How To Avoid Punctures On Your Mountain Bike

How To Avoid Punctures On Your Mountain Bike


– The most common mechanical problem, and probably the most
frustrating to getting a ride, is getting a puncture. But today, we’ll look at a few tips, little bike setup hacks,
and things you can buy to make them almost disappear. So this is how to avoid punctures. So, number one, the first
thing I would recommend is going tubeless, if
you’ve not done already. So this is gonna get rid of
pinch punctures, sort of. But what it’s really gonna get rid of is getting a puncture through
riding over something sharp, like a thorn. So now, rather than going through the tire and into the tube, actually you’re going to have
sealant inside that tire, and that’s gonna roll around, and that is designed to
fill those little gaps. So, snake bites. That’s what I’m talking
about pinch punctures. When you’ve gotta tube inside the tire, when you hit an obstacle like a rock, it’s actually gonna bottom
out that tire and tube on the rim, and that’s
where you get that pinch. But without a tube, of
course, you don’t get that. However, you can still sort
of get these snake-bite tires if you hit the tire really
hard into an obstacle, you’re actually gonna damage that tire. But it’s much harder than
actually pinching a tube, and there are ways to fix this. The first way is to carry
one of these plug kits. So if the rip is about the right size, they’re brilliant, these kits. You can just stuff it in
there, and they last forever. They’ll last the lifetime of that tire. Of course if they’re too big, if it’s anything more
than a centimeter or two, then you’re gonna have to
repair that tire properly, but that is quite rare. Now, I always go to the higher
end of what they recommend on the milliliters for the tire’s size, but I just think it helps the
tire seal that bit better. And with more of this
stuff sloshing around, yes, it’s gonna be heavier, but
it’s gonna prevent punctures that little bit better. Also, not all tubeless sealant is equal. You’ll find some cheaper brands. It just goes off much quicker,
and it’s just thinner stuff. It doesn’t fill holes quite as well. If you’re using tubes inside your tires, and you’re regularly getting
snake bite punctures, that is a pinch, what I would
do is look inside your wheel and check your rim tapes. If it’s damaged or there’s any missing, actually the tube can get
damaged on those spoke heads. So you can get proper cycle rim tape, or you can use gaffer tape, or my old favorite, electrical tape. Now aside from tubes, I think
the next most important fix for getting less punctures, is just to pump your tires harder. Now, me and Steve actually
had a really good chat with multiple World Downhill
Champion, Fabian Barel, in France last winter. And he said that all downhill
racers could avoid punctures if they just pumped
their tires up to 60 PSI. Of course, there’s some truth in that, but that’s not very practical because you’re not gonna get any grip with your tires being that hard. So practically, for most riders, I think a good tire pressure range is somewhere between 18 and 30 PSI. Most riders will probably
find themselves happiest in that low-20s to high-20 PSIs. But I find myself, in certain situations, on really rough tracks, where I maybe haven’t got a spare tube, and I’ll just pump my
tire up something like 32, maybe even up to 35 PSI. It’s definitely going to lower
the performance of the tire, but it might save me
from getting abandoned in the middle of nowhere. So a great fix for avoiding punctures, but maybe not the most practical, is just to put more air in your tires. However, I do think that heavier riders, and I’m talking about riding
style as much as body-weight, will wanna go up to these higher pressures to try and avoid these pinch punctures. But that won’t necessarily
completely solve it. I think heavier riders might
want to go to a tougher tire, so let’s do some tire chat. If heavier riders are
puncturing an awful lot with some cross country tires, what I would do is just get a tougher tire with more side-wall support. So a lot of riders, even with 140 mil travel
or 160 mil travel bikes would benefit from running
two-ply downhill tires. Personally, if I took this
Enduro bike, 170 mil travel, to the Alps or somewhere like Wester, where there’s lots of break
and bumps, lots of rocks, I would chuck on some
two-ply downhill tires. The rest of the time, I’m
happy with my trail tires. Right, let’s talk TPI, threads per inch. So this is Continental’s downhill tire. It’s the top of the range,
the toughest tire they make. It’s 27.5 by 2.4. So we’ve got layers of
nylon casing in here. And the more threads per
inch, the tougher it is. And underneath this tire,
we’ve got six layers of 360 thread per inch nylon casing. And on the side, let me look at my notes, you’ve got 4 layers of 240. So it’s the toughest tire they make, but it’s also the heaviest. It’s 1,300 grams just for one. So now we’re going to the Kaiser
Projekt, so a lighter tire. Same tread as you see
on the downhill tire. But now, rather than
having two plies of rubber, we’ve got one ply and a protection
layer, which is lighter. We’ve gone to an aramid
bead, so it’s folded, as you can see, which is lighter, again. Less stable, but easy to
store, and lighter, of course. That’s the main reason. But now we’ve gone down to four layers of 240 TPI nylon casing
underneath the tread, and three layers of 180 in the
sidewall, saving 350 grams, so that’s the tire of choice
