out in the open. On a good day, I can change a punctured tube and check the tyre within 10 minutes.

Tamson 3: Mitch 0

Puncture Prevention

Now punctures, while often blamed as an accident of misfortune can easily be prevented with a good choice of tyre. We have gone with the factory standard Kendas and Continental GP’s, but many worship the ability of the Schwalbe Marathon Mondial, it has that much of a cult status in the cycle touring communities. Once we have done over 3000km we may well be in the market for a few more.

Terrain

Riding in cities versus riding on rural roads is a no-brainer. More glass and sharp objects tend to occur around industrial estates, or those that do not benefit of a street sweep. Conversely, roads that are metal (gravel) can cause punctures when a stone presses te tyre against the rim of the wheel.

Conditions

Wet weather conditions increase your chances of puncture considerably. Glass and other sharp bits stick to your tyre more readily and will stay that many revolutions more.

Maintenance

Keeping your tyre free of grit and any glass bits that are sticking in can extend its life. Once there are cut-outs, or holes in the tyre, your chances of puncture have increased markedly. Take time to run your hand over the tyre, outside and inside when changing tubes. Tyre pressure should be around 90 psi (pounds per square inch). Any higher than 120 and you risk blowouts. Lower than 70 and you can get snakebites.

Snakebites

These are the kind of punctures that frustrate me the most, as they are avoidable. Low tyre pressure causes the tyre to pinch the tube against the rims of the wheel. This results in two small holes either side of the tyre that are hard to patch. While I try to patch every one, sometimes it is best to replace with a whole new tube, putting the repair aside for later, if possible.

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