Monthly Archive December 2011

Flats, Punctures, and Other nice things

It sucks to be me…

When I rode a sport bike I pretty much checked my pressure once in a while, and took the bike in to have the tires changed when I hit the wear bars on the rubber.

Moving to a dual purpose bike like the 2004 KLR 650 meant that I could do much more of my own maintenance on the bike, including tire and tube changes, and, because I’d planned on riding it off road and managed to put on over 76,000 kilometres on it, I guess I’ve done well over fifteen tire changes on it for one reason or another. My buddy Willie was a real help there, as he’s no stranger to tire changes, and any errors I make here are purely my own, not his.

So there are two locations you’ll experience a flat, one is when it’s parked in the garage, and you’ve conveniently got all the tools close to hand to deal with it straight away. The other occurs when you’re miles from home in the least convenient place possible, usually when you’ve a time to be somewhere else that afternoon. Dinner with the wife, or a night out with your friends.

So I’ll start by telling you what I use for flats, and a bit of information I’ve found on the internet and through word of mouth for dealing with them.

Tools – Tube type tires

  • Tire spoons/levers x 3
  • Pliers, needle nose or slip joint
  • Valve core remover
  • Air compressor
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Talc powder aka Baby Powder or Foot Powder
  • Tire lubricant aka dishsoap & water solution
  • Lumber – 2×4  1-1/2′ to 2′ long, three or four pieces
  • Valve puller (optional) 
  • Gloves – Mechanix Wear (optional)
  • Bead breaker (optional)
  • Bead buddy (optional)

Bead Breaking Clamp

Bead Breaker Tool

Spruce Bead Breaker

Motion-Pro Bead Popper
(Hammer not shown)

DRC Valve pulling tool

$15 bucks at walmart, and it works!

Valve tool. I’ve only had to use the top end of this so far.

This guy makes it look easy.

Okay, so that was the garage… in the field you have to use what you brought with you, and if you hauled the garage, no wonder you got a flat. I’ve been there, done that, and I learned the hard way that you’re far better off packing the bike as light as possible and ensuring that you and your riding partners carry the kit spread out between yourselves. So lets go over that list and see what I like to carry on my bike:

  • Tire spoons/levers x 3 
  • Tire levers, 9inch x 2
  • Pliers, needle nose or slip joint
  • Pliers in the tool kit
  • Valve core remover
  • I replaced the plastic valve stem caps with aluminum ones that include the valve core remover
  • Air compressor
  • Still not sure whether I should carry a wee bicycle pump, CO2, or an air compressor, but the air compressor is winning
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Talc powder aka Baby Powder or Foot Powder
  • Not gonna happen trailside
  • Tire lubricant aka dishsoap & water solution
  • Hand soap, dish soap or just plain water
  • Lumber – 2×4  1-1/2′ to 2′ long, three or four pieces
  • I’d break the bead with my buddies kickstand. It works, failing that I’d ride it off very carefully
  • Valve puller (optional)
  • Not in the field 
  • Gloves – Mechanix Wear (optional)
  • Riding gloves and/or blue vinyl gloves if I have them
  • Bead breaker (optional)
  • Bead buddy (optional)
I did the rear tire on my sport touring Bandit GSF600s and two things stand out, I need to balance so will obtain some dyna beads, and possibly a balancing rig and weights, also rim savers as I nicked the paint on the rear rim a few times with the tire spoons.