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The Inevitibility of The Puncture - or not? And ONE secret tip that bike shops hate you knowing!

There’s an obsession in cycling with punctures, but whilst they are tiresome, they needn’t be a worry if you follow our simple three step process.

Don’t stress, avoid, fix

What on earth do we mean? Well, read on, dear reader…

Don’t Stress

The best thing you can do is not to worry *too* much, and have a plan in place if you do get a puncture. For most people with half decent tyres you’re going to get a puncture maybe once a year, maybe not at all (more on that later), but what to do if you do? You have options – you may decide to repair a puncture by the side of the road, but we actually advocate just getting to where you need to go, and worry about it later. So if you’re on your way to or home from work, just call a cab (Addison Lee always let you take bikes) and sort out the problem from somewhere warm. Maybe walk or take the bike to a bike shop to fix? It’s rarely worth getting dirty and frustrated by the side of a busy road. Equally you could just lock the bike up and continue your journey, and come back to get it later! If you’re out on a leisure ride, and you have the stuff with you, then sure, fix that puncture, but try to do it somewhere sensible and not just by the side of a busy road.

Avoid

Yes, you can avoid punctures. Try to look where you’re riding, avoid riding through piles of glass. Keep your tyres properly inflated – if they’re pumped up properly then punctures or pinch flats are far less likely to happen. Use good quality tyres – many people love the Schwalbe Marathon Plus (£46) – it’s certainly the most puncture resistent tyre on the market, but us at Butternut Bikes don’t recommend them for most people. They’re heavy, expensive, don’t have a lot of grip (and here’s the thing people don’t consider), they are made of thick rubber, and really ruin the riding experience of your bike. They’re almost like riding on solid rubber wheels, they have little grip, and overall just really suck the joy out of riding a bike. Because of the harsh ride they give, they also have a habit of trashing bikes, bearings, hubs, spokes etc too. 

When was the *most* of any one aspect usually the best all-round choice? We tend to recommend the next tyre *down* in the Schwalbe heirarchy, the plain ‘ol Marathon (£36). It has very nearly as much puncture resistance, but rolls, looks, grips and feels a lot nicer. Your bike and your body will thank you. With any decent tyre you’ll be unlucky to get more than a puncture per year.

Right, and here’s your TOP SECRET TIP TO AVOIDING PUNCTURES. Ready? Well, unlike in Wacky Races cartoons, punctures are rarely catastrophic events, where you ride over a nail and suddenly deflate (particularly with modern tyre technology). What normally happens is that you ride over a bit of glass, flint, wire etc, and over the course of a couple of weeks, these little bits of annoyingness gradually make their way through the tyre casing as you ride along over thousands of revolutions. To avoid this, consider simply having an occasional look at your tyres, and poking out some bits of the rubbish in there! Don’t be afraid, some sort of pokey stick will help, you’re unlikely to cause a puncture.

Fix

We could write entire posts on fixing punctures (fascinating, we know), but the main trick is really just to make sure you’re safe, warm and in a good frame of mind to sort it out. Eat some food, drink some water and move to a nice safe spot to fix it. Just look around, and within a thirty second walk there will probably be somewhere better to stand than where you are right now.

We’ll move onto fixing punctures in another post 🙂

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