Irrational fear of tube type tires?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Cactus67, Nov 2, 2018.

  1. Cactus67

    Cactus67 Been here awhile Supporter

    Jul 19, 2018
    Arizona, USA
    In 15 years of street riding, I’ve never had a flat. Lucky I guess. Bikes all had tubeless.

    Currently I’m looking for a bike that can handle rough pavement / potholes, city riding mostly, and the occasional freeway ride for up to 100 miles or so. I’d like the versatility of some mild dirt road capability.

    DR650 or KLR seem like a good fit, or maybe the Versys X-300.

    They all run tubes. So is riding on tubes just a risk to accept? I mean, a flat is trickier to fix, especially without a center stand, and a front puncture seems like it could be bad news at speed.

    But millions ride on tubes. Am I overthinking this? Or not?
  2. G3ARHE4D

    G3ARHE4D Adventurer

    May 11, 2018
    Boerne, TX
    In to hear some input. I too have never run tubes.. I'm sure I'm also "overthinking" it. But I have once been a part of having a guy in our group needing to get picked up because he got a flat and none of us could get it repaired (albeit, none of us had an extra tube either) but that would have involved removing the wheel yadda yadda.. almost glad none of us had an extra tube :hide
    Cpl.Goose likes this.
  3. ZappBranigan

    ZappBranigan Still Riding

    Aug 7, 2007
    Littleton, CO
    In the past 15 years of riding I've owned 3 bikes with tubes: A 2001 Triumph Thunderbird triple, a 2008 Triumph Scrambler, and a 2002 Triumph Bonneville, which I currently own.

    Although I've never had problems with tubes, I've had 3 flats and they were all a PITA. No accidents, fortunately, but had to wait for a wrecker to haul the bike home in at least two of the incidents.

    After that I'm DONE with tubes. I'm just about to finish up the alloy wheel conversion on my '02 Bonnie. I have a front wheel from an '06 America and a rear wheel from a '13 Bonneville SE that I'm going to get a tire put on tomorrow. After that, I'll never have a tube in a tire again.

    FWIW there are ways to seal spoked wheels. I briefly looked into that but I really want the security (and the simplicity and ease of cleaning) of a one-piece alloy wheel.

    My alloy wheels:

    rear wheel 02a.jpg
  4. AZQKR

    AZQKR Been here awhile

    May 8, 2018
    No tubes for me on my bikes, glad not to have a tube tired bike myself. When I traveled to Ak and back this summer I took a front tube for the tubeless in the vent the puncture was too big to plug. Never had to use it, thankfully as that would mean taking the wheel off the bike in the middle of nowhere, but figured the alternative would be far worse [ getting a tow to a service center which is quite expensive in most parts of Ak.
    Chaostrophy and IronButt70 like this.
  5. IronButt70

    IronButt70 You don't have to be crazy to do this but it helps

    Jul 16, 2018
    My latest new ride was OEM wire wheels and tubes. After 2 flats in 6 months both times over 100 miles from home it was no more tubes for me. On my trip in June with Jr. he had a flat on a side road off the Cherohala Skyway. Thankfully he had tubeless tires and I had my plug kit and compressor. Can't even guess what it would have cost to get towed from there since there was no cell service and we would have had to leave the bike to get help. I travel a lot and tubeless is the only way to go AFAIC.
    AZQKR, tire joe and SmittyBlackstone like this.
  6. jay547

    jay547 Long timer

    Feb 6, 2011
    Broken Arrow, OK
    I've only had one flat on my street bike (tubeless) and we were able to plug it and continue. On my DR650, I've had several flats, none while actually riding on roads. I always carry a small electric pump and a bottle of Slime. Every time, it has worked well enough to get me back. I also carry tools and a patch kit but have never had to use them. So from my view, it's an irrational fear.
  7. AZQKR

    AZQKR Been here awhile

    May 8, 2018
    My irrational fear is having a bike that needs tubes to begin with. Dealing with that irrational fear meant buying a bike with tubeless tires that can be plugged and carry on without having to take the wheel off, spoon the tire off and fix the tube.

    Call me irrational, but when you're in the middle of nowhere it's much easier to plug and ride than the alternative with tube tires. :D
    IronButt70 likes this.
  8. William Wolfen

    William Wolfen Dirt Seeker

    Dec 5, 2015
    Cypress, TX
    Interesting amount of anti-tubism here... I've had both. I've had flats on both. Tubeless is definitely easier to repair. Tubes aren't that bad if you're accustomed to changing your own tires. Just be sure to have spares and tie irons. For both setups you need a pump.

