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Thread: My First Flat Tire

  1. #1
    Jeff cookie's Avatar
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    My First Flat Tire

    My 2008 Rt seemed a little sluggish/squirly. I got to work and yep there it was a nail in the rear tire. It was a convenient place to have the experience for that I am greatful. My question is would you patch it or replace it?
    Clean 1/8 inch hole. The emergency plug kit I have says to replace tire as soon as possible. The motorcycle shop said they don't patch.
    What say you?
    Thanks,
    Jeff
    Jeff Anderson
    I ride a 2008 R1200RT

  2. #2
    Registered User greenwald's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by cookie View Post
    My 2008 Rt seemed a little sluggish/squirly. I got to work and yep there it was a nail in the rear tire. It was a convenient place to have the experience for that I am greatful. My question is would you patch it or replace it?
    Clean 1/8 inch hole. The emergency plug kit I have says to replace tire as soon as possible. The motorcycle shop said they don't patch.
    What say you?
    Thanks,
    Jeff
    Your life is riding on this 'donut of rubber' back there - patching tires is a temporary fix, until you can get back home (or to your dealer) and replace the tire.

    Liability issues being what they are, it's almost impossible to find a dealer willing to perform an internal patch anymore, and I can't really blame them.

    I have plugged tires while on a trip, like I said, to get back home - but the harsh reality of zooming around on two wheels is that a compromised tire needs to be replaced.

    May you have better luck with the next one!
    Kevin Greenwald - Touring Tips Editor
    Nationally Certified Law Enforcement Motor Officer (Ret.)
    MSF RiderCoach # 121656 (BRC,SBRC,IS,IME,SMARTrainer,THE REF Staff)
    Iron Butt Association Member # 34281

  3. #3
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    Replace or ???

    Let's see, spend a couple hundred to replace the tire or take a chance on the plug coming out or slow/medium/fast leak starting...let alone at a worse time or even worse. I'd go with replacing the tire. How many miles on the punctured tire? Be glad it isn't a run flat like on BMW cars....but wait, the bikes with probably have those soon enough.
    '14 R1200RT

  4. #4
    Registered User TomDac's Avatar
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    I'll agree with everyone else.. Replace the tire ASAP.
    Tom - MOA #156706, Hayward, CA
    2006 BMW R1200GS Adventure, aka "Gretel"
    1983 Honda V65 Magna - SOLD
    http://www.flyv65.com

  5. #5
    Mars needs women! 35634's Avatar
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    Just to rock the boat, I've ridden many thousands of miles on plugged tires. You could get a new tire and run over a nail on the way home from the dealer. Then what? Get another one? If the tire is near it's end of life, sure. Also, if you ran on it flat or low long enough the integrity of the tire may be compromised. But if not, well, it's your $$$$.
    1987 K75S
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  6. #6
    Dances with Curves
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    I won't give advice, but I'll relate my story. On a cross country trip, NH to CA and back earlier this year, I found a small screw in my rear tire during my morning bike check. It was a Michelin Pilot Road 2, quite expensive with only a couple of thousand miles and very little wear on it. I was in Fillmore, UT, about to head out across the desert on RT. 50 - vast stretches of nothing.

    I pulled the screw. There wasn't enough of the head left to screw it out, which would have been better. There was a slow leak. The amount of air that had been lost was too small to measure, but the "spit test" showed air coming out. I used a Dynaplug to plug the hole.

    I went to a local Polaris dealer who was willing to patch it, but it was a patch only. The best repair is a mushroom type deal that is a patch and a plug from the inside. I called the place back in NH that had sold me the tire to find out if the tire is a steel belted type, as steel belts can cut a plug after a while. It was not. The person I spoke to advised me to leave the plug in rather than use a patch only. He said that, warnings aside, people do ride plugged tires until they wear out. Depending on the hole and the type of patch, some have trouble, some don't. Most don't. Thinking about this advice, I also took into consideration the fact that it was the rear tire, not the front. I factored in the days I would lose getting to the nearest BMW dealership in Salt Lake City to get a replacement, if they even had one in stock.

