Flat tires seem all too common. But they don’t have to be.

It’s actually fairly simple to prevent flat bike tires. I’ve learned a thing or two over my decades of cycling experience and would like to share that with you today.

How to Prevent Flat Bike Tires

Getting a flat bike tire is no fun. And is it just me or does it seem like you end up getting a flat at the worst possible time?

(Bad weather, bike commuting and you’re already late for work, etc.)

Here are five crucial tips to keep flat tires at bay:

1. Use Talcum Powder

Sprinkling talcum powder on the tire and tube decreases friction between the tire and tube, resulting in fewer pinch flats. That’s because the inner tube is less likely to get stuck somewhere between the rim and tire when it is free to move slightly.

To get the most from your powder, make sure the tube gets a thin coating all around, and get some talc inside the tire and in the rim bed on the rim strip.

Next to my jar of talc, I keep a gallon-size Ziploc bag with maybe 1/2 cup of talcum powder in it. That way it’s ready for anytime I install a new tube. I just put the tube in the bag and shake it up a little, and then remove the tube and it’s ready for install.

2. Use New Tires and Tubes

Old tires with cord showing or tubes that have been getting pounded for years are a bad idea. Thin rubber, UV rays, dry rot, and other problems commonly found with old tires make it easier to get flats.

Make sure your bike tires are nice and supple and not worn the whole way out. Be sure to inspect the entire tire for damage. If there are rips and cracks in the tire sidewall, and scuffs on the tube, replace them. If necessary, get tough tires with a kevlar layer for extra protection.

Also inspect the tube, especially the base of the valve stem. Over time, the valve stem can separate from the rest of the tube, simply from regular use.

3. Keep Your Bike Adjusted Properly

Regular maintenance – the simplest yet most neglected step! This helps in so many ways, one of which is preventing flat tires.

For example, make sure your brake pads don’t drag on the tire, which could eat a hole in the rubber and cause a blowout. Whenever you’re installing a new tube, be sure the tire bead is properly seated in the rim.

Another thing to do is keep your tires inflated to the proper pressure. The proper tire pressure is usually written on the sidewall. So grab your tire gauge and check it out. If it’s low, grab your tire pump and add air.

Riding with an under inflated tire will not only accelerate tire wear and make you more susceptible to pinch flats, it will also increase rolling resistance, slowing you down.

4. Keep Your Eyes Peeled

When riding, look far enough ahead that you can spot road hazards well in advance and avoid them. If you look down at your front tire while riding, you won’t have a chance to swerve around pot holes and piles of broken glass.

You won’t be able to spot tiny tacks, but there are other sharp objects that might catch your eye in time, if you’re paying attention.

Related reading: Common Road Cycling Hazards: How To Stay Upright When The Road Tries To Knock You Down

5. Ride Smoothly

Easily the best, most important tip here – ride smoothly. While riding, just concentrate on keeping your body loose. Don’t tense your upper body or lock out your elbows. The simple act of riding smoothly will prevent the majority of flat tires!

To learn the art of riding smoothly, get a rigid mountain bike and ride some rough, rocky singletrack. After some practice, you will be able to use your arms and legs as shock absorbers so you glide over obstacles instead of smacking into them!

Take those five tips to heart and flat tires will become a rarity!

Buy Your Way Out of Flat Tires

If you have serious problems with flat tires, you might want to invest in a better setup.

Should I Go Tubeless?

If you’re not already running tubeless tires, you might want to think about upgrading. Many newer bikes are tubeless compatible!

Almost all mountain bike tires are available tubeless.

Related reading: Tubeless Tires: The Advantages and Disadvantages for Mountain Bikers

You can even go tubeless on road bikes now.

You’ll almost never get a flat tire if you’re running tubeless tires + sealant.

Ask your local bike shop about their suggested bike tire setup for your bike and riding conditions.

What About Tire Liners and Run-Flat Tires?

If you regularly ride through broken glass and other debris, and sturdy tires like the Continental Gatorskin don’t offer enough protection, you might consider tire liners.

A tire liner is a puncture-resistant strip that sits between your tire and tube, preventing sharp objects from puncturing your tube.

The downside is that they add weight and can be hard to install.

Another option is “run-flat” or “air-free” bicycle tires. These bike tires use foam inserts in place of air, so it’s impossible for them to go flat.

In recent years, companies like Air Fom and Tannus have released airless bike tires that are usable and affordable.

Make some upgrades and prevent a flat on your next ride!

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