    All the flats I've experienced were puncture related, none due to tube issues. My only bike is now a tube setup and I don't worry about it. I carry what I need to change one on the bike at all times. Just plan on it taking 30-60 minutes depending on your proficiency.
  9. vasuvius

    vasuvius wannabe something ... don't know what

    May 1, 2016
    I commute on motorcycles and bicycles. I've had 2 flats in the past 2 years on the m/c and I was glad I could just plug it and ride.
    Even on bicycles (road bikes), I prefer to run tubeless as I can ride much lower pressure, no worry of pinch flats and Slime to prevent air loss if the tire gets punctured.
    Most mountain bikers use tubeless tires now. They're becoming really popular with road bikers.
    Haven't seen a tube type car tire in decades. I'm not sure there is any advantage to tubes. The headaches are plenty.
    RVFlyer and AZQKR like this.
  10. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

    Dec 20, 2007
    Delaware Ohio
    Riding since 1971, probably over 100,000 on tube type. No more problem than tubeless, other than you can't plug them. I've probably had as many flats on tubeless as tube type. I have been riding dual sports for the past twenty years and don't remember any flats, although I may have had one. I forget.

    So, yeah, it's pretty much irrational.
    kojack06 and Wa Ho Thuk like this.
  11. Caesars_ghost

    Caesars_ghost Air Cooled.

    Sep 13, 2015
    There are some bikes that are just too big and cumbersome not to be tubeless. These are also most likely bikes where the extra weight of alloy wheels, and their extra fragility when you hit a big bump, aren’t going to matter much. Do you really want to take your spotless Harley down that rough road?

    But if a bike is under 500lbs or so, dealing with a tube tire is not impossible. It will, however, require you to sweat and get your hands dirty by the side of the road for an hour at least (if you’re like me and don’t have a whole lot of tire changing experience.) It’s not a hard but you will be swearing and probably have a few bloody knuckles by the end of it. Not something to be scared of though, just study up so you’re not completely clueless if and when you’re obliged to patch a tube.
    243Win and lnewqban like this.
  12. 14fg

    14fg Been here awhile

    Apr 7, 2008
    Winchendon ma
    I ride a lot of dirt. I recently went to the tubliss system, the ability to keep riding after a flat (with tubliss) was the major factor, mostly so if I was in a race it wouldn't be over with a flat.

    Tubes are fine, thousands of miles without issues, and thousands more with patches in them after a flat. Changing a tube is a little tough at first, but a night or two of practice & it's a 15 minute ordeal.
    Branchbuster and iatethepeach like this.
  13. Bucho

    Bucho DAMNrider

    Dec 10, 2006
    I'm a big dirt/dualsport rider and all my bikes are have tubes. I finally got a tubliss system for the rear wheel of my dirtbike and I love it. For Christmas I'll get tubliss for the front wheel.
    I'm in no rush but at some point I'll get tubliss for the DR650 too.
    Branchbuster likes this.
  14. dddd

    dddd Long timer

    Jan 15, 2012
    Montreal, Canada
    If you had a breakdown of WHY tubers have flats, you would probably find out that they are mostly low pressure pinch flat, (snake bite).
    Sure there might be screws or nails but that's not a majority if you ride away from civilization (where construction garbage is left on the road...).

    This means, you could consider bib mousse or tubliss, or even just NOT go nuts with lowering pressure so much and riding like a racer, and probably avoid 90% or flats, imho.
  15. usgser

    usgser Long timer

    Nov 6, 2005
    Westside WA
    I agree
    Irrational fear of tube type tires
    Afalex1 and kojack06 like this.
  16. IronButt70

    IronButt70 You don't have to be crazy to do this but it helps

    Jul 16, 2018
    Nothing to do with fear. It's about what is more practical for the majority of the riding I do. Tubeless is a no brainer for me. YMMV.
    SmittyBlackstone likes this.
  17. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

    Sep 21, 2010

    dl650 (vstrom) if you want that much highway

    dr650 if you want more dirt
    forget about tube problems, just keep the pressure up around 25-30 for street and around 15 off road. no worries
    SmittyBlackstone and kojack06 like this.
  18. ibafran