    So, swallowing hard, I took off across the desert with the plugged tire. I rode it slowly at first, and kept a close eye on it. After a while I began to feel more confidence and rode it at speeds averaging around 65 mph for about 2000 miles. I had absolutely no problem with it.

    I had it replaced in the Denver area on the way back, with another PR2. I had the plugged tire shipped to my house. When I got back, I took the plugged tire to the place where I got it. They looked at it and said that, with such a small hole and a good plug, they wouldn't worry about it.

    At this point I plan to remount the plugged tire when the one that's on there now wears out, and run it till it wears out.

    I have heard many many opinions on this subject, as I am sure you will too. Under different circumstances I would probably do something different. I would definitely treat a front tire differently than the rear. I would treat a steel belted radial differently than a tire without steel belts.

    Ultimately, it's your decision.
    Dave Geyer - Merrimack NH USA
    2010 Cross Country Trip Blog
    '09 R12R, '02 GZ250. BMWMOA #112827
    If it ain't bust, don't fix it.

  7. #7
    Jeff cookie's Avatar
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    Interesting replies. I have decided to replace it however I can see if it was properly patched from the inside it would more than likely be OK. Did you know that on passenger cars if you have a tire with a flat and is patched properly the speed rating is reduced by to the next lowest rate?
    Interesting, our local Police department buys there tires from us and they are not allowed to patch their Z rated tires due to the rating being reduced. Plus the liability.
    Thank you for your timely responses.
    Jeff Anderson
    I ride a 2008 R1200RT

  8. #8
    Old man in the mountains osbornk's Avatar
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    I used plugs in several motorcycle tires for many miles and I have never had a problem. I have used plugs in car tires for many years without a problem. I plugged both bias and radial tires with and without steel belts. The "sticky rope"plugs feel the best to me when I install them.
    'You can say what you want about the South, but I almost never hear of anyone wanting to retire to the North.

  9. #9
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    My most recent experience was like dhgeyer's.

    New PR on the rear, next morning flat. Must have traveled 30 miles on it. Clean smallish hole in the middle of the tread. I removed the wheel and mounted a new tire.

    The hole in the tire looked clean from both sides. I bought a vulcanizing patch for the inside, the kind with a locating plug-like projection to fit into the hole. Scuffed up the inside face and the hole per the instructions, and mounted the patch. Then I hung the tire on the wall until I wore out the one on the bike.

    When the one on the bike wore out, I mounted the patched tire. Let it sit on the bike for a few days; no air loss. Then I rode gently; felt fine, no air loss. That was several thousand miles ago. Still behaves as new. I've ceased even to think about it.

    In this case, I guessed right. I don't think that my choices will always be right, and I certainly don't think they're right for everyone else.
    David Brick
    Santa Cruz CA
    2007 R1200R

  10. #10
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    I plug them and finish my ride. When I return home, if the tire is mostly worn out, I just replace it. Perhaps a little sooner than I otherwise would. If the tire is otherwise good, say >50% tread remaining, I remove the tire and patch the hole from the inside. As much as tires cost today I'd use a tube before I'd toss away an almost new tire!

  11. #11
    Jeff cookie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ridewv View Post
    I plug them and finish my ride. When I return home, if the tire is mostly worn out, I just replace it. Perhaps a little sooner than I otherwise would. If the tire is otherwise good, say >50% tread remaining, I remove the tire and patch the hole from the inside. As much as tires cost today I'd use a tube before I'd toss away an almost new tire!
    You can use a tube? How would that work exactly?
    Do you remove the valve stem from the wheel and stick the tube valve stem through the hole in the wheel?
    Has this actually been done?
    Jeff Anderson
    I ride a 2008 R1200RT

  12. #12
    Registered User greenwald's Avatar
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by cookie View Post
    You can use a tube? How would that work exactly?
    Do you remove the valve stem from the wheel and stick the tube valve stem through the hole in the wheel?
    Has this actually been done?
    Just curious..... why the heck would you?!!

