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#881823 - 04/29/14 11:30 PM Repairing a Flat Tubeless Tire  
Joined: Dec 2006
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eddd Offline
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eddd  Offline
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Hurricane, UT
I would imagine many if not most members have had the unpleasant experience of a flat tire while on the road. One option is to use road service to pick up your bike and carry it to a dealer. However, that may not solve your problem. The dealer could be closed for a few days and may not carry the size tire you need. In addition, it seems that many dealers are unwilling to repair a tire.

The option I use is to carry a pump and tire repair kit with me. Even if you already know how to repair a tire you might pick up a new idea here to make the job easier. If you haven't repaired one this short post will give you the basics learned over many years and too many tires.

I'll start with the tools needed for the job.

For me and many others the best pump around is the Slime Power Sport Tire Inflator.



It is available at many locations including Amazon for about $30. While very compact, this pump is very durable and will easily bring your tire to full pressure in a few minutes. There is no need to worry about running down the battery even with the bike not running. It does not draw enough power to be a concern. I've used this pump to fill car tires when stopping to aid motorists.

The pump comes with a wiring harness to connect to your battery so you are ready to just plug and pump. If you already have a connector to the battery for your heated gear, you might want to look into changing the plug on the pump to match that coaxial connector. A 12 volt pump is a better solution than CO2 cartridges. The rear tire on a BMW takes lots of air, and the cartridges just don't cut it. The pump's case is very compact and you'll discover it is easy to find a place for it on the bike. I had mine stored in the tail section of my R1100RT. I carry it under the seat on my FJR.

Over the years I've used several different types of plugs, but my favorite and the only one I now carry is a kit from Nealey. You'll most likely have to order this kit. I've never seen it in any store. Here is a link: Nealey

You can order directly from Nealey. What makes Nealey better than the others is the size of the plug ropes. Nealey's are much thinner than the ones you'll find in auto parts stores. This makes them MUCH easier to insert, and as you will see, the small size still does the job.

It is important to note that a tire with full or partial pressure is MUCH easier to repair. Trying to insert tools and plugs into a flat tire can be very difficult, and sometimes impossible when the tire collapses to the rim.. Keep the tire pumped up. (Another good reason to carry a 12 volt pump.)

While the pump and the plug kit are all you need, I've found a couple of extra items make the job much easier.



The Nealey kit is pictures with a 3/4" pvc tee and an ice pick. As you will see the tee will make it much easier to insert the plug and the ice pick. The tee also protects your palm by spreading the force over a wider area. The ice pick is important to determine the angle of the puncture. Nails and other items don't always go straight in. Trying to insert a plug can be very difficult if you don't know the path of the hole that needs to be repaired. As you remove the nail or other item that caused the puncture go slowly and pay close attention to the angle. Once the item is removed slowly insert the ice pick into the hole. You want to follow the path stopping when you have the pick an inch or so through the hole. Study the angle of the pick so you can insert the plug at the same angle. (Ice picks can be hard to find. I got mine on Amazon.)



You might want to insert the plug tool through the hole as well to be sure you have a clean hole and one that is big enough for the tool and plug. This can be a bit difficult due to the friction on the tire carcass. To help here I carry a small tube of rubber cement used for bicycle tire repair. Link

The rubber cement acts as a lubricant and will not interfere with the repair. You are now ready to insert the plug. As you can see in the picture, the Nealey ropes are thin compared to the generic type.



Thread a rope through the hole in the tool. At this point I add a bit of the rubber cement to the tip of the tool as well as a half inch or so of the rope. This will make the insertion easier. Place the tee over the end of the tool and slowly insert. Different rope kits have different methods, but the Nealley require you to twist the inserted tool 1 and 1/2 times. You then pull the tool back out stopping just after the end of the tool is out of the tire.



Now you see why the smaller Nealey rope size will still work. You have four thicknesses of rope in the hole. Cut the ropes off flush with the tire and your repair is complete.



Another technique I've learned over the years is to use my stomach to help insert the tools. This give you more control and much greater force to insert the tool. Grasping the rim will provide even greater control and power.



If you are lucky you'll never need the tools or instructions, but they can be the difference between a great trip with a small blip and a trip ruined by a nail. You could also be a true hero if your skill and tools are used to help a fellow rider.

On a final note, there is no substitute for experience. Next time you need a new tire take advantage of the opportunity to practice on the old one. A 1/8" or 3/16" drill bit in a drill will make a nice hole. Just be sure to wear eye protection when you are puncturing the tire. Once you have your hole keep some pressure in the tire and practice the procedures outlined here, online, or ones that come with your repair kit of choice.

.


12 Kawasaki EX650
13 Yamaha XT250
16 KTM RC 390
96 R1100RT - forced retirement at 175,000

#881824 - 04/29/14 11:44 PM Re: Repairing a Flat Tubeless Tire [Re: eddd]  
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Selden Offline
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Great stuff. One added note: replace the rope plugs and rubber cement in your emergency kit annually, as they do not age well. Cheap, compared with the alternative of a hole that won't stop leaking.


Don't fix it if it ain't broke, don't break it if you can't fix it.
#881826 - 04/29/14 11:53 PM Re: Repairing a Flat Tubeless Tire [Re: Selden]  
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eddd Offline
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eddd  Offline
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Hurricane, UT
Originally Posted By: Selden
Great stuff. One added note: replace the rope plugs and rubber cement in your emergency kit annually, as they do not age well. Cheap, compared with the alternative of a hole that won't stop leaking.


The ropes I used on this repair were several years old, but I agree with the replacing on a regular basis and had already ordered a new kit.


