Alaska, Bicycle, DIY, fat bike

Tire repair 101

The tires on the bike go round and round…

…until you find something sharp and hard and that at once identifiable swan song “PSSSSSHHHHHSSSS” rings out- your stoke deflating as quickly as the tube in the tire itself.

That was my experience a couple weeks back on a ride through Boulder Alley and up the east side of Sheridan Lake. A really fun place to ride, the lake was freezing, as were the puddles that accumulate in the low parts of the trail. Most weren’t thick enough to support me riding across, and 9 puddles out of 10 I would break through. I made it to the lake and rode along the ice edge- the water level much lower than normal enabling me to get closer towards the Sherman Glacier than usual.

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On my way back to the truck, I didn’t make it far before it happened. I swear it was a damn piece of ice, but it could have been a stick- a sharp stick. All I know is that I thought to myself. “It’s a good thing I didn’t pack a pump, patch kit, or any tools.” It was a 3 mile walk out- not the end of the world, but enough to kick myself for being over confident and under prepared.

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A 10mm cut in the tire tread punctured the tube as well. I rode in with a fatbike, and walked out with a flat bike. Even if I had a patch kit- I figured I was out a $130 tire- unsure if I should trust a tire boot on the long term- since much of my riding takes me a little farther off the beaten path than I’d like to walk back from.

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Unsure what to do- I went home and turned to the internet. Surprisingly, I found a lot of really good suggestions as well as those requesting that if I didn’t trust the tire, that I send it to them and they’d get a couple hundred plus more miles out of it after repair. Here are some of the responses from Facebook:

  • Ray- Get a 25mmx25mmmm piece of rubber 1mm thick from a shoe repair shop and Shoe Goop. Patch the tear from the inside using the rubber and shoe goop and clamp with a c-clamp. I did this with a tire about a year ago and it has held up perfectly.
  • Charlie- Don’t worry your fat minded heart. I encountered a stick on my second fat bike ride and it put a bigger hole than that in my tire. Use an automotive tire patch if you haven’t already. That’s what I used, and check it out…I run tubeless, and put 1800 miles on it since it popped. No leaks. No problem. Don’t overthink it bro. Just use a good automotive patch with the right vulcanizing cement and you will not have to worry about it. Check out the pictures (posted in reverse sequence, sorry)!!!
  • Chris- When I did auto tire repair the trick to get the patch to stick really well was rough up the rubber with sand paper, apply the vulcanizing cement where the patch would go. Get a long barrel lighter. I’m being serious. Light the cement on fire. Keep your face away from the flame. Blow out the flame right away if necessary. Usually the flame goes out after the cement is burned away. Apply the patch and apply pressure. We would use a roller wheel thing to push any air out of the patch. This method heats up the rubber and allows the patch, cement, and rubber to vulcanize together really well
  • Zachary- Super glue and Stan’s
  • Colin- I sew mine up with banjo strings then glue a piece of old gator skins over the hole
  • Eric- Another option is gorilla glue and gorilla duct tape on the inside. Worked for me tubeless.

And some from Instagram:

  • @thetretre- velox rim tape + duct tape on the inside. Till the wheels fall off
  • @spencerjharding- I booted a cut about that size on my tallbike with a dollar and rode another 1000 miles. Still working as far as I know, farthest Ive stretched a dollar
  • @oceanaircycles- On the inside, Thin layer of shoe goo, lay some fabric in, more goo on top. Kind of like fiberglass repair, but thin and flexible
  • @swift_getlost_club- Tyvek and super glue. Build a few layers of glue, thinly, before laying down the tyvek. Ideally want to patch the outside as well. You could then coat the outside patch with shoe goo or rubber cement for protection. Good luck.

So I got to work. I collected some stuff from around the house and began the process.

IMG_8431Step one: I rounded up some Aquaseal, a Tyvek envelope and a patch from my Guy Cotten rain gear. The Guy Cotton patch is flexible but doesn’t stretch. It’s also easy to cut and most importantly- it’s what I had around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_8436I cut a piece of Tyvek about 1″x3″, applied a liberal amount of Aquaseal, and pressed the patch over the cut. I did not sew up the cut as some people suggested- deciding to try this method first. I then applied another layer of Aquaseal and covered the Tyvek with the rubberized Guy Cotten fabric. Then I went around the perimeter with a light layer of Aquaseal.

I’m not sure it matters, but on the rubberized patch, I cut rounded corners, thinking that they would be less likely to peel up, similar to tube patches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_8439This is the final stage- the powder is tire talc, before installing tire and tube on the rim.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that’s about it. After my repair, I can still see a little damage from the tread side, but the tube isn’t protruding, nor can I imagine it happening, with two layers of such strong material. The weight is minimal. I’ve got about 50 miles on it and all is well so far. Not sure it would be ok for a tubeless setup, but that hasn’t been a road I’ve played on yet anyway. With the cost of tires, and just the thought of tossing so much rubber in the trash- I’m glad all was not lost.

So here’s to getting inventive, even if it’s out of frugality. To thinking- and riding outside the box.

 

 

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