How to avoid punctures
The simplest way to avoid punctures is to use solid wheels, like the ones you might find on a Victorian velocipede, but that’s pretty impractical, and if you want even a semblance of comfort and cushioning while riding, air-filled tyres are hard to beat. Every now and then, though, they do go pop — so here are a few ideas and products that might help prevent punctures.
The first obvious way to prevent having a flat tyre is to improve the quality and toughness of your tyres. Unless you’re buying ultra-thin racing tyres, most modern tyres feature a layer of protective material of some sort. But to take things to the maximum, puncture-resistant tyres such as Schwalbe’s Marathon Plus Flat Less range, Bontrager’s Hard Case models or Continental’s Gatorskin have a layer of extra thick rubber or other material underneath the tread to help stop sharp dangers reaching the inner tube.
Check out a comprehensive range of tyres here
Self-sealing inner tubes
Which leads us onto stage two: addressing the quality of your inner tubes. Most inner tubes are made of thin rubber. When that’s been breached, it’s a case of ‘Goodnight Vienna’ and you’ll face a session at the side of the road, fixing a flat tyre. However, self-sealing inner tubes contain a special liquid sealant which plugs any puncture hole (up to a certain size — they’re not magic!). Self-sealing tubes are a bit heavier and more expensive than normal inner tubes, but every little bit of puncture protection helps.
Click here to see Evans’s range of self-sealing inner tubes
Reliable rim tape
This is something of a hidden danger. A great deal of punctures, especially on new bikes with relatively low-cost wheelsets, are caused by the enemy within: faulty or poorly place rim tape. Rim tape is used to cover the ends of the spokes and stops them poking into and damaging your inner tube. However, rim tape is not always lined up perfectly, and some tape is so thin it’s hardly fit for purpose. Take off your tyre, remove your inner tube and have a look at your rim tape, then replace if necessary.
Of course, you could remove many potential problems in one single swoop by switching to tubeless tyres and wheels. To make the rim airtight, the spoke holes have to be covered by a thick tape, so that would eradicate inner tube damage caused by spokes… except tubeless tyres don’t even use inner tubes, so that’s another problem solved completely. Then tubeless tyres tend to be more puncture resistant anyway, not least because you can run sealant inside of them to plug any hole as it occurs.
View Evans’s range of tubeless wheels for road bikes
Finally, here’s an upgrade of sorts that won’t cost you anything, because it’s an upgrade to your approach to cycling. If you want to avoid punctures, use your eyes and common sense. Don’t ride near the gutter, where road debris tends to congregate. Look out for shiny, sharp things such as glass and metal. And don’t hit potholes at speed.