    If you're willing to strip the tire from the rim to istall a tube, why not do an internal patch (much more reliable than a plug, which can be spit out).

    Tubed tires, when punctured, suffer catastrophic failure (go flat fast!) - tubeless tires leak slowly - buys you some time to pull over safely.

    It's your butt.
    Kevin Greenwald - Touring Tips Editor
    Nationally Certified Law Enforcement Motor Officer (Ret.)
    MSF RiderCoach # 121656 (BRC,SBRC,IS,IME,SMARTrainer,THE REF Staff)
    Iron Butt Association Member # 34281

  13. #13
    Dances with Curves
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    Quote Originally Posted by cookie View Post
    You can use a tube? How would that work exactly?
    Do you remove the valve stem from the wheel and stick the tube valve stem through the hole in the wheel?
    Has this actually been done?
    Yes, yes, and yes. It can be done, and has been done plenty. It's not generally recommended. On a small hole like the one you described, I'd use a proper combination plug/patch from the inside before I'd put a tube in a tubeless tire on a rim designed for tubeless tires.
    Dave Geyer - Merrimack NH USA
    2010 Cross Country Trip Blog
    '09 R12R, '02 GZ250. BMWMOA #112827
    If it ain't bust, don't fix it.

  14. #14
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    Lots of worry warts here. I don't advocate careless stupidity but plugged stuff, IF plugging is appropriate, works fine.

    Back when the economy was healthy there was a 10+ yr stretch where our roads were littered with all sort of constructive crap, a lot coming from the battered pickups of the couple hundred thousand illegals here to take advantage of the silly money that fueled excess housing growth. Got to plug lots of tires.

    In the nearly 50 yrs I've been using plugs and patches I've never had one of either leak or fail- they last the life of the rubber.

    And unlike some, I am not terrified of an air loss at speed having had racetrack blowouts at triple digit speeds and found they are reasonably controllable, even in tight corners (in cars). You're not going to get a blowout if an appropriately done plug fails (but you might get another flat in the middle of the desert).

    If you plug a small hole and it fails you will get slow leak which will give you plenty of time to notice and slow/stop! If you are foolish enough to jam multiple plugs in a gaping hole as anything other than a very temporary fix you probably have enough loose screws that something else will get you if the plugs don't.

    In a pinch (no other tires available) I have even used plugs in a race tire where carcass temps are 225 ish- way hotter than a street bike tire- with no problems. That gave me a little pause but no problems. Ran the tire out with the plug in place.

    I use and will continue to use only the string type and carry a T-handle insertion tool and kit in all my vehicles. If you're good at it, you can plug a small hole with no more than a 2 psi loss from whatever pressure you started the repair. Have a few times simply stopped roadside to pull a nail, put in a plug and drive to the nearest pump (unlike my RT, my cars aren't carrying pumps but they do carry spare tires and it is faster and simpler to plug one that still has drivable air than to change it)

    My experience around tracks makes me pretty sensitive to minor tire pressure variations. The typical person runs around in their street car with no feel whatever for what's in their tires- I can tell 3 lbs down on one corner for things I drive regularly.

  15. #15
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    Tubeless tires are one of the best things that ever happened to motorcycles. If you ever changed a tire on a tube type dirt bike with rim locks and pinched a tube (not to mention your fingers), you would never even consider putting a tube in a tubeless tire and wheel. I would put in a dozen plugs before I would think about a tube. I have been fortunate to have very few flats on my cycles, but I would not have a problem using a good plug. I have used quite a few plugs on my pickup and trailers and no problems. I like the gooey, rope type plugs. I put a little rubber adhesive on them when I install them . No problems. I have even plugged the sidewall of a radial tire on a trailer . A regular tire patch cannot hold up to the flexing on a sidewall.

    Whatever you do, always keep the rubber side down and the shiny side up!

    1987 K75c
    1981 Yamaha XJ550
    1980 Yamaha XT500

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