Okay. Not so mysterious after all.

What we have here is a clear case of goathead thorn. I mean I can see the thorn in the tire, surrounded by soapy bubbles.

So I spent my one spare tube, which with 4-inch tires is not a difficult task.


But then I ran into a problem when I set out to patch the old tube. Recall that the first time this happened, I could never find anything wrong with the tube. Thing is, I never actually looked for a leak on the wheel: I just naturally assumed I’d punctured the tube, but then I could never find anything wrong with the tube. I now think if I’d put that tube back on, it would have gone flat promptly. Because I can’t find a leak on this tube either! Even though I know it has a puncture.

The big fat tubes can’t get enough pressure, unfettered by a tire, to even register on a gauge. So if you’re looking for a microscopic hole to patch, how do you find it if it won’t leak? I’ve got two old punctured tubes – and no new ones – and a perfectly good patch kit. But I can’t get soapy bubbles out of either one.

Glad this didn’t happen on the side of the road – either time.

I’m going to buy a couple of new tubes, then start carrying one in a pannier.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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15 Responses to Okay. Not so mysterious after all.

  1. Wyowanderer says:

    Get yourself a couple containers of Slime tire sealer – it’s the cat’s meow in keeping air in bicycle tires, especially for bikes that get ridden in the desert where everything pokes.
    I’d get a quart bottle or two and split them between each tube, and pre – Slime the spare tubes you buy.

  2. Wyowanderer says:

    By the way – if you have a slow leak, Slime can often fix it.

  3. Joel says:

    Yeah, I think that’s a good thing to do.

  4. buckeyebob says:

    Slime worked on my quad and yard cart fat tires . I have Locust trees with thorns that take out tractor tires all over my homestead . I buy it by the gallon at ruralking.

  5. Anonymous says:

    There was a guy here on the peninsula (San Francisco) who would spend every weekend spraying the goatherd thorn plants. He was a bicyclist and would bike main paths, get off his bike and then walk and spray. Haven’t seen him for a couple of years.

  6. Mike says:

    I’m not sure how well slime works in bike tires, but I’ll never use it again in any of my truck tires. I used it once in the front left tire that had been punctured and It caused the wheel to be out of balance resulting in a very nasty vibration. I had to get the tire taken off the rim, cleaned and the puncture fixed. The quick fix cost me a lot more in money and time than simply fixing the tire in the first place.

  7. zoo.gumshoe.ret@gmail.com says:

    A problem with slime is that it gets into the tire valve making it impossible to top up the air pressure in the tire.

  8. Klaus says:

    My BIL uses something like these on his mountain bikes. He used to race them a bit. He said buy once cry once. https://flattiredefender.com/

  9. Mark Matis says:

    The “out-of-balance” is a great way to get back at someone who wrongs you. Put a couple of bottles of slime in the evil one’s tires and sit back and enjoy!

    Of course, removing the valve cores from all his tires is about as good…

  10. Joel says:

    I’m not sure how well slime works in bike tires, but I’ll never use it again in any of my truck tires. I used it once in the front left tire that had been punctured and It caused the wheel to be out of balance resulting in a very nasty vibration.

    Yes! Slime or slime-like substances are never a good idea on road vehicles because the stuff does pool up on the low spots and causes (sometimes massive) imbalance when the wheels get up to speed. Probably not as bad with bicycles – might or might not be noticeable but almost certainly won’t be as big a problem as thorns wrecking 12 dollar tubes every month. Or week. Or day: We had a very green summer for thorny plants last year and the seeds are everywhere now.

  11. I put RideOn in my Goldwing’s tires when I would only take it out of storage for a month per year. The initial first few miles were interesting due to the gunk pooling in the tires but after it warmed up, it rode like a champ.
    One time I put it away with a puncture. Next year I checked the pressure and it hadn’t lost a pound. No problems airing the tires either, but with the RideOn they hardly ever needed any.

  12. sevesteen says:

    I pump the tube until I can find the leak. They will get pretty big, but the hole gets bigger too. I can’t remember popping one–and even if I did, a popped tube is as useful as a leaky one that I can’t patch.

    For future: Mount the tire with the brand label centered over the valve stem, on the left side. (or however you can remember, just be consistent) Doesn’t prevent flats, but if you can find the source on the tire you can match it to a spot on the tube.

  13. Joel says:

    Yeah, trouble is I once inflated a tube till it popped, and it was my first experience with tinnitus. That was when I was a kid, and I’m still touchy about it.

    Now of course after a lifetime of being a not-very-bright shooter I have tinnitus nearly to the point of deafness so it really doesn’t matter, but still.

  14. boynsea says:

    Maybe the valve stem cores are leaking? Do you keep valve stem caps on them all the time? (Metal ones with a rubber seal inside are best). Also, with the Slime, you don’t need the whole bottle of the stuff, but you do need to take the tire for a good run immediately after sliming it to distribute the stuff around the tire/tube, not allowing it to partially congeal in one spot.

  15. mattexian says:

    Maybe you can line up the valve stem on the old tube with the rim, and try matching it to where the thorn got the tire, to see if you can have better luck finding the puncture.

To the stake with the heretic!