Top Tips for Avoiding Flats in Arizona
For a cyclist, there is almost nothing worse than getting ready for a ride only to find your bike has a flat. Next comes money and time wasted, a trip to the bike shop, and perhaps a missed ride.
This story happens all too often for Arizona cyclists. While beautiful, the Sonoran Desert of Arizona is fraught with of hazards to your bicycle tires. From jumping cholla cacti and thorny trees, to the constant construction sprawling housing developments, there are a host of obstacles and sharp objects ready to destroy your bike tubes and tires.
If you live in AZ, what things can you do to prevent flats altogether? Here are some top tips from Savage Bicycle professionals.
The number one thing riders can do to avoid flat tires is to inspect their tires before a ride. Are there any signs of tread wear or dry rot? Are the tires inflated within the recommended range? Is the valve stem properly timed or crooked? Valve stems should emerge from the rim straight up and down. If they are angled to one side or another, it is a sign that the tube was under inflated during a ride causing it to shift inside the rim. Also, if the valve stem is angled your tube is likely to get cut by the rim and quickly lose pressure.
For the best shot at avoiding flats, be sure that your bike tires have the proper tread, are properly inflated and your valve stem is not canted.
Ride smart. When riding, try to avoid obvious debris on the trail and road.
Many Valley residents are lucky enough to spend summers in cooler climates. If you’re going to be storing your bike while you travel, be sure to deflate your tubes by at least 10%. If possible, keep it out of the sun and in a climate-controlled environment.
If you cannot store your bike inside or in a shaded area, be sure to use a bike cover like the Heavy Duty Bike Cover by Sunlite.
One way to prevent flats is by adding a liquid sealant into the tube. Liquid sealants are reactive protection. Should you get a thorn or small puncture, the sealant will clog the hole and dry, much like a small cut forms a scab. To install sealant in to your tubes, you'll simply remove the valve stem core using the appropriate core tool and insert the sealant with the provided applicator.
Not all tube sealants are created equal, however. Certain sealants can be corrosive to your wheel and/or tube valve stem. Savage Bicycles recommends Muc-Off brand sealants.
Liners & Thorn-Resistant Tubes
Another way to prevent flats is to install thorn-resistant tubes and/or tires. Nearly every bicycle sold today comes with standard thickness inner tubes which work perfectly in most environments. In Arizona, however, traditional tubes are no match for the thorns and debris on some Arizona roads and trails.
By far, the most popular upgrade and/or repair to a bicycle in Arizona is installing heavy duty, thorn-resistant tubes. Our thorn-resistant tubes are three times thicker than a traditional tube on the outboard side giving them a much better shot at avoiding small punctures.
Other thorn-resistant options include the tires themselves. Thorn-resistant tires are designed with a puncture-resistant belt just under the tread. Although they do offer increased puncture protection, they are often heavier which causes increased un-sprung weight. This additional weight will likely cause the bike to feel lethargic or heavy while riding it.
The top-of-the-line recommendation is a tire liner called Tannus Armour. Tannus offers an in-tire liner, which provides a whopping 15mm of puncture protection with significantly less weight than other options. These liners are a premium product, as installation takes a decent amount of time and effort.
Perhaps the most common, top-line recommendation to avoid flat tires offered at bike shops is to swap over to a tubeless system. Tubeless systems are exactly what they sound like; they remove the tube from the tire and any cuts in the tire are sealed with tubeless liquid sealant.
Tubeless systems are lighter, allow riders to run lower tire pressures, and provide the best sealing capabilities for increased performance.
The biggest downside to tubeless systems is that they require some interval of maintenance in the form of adding sealant a few times a year. The second issue is that tubeless systems do not work on every wheel and tire, and can be costly to upgrade.
We're here to help!
Although there are no foolproof ways to prevent flats, taking a few steps to ensure your bike is in good riding condition will set you up for success.
Do not hesitate to call or stop by Savage Bicycles for recommendations for your bicycle. We can fix almost any flat tire in a matter of minutes and we always look forward to helping our customers.
By - Blake Perez