ON THE TRAIL TIPS: DEALING WITH FLATS

DON’T GET STRANDED!

Getting a flat tire on the trail is usually a day ender. There are few of us who are prepared for dealing with a flat, less who can perform the fix on the trail and a scant handful who even have the proper tools and spares back at the truck. Unless you’re running mousse tubes (foam inserts) you will have to deal with the inflated balloon that resides under your knobby’s skin and can pinch flat, get nailed or suffer a fatal cut courtesy of a nice wet rock.

We look at flats in three distinct ways. Preventative medicine. Fixing a rupture at the track/trail (meaning your truck and toolbox are in tow) and the worst-case scenario, the on the trail flat fix.

PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE

-While this may sound ridiculous proper suspension setup is one of the most important keys to flat control. Usually soft and wallowy units bottom out easily and then the remaining suspension runs directly through the tire and tube. Pinch flats are as cancerous as running over a 3-inch nail.

 

-Keep good rubber on your machine. Old stiff carcasses cut easier. Fresh tires have give and work with the terrain.

 

-Don’t run junk tubes! Not only do they rot easy, they cannot take a decent punch under full tire compression. We always baby power our tubes (inner tire) so that the tubes don’t overheat and stick to the inside carcass.

-We prefer a good thick tube and a normal air pressure, even in desert riding. We never run more than 15 psi, and usually run 12 about 98% of time. Remember, you want the tire to hook up, not bounce and react off of the terrain. Proper air pressure increases traction, which increases control. More control means that you can navigate through obstacles and not slam dance through them, and this is where many flat arise.

-For the major percentage of our off-road riding (if we’re not running Mousse foam insert tubes) we Slime our tubes. Not only does this fix a nail hit, severe thorns and cactus blows are mended as you ride. Slime will not help a sidewall cut and exacerbates the dilemma when the bead gets lubed up with green goo. It simply means that you must fix it immediately.

And finally, get off of your butt and stand up! Sit down riding promotes a dead weight in saddle mode of operation. This taxes the suspension, removes your body as additional suspension and pushes the load directly to your tires. When we asked ten top pros how the average guy could not only improve, but also save his equipment they said, “Get off the saddle!”

 

THE TRUCK FIX

This is nearly as easy as a garage tire change, IF you have the proper tools. We always carry the following in our toolbox and spares box:

-Good tire irons are a must. We like the Zip-Ty units with the plastic handles on the far left and the aluminum Motion Pro tire levers next to them. The larger ones are for garage, or pit fixes- not trail jobs.

-Proper wrenches for removing wheels and rim locks.

-Spare tubes, both front and rear.

 

-Windex or WD40. Necessary for lubing the bead during the final air up to get the bead to pop.

 

-A good bicycle pump, or plug-in inflator

 

-A stand. (Pretty stinking crucial for removing the wheels)

 

-Mechanix gloves (or old moto gloves) make it nice for digging out tubes

And finally a decent air gauge and set the pressure to 12-15 psi. Always check the inside of the tire carcass for thorns or nails BEFORE reinstalling a new tube.

 

THE TRAIL FIX

Here’s the bottom line to fixing a flat on the trail, you must have the tools and spares with you to remove and install a new tube.

You will need:

-A 21-inch front tube. They will work on the back wheel (18 or 19) just fine. We never tote a heavy-duty tube as a spare, go for a cheapie, this is a trail fix. We either stuff it in our butt bag or carry it on a fender bag.

-Two tire irons. Motion Pro’s aluminum or Zip Ty Irons are best.

-Have the necessary tools to remove the rear wheel and loosen the rim lock.

-You need air! We swear by the c02 cartridge kits, but we also know riders who pack a pump and usually fit it into their water system by the bladder.

-We usually use water as a lubrication for getting the bead to pop. We do know riders who carry a small bottle of Windex (for goggles) and this works perfectly on the bead.

 

-It’s usually best that the bead is broken (and most times it is when you ride flat). The tire is usually malleable and warm making it easy to work. If at all possible, find a rock or stump to act like a bike stand. This will save you huge grief.

 

-If not, good luck. If you have a sidestand it’s possible to lever it up to get the rear wheel off the ground. You will need a buddy to help. Worst case scenario, throw it on the ground, place anything large (rock, limb) under the swingarm to get it off the ground. Now remove the rear wheel.

-Take your time stuffing the new tube, add a little air to make sure that it’s not under a rim lock, then carefully lever the remaining bead into place.

-Refit wheel. If the machine is on the ground this isn’t fun but know that your ride was not a total waste and the trail is mere moments away!

ON THE ROAD AGAIN!

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