Almost every rider has been accosted by an unexpected flat, probably in the middle of nowhere. Quick fixes are essential in managing this crisis and it is not unusual to have riders using slime and other sealants to take care of leaks and minor blowouts.
Slime is a great temporary fix for tubeless automotive tires but unfortunately, it does not work for inner tubes. It is a sealant that has a fairly simple working procedure that seems a little like magic. Slime is poured down a tubeless tire, it settles at the bottom but once a tire with a puncture starts rotating, the air pulls the slime towards the hole, sealing it immediately. It is composed of fibers, both long and short and rubber particles that work through the fibro-seal technology in sealing leaks in tires.
The reason slime does not work on inner tubes is because rotation is needed for the slime to cover the inner surface of the tire. With a tube, it will settle at the bottom and form a useless pool as the leak intensifies. Besides the fact that it will not work on your motorcycle inner tube, it will interfere with the tire balance which may be quite unsafe.
Best way to repair a motorcycle inner tube.
The first option, when faced with a flat on a motorcycle inner tube, is a replacement. Inner tubes are light, flexible and easy to carry. It is recommended to keep a spare one in your riders kit at all times. However, it is not unusual to be faced with multiple punctures at a time. Innovation in repairing the tubes will be required.
Replacing the inner tube.
It is a fairly easy procedure, especially for seasoned riders who have perfected it over the years. The tire has to come off, to begin with. You will then use a leer to gently pry the treads free of the rim to take off the old punctured one first. The point at which the valve stem locks to the tube is where most care is needed.
Once the old tube is out and you have assessed the damage, you may decide to repair it if the injury is minimal. If not you will go through the same careful process of putting it back in the tire without folding or twisting it. Once it is well fitted, then you can inflate it and get right back on the road. Inner tubes are cheap to buy, so you can easily keep two or three in your kit for emergencies.
Patching the inner tube
A puncture repair kit is a must-have for every rider at all times. The kit contains the patch repair combo that may come in handy for you and even in helping other riders on the road. Patching a tube is pretty straightforward and does not need specialized training, just a bit of practice over time.
- Just as with replacement, the first step in patching a tube is removal. Once you have successfully taken out the damaged tube, inspect to make sure that the damage is reparable with the patch. Large gashes and slashes puncture holes larger than 6mm shall not be repaired with a patch.
- Once the tube is out, locate the source of the leak and ensure it is dry before beginning the patching process. Clean the area around it and rough it a bit with sandpaper.
- Spread the rubber cement from the tube that is part of the patch kit around the leak area. Spread it around a slightly larger area so that the patch holds well. Let the cement dry out for a few minutes.
- Once you are sure it is well dried out, unpack the patch and bond the sticky back to the area, ensuring it covers the source of the leak well enough. Press on it until it is well bound, and then you may take out the top protective layer of the patch.
- Dust around the patch with the dusting chalk that is part of the repair kit and then put the tube back into the tire. If you have more time, you may leave the patched tube out to dry overnight.
Patching a motorcycle inner tube without a repair kit.
In extreme emergency cases where neither a replacement tube nor a repair kit is available, you may use a rather “unconventional “method to temporarily fix your motorcycle’s inner tube. Once you manage to successfully take out the inner tube and locate the leak, use string or cable ties and fasten them tightly on either side of the leak. Open up the leak area and stuff it with anything available that fits in. Clay, mud, earth, moss or any malleable material can be used.
It will not hold for long as it is not completely airtight but will buy you time to get to a point of service. It is important to note that this is a temporary fix and must be treated as such.
How long can you ride on a patched inner tube?
It is possible to ride on a patched inner tube for anything from a few hours to a few months depending on the terrain you ride on. Some riders are more prone to punctures than others and the best advice to them is to go tubeless.
Tubeless tires on motorcycles are easier to manage in case of punctures as they can be plugged, patched or sealed with slime and other sealants. These are not permanent repair methods and must not be treated as such; replacement is the ultimate end game.
Maintenance of motorcycle inner tube.
There is no guarantee of getting zero punctures as long as you are riding. It is, however, prudent to put in place measures to keep them minimal. Punctures are an irritant, time-consuming and money consuming affair. There are a few ways to keep avoid chronic puncture menace.
- Check your tire pressure regularly. Keep your tire well inflated at all times so that it is easy to spot slow leaks and attend to them before they become emergencies.
- Replace your inner tubes regularly. Do not wait for them to get punctures or until they are all patched up to replace. Inner tubes are cheap and once the manufacturers given period has lapsed go ahead and replace them.
- Ride on tire friendly roads. Roads that are hazardous to tires will have thorns, nails and other sharp objects piercing through your tires. If you are riding through such terrain, get inner tubes that are of higher density. If you are on the road more often and in rocky and thorny terrain, ultra-heavy density will be suitable for your inner tube.
- Have your tires serviced regularly and thoroughly. Keep them in good condition to ensure that they keep the inner tube well protected too.
Being a rider requires one to have sharp Do-It-Yourself skills in anticipation of punctures at odd isolated roads. Always carry repair kits and spare tubes. Do not overload your riding kit with slime as it will be irrelevant if your tires are not tubeless. Riding without provisions for an emergency is a dangerous move. You must ensure you are well equipped for roadside tube emergencies, complete with a bottle of water lest you dehydrate out in isolation.