Dealing with Goatheads – How to Avoid Flat Bike Tires

Tips for preventing goathead punctures in your bike tires

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Goathead in a bike tire

How to prevent goathead flatsI was on a streak of eight years. Eight years without a flat tire.

Until yesterday, when I heard the clack, clack, clack of goathead on asphalt. I pulled over, and checked on the state of my tire–one small spike-laden weed wedged into the top of the right sidewall. It didn’t look deep enough to have puntured the tube, so I pulled it out.

HISSSSSSSSSSS. It was totes deep enough.

I quickly shoved the goathead back in the hole–remembering that I had been in such a hurry to get on the road that I’d forgotten to put my flat-fixing kit in my pocket. Becasue hey, I haven’t needed this kit in 8 years. One day without it wouldn’t make any difference, right?

So I did what any desperate cyclist would do miles from home without a patch kit or tube or air. I prayed that the goathead would hold until I got to my friend’s house.

It actually did. And it got me to thinking, is it a good idea to just leave those thorns in? Well, the answer is kind of yes. But only in the extreme situation in which I found myself. The goathead sealed the hole for a while. I’m not thanking the goathead for anything. This was all its fault.

But how do you avoid gettinig goathead flats to begin with? Well here are some tips to keep you rolling flat-free.

1. Try Out Tubeless

Because tubeless tires run with sealant inherently, they are generally more immune to puncture flats–the sealant will often seal up the hole and keep you rolling with minimal loss in air pressure.

If you’re not sure what a tubeless tire is, no worries at all: here’s an article that tells you all about tubeless tires.

When I ride tubeless, I like Stan’s NoTubes. Easy to use and it works really well.

2. Grab Some GatorSkins

You can also try some super tough tires to get you rolling. I’ve found that GatorSkins keep you flat-free on a number of different terrains without sacrificing a whole lot of ride quality. I’m sure other types of tough-lined tires work just as well, but I’ve only had experience with the still supple GatorSkins. This might also be a good option if you tend to ride on the highway with glass strewn about.

3. Line It

Since I’ve never had much to say about sealant-filled tubes and such, my final recommendation is to grab a tire liner like Mr. Tuffy’s (just make sure you’re getting the right size for your tire). These can seriously reduce your risk of flats by adding a layer of puncture-proof material between tube and tire. But I’d still leave this as something of a last resort–tire liners will definitely reduce your ride quality. But, a rough ride is better than constant flatting, amiright?

 

So those are my tips. What are your favorite flat-prevention ideas?

About Bek 294 Articles
SLO Cyclist's chief editor and recovering road snob, Bek makes sure everything runs smoothly around here. She's also the one who reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously--unless it involves black socks. Black socks are always serious.

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