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Avoiding Flats

Flatting is a drag; not only does it take time to get back on the road but at speed, or in traffic, it can be very dangerous.

Snake Bite/Pinch Flat
The most avoidable flat is the snake bite or pinch flat. It’s caused by not having enough air in the tire or by hitting a pot hole with insufficient PSI. In both situations the tire is deformed causing the sidewall of the rim to ‘pinch’ the tube while inside the tire. The compression of the tube between the road and rim causes two little holes to form. See Proper Tire Pressure for more details on inflation.

Road Debris
Road debris is a tire hazard.  It’s not where in the country you ride, but where on the road. Rain and traffic push debris to the side of the road. If you choose to ride in the gutter or inches from the curb you increase your chances of flatting.  Think of your tire as a magnet for debris, its soft compound will attract a lot of unwanted pieces of glass and metal. No matter how good the tire, avoiding the road debris is the best way to avoid flatting.

With a little confidence you can ride at the edge of the lane where the road meets the gutter. You’ll avoid the debris and have extra room to avoid unforeseen problems. Of course you should not avoid the gutter in the case of an emergency maneuver but keep it there for just that. It’s the gutter; it’s no place to be riding.

After Your Ride
An ounce of prevention goes a long way - inspect your tires every time you put your bike away after a ride. Look for pieces of debris that might be stuck to your tire but have yet to make it into your tube. Ensuring there is enough rubber on your tire and no debris stuck in it will decrease the chances of a flat on your next adventure.

By taking care before, during and after your ride you will greatly reduce your chances of flatting. As with so many things, being prepared goes a long way. So don’t leave home without a tube, even the most careful cyclist will flat. As they say “It’s not if, but when.”

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