They never happen at a good time. You might find your bike with a flat tyre and your planned ride is cancelled or delayed, or even worse you’re miles from home, it’s getting dark and Oh no! It looks like it’s going to rain.
While you can never rule out getting one there’re a few things you can do to make it less likely:
No not the noise a six-year old makes when they sit on your bike but that long-handled object leaning against the wall. You should sweep the floor or your garage, shed or wherever else you keep your bike regularly and particularly after doing any sort of woodwork or DIY. Screws and nails have a nasty habit of getting where they’re not wanted and can easily be moved from place to place on the soles of your boots. A good sweep-up will cut down the chances of getting one in your tyre.
When you check your tyre pressures have a really good close look at your back tyre. Pick out any flints which might work their way in, but more importantly look for the tell-tale glint of a screw or nail head. You might be able to get it out before the damage is done; even if the tyre deflates at least you can fix it in your own time, not by the side of the road.
If a check of your tyre pressures reveals a drop of four or five psi – you’ve almost certainly got a slow puncture, valve problem or leakage from a rim – don’t just pump it up and hope for the best. You need to find out what’s happening and sort it out.
You’ll notice that in front of traffic islands there’s usually a triangular area of grit, fag ends, broken lenses and other debris thrown up by vehicles. Often there’ll be a few sharps hiding there. Filtering bikes determined to pull up to or in front of the stop line will have to go through this and risk picking up a nail. It’s wise to stop a car or two back.
As our tyres wear so the depth of tread reduces, meaning that there’s a lesser depth to be pierced by a foreign body. The smooth and slightly squared surface of a worn tyre seems to be particularly attractive to sharp objects, so it’s best not to penny-pinch and delay replacing tyres even if they’re within the legal depth.
If your bike is not already equipped it’s worth thinking about an aftermarket system. It gives you early warning of problems and you ride to somewhere safe as long as you can see that the pressure hasn’t dropped below a safe level.
There are some things you can do to minimise the impact when, despite all precautions, you eventually get a puncture.
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