Avoiding Flat Tires


Panaracer tire with Tour Guard, a kevlar based material that greatly reduces flats.
Panaracer Pasela tire with ProTex, a kevlar-based material that greatly reduces flats.  I ride these tires (1 flat in over 6000 mi. of riding up and down Grand River Ave!).  We keep a wide selection of these tires and other tires with flat protection in stock.

Most bicyclists are all too familiar with that sinking feeling you get when you hear a hissing sound coming from one of your tires.  A tire or tube puncture might mean anything from an hour delay in your travels to a day or more out of commission.  Fortunately, the MSU Bikes (just under the Bessey Hall Auditorium off the River Trail with a convenient ramp right up to our door) staff are very familiar with this issue in our daily quest to keep the 20,000 plus bicyclists rolling back and forth from home to class.  We regularly stock (but can also special order just about anything!) a selection of anti-puncture solutions that I’d highly recommend you consider BEFORE you get stranded and BEFORE we get busy with spring!  There are three good options (from inexpensive to more expensive):

Pinch-Flat example
Pinch-Flat example – the rim essentially punctures the tube in two places simultaneously when it bottoms out on the pavement, pothole, etc.

FREE Tip:  Keeping your tires properly inflated helps make your ride much more enjoyable (easier to pedal) it reduces your odds of getting the most common type of flat that we see here in our shop known as a pinch flat or “snake bite” (as it puts two holes in your tube).  The proper pressure for your tires is normally written on the sides of your tires.  Use the lower pressure in the winter and slippery conditions, the higher pressure during the dry, warmer months of the year. We have a free 24/7 air station outside our shop plus there are air pumps at almost every front desk of every residence hall on campus.  Our brochure has a map of campus showing where air pumps are located (pg. 3).

–          Thorn resistant tubes ($8 – 10):  these tubes weigh quite a bit more than standard tubes but are about 3-4 times thicker and thus harder for some objects to puncture keeping you rolling.  We have them in all the common sizes and in both standard American Schrader valves and French style presta valves.

Stop Flats tire liners
Stop Flats tire liners, much lighter than thorn resistant tubes and cheaper than new tires.

–       Tire liners:  ($15-17):  these are installed between your tube and tire to give a protective barrier.  These are considerably lighter than thorn resistant tubes, so if your commute is longer these would be more attractive (weight on your wheels makes a dramatic difference in performance; for every ounce you take off your wheels it’s like taking a pound off the rest of the bike!).   We can order these in 20 in., 26 and 700c sizes.

–          Anti-puncture tires:  ($20 on up):  this is the lightest and most expensive option.  Also happens to be my favorite as my commute is a longish 6 mi. each way and I like to go fast!  Most tire companies offer tires that have anti-puncture properties, some are much better than others in terms of how much protection is provided; we stock a few of the lesser expensive in 26 in., 27 in., and 700c sizes.


Author: Tim Potter

Sustainable Transportation Manager, MSU Bikes Service Center; member of the All University Traffic & Transportation Committee (http://auttc.msu.edu); founding member of MSU Bike Advisory Committee (https://msubikes.wordpress.com/volunteer-donate/msu-bac/); advocate for local & regional non-motorized transportation issues thru the Tri-Co. Bike Assn. Advocacy Committee (http://groups.google.com/group/tcatc); board member of the Ride of Silence (http://www.rideofsilence.org); year-round bicyclist of all sorts; photographer; soccer player; father of 3; married 30 yrs. to Hiromi, Japanese national (daughter of former Natl. Keirin Champion, Seiichi Nishiji); Christ follower.

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