Repairing Deflated Dreams: How to Fix a Flat Motorcycle Tire

IMG_8050A puncture in your motorcycle tire sucks! It sucks the energy of your day and sucks the air out of your tire, often leaving you on the side of the road trying to figure out a solution to getting back in the saddle. Riding on a flat or extremely low cruiser tire or street bike tire can be a very scary experience—especially when dealing with the front tire. If you are riding and ever suspect you’re losing air pressure get to a safe location where you can inspect the tires and confirm if there is some kind of foreign object lodged in one of the tires or if there is there is a leak—better to be safe than sorry. If you do find that there is a nail stuck in the tire or there is a puncture you may be able to repair it.

There are a couple ways to fix a flat tire on a motorcycle. Obviously the best solution would be to replace the damaged tire or motorcycle tube with a brand new one, but when you’re on the side of the road or stranded in a Denny’s parking lot that’s not always an option. Your next solution could be to call a friend with a truck, call a tow truck, or if you’re part of some kind of road side motorcycle assistance program call the local chapter. Your last resort would be to try and repair the tire yourself, if possible.

Your motorcycle tires are the key ingredient between you and the road, so anytime your tire’s integrity is compromised you want to proceed with caution. While it is possible to temporarily repair a rear tire, it’s not recommended to attempt to try and repair a front tire. To determine if your motorcycle tire is fixable you need to figure out where the leak is coming from. If there is a puncture in the sidewall or the valve stem is leaking air you’re going to have to replace the tire or valve stem. If the puncture is in the tire tread and not too big a couple ways you could repair it would be with some tire sealant like Slime or with a motorcycle tire plug.

Get Slimed

IMG_8036Slime is a specialized liquid formula that uses the centrifugal force of the rotating tire to push the sealant towards the tread area of the tire. As the tire spins the Fibro-Seal Technology of the formula is carried by the escaping air to the puncture where the microfibers build up to form a dam and plug the wound. One of the benefits of Slime is that it can be used as a preventative measure working to stop your tire from going completely flat as soon as air begins to escape. Basically you introduce the sealant into your tire and it will stay in its liquid form without hardening or drying up, just waiting to serve its duty at the first sign of distress.

Slime can also be used after a puncture has occurred, you simply install the recommended amount of sealant, air the tire back up, and then ride the motorcycle to allow centrifugal force to push the liquid into the puncture. There are a couple different styles of Slime. The Slime Tire Sealant is for tubeless motorcycle tire applications and can seal punctures up to ¼-inch in diameter. The Slime Tube Sealant is for dirt bike applications with tire tubes and can seal holes up to 1/8-inch in size. It takes about 8-ounces of Slime to properly fill a motorcycle tire. When it comes time to install a new tire, cleanup is rather easy as Slime is water soluble so you can simply spray the solution off your motorcycle wheel. It’s also nontoxic, non-hazardous, non-flammable and has rust and corrosion inhibitors so it won’t ruin your wheels (not recommended for use on chrome wheels).

IMG_8037While you can purchase bottles of Slime individually, you might want to consider the Slime Tire Compressor Kit. This handy kit only weighs about 2.2 pounds and comes with an 8-ounce bottle of sealant and a mini air compressor kit so you can inflate the tire once the Slime has been injected into the tire. The great thing about this kit is that it all stores neatly in a tight little case.

Pluggin’ Along

Motorcycle tire plugs are a great solution for an emergency roadside repair. They are usually easy to install and can help you limp to your destination or at least hold up until you can get a new tire installed. There are several different types of plugs available and most come in some kind of kit form that include everything you need to repair and air a flat tire.

IMG_8038Some of the most popular motorcycle tire plug kits are those offered by Stop & Go. The Tubeless Tire Plugger Kit  is a great kit because it’s super compact and comes in a zippered, heavy-duty carrying case for easy storage. The kit comes with 15 mushroom shaped rubber plugs in two different lengths (3/4-inch and 5/16-inch), four 16–ounce sealed steel canisters with 100-percent pure high velocity CO2 gas, a flexible hose adapter with brass fittings, and tools to install the tire plugs.

Repairing a flat with the Tubeless Tire Plugger Kit can be a pretty quick process, all you need to do is inspect the tire and find out where the damage is. Similar to Slime, if the air is leaking from the bead, sidewall, or valve stem, a tire plug won’t help you. The plug will work to repair up to 5/16-inches in diameter, as long as the hole is in the tread of the tire. There’s another catch, the puncture needs to be straight into the tire and not set at an angle in order for the plug to tightly seal the hole. Once you find where the damage is you need to remove the offending item if it’s still lodged in the tire and then you can start following the brief instructions to install the plug.

IMG_8040One of the benefits of the Pocket Tire Plugger is that it comes with CO2 canisters so that you can air up the tire once the plug is installed. This is very handy if you’re stranded on the side of the road and not near a gas station or somewhere that has an air pump. While the kit comes with plenty of plugs, it only comes with enough CO2 canisters (four) to inflate one completely deflated motorcycle tire. You can always purchase more canisters when you run out, as well as additional tubeless tire replacement plugs.

IMG_8039 However,when it comes to airing up your motorcycle tire there’s  a better, the Stop & Go Portable Mini Air Compressor. This air compressor is smart purchase because with its small foot print you can store it in your motorcycle saddlebags if you have a touring bike, or tuck it away in a tank or tail bag on a sport bike, adventure bike, or even cruiser motorcycle. The 12-volt compressor comes with a lighter adapter with a 36-inch lead, a 12-inch extension with alligator clips to lock onto your motorcycle battery, and a 66-inch power cord that will work with most Battery Tender connections.

As you can see, it doesn’t take much to be prepared for an emergency tire repair, you just need the right products and tools on hand. Take note, trying to fix a flat motorcycle tire should only be done as a last ditch effort. If you do use a plug or a tire sealant to repair your motorcycle tire it should only be used as a temporary solution and the bike should be ridden at very cautiously and at reduced speeds until you can get a new tire installed.

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