Flat tires are an inconvenience every rider would rather not deal with. Leaks cause major accidents that could leave both motorcycle and rider in terrible condition. The extent of damage on a tire is what dictates what method of repair is suitable, and the resources at hand.
Fix-A-Flat is a tire sealant used as a temporary fix for tire leaks. It is not recommended for use in motorcycle tires, especially ones with an inner tube. Sealants are used to seal leaks on wheels to plug the leak for a short while and buy time until the next available repair station. Fix-A-Flat and other sealants are designed for tubeless car and truck wheels. It is only designed for automotive highway vehicles and not wheelbarrows, lawnmowers, golf carts, and inflatable pools. Attempting to use it on your motorcycle tire will mess up with the balance which is lethal for motorcycles.
How does Fix-A-Flat work?
Well packaged in an aerosol spray can, Fix-A-Flatt is easy to carry for motorists. It is composed of air and a liquid sealant. Once you spray it down the tire, the air forces the liquid sealant into the tire and the air pulls it towards the leak, sealing it immediately. The air will fill up your tire, to enable the rim to get off the ground. It a simple, fast and safe product to use. It will hold the puncture for a while and save you the trouble of having to call a tow service. Repair or replace the leaking tire at the next available service station.
In using Fix-A-Flat, one does not need a jack or any other puncture repair tool to lift the vehicle off the ground. It does save you the weight of carrying around a spare tire, although it is highly recommended.
Maintenance of motorcycle tires.
There is no guarantee that you will not have punctures, no matter how well maintained your tires are. It is prudent, however, to keep them in good shape and stay well prepared for any eventualities and keep risks of punctures minimal. Waiting until your tires are puncture ridden and well-worn out is irresponsible.
- Have your tires checked and serviced regularly at a professional service center by qualified personnel, to ensure they are in great condition.
- Learn to inspect your tires. Before and after riding out, check your tires for the following;
Purchase a low-pressure tire gauge and have it with you in your riders kit at all times. Both under and overinflated tires are hazards and could cause a blowout. Find out your manufacturers recommended inflation level and stick to it at all times, for both tires.
When riding, tires are exposed to so many foreign objects that could lodge on them and cause extensive damage. Check for nails, broken glass, construction materials, and others that may be lodged on to your tire rubber.
Wear and tear.
Check how worn out your treads are looking. Check for cracks, bubbles, and bulges so you know when to replace them.
- Replace your tires when the time comes. Holding on to old tires that ‘seem’ to be in good condition is courting disaster on the road. At the manufacturers given recommended lifespan, get new tires.
- Do not overload your motorcycle beyond the recommended load limit as it will weigh in on your tires. Pulling trailers from your motorcycle will also damage your tires.
- Trust your instincts. When riding and something feels different, ensure to check your tires well. Do not keep riding if you feel like there is an imbalance because it could either save you or have you seriously injured.
How to repair your motorcycle tire.
Repairing motorcycle tires is a temporary solution in case of emergencies. Ideally, damaged and leaking tires need to be replaced. The jury is still out on whether it is okay to repair motorcycle tires, with most dealers and manufacturers being either for or against it. In repairing, you could either patch or plug a motorcycle tire. For either of these procedures, you must always carry a puncture repair kit.
Plugging or patching a motorcycle tire.
Plugging or patching motorcycle tires can only be done on tubeless tires. It is done on leaks that are not more than ¼ inch or 6mm in diameter. It does not need to be done by a professional but it would not hurt to take your tire to a tire repair shop if it is not an emergency. You will dismount your wheel for the procedure.
Both the patch and plug needed to repair the wheel are in the puncture repair kit and the difference lies slightly in the administration. If done as a permanent fix to a damaged tire, there could be a problem and danger of a blowout. Always consult with your dealer or a tire repair shop on the condition of the tire after repairing it. When plugging or patching a tire, always remember;
- Do not overlap repairs. If an area was damaged and plugged or patched earlier on, do not patch over the same area. Replace the entire tire.
- If the tire already has too many patched up areas. The recommended repair area is one patch/plug for every one- third of the tire, having the limit at three repairs per tire.
- Major slashes and gashes cannot be repaired with a patch or plug and when they happen, the tire has to be replaced without compromise.
- Do not repair damages to the tire sidewall under any circumstance if the sidewall has an injury, no matter how small, it puts the tire in danger of serious blow out that could end in catastrophe.
- Do not treat these as permanent fixes to damaged tires. They are only temporary measures to move you from an emergency to a place where proper service is accessible.
For tires with an inner tube, you can patch the inner tube in case of a leak. Inner tubes are inexpensive and easy to carry around, so it is a better option to replace. It is a simple procedure too that you can easily manage on your own, in an emergency.
How long can you ride on repaired tires?
If well done, repaired tires could eventually live to their original lifespan that is not an unusual occurrence, especially if the tire is in good condition. Motorcycle tires mostly have a lifespan of between 7-10 years. It is not recommended to ride on repaired tires that are already worn out and well past the manufacturers given lifespan. If the repairs were not especially well done, then give at least 100 miles or three days before you can replace the tire.
Repaired tires are only as reliable as your riding can be relied on. Reckless riding on patched or plugged tires could cause accidents and blowouts, especially if not well installed.
Verdict on sealants for motorcycle tires.
Sealants like fix-a-flat are definitely out in tire repair, whether tubeless or with a tube. They are not safe and the manufacturers’ guidelines state clearly, that it shall not be used for motorcycles. However costly tire replacement may seem, it is ultimately the safest option. Keep your motorcycles well checked and have the repair shop inspect them regularly.