GET OFF THE ROAD!
If you’re on a motorcycle and you suspect you’ve got a flat tire, time is of the essence: your first priority is to ensure you can safely pull over and get out of the flow of traffic.
Applying brakes can cause a loss of control, so carefully maneuver your bike with a firm grip on the handlebars, without fighting the bike too much. Avoid downshifting or braking until you’re at a slower speed, and if you’re certain you know which tire is deflated, apply brakes to the other wheel lightly and gradually. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation reminds you that some motorcycles have linked brakes, so keep that in mind when and if you apply the stoppers when you’ve got a flat tire since that can unintentionally add brake pressure to both wheels.
Flat tires can be caused by a number factors, including wet weather (which lubricates sharp objects, making them easier to penetrate rubber), and high-performance tires (which are stickier than most and tend to pick up more foreign objects.) Keep in mind that many flats are caused by riding with low tire pressure.
USE A REPAIR KIT
One way to deal with a flat motorcycle tire– especially if you’re stranded– is to fix it yourself. Tire repair kits are relatively simple to use, and they pack easily under your seat or within your gear. While some damaged tires are beyond repair, it’s worth trying to plug your tire when your options are running low and you’re nowhere near a service station. Be aware if a puncture is too close to the sidewall, a plug isn’t always the safest solution for flat repair.
CARRY COMPRESSED AIR
Compressed air won’t necessarily solve a flat tire problem but it can certainly save the day if you’ve got a slow leak or need to fill up a tire after you’ve repaired a flat. Carry a small bottle of compressed air, and you won’t need to rely on service stations to top off the tire in order to maintain proper pressure.
IS IT OKAY TO USE SLIME?
Tire slime (also referred to as “goop”) is a viscous material that gets sprayed inside a flat tire and acts as a sealant. This flat tire solution is controversial– some swear by it, and others are quick to point out its hazards– but since we haven’t tested it firsthand ourselves, we’re neither going to recommend nor dissuade its usage. However, it is worth considering the fact that if you’re stranded far away from help, it’s probably in your best interest to view this as a short-term solution that will help get you safety, at the very least.
THINKING AHEAD FOR NEXT TIME
While there’s sometimes no way to avoid a flat, there are certainly ways to prepare yourself in case you do find yourself in a compromised position. For starters, make sure you regularly check your tire pressure tread levels, since riding on low pressure can lead to premature tire wear and eventually a flat.
You’ll also want to prepare for the unexpected by packing a tire repair kit in your touring emergency pack, and include cans of compressed air and/or slime, if room permits.