Why you got that ‘second’ puncture

Punctures are annoying, we all know that. However, they happen – and the best we can do is try to limit the frequency.

What is of course incredibly annoying, is having two punctures in quick succession. Thankfully, this is probably avoidable. Here’s a look at why this might happen:

You’ve been really unlucky

This is a possibility. Perhaps you were rolling past a newly cut hedge, or a glass bottle has been scattered across the road. In this case, it’s worth always carrying one (some say two) spare tubes, as well as a patch kit – this enables you to repair numerous punctures if you really have to.

The cause is still in the tyre

This is probably the most common cause. When at university (in the days I rode an old MTB with brakes that ‘didn’t work’, Read: I didn’t know I had to replace the brake pads after the bike living in the garage for 10 years…) I went through a spate of repeated punctures. Finally, reaching my limit, I took the bike to a LBS where the mechanic took the tyre off, and picked out about 5 rose bush thorns.

Your puncture has been caused by something – and it’s likely to be a small sharp object – flint, thorn, glass…

Whenever you replace a tube or patch it following a flat, you should always pump the old tube, find the hole, and work out where it is in relation to the tyre (hence keeping the writing on your tyre above the valve – not just a bit of roady snobbery) – this will take you to the location of the nasty sharp object.

In some cases, you may never find it, but you should always check. Finally, before replacing the tyre, look along the entire inside and outside stretch of rubber. It will take an extra couple of minutes, but not as long as it will take to re-play the entire experience 10 seconds down the road.

You’ve pinched or damaged the tube

Tyre levers are useful – but do be careful. It’s very easy to nick a brand new or patched inner tube with the edge of a tyre lever – causing damage that means the tube will never inflate.

tyre-levers.jpg

The other possibility is that the tube has become pinched or twisted inside the tyre. To prevent this, always put a small amount of air in the tube BEFORE you put it back in the tyre – this will help it to keep its shape, reducing the likelihood of this sort of tube damage.

In addition, you should always run your hands around the edge of the tyre once it’s been replaced on the rim, wiggle the tyre side to side, and peer at the gap between rim and tyre wall – you shouldn’t see any tube – if you do – you need to carefully push it on or start again. If you don’t –the tube will protrude, meaning you’ll either get an odd shaped wheel, or it’ll pop straight away.

The tyre needs replacing

Finally, it could just be that your inner tube is vulnerable because your tyres have ‘had it’. Tyres are a consumable item – I usually replace mine 2-3 time a year, but it depends how much and how far you ride, and on what sort of terrain. Take a look at our recommendations for the best puncture proof tyres.

wiping-wheel-rims_thumb.jpg

If you are concerned about this – look for cracks in the rubber, or holes that actually go all the way through it, so you can see the tube (or your finger, if you run your hand along the inside).

Tyres admittedly aren’t that cheap, but it’s a small price to pay to prevent you from spending half your riding time stood beside the road..

We hope that helped! Have you got any other tips?

See also: Why do Boris Bikes hardly ever get punctures?

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11 Responses to Why you got that ‘second’ puncture

  1. David Green 04/07/2014 at 11:59 am #

    Also, the rim and rim tape. I patched a tube 3 times in as many days before I realised that they were being punctured by a rough metal edge where the spokes met the rim, and where the rim tape had worn thin.

  2. Cas Burke 04/07/2014 at 2:50 pm #

    I’ve always found that a bit of spit on your plastic tyre levers also helps to reduce the chance of pinching when you get to the final part of replacing your tyre.
    Or soapy liquid if you’re at home.

    • John H 04/07/2014 at 6:42 pm #

      Sound advice,its surprising how useful a bit of spit can be.I always use spit on my presta pump connector,and when looking for that suspected puncture in a tube on the side of the road.
      Yes indeed ,its a wonder it hasn’t been Branded,Bottled and sold to us as the latest big Bike thing.

      • Goonz 06/07/2014 at 9:12 am #

        I’m on it!

  3. Mrs janet groves 04/07/2014 at 5:48 pm #

    I have schwalbe lugano 25mm tyres for my road bike. They are very puncture resistant as they have a puncture resistant lining. A bit more expensive : but worth it

    • Simon 08/07/2014 at 10:45 pm #

      Glad to read that, I’ve just put some new Lugano tyres on :)

  4. TOM 06/07/2014 at 4:11 pm #

    hello from Oregon

    I was getting too many flats and had trouble finding the cause …did all the recommended checks.

    My MAVIC wheels had a clear plastic heavy coating inside to eliminate the need for rim tape. These were 1999 wheels and turned out the plastic was no longer flexible , and started to crack in places causing some burrs.

    I took it out and went to buy some velox rim tape. Well I’ve got 5 bikes – 10 tires- that needed it and that got more expensive than I wanted to spend.

    Had remembered someone else recommending woven nylon ribbon. In a thrift I found a commercial spool of 100 yds of #3 width ribbon for $1. gave it a try but first attempt wasn’t good.
    Then I got out the hot glue gun and tried again. I tacked down one end of the ribbon to the rim surface (over the spoke nipples) and then pulled 2 circumferences around the wheel , making double thick and tacked down the new end after pulling it tight.
    Works fantastic , no more flats and my dollar purchase got me a lifetimes worth of custom rim tape and NO more rim induced flats.

  5. TOM 07/07/2014 at 3:25 pm #

    ALSO: when replacing rim tape, it is the perfect time to true those wheels. It’s much easier with a screwdriver than with a wrench, with the tire off.

    turn bike upside down , put rim (no tire) back on the forks ,,,spin it and look for wobble . turn nipple screw for spoke OPPOSITE to deflection area …sometimes have to loosen a bit on the spoke nearest the problem , very slightly (about quarter turn) , spin again and watch that wheel straighten back out.

    I’m making it sound harder than it is …really, not so bad.

  6. Russell 08/07/2014 at 12:44 pm #

    Some good advice there – especially the writing on the tyre. Once I got over that hang-up locating embedded debris became vastly easier.

    However, I find the problem I have cycling a Brompton (steady) is that the seams/beading are too close together on the tube. Wherever you get a hole, you know the patch is going to go across a seam, and no matter how much you sand the ridge down and glue it, the air escapes. You pretty much have to bin the tube rather than waste your repair time.

    Maybe gatorskin could make some brommie tyres?

    • Simon 08/07/2014 at 10:44 pm #

      No doubt the makers of gatorskin tyres will be reading and get right on that

  7. Simon 08/07/2014 at 10:48 pm #

    Likewise, I’ve (thankfully) managed never to puncture an inner whilst installing a tyre. I’ve been in the same room as an exploding inner tube and it was as loud as a gun going off!

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