12 Kawasaki EX650
13 Yamaha XT250
16 KTM RC 390
96 R1100RT - forced retirement at 175,000

#882031 - 05/01/14 12:42 AM Re: Repairing a Flat Tubeless Tire [Re: eddd]  
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LBump Offline
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Southern California
Originally Posted By: eddd
Originally Posted By: Selden
Great stuff. One added note: replace the rope plugs and rubber cement in your emergency kit annually, as they do not age well. Cheap, compared with the alternative of a hole that won't stop leaking.


The ropes I used on this repair were several years old, but I agree with the replacing on a regular basis and had already ordered a new kit.


PLus Plus on the write-up eddd! The recent NmS ride is the first one without a tire puncture. Nealey is great for moto tire repair.



_______________________________________

#882172 - 05/01/14 10:34 PM Re: Repairing a Flat Tubeless Tire [Re: LBump]  
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Jake Offline
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Jake  Offline
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What, are they nuts? Just ordered the plug kit (after staring dubiously at my Stop-n-go kit for years) and as I was expecting to enter in my credit card the screen flashes "Thanks - send payment after you receive your order!"

Crazy Iowans. Must be as nice as the Knapps.


'76 R90/6
'04 ST4S
#883052 - 05/06/14 10:00 PM Re: Repairing a Flat Tubeless Tire [Re: Jake]  
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JerryMather Offline
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JerryMather  Offline
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Just bought two of those pumps on line today, one for myself and the other for a riding buddy of mine.

Think I'll pick up one of those patch kit's also, thx for the write up.

Good stuff thumbsup


Aprilia Tuono
DUCATI 996 SPS
BMW K1200 RS
#903076 - 09/08/14 06:51 AM Re: Repairing a Flat Tubeless Tire [Re: eddd]  
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elkroeger Offline
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Rochester WA
Great write up. A couple items that might be of interest:

I use the plug kits available at most any auto parts store. They work fine for me, and they're ubiquitous, which might be of value while on the road.

Replace the glue tube (as well as the ropes) every so often, or at least have a couple glue tubes in your kit. They sometimes dry up in the unopened state.

Also, a small vial of dishwashing soap can be useful for finding pesky hard-to-find leaks. Just add it to any locally available water, and commence looking for bubbles. And hey, you just washed out your dirty old water bottle! Bonus!

There are lots of youtube videos on patching tires. Worth a look!

Last edited by elkroeger; 09/08/14 06:51 AM.

I'm a man, and I can change, if I have to, I guess.

Eric
#926324 - 04/09/15 06:37 PM Re: Repairing a Flat Tubeless Tire [Re: elkroeger]  
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RichRS Offline
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Kerrville, TX
Cleared a big hurdle, well, for me anyway. One of the things I've feared, is the dreaded flat tire on the road. Got up to head out early for a Sun morning ride, got gear on, put stuff in the tail bag, and time to check tires. Front was down a pound.. not bad I thought, rear tire.. 0? did gauge stop working? check again... 0. So, I think, at least I'm at home, and hey.. I read the forums.. have my motopumps compressor, Nealey repair kit, little ice pick tool and 3/4 inch pvc tee to put over insert tool for better surface to push with. Inflated tire to 30 psi, took less than 4 mins, and started looking.. sure enough.. a nail head. Get everything ready and start prying nail out, careful to watch for the angle it is at. get it out and air comes rushing out... so inserted my ice pick tool...stops the air, but more importantly can work it in and then inspect the angle of the hole to know how to insert the insert tool. catch my breath a min.. thread the Nealey rope thru the tool... cover about 1/2 inch with rubber cement, for lubrication, pull out the ice pick, grasp the rim firmly and start shoving the insert tool in... to my surprise, it glides in, turn the handle 1 1/2 turns, and pull out until the tool just clears the tire, then trimmed it off with razor blade. air up the tire to 36.. spray with soapy water and no bubbles... put about 60 miles on it and all is still good. So, what was a bad start of the day, actually turned out good because now I have the confidence to know it can be done on the road easily. Thanks to Ed for the knowledge that was stashed in the back of the brain somewhere!


'02 R1150RS
#930224 - 05/15/15 01:25 AM Re: Repairing a Flat Tubeless Tire [Re: eddd]  
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jjg3 Offline
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Excellent write up. As with many others, I carry a Slime pump and Nealey kit. But the last opportunity to use it was on my F-150. One tire would light the TPMS every 2 or 3 weeks, very slow leak. On close inspection I found the nail. I thought, what the hell, let me try the Nealey. With a tire that size and a nail that small, it held air long enough to get the work done. Then took the truck on a 3k mile trip. Now I carry a Nealey and pump in the truck.

Also have TPMS on both bikes (and have had for a long time) so a leaking tire generally is not a surprise.


John
pics
#966199 - 07/19/16 02:36 AM Re: Repairing a Flat Tubeless Tire [Re: eddd]  
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Lowndes Offline
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Roswell, GA
I've never had to fix a flat on a bike that I can remember, knock on wood, but I've fixed many flats on my cars while traveling throughout the South. Excellent write up above, especially the 1.5 twist trick. I've always carried a 12v pump and plug kit.

Couple of small suggestions; carry a small pair of pliars or dikes to remove buried or worn off nails or screws. You gotta get that sucker out; carry several of the smallest tubes of patch cement. Wallyworld has them in the bicycle parts for a buck. Once they are opened, they don't last long. You might carry a couple of the larger plug ropes, too, not all holes are the same size. Some holes are cuts and you might have to put a boot or patch on the inside of the tire to get you home, carry a 2 in x 3 in patch, too. Put all this inside a pair of latex gloves. Working on flats gets dirty, and the gloves protect the kit AND the other stuff in your bag.


Old Fart Newbie
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