for many Enduro racers. On probably the less gnarly trails, they might even go back to a downhill tire for some of those races. From the Kaiser down to what
I would call a trail tire. The new Mountain Kings,
that’s the 27 five by 2.3, and that’s lighter again. It’s 705 grams and the
same TPI as the Kaiser. Now let’s look at the
lightest on the scale here with a cross-country tire. For the Race King, a
super fast, light-weight, cross-country tire. Rolling resistance’ll be minimal on this. Same TPI again though. Four layers of 240 underneath the tread, three layers of 180 on the sidewall. Much less rubber now,
we’re down to 545 grams, so less than half the weight
of one of these downhill tires. So that’s gonna be great
for cross-country riding. It’s gonna suit most
riders perfectly for that. However, if you’re riding rougher terrain, really gnarly stuff,
then it isn’t gonna work like this tire in that situation. So, tire choice individually
for your riding style is gonna be super, super important. And if you are riding rocky terrain, maybe think about going
up to a tougher tire. One final point on tire choice
is that I know some people will choose their tire
going off the weight, and actually choose to
have a heavier tire, knowing that for a tough tire, it’s gonna have to weigh about a kilo or even more for the
toughest downhill race tires. So with age, tires will
become more flimsy. And that means the sidewalls
can get a bit worn out and move around. And if you puncture
and ride that tire flat that will also damage it. But also, just the case of
having less tread on the tire means there’s less material
between obstacles and your rim, meaning punctures can happen more often. Right, now to tire inserts. Now we’ve seen these sort of
appear in the last few years. And they’re trying to
prevent punctures, of course. These really are aimed at sort
of Enduro, downhill riders, and pro racers, more than anyone, but even e-bikes are
really great applications for these things. They’re all trying to fix the same problem in slightly different ways. But one thing they do
really offer for racers is the ability to ride
even with a puncture. So we see a lot of
downhill racers with these. And although they do
probably lose a bit of time, they can get to the finish
and score valuable points. So we’ve got things like
these MrWolf Bangers, we’ve got CushCores, we’ve
got Schwalbe PROCOREs. You’ve even got homemade
things like pool noodle foam, all trying to stop these
problems of getting punctures. So something like the CushCore, you’ve got that foam material
that goes round the tire, or I’m not quite sure if it is foam, but it’s kind of plasticky foam. So that offers damping. So it does affect the
ride of the bike as well. And you’ve got like
two double air pockets. It’s just like a normal tire, you can then adjust the pressure in there. Then since we have to
let you run less pressure in your tire, you’ve
still got the stability. That’s the same with all
these inserts, to be fair. And it just means you’ve
got more material there, again, between your rim and your tire. So for really heavy
riding, downhill racing, that’s gonna be better
for preventing punctures. However, of course you’re adding quite a lot of weight. To wheels, spinning
weight it quite important. However, some of these manufacturers say that you can run a lighter weight tire. So get rid of your two plies and run a single ply tire in there. It remains to be seen if that
actually prevents punctures more than just running the two ply tire. Back in the day when I raced
World Cup in the early 2000’s, the factory Michelin
racers like Steve Pete, had these foam innertubes. So that tube was made of
this sort of weird foam, it was probably about 5 mil thick, that really didn’t hold air very well. You’d have to pump them every day, but they did almost stop punctures. You could still pinch them,
but they were super good ideas. But a lot of these solutions
really are aimed at racers and the heaviest of riders who don’t mind adding a bit of extra
weight to their wheels. They’re probably not going
to suit most mountain bikers. Last, but definitely not least, is trying to make your riding smoother. I’m sure we’ve all got
that friend who rides like a Tasmanian Devil,
super heavy on the bike. Jack, I’m looking at
you behind the camera, and Blake, in fact. They’re just aggressive riders,
and they punish their tires, and they will puncture them. So if you don’t mind backing off a level, or just trying to be smoother,
trying to hop things, trying to be lighter on the bike, that will give you less punctures. Okay, so there’s some of my tips for helping to avoid punctures. I’d love to hear yours. Stick ’em down below. Ones I may not’ve listed there. But also I’d like to know about
your homemade contraptions you’ve made for inserts. My preferred method has always been to run a fairly light-weight tire, so on this bike I’ve
just got those Barons, the Enduro tires. I run fairly high pressure,
slightly higher than most. But it’s something I’ve got used to, so I run up to anything like 30 PSI, and I’ve just adapted my riding to it. Maybe not perfect, but that’s
what I really like to do. It keeps the bike fairly
lightweight as well. If you wanna see a couple more videos, see Blake hooning a
hardtail at Westchester, on anything’s possible,
on one of those things, click over there for that one. For 89’s by numbers, click up there. Hit thumbs up if you don’t like punctures, and hit that sub button.