Bicycle Tire Repair Tools
The best thing you can do to prevent flats is to not ride over debris. After that make sure you have a great rear tire with a good tube that is the right size for the tire. Also check your tire pressure every time before you ride, low pressure means more flats. You don’t need to use a gage each time just squeeze the tire and after a while you will get a feel for what a correctly inflated tire feels like.
My favorite rear tire is the Panaracer Pasela Tour Guard Tire 26 x 1.25 or the Panaracer Pasela Tour Guard Tire 26 x 1.50. Make sure it is a Pesela with a TG. I like the folding version, they are a lot easier to pack when touring but a bit more expensive. These are expensive tire but I don’t have to buy them very often and they don’t let me down on the road. Here’s the best reson I have to buy these tires The Tire That Saved My Newfoundland & Labrador Tour. You can buy them at Harris Cyclery but REI has a better price on the 26 x 1.5, now. I usually stick with Universal Cycles because the folding version is hard to find but they usually have them. NB, these tires are called slicks because they have a standard road tire pattern not a knobby MTB pattern.
If you are running a narrow 26″ tire don’t make the mistake of using too big a tube. If the tube is too big you will have a hard time preventing pinch flats when you replace the tube on the road. The right tube may be hard to find but here is a list of places where you can find them – 26X1.25 and 26X1.5 tubes.Don’t worry about brand very much, there aren’t many places makes these tubes but there are a lot of different boxes. I recommend Schrader valves for touring (see What Type of Valve to Use for Touring – Schrader or Presta).
You will have a flat some day and if you don’t like walking your bike, then you should be prepared for flats:
1. Know how to fix a flat on the road – see Repairing Flat Bicycle Tires on the Road
2. Carry the Tire Repair Gear you will need (list follows)
Recommended Tire Repair Gear to Carry on your bike:
1. Two (2) spare tubes for rear wheel and one for the front if it is a different size- more if you are on an extended tour and you use an odd size on your rear wheel. If I can figure out what caused the flat and remove that problem I use a new tube. But often that is not the case so I use a patch. I tell myself that it is not my limited powers of observation just that the offending object has fallen away when I take the wheell off. Sometimes I tell myself that 3 or 4 times on the same ride.
Note: Front wheel flats on small front wheels are much less common than rear wheel flats on recumbents, so one tube for the front should be fine.
2. A good set of tire levers, my favorites are the Crank Brothers Speed Lever Tire Lever . Stay away from metal levers and try to do as much as you can with your fingers. I try to only use the tire levers to start the tire removal but put the tire back on without levers. But some tires can’t be dome without levers.
3. A good on the bike pump, the Topeak Road Morph Bike Pump is a reasonable choice just don’t trust the built in pressure gage. I have been searching forever for a good pump to carry. I don’t trust cartridges because of some of my poor tire repairs that took 3 or 4 shots, I don’t think I could carry enough cartridges. A good shop pump is a great thing to have and will save you a lot of time and effort. luckily good shop pumps are easy to find but are expensive.
4. A patch kit, when you have used all of your tubes or aren’t sure you have found the problem these will get you to where you can get another tube. I have used the Park Tool GP-2 Super Patch Kit because they are thin and quick, but they are not the best if you don’t plan on replacing the tube. People who are more patient used the superior vulcanizing patches, Park Tool Vulcanizing Patch Kit .
5. A tire pressure gage, buy a cheap pop-up type at an Auto Supply Store or WalMart for about a dollar. These work better than the more expensive spring types. The electroic pressure gages work fine but are expensive, heavy, bulky and don’t like water. Just make sure you get one that has a range that matches your tires, a low pressure car gage won’t handle 100 PSI tires.
6. A spare tube cap and valve plus a valve changing tool. If a valve sticks after you add air on the road, you won’t be able to fix that problem with a patch and a spare vale and tube is much smaller and cheaper than another tube.Again, get these at WalMart or Auto Suppluy store for about $1. 7.
7. A tire boot – this covers the hole in a blown out or ripped tire. It is not a repair but will get you home. I carry Park Tool Emergency Tire Boot – TB-2 but you can use a folded dollar bill in an emergency.
Fixing flats may not be fun but once you get used to it, it is just part of riding … Enjoy the Ride.