View Full Version : Becoming afraid to ride re: flats

10-11-2005, 12:37 PM
As I posted a few weeks back, I encountered my first flat, and first crash. Since then, last Saturday, I experienced another flat, but was able to re-inflate the tube with a CO2 cartridge (enough to get me home), then again, today, another flat, same scenario. After my crash, I took the wheel into the shop and the mechanic (after checking the tube for leaks) said it was a bad tube (wear near the stem) so replaced the tube at no cost. Saturday I returned with the same wheel, and again, same scenario, bad batch of tubes from Bontrager. Tube was replaced at no cost. Between Saturday and today, I put a total of 13 miles on the bike. I ride, what I consider a "clean" road, and after inspecting the tire today, there's no evidence of puncture, it's the tube. On my way home today, I prayed I would make it, but was nervous the entire ride. Each time I mount the bike, I'm now frightened that I'll have another flat, and I'm unable to concentrate on riding and become obsessed with flatting. Is this the norm for riding a road bike and getting flats (this often, I mean). Mind you, I've had my Trek 2100 for approximately 5 weeks - three flats in 5 weeks seems like a lot.

Any advice would be appreciated.


10-11-2005, 12:42 PM
Is it always wear near the stem?

10-11-2005, 12:54 PM
Yes, it is - mechanic checked the wheel near the stem and said there was nothing protruding that would wear the tube. Said this has happened in the past when they'll get a bad batch of tubes, but I just think it's too much.

10-11-2005, 01:08 PM
Yeah, that's happened at several bike shops in our area too. Another thing that causes holes there are sometimes burrs where the stem goes through the wheel and also sometimes if you don't have that little nut on the valve stem and there's a lot of jerking when you are pumping up a tire (somewhat common) or if you aren't holding the valve stem when pulling the pump head off.

Best of luck!

10-11-2005, 01:58 PM
Has the plastic "rim tape" been replaced with cloth tape (of the right width)? Most mechanics would do this right away, but it's worth asking. And don't let them say, oh, you don't need to... because you do.

And yes, I've had a flat every ride for 5 rides in a row once, followed by no flats for 3 months. They come in bunches. Having folding tires is helpful because then you can get them off and on without tire levers. Also, take that little nut off, they are more trouble than anything.

If you have a good relationship with your mechanic, bring him beer and/or cookies and have him teach you how to change the tube yourself. Practice a couple times at home in the kitchen and then you won't have to fear getting a flat-it'll only be a 5 minute interuption to your ride.

10-11-2005, 04:46 PM
Three flats in five weeks IS rather surprising. I can see how it would seem discouraging! If it truly is a problem with faulty tubes. then the bike shop should have quite a few customers coming in with the same thing happening and I would think they'd dispose of that particular batch of bad tubes. At least return them to their distributor! I think I would buy a tube from another bike shop and see if it holds up. If not, then I'd suspect a problem with the tire and not the tube. How old is the tire? Where is the flat occuring? On the inside or outside of the tire? On the sidewall? It is always good to find the location of the leak and compare that to the tire.

Hoping you solve the problem and enjoy the ride.


10-11-2005, 05:36 PM
Thank you for all your suggestions . . . forgive my ignorance, but what is "rim tape"? The mechanic made no mention of that to me. I'm fortunate, as I do have a great relationship with the mechanic as well as the "bike guru" of the shop - he's been great with me and he did show me how to change the tube - he had done a demonstration when I first purchased the bike, but I was more interested in getting my baby out onto the road than following his instructions - I was just in another zone!! When I took the bike in for the first flat, he did show me again how to change the tube and I did a little demo for him just to make sure I was on the same page. Then I took it back again (after 2nd flat) because I just thought it was strange that it occurred again, and so soon. Today's tube, I changed, and each time, the wear has been near the stem. As suggested, I think I'm going to purchase a different brand tube and see how I do with that (if this one goes). In the meantime, I'm just a little freaked about riding and constantly looking between my legs to see if my tire is alive, and, every little bump I hit, I'm wondering if it's the tube or the road. Perhaps because I do all my riding alone, I'm just apprehensive about riding now.

Again, thank you for your responses - so truly appreciated.


10-11-2005, 07:05 PM
Hi Cusepack,

When I first got my Sequoia roadbike, a few years ago, I had so many flats it was ridiculous. I must of had at least 2 flats a week and it got to the point where, like you, I was "flat shy"...just waiting for that next flat. Anyway, I got so tired of those flats ( and pretty good at fixing them) that I decided to put the most resistant tubes and tires on my bike. So ever since I put armadillo tires, and with a liner in them, I have not had a flat since and that is no exaggeration! But I did get flats from pinching the tube against the rim when over inflating it with my pump...or screwing down that screw on the presta valve to tight. Now I keep that screw really loose, or none at all.
The armadillo tires with liners do make the bike heavier and the tires seem to wear out quicker...but its a trade-off I'm willing to make to have no flats. Maybe a different brand tube can help, too.

