A true travel essential - Roadside Tire Repair Kits
Having been a motorbike rider for around 40 years, I find it hard to believe I haven’t been aware of this awesome little piece of kit before now. With tubeless tire repair kits, you can repair a tire anywhere and be back on your way in 20 minutes.
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A classic screw-in-the-tire situation
A couple of weeks ago, I ran over a screw which went into the front tire of my Kawasaki Nomad 1500. The screw stayed in the tire which didn’t deflate. As this was a 4 month old white wall tire, I was looking to salvage the situation rather than replace the tire.
I called my local bike shop in the hope that they could fix the tire by either repairing the puncture, or putting a tube into the tire. The guys at the bike shop weren’t too keen on putting a tube in. They said it’s never done for a racing bike. Even after advising that my bike is a cruiser and never used for racing, they still Umm’d, and Ahh’d, and really didn’t want to do anything other than replace the tire.
I continued to ride the bike with the screw in the tire, and had started to mention my problem to my fellow bike riders. A work colleague told me about a product that he’d been using for years. It’s called a ‘tubeless roadside repair kit’.
I did a little research online, and watched some How To videos. To be honest, even after watching the videos, I remained slightly skeptical that this would fix the puncture.
As the kit itself is relatively cheap compared to getting whole new tire or even getting the puncture fixed, I thought I’d give it a go. I still thought that this repair option was just too simple but regardless of my reservations, I bought a kit.
Is this flat tire repair kit too good to be true?
Before giving it a shot, I re-watched yet another YouTube ‘How To’ video and followed the instructions included with the Kit to the letter.
This not only worked but worked incredibly well. The tire puncture was easily fixed and inflated in under 10 minutes. The instructions said to wait a minimum of 10 minutes after fitting it to give it time to cure before riding on. As I did my repair at home, I was able to leave mine to cure overnight.
How much does a Tubeless Tire Roadside Repair Kit cost?
Tubeless Tire Repair Kits start around $7 although the tools supplied can be a bit flimsy (but will still do the job). The ones around this price won't come with a carry case or a pair of pliers. Have you ever tried to get a nail or screw out of a tire without pliers? Yeah, good luck.
If you're repairing the puncture at home, then you should be able to get away with the lower priced kit if you have other tools such as a cutting knife and a pair of pliers on hand.
If you want something to travel with in case of an emergency, then it will pay to spend a few extra dollars and get one with better quality tools. The extras will include a small cutting knife, a pair of pliers, and come with a carry case.
The nitty gritty of how it works
Depending on which one you buy, the kit will come with a minimum of 2 different T-handle tools, cement glue, and a number of plugs. The images below show where a pair of pliers and a trimming knife are used.
YouTube video - How to use a Tubeless Tire Repair Kit
The step-by-step process on how to plug a flat tire without taking the tire off
Before you start the repair, make sure the section of the tire with the offending nail or screw is in a position that's easy for you to access.
- Use a set of pliers to remove the nail/screw. If the tire hasn't deflated at this point, it's going to deflate as soon as you remove the object.
- Insert or coat the tip of the tool that looks like a long screw (which is called a spiral reaming tool), into the cement lubricant. Then insert it into the puncture hole. This will widen the hole so it's easier to insert the plug.
- Thread one of the plugs to it's halfway point into the eyelet tool. Watch the video above if you're not sure what I mean by this. Cover the tip of the tool with the cement.
- Push this into the hole leaving a small section of the plug tips out, then pull the tool back out.
- Cut the left over tips of the plug, wait 10 minutes for the plug to complete cure.
- Use a portable pump to inflate the tire to the recommended psi, and you're on your way.
As essential as a set of jumper leads
Many of us already carry basic items in either our cars or on our bikes for emergency repairs. These probably include the tools for changing a car tire, or jump-starting a flat battery.
I see no reason why you wouldn’t include a Tubeless Roadside Tire Repair Kit as part of your essentials. This kit would quickly prove invaluable in the situation of an unexpected puncture along a roadway, or in an out-of-the-way location.
After all, we have bikes because we like the freedom they give us. This is just a bit of insurance so you don't get caught out, and end up paying for a tow truck to take your bike to the nearest garage.
A portable air pump
Along with a portable pump, a Tubeless Tire Repair Kit has become part of my standard kit that I carry in my pannier bag on my bike. I will be buying another kit to keep in my wife’s car, along with a portable pump that will operate off her car's cigarette lighter.
Portable air pumps come with a normal AC power plug, and either battery clamps to power the air pump directly off a battery, or with a cigarette lighter option. Another alternative if you want to cover all bases, is to buy a portable air pump with a cigarette lighter, AC power, plus buy an additional adapter that converters the outlet for the cigarette lighter, to battery clamps.
I’ve been riding bikes for 40 years, and thinking back now I realize how lucky I’ve been never getting a puncture during a ride before now. This is not a true puncture repair but these are perfect for an emergency.
With this kit and the pump in my pannier bag, I know I can easily repair a puncture anywhere. Using this, I can be on my way again in around 15 to 20 minutes. Maybe I’m easily impressed, but I do believe this is an awesome product.
Guest Post by
David is an avid motorbike rider and has been riding since his early teens. He's also a qualified Scuba Diver (Advanced Open Waters), and a keen world traveler, photographer and fisherman.
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