Flat front tire at highway speed

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by satmanski, Jun 6, 2018.

  1. satmanski

    satmanski Sausage Creature

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    So this happened yesterday and I am still reflecting on how lucky I am, how I performed, and what I could have done differently.

    Incident - Merged into rush hour traffic outside of city limits. Approximate speed was 80-85mph. Tire was a TKC80 kept at 33psi with 3/4 tread using an HD tube. Bike is a KTM 1190R. I was just starting to slow down to highway speed after the merge (I like to be clear of traffic when I can). I was ahead of traffic by 1/8 mile. I felt a slight bit of shake and then a very hard pull to the side as the tire failed. The shake became severe and the amount of side pull took a lot of strength to counteract. The bike wanted to pull to the left, hard. I remembered my safety course and stayed off the front brake completely (although I had already grabbed it at the beginning) and was very light with the rear. I counter steered with as little lean as possible and slowly got the bike to the right side. I basically coasted to a stop. The bead stayed on the rim throughout the event

    Aftermath - I was close to home (4 miles) and rode it out on the shoulder. The bead popped off on one side after less than a mile. Tire was thick enough to keep me off the rim. I had the equipment to change the tire but traffic was blasting at full rush hour speed. I knew I would have adrenaline shakes for at least ten minutes so I opted to keep busy riding instead of testing inattentive drivers and shaky hands. I also realized I had no way of propping up the front wheel. No rocks or