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Discussion: patches

in: Swampfox; Swampfox > 2016-07-22

Jul 23, 2016 9:58 PM # 
I'd guess that there are a lot of people who never patch a tube, but who always just replace it and throw the punctured one away. In contrast, at the end of my cross-country bike trip in 1983, we had tubes with a lot of patches on them. Despite our imagined scenario where we'd sit around the campfire in the evening and patch any tubes that needed it, what actually happened was that if one of us got a flat, he'd start right in on removing the wheel while the other guy would fish a punctured tube out of the luggage and patch it so that it be ready to install. In some ways this is a better plan, since patches work best if you immediately install the tube and start riding on it.

I just took a look through the various pieces of discarded rubber in my garage, and didn't find any tubes with more than two patches. But I think I recall some with at least eight.
Jul 23, 2016 10:07 PM # 
Sam's rear wheel is up to about 7, but this is mostly due to the good bike shop being a bit far from the house and not always open when I would want to visit. The patch kit is much easier to replace, as Clas Olhson's is open much later.

I guess I would find throwing a tube away with fewer than 3 patches to be wasteful.
Jul 23, 2016 10:09 PM # 
Well, sometimes they shred in ways that are unpatchable...
Jul 24, 2016 5:15 AM # 
To be the other view, I almost never patch tubes. Then again I don't really get many flats at all. Maybe one a year? If that. I guess we don't have a lot of glass on the roads out here, and holes from anything else usually mean it's time for new tires instead. In fact I think I've worn out a whole tire using the same original (unpatched) tube.
Jul 24, 2016 11:01 AM # 
Unfortunately out here in 'fly-over' country, once you bike out of the city, you're leaving any decent bicycle tires, tubes and patch kits far behind. Ever try finding a new 700c tire, tube or patch kit at a rural Dollar Store?

So I've gone for hundreds of miles on a worn tire which shows the cord all the way around. And in my desperation I've begun cutting those few remaining REMA Tip-Top patches in half to make them last.

Sometimes out west you're forced to ride long distances on the rumble-stripped shoulder of expressways since there are no side roads at all...and on those interstates, all sorts of sharp debris litters those shoulders. Nevertheless I found you can reduce the incidence of flats by:

1. Replacing your tires frequently to ensure good, thick tread
2. Keeping tires inflated to specs; hard, fully-inflated tires seem to pick up less debris than softer tires
3. Making sure your rims are fully taped under those rim strips to give the tube a nice soft bed free of abrasion points
4. Avoid riding over sharp pavement and pothole edges which can result in a 'snakebite' puncture
5. Consider replacing your tubes with 'thorn-proofs' particularly in the back wheel.
6. Similarly consider going up to a larger-diameter rear tire. The feeling of being 'bomb-proof' as you roll along more than compensates for the increase in rotating weight.
Jul 24, 2016 11:46 AM # 
You know, you can order patch kits (and tubes, and tires for that matter) have have them delivered to your house, so you can repair your stuff and bring the necessary items along on your ride. (And maybe not at a Dollar Store, but they do carry these things at the ubiquitous Wal*Mart. And Western Auto -- do they still have those?)
Jul 24, 2016 2:24 PM # 
When I was at Scott AFB I rode my bike back and forth to work every day. It was less than a mile but the route seems strewn with thorns that had about 5 sharp points, one always pointing up. Needles to say, I did a lot of tube patching.

One thing I learned though was to "feel" around the inside of the tire itself for any sharp points before remounting it. Usually there wasn't but occasionally I would find the broken thorn still embedded in my tire waiting to do more damage. Maybe that is what happened to you?
Jul 24, 2016 4:09 PM # 
In this case it was patch failure, with air eventually forcing a route open underneath the patch and "blowing it out". No doubt patches can be applied carelessly or incorrectly, but I suppose there's no reason why you couldn't get a patch kit where the patches themselves were defective enough in some way to lead to a high percentage of failures.
Jul 24, 2016 4:14 PM # 
It intrigues me that you (biggins) get so few flats, despite riding--I gather--quite a lot. Maybe there is indeed something special about your area and there are good deal less than average amounts of glass, thin wires, etc. on the roads there.

That said, I don't get so many flats either. The flat this week (that repeated itself) was the first one this year, and, as said, it was the result of a patch that failed, and not from road debris.

I'm sure it helps to be a lightweight (me), though I don't think you're ever going to qualify on that scale!
Jul 24, 2016 5:20 PM # 
I've ridden about 10,000 miles since I started posting on AP. Just two flats. One tore up the tire and the tube, both replaced (and I was less than a quarter-mile from the shop, so walked over and they fixed it). The other a nail, changed the tube myself, tossed the old one. Been through many more tires. But no patches.
Jul 25, 2016 12:41 AM # 
Yeah I'm also surprised how few flats I get, but I don't question it too much lest it changes for the worst.

