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Preventing and Repairing Punctures

The sublime pleasure of riding a bicycle in clear open air is easily marred by a puncture, but it is remarkably easy to protect against, and recover from, this thankfully rare occurrence.

1. Use Puncture Resistant Tires

Tire manufacturers make trade-offs between size, weight, rolling resistance, grip, and puncture resistance when designing tires. You can find a tire that meets your needs by searching the ratings at for roadmountain,  cyclocross/gravel, tour/E-bike, and fat bike tires, and viewing their recommended road bike tires in a useful summary.


The Continental GP 5000 is their highest-rated road tire, and Pirelli's Cinturato Velo TLR and Continental's Gator Hardshells are the current champions of puncture resistance for road tires. The Velo TLR, which has lower rolling resistance than the Gator Hardshell, is available in sizes from 26c to 35c, while the Gator Hardshells are available in sizes ranging from 23c to 32c.

2. Use Puncture Resistant TPU Tubes

TPU, or ThermoPlastic Urethane, tubes are smaller, lighter AND stronger than butyl tubes. A number of manufacturers make them, but the most widely used ones are made by Tubulito, Pirelli and Schwalbe. Rene Herse, a German firm, has recently introduced a competing product. TPU tubes are available in a wide range of sizes and thicknesses, and, as an additional benefit, retain air for much longer than a standard butyl tube. A combination of a puncture-resistant tire and a TPU tube can turn punctures into a distant memory.

3. Use Tubeless Tires

Of course,​ one can always dispense with tubes altogether and go tubeless. Tubeless tires are harder to set up initially (a sealant must be placed in the tire before it is first inflated), but are far more puncture resistant then tires with tubes on account of their self-sealing properties. Black Ox, a sealant manufacturer hopes to make even large holes a thing of the past with their Ox Tails carbon fiber additive. 

4. Carry a Simple Puncture Repair Kit With You

It's always a good idea to carry a puncture repair kit in one's fanny pack. Even if one does not know how to repair a flat, there is an excellent chance that the ride leader or someone else on the ride will know exactly what to do. A basic puncture repair kit includes the following:

  1. Tire levers to take a tire off its rim and put it back on again

  2. A set of metric (3mm-6mm) Allen keys to remove nuts or through-axles if needed

  3. A multi-tool such as a Leatherman, preferably with pliers, to extract any sharp object that is embedded in the tire

  4. A piece of fine sandpaper to roughen the surface of the tube before patching it (TPU tubes do not require sandpaper)

  5. A self-adhesive repair patch to cover the puncture (TPU tubes and butyl tubes require different types of patches)
  6. A spare tube to replace the punctured tube if it cannot be repaired

  7. A CO2 inflator with at least two cartridges or a hand pump

  8. A pair of disposable gloves to protect your hands from dirt and grease

  9. Alcohol wipes and Band-aids infused with an antiseptic/antibiotic such as Neosporin in case of a cut or bruise.

5. Practice Changing Tires and Repairing Punctures

Repairing a puncture for the first time can be intimidating and it helps to practice removing and refitting a wheel (especially the rear wheel, which requires the derailleur and the chain to be separated from the cassette). Wheels with through-axles typically require a 6 mm Allen key to remove them, though some through-axles come with quick-release levers. Standard skewers with quick-release levers are easily removed by just rotating the lever.


Once the wheel has been removed, practice deflating the tube, removing the tire from the wheel using tire levers, removing the tube and then doing the entire sequence in reverse till the inflated tire is back in the frame. A little practice will build confidence!

Park Tool, the bicycle tool manufacturer, has a number of articles on bicycle repair on its website and also has an outstanding collection of videos on its YouTube channel. View these and practice your repair skills.

Happy Riding!

2. Use Puncture Resistant TPU Tubes
1. Use Puncture Resistant Tires
3. Use Tubeless Tyres
4. Carry a Simpe Puncture Repair Kit With You
5. Practice Changing Tires and Repairing Punctures
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