    ibafran villagidiot

    Apr 16, 2007
    Good opinions all around.
    I am so old school that I had to deal with tubes because that was all that we had. It was just part of the process of riding. That said....
    I can see where a modern rider will make a lifetime decision for tubeless after having to deal with a tube flat. But some riders will consider the process just part of the game and learn how to deal with it over several 'adventures'. The reward for learning to fix flats competently is a kind of internal 'master of the universe' glow and the riding world now looks way more fun than it did. Therefore.....
    Review the flat fixing and tire swapping info archived on ADV.
    Get the simple equipment and learn to swap the tires/tubes in the comfort of one's garage surrounded and assisted by kindly knowing budds. This is the base info and skill set on which doing a roadside/trailside flat repair is based. Do not buy a tire machine as you won't have one on the road/trail. Do the work on the garage floor with an old blanket and/or flattened cardboard boxes for comfort. Note what tools are needed for the work and make up a 'flat kit' to be carried on the bike. Do this practice work just as if you had to do it on the road/trail. Keep track of how long it takes to do each tire swap. Don't hurry but just work to do the job correctly w/o any re-work. The first time may take several hours. The second time might take only a cuppla hours. Slow is efficient. Efficient is fast. Slow is fast. ISDT riders of old did flat repairs in less than 4min in large part due to sheer practice needed to be competitive. As one practices, one finds small ways to modify the bike and tools to make the job go easier. For those riders who do not have center stands, they learn to prop up the bike or to lay it over as they prefer. By way of reference, I could replace a tube on my fully loaded 60's Tri rear wheel which had 2 rim locks in about 20min. I was set up to do it and had more than enough practice making me so efficient that I didn't break a sweat. Yes, I would take an hour for the fix if I had an hour to spare. If the sun was going down while a 50mph wind began to rise and I was freezing/broiling in the rain while being eaten alive by skeeters and a large hungry carnivore was approaching because I had just eaten a bacon sammich, I might get the job done in less than 20min?
    Hints for tube users:
    -pack a known-to-be-good (heavy duty? new?) spare tube so that one does not have to worry about finding&fixing the puncture for repair
    -Immediately after installing the good tube and inflating the tire, fix the punctured tube and check it for leaks. By the time the punctured tube is repaired, the good tube in the tire can be checked for 'leak down'. If the good tube is holding air, the wheel can be installed on the bike. If the good tube is leaking, the repaired tube can now be re-installed. Repeat until the tire holds air. Taking one's time and doing a good job the first time cuts down the aggravation considerably. 3 fails in a row would mean that it is a good time for a break, hydration, snack, and maybe a nap before resuming the effort? Maybe a short stroll would provide for a mental 're-set'? Maybe relieving one's bowels would help? Maybe re-checking that the tire does not still have a nail or something in it would be a good idea?
    -having a lot more than 'sufficient' glue than one might think is needed is a good idea 'Vulcanizing' glue is a very good idea.
    -having a camping light on a head strap wards off evil
    -having bug dope wards off more evil
    -having a few valve cores in a small impossible-to-lose container is a good idea
    -never discard a tube regardless of size of puncture (see youtube vids on how to sew up a rip and patch)
    -because tubes hold air so well and seating a 'tubeless' bead is not an issue, having a small manual pump to back up the little electric one could be a good idea. Sure, the manual pump might take 30min and severe loss of arm power to pump up a tire when the el-cheapo elec pump dies. But the job gets done and one rides on.
    -painting the tools in the kit in a bright color cuts down on loss in low light and dirty conditions. As does 'tethering' them together where possible. For example, if the axle nut wrench is all that it is used for, having a tether on the wrench to slip thru the nut and clip to the bike near where it is needed could be a good idea. Putting a long tether on the little valve core tool could be a good idea.
    -having a tough zip-loc bag to act as a kind of 'safe' for parts during the process could be a good idea. (fishing parts in/out of pockets never worked for me. nor did laying them on a towel/parts rag. finding 'lost' parts/tools is a kind of roadside hell all its own.)
    -non-grit hand cleaner could serve as tire mounting lube if the tire proves to be that tough
    -having it all in a 'kit' so that one does not have to gather stuff from all over the bike worked great for me.
    -buying a cheap ($10), 12V pump from a big box store and stripping off the plastic crap to make it smaller and easier to pack works for me. Cut off the plug and crimp on some alligator clips if the bike has no receptacle. (Check it for function before any big trip or sojourn deep into the wilderness)
    -checking the kit before big trips and on a regular basis is a good idea. Glue is still good, and all the parts/tools are there? Enough quality TP?
    Glidedon, BWB75, mode12 and 6 others like this.
  19. windmill

    windmill Long timer

    Feb 18, 2008
    Kent, Washington State
    I've had both, obviously tubeless has some real advantages, but its no guarantee it will simply be plug and go.
    I would choose tubeless first, but wouldn't let it dissuade me from getting a bike I otherwise wanted. I do my own tires, so neither intimidate me.

    I'm currently running TT, but I have an easy out even in a worst case scenario.
  20. 2old2Bbold

    2old2Bbold was 2bold2getold

    Dec 10, 2011
    Arlington, Texas