Heavy me definitely burns through tires though. I get the super sturdy training tires, and I can get a back wheel down to the fabric in maybe 2000 miles (and these are the tires that say will last 6-8k for you skinny kids).

I guess replacing them so often probably keeps the rubber in good shape so they never crack and pick up road crap that way.
Jul 25, 2016 12:44 AM # 
I used to have a lot of flats years ago, but rarely have them now. Don't know why. Of course I ride a lot fewer miles, but even adjusting for that. And I quit patching them. I just put a new one on.
Jul 25, 2016 1:14 AM # 
Haven't had a flat for quite a while. Tires are really old, worn and crackling. After every ride, and sometimes mid ride if very long, I always wipe the tires and check for any suspect debris stuck in the cracks. If I do have a flat, I check the inside of the tire as Carl does for anything penetrating through.
Jul 25, 2016 5:50 AM # 
One big factor is tire quality. I'm a huge proponent of Conti and Schwalbe tires, especially if they have Kevlar bands. I'm a nut about gently running my thumb inside the tire to find thorns or wires. I've impaled stuff into my thumb, so gently is the word. I just had a new one for me—the rim tape failed. I leave the stem in the rim until I have the rest out, then I maintain the position so I can examine the tire where I find the hole. Sometimes there are just so many sticky pointy things in the tire you need to retire it.
Jul 25, 2016 11:38 AM # 
I love Kevlar. Maybe not as fast, but in the year I trained for the STP with Jon deployed and strict childcare hours requiring me to maximize every minute of training time, the peace of mind that I was not as likely to get stuck in the middle of nowhere with a flat was significant. I guess the alternative would have been to practice a tire-changing drill so I could knock it out in minutes, but I don't have mad skills like that!
Jul 25, 2016 3:25 PM # 
I dragged out the bike that I rode across the country way back when to see if it had any multipatch tubes. It hasn't been ridden in many years, and not by me since 1983 (it was owned by somebody else in the interim, and came back into my possession a few years ago). The tires basically disintegrated as I removed them, but alas, the tubes had been replaced, and reinforced with heavy-duty flat prevention strips.

Checking the tire for the cause of the flat is a must. It really sucks to get the tube in, tire remounted, wheel installed, and have another flat in the next mile.

Another crusade of my father was educating people to not use screwdrivers to remove tires, as that tends to damage the tube. These days tire levers are pretty common, but he used to recommend spoon handles.
Jul 25, 2016 5:08 PM # 
More data: 1-2 flats a year. I swap out tubes but carry a patch kit just in case I get more flats on a ride than I have tubes, ie, more than 1. That has only happened once because I forgot to inspect the inside of the tire for something still poking through. I save the tubes and use them for tie downs or other miscellaneous jobs. Sorry to be somewhat wasteful but I have had enough patches fail that I don't trust them; I guess I just do a poor job of putting them on. About 4 years ago I switched to Conti Grand Prix 4000s tires and my flat frequency went down dramatically; presumably the Conti Gatorskins would be even tougher.

There is a movement these days for tubeless road tires (tire but no tube, like a car), where sealant is inserted inside the tire. Mountain bikers have used these for a while. They are supposed to cut down on debris and pinch flats. I haven't tried; rims need to be compatible.
Jul 25, 2016 5:10 PM # 
And if you do need to remove a tubeless tire and insert a tube while on the road, it's unlikely that you could do it with hand tools.
Jul 25, 2016 6:06 PM # 
matzah ball:
yes, iamstillhungry, the conti gatorskins are very flat resistant, my favorite road tire which in a pinch you can ride through gravel and grass. Don't know if anyone mentioned this but I found the patches where you apply the glue yourself to be much better than the pre-glued ones.
Jul 25, 2016 7:16 PM # 
I also remember my dad repairing his own car tires.
Jul 25, 2016 8:07 PM # 
I am also a big fan of Gatorskins; that's what I have on my rear wheel.

@matzah ball: I was wondering about that very thing. It's been so long since I've had patches that used tubes of glue that I can't remember for sure, but I was thinking they used to be more reliable than the current pre-glued patches.
Jul 25, 2016 11:21 PM # 
I guess I date back more to the tubes of glue era. Sometimes one of those worked well for years, sometimes they didn't quite seal. Sometimes you might have one of those patch kits for a while and find that when you needed it the glue had all dried up in the tube.
Jul 25, 2016 11:26 PM # 
The glue kind is all I've ever used. Traditionally with instructions badly translated from the original French.
Jul 26, 2016 8:48 AM # 
My first week in Arizona (the first time) it seems I got a flat every day. Quickly replaced my tires with Armadillos and flats became a once every couple of years thing. Doesn't seem worth patching if the tubes are already lasting that long. The downside to the tires is that they are really, really hard to get off.
Jul 27, 2016 1:01 PM # 
Do armadillos curl up like hedgehogs?

This discussion thread is closed.