Tire technology is a far cry from what they used to be but the roadways are still laden with sharp objects to puncture them. Todays tires are so tough that sudden deflations and disintegrations are a rare occurrence that few riders will have to experience it. Letsí face it. Someday your motorcycle will have a flat tire. Flats happens. Itís an inevitable fact of life. It just comes with the nature of having pneumatic motorcycle tires.
Unfortunately most sportbike riders do not ride around with flat repair kits on board their bikes, however a little planning and preparation can help prevent a totally ruined day of riding.
Carrying a small tire repair kit in a small back pack or tank bag is definitely a must have. The perfect one for the job is the Slime Power Sport Tire Inflator. This pump is the size of the average persons hand and uses a 12v power source. Alligator clips can attach to the battery or a quick disconnect coupling can be attached permanently to the battery or even plugged into a cigarette lighter style outlet. You will need a plug type kit for quick roadside repairs. A plug type kit works well for tubeless tires.
Another approach is to use CO2 cartridge type repair kits, which are connected to the valve stem via a short plastic tube. However, the reality is that it may take several cartridges to inflate a tire, and once youíve expended them, they have to be replaced.
Get in the habit and always check you tire condition and pressure before a long ride. If you prefer to ride without tools or an emergency kit a more expensive alternative is available. There are motorcycle tires available that have been treated with puncture resistant material called rhinoplex
. Not all tires are available with this treatment, but you can have your tires treated if you send them to be outfitted. The cost for sportbike tires is about $35 front, $45 rear. The downside is the tires become a little heavier. You can send your tubeless tires to them with a prepaid return label to;
40-40 Crescent St.
Long Island City, NY 11101
Tubeless tires can be plugged to get you to the nearest bike shop, but in general you should plan on replacing the damaged tire as soon as possible. The usual method of temporarily repairing a tubeless motorcycle tire is to insert a rubber plug through the hole, using a special tool. Most plug kits contain a sticky string rubber material that is forced into the hole with a tool. These kits can be typically found at gas stations and auto parts stores.
If you are riding at speed and get a flat, do not panic. Ease off the throttle and get the bike pointed toward the shoulder of the road. Donít snap the throttle closed or attempt to brake hard, since braking force can cause a low tire to slip around on the rim. Itís best to squeeze the clutch, roll off the gas, and coast over toward the side of the road. If the tire isnít too badly damaged you may be able to fix it. If it went flat gradually, itís probably a puncture that can be plugged. Donít let it ruin your day. There are things you can do to get it repaired.
1. Roll your bike on a level and hard surface (such as a road, driveway or packed earth) until the puncture area of the tire is on the top of the tire where you can easily reach it (away from fairings or fenders). Put your centerstand or kickstand This will make it more stable to work on. Remove the valve stem cap from the tire and let air out of your tire. When the tire feels soft, stop and replace the valve stem cap.
2. Remove the object puncturing the tire. If you cannot remove it by pinching it between your thumb and forefinger, use your ignition key or pliers to get it out.
3. Open your tire repair kit. Select the "T" handle or rasp tool that has a straight probe on the end (not the one that is shaped like a needle). Open the included rubber cement and coat the probe with the cement. Push the probe into the tire through the hole made by the object. Remove the probe. (Note: If the tire is steel belted, it may be a little harder to get the plug inserted through the mesh of tough steel wires. Do not depend on a soft rubber plug lasting very long. The belt wires can cut off the plug within a few miles. Just be aware of the limitations of plugsódonít be surprised if you have to plug the same hole a few times)
4. Take one of the tire plugs in the kit (a thin roll of black rubber) and thread the plug through the end of the needle tool. Coat the plug in rubber cement.
5. Push the needle into the hole in the tire just past the eye of the needle. Turn the needle a 1/4 turn counterclockwise and pull the needle out. Your tire plug should remain in the tire. If it did not, re-thread the needle and try again, turning the needle slightly less than you did before until the plug remains. Trim the plug so no more than a 1/4 inch of the plug is outside of the tire.
6. Re-inflate the tire to the recommended pressure or fill it with an emergency tire inflator (such as slime, if you have it) that is designed for tubeless motorcycle tires, and you are ready to drive.
ē Replace a tire that was punctured on the side walls immediately. The side walls of a motorcycle tire are not as strong as the tread area, and the tire can blow out while you are riding, causing serious injury.
One suggestion is; if you notice a big nail or screw imbedded in the tread of your tubeless tire. Do not yank it out. Leave the nail in place until youíre ready to plug the tire. That little hole can be hard to find after you pull out the offending object, and the object will help slow the leak. Pull the nail or screw out with a twisting motion and mark the spot on the tire. Once at a bike shop, have the tire properly repaired or replaced.
Ride Smart, Ride Safe