Puncture Prevention Methods.
Shielded Bicycle Tyres and Alternatives
Punctures are a constant thorn in a cyclists side, excuse the pun, there are a few things on the market these days to prevent them. In this article we will look at the pro's and con's of some of the more popular puncture prevention methods as well as advice on dealing with the aftermath if they fail. Some cyclists don't mind repairing a tyre but I find it a pain and an unnecessary interruption. Ever since I was stranded miles from home as a small child puncture prevention is a personal crusade,
I have tried most techniques often in combination, read on to find the absolute best.
Fixing a Puncture
This might be obvious to some but it's always wise not to get complacent.
First - Removal
If needed deflate the inner tube completely so it will fit neatly between the tyre and wheel. Push a lever under the rim of the tyre between it and the wheel and lever the tyre rim over the wheel rim and tuck the lever behind a spoke. Using another lever do the same a hands breadth along and keep doing this until one tyre rim is now outside the wheel rim. Remove any caps and bolts from the valve and push it through and take the inner tube out.
Next - Repair
Due to the low cost of inner tubes it is common to take a spare or two and skip this step or at least repair them at home.To locate the leak put a bit of air in an immerse in water you'll see the bubbles, check for multiples. Dry and roughen the area with sand paper and apply patch (with rubber solution if the type of patch requires it).
Finally - Replacement.
Important - at this point check the wheel for the object that caused this in the first place as it may be still there and your repair will be short lived if you don't get rid of it so run your fingers inside to look for sharp objects. Replacement is basically removal in reverse ensuring the inner tube doesn't get pinched between the tyre and wheel when you pump it back up
Inner tube additives
One method is to put a specialised liquid polymer in the inner tube itself, it is relatively inexpensive and fixes small holes instantly. It works by coating the tube all over inside while you ride and if a puncture forms the liquid escapes under pressure forming many tiny threads that stick together and form a plug, all this happens in a fraction of a second and normally happens unnoticed. I have used this method over hundreds of miles and it does work most of the time but it can fail and when it does the liquid goes everywhere. Positives - Cheap, protects sidewall as well as tread and is quite effective. Negatives - Not fail safe and messy when it goes.
This method puts a strip of something behind the tread of the tyre. You can use the tread of an old tyre (instructions below) or a plastic strip. This just basically puts a barrier between the tyre and tube. Positives - Cheap especially if you have an old tyre. Negatives - Can affect the ride, doesn't protect the tyre wall and can slip to the side.
Like everything in life you get what you pay for and this is in my experience the best option. They work by having a fine metal mesh built into the tyre that prevents all but the most violent of conditions reaching your tube, fairly simple really. I recently went on a 400 mile bike tour of Holland with a pair of Continental Gator Tyres and while the other members of our party had a total of 12 punctures between them I had none and they have done a further 600 miles with no failures since. Positives - Everything. Negatives - Pricey, about twice the price of a normal good tyre.