Good luck and may you not have those flat tire blues!!


10-12-2005, 03:54 AM
I had a string of about five flats in eight weeks or so a couple of summers ago. I had just put new wheels on my bike and my husband had put in slightly too-narrow rim tape, as it turns out (Kathryn, rim tape runs inside of the wheel rim and covers the spoke ends so they don't rub against the tube). So apparently at least one or more of the spokes were rubbing against the tube and causing flats. I had one pinch flat, but the rest of the tears/punctures were on the inside of the tube, which is indicative of a spoke rubbing the tube.

Like you, I got really paranoid for awhile there and couldn't enjoy my rides - I'd be constantly looking back between my legs for a flat. When we finally discovered the problem and put on wider rim tape, I got over that pretty quickly and never got another flat on that bike!

I've only had one other flat since on any of my bikes, on the rear on my Bike Friday, and I was paranoid for awhile after that one too and still find myself checking back there from time to time when I ride that bike if things start feeling a bit "bouncy", but so far, so good (crossing fingers). Overall I am really lucky with regards to flats, possibly because I am a lightweight, which I'm thankful for!

Good luck,

10-12-2005, 05:26 AM
I just had my first flat (while riding) yesterday AM and I noticed right away. We were cruising on a flat surface, I turned into my neighborhood and all of a sudden I felt like my bike was riding through molasses. Turns out it was a piece of glass.

I too had a rim tape problem on another bike. I would flat in between rides, so I was never left stranded, but it was *so frustrating*. :mad: When I bought the bike, the shop hadn't installed the rim tape properly - it was off center and the edges of the holes were rubbing. They did replace it for me for free, but that never should have happened.

I hope they don't come in spurts - I want to be done for a while :p

10-12-2005, 05:47 AM
lol.. i think i can beat you all. i think i got up to 8 flats in one week. and there were 3-5 every week before that for awhile.

a new bike, new tires, appropriate rim tape seems to have fixed the problem. I've been very happy that I've only had 4 flats in the 7 weeks I have had it. there's tons of glass about here, so every one has been "deserved" , aka large chunks in the tire and me going, how'd I not see that one??

it's the undeserved flats which are frustrating. like what you are describing. My lbs had a bad tire batch as well - I used them all up, and now the new ones work nicely :rolleyes:

I don't have any more advise to add to what the ladies here are telling you, just mentioning, it could be worse :p :D

10-12-2005, 06:55 PM
Just a little update . . . took the bike into the shop this afternoon and had them change out the Bontrager tube with a different brand tube. I'm keeping my fingers crossed:) They once again looked over the wheel, tire, stem, etc. and there's nothing protruding, tape was good (thanks for the heads-up on that), and the bad batch of tubes have been returned to the manufacturer.

10-13-2005, 11:08 AM
If I start getting lots of flats, it usually means the tire needs replacing because it has worn down too far.

I use tubes with slime in them. Advertised to self-seal a puncture up to 1/8". I also run Continental 4-season tires. A bit pricey, but I hate flats! Also, they handle better than any other tire I've used.

10-14-2005, 03:18 AM
after a similarly bad experience, a cycling friend advised me never to buy more than one tube from the same lot to avoid this problem. Sounds as if batches of bad tubes are not uncommon.

10-14-2005, 08:59 AM
Well, after this lovely thread - I went to ride this morning and found my back tire was flat!! Must have been a really slow leak - I couldn't find any hole (I never can, though.) Filled it with CO2 inflator (I've been a "pumper" for 15 years.) WOW! Two seconds, 120 pounds of air & I'm good to go!

10-14-2005, 09:04 AM
Well, after this lovely thread - I went to ride this morning and found my back tire was flat!! Must have been a really slow leak - I couldn't find any hole (I never can, though.) Filled it with CO2 inflator (I've been a "pumper" for 15 years.) WOW! Two seconds, 120 pounds of air & I'm good to go!

Ooops the gods must have been listening/reading. :D :D

10-14-2005, 10:38 AM
i can never find the hole in the tube either. I always have to put the tube in a bucket of water and look for bubbles.

10-14-2005, 12:02 PM
Geez Dogmama, I'm so sorry :eek: Good thing you had the CO2 - that's pretty much been my lifesaver the past few flats, and thank goodness, I was not far from home - just needed enough to get me there cuz I sure wasn't going to tap dance my way home ;)

Tonight before retiring for the evening, I'll make sure to do a trendy little "no flat" dance to alert the tube angels to watch over us!