An ounce of prevention beats tearing out hairs over another flat tire.
Inspecting your bike tires after each ride takes less than a minute and can detect tiny rocks embedded in the tread that may eventually cause a flat if not removed. A quick check can also reveal unexpected tread wear that’s a flat waiting to happen.
An advantage of biking regularly with a group is that we learn from one another. Sometimes it takes a hard-headed biker like me eons to heed excellent tire maintenance advice.
Our little Tour de Madison County group has been pedaling together for decades. Years ago, we switched from the highways to biking on the Razorback Greenway and haven’t looked back. You’ve seen us. We’re the slowest ones out there.
I passed a kid on a Strider bike once. We should change our name to the Foghat Fan Club. We’re slow riders.
Not once did it dawn on me to give my road-bike tires a quick inspection, even though one of our group preached its value. She faithfully inspects both tires when our ride is through.
It’s quick and easy. Just turn your bike upside down and place a finger on the tread. Slowly rotate the tire a time or two while feeling for any teensy piece of rock or anything else imbedded in the rubber. If not removed, it could work its way to the inside of the tire and puncture the tube.
None of us have tubeless tires so we can’t speak to the benefits of regular tire checks with those. It couldn’t hurt.
Lo and behold, I finally took her advice months ago and started a post-ride tire inspection. I’ve occasionally felt a tiny pebble in the tread and carefully pried it out with the tip of a pocket knife. Left unchecked the tire could have gone flat on the next ride.
That got me inspecting my mountain bike tires as well. I’ve yet to spot a pebble piercing the tread after a jaunt down the trail. If there ever is one, I’ll feel it.
The real eye opener was during an inspection after a road ride a couple weeks ago. This particular brand of road tire sports handy wear indicators in the form of two tiny indentations in the tread the size of pin heads. Long as you can see those, the tires should be good.
As the rear tire rotated slowly with my index finger on the tread, I felt a rough little spot. Looking closer it turned out part of the tire was worn down almost to the cord on the inside. I could still see the little pin head indicators, but wouldn’t have noticed the worn spot without checking the tires. I’m amazed I wasn’t having flats sooner.
A wise investment was two new tires and now I’m back on the road. Flats happen if you ride much. This ounce of prevention keeps them to a minimum.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org