Thursday 27 November 2008

Avoiding punctures

I've had a spate of punctures recently. First of all the rear tyre on my recumbent punctured on a recent ride. I got another puncture on Saturday night on my town bike. A very sharp piece of pointed stone had gone right through the tyre. In winter and in the wet, bike tyres are very much more prone to punctures.

In the past I've tried every type of anti-puncture device. Nearly 20 years ago I tried "greentyres." These are solid (or microcellular as they like to describe them) bike tyres which were extremely difficult to get onto the rims and resulted in a harsh and slow ride and broken spokes. They were enough to make me realise why pneumatic tyres are such a good idea.

I tried Mr Tuffy strips which did prevent punctures for a while, but the sharp edge slowly made a long cut around the entire circumference of the tyre, which caused a completely non-fixable puncture.

The idea of a barrier is good, though, and there are better products. I found the Panaracer Flat-away strips to work very well. These are not made of hard material, but a sort of kevlar "cotton wool", so they don't damage the inner tube. I had one of these left in the cupboard full of bike bits and it has gone into the town bike front tyre.

The recumbent is another story. I've been running a worn Tioga Comp Pool tyre on the back. That's a good fast tyre in the summer, but is too hard a rubber compound for grip in the winter and it's not terribly puncture proof either.

I am switching back to the reliable Vredestein tyres that I mostly have used before. I had extremely good luck with the Vredestein Monte Carlo, having never had any punctures at all with those tyres (I've had flats, but only due to faulty tubes) even though I've got through several sets and even when I've worn them down to almost nothing at all. So, for my PDQ I'll be looking out for another Monte Carlo, or the new replacement, the Vredestein Perfect Moiree.

Since writing this text, I've found that even the Vredestein Perfect Moiree is vulnerable to the small sharp stones which seem to be so common around here. The ultimate puncture resistant tyre, with which I've not had a puncture at all, would seem to be the Schwalbe Marathon Plus.


l' homme au velo said...

What about those Scwalbe Marathons with Kevlar Belt Tyres. I have these on my Dutch Azor Work Cycles Bike, no Punctures so far after over a Year of having the Bike Touch Wood .

David Hembrow said...

You're right. The Schwalbe Marathon is also a very puncture proof tyre.

It's one of the favourite types that you'll see on hire bikes here, and I've never yet seen a Dutch hire bike get a puncture.

I do have one reservation, though, which is that the rubber compound is quite hard, which makes them last a long time, but also means they don't grip the road quite so well as they could in the wet.

Anonymous said...

I have not had any problems in that regard. Though if when you are turning a Corner in the Wet then is the Time when you could skid. I do not go very fast on this Bike that causes me to skid. I have Skidded on the Brompton going around a Corner in the Wet on the Ordinary Brompton Tyres,but managed to stay upright. On a Hybrid Bike I have Skidded a few times in the Wet on conventional Tyres,It is the Bike I used for Commuting to work. It is Fast and fairly Light and a beater that I am not to afraid of it getting Nicked but I have gotten a few Punctures over the Years on it.

David Hembrow said...

It depends how you ride. I occasionally have raced (though not very successfully) and once took a good chunk out of my posterior on the Eastway track in London in the wet due to having rather less traction than I'd hoped for. As such I'm a bit worried by tyres which don't give good traction in the wet.

I'm sure that the marathons are fine for sensible riding in the wet.

They can't be so bad as the comp pool tyres. The rear end of my bike slips around all over the place when riding in winter on those.

Unknown said...

I second the Schwalbe Marathon recommendation. I've been using them for a year and a half, since I got my Azor, and not had a puncture once.

I did skid and fall when turning at high speed across a patch of ice I hadn't noticed, but it was a very flat and smooth, fairly large frozen puddle that would have posed problems to any tires on any bike, I imagine. I also did slip a bit when riding across some very muddy grass (my usual paved path through the park was blocked by a large congregation of people), but the mud was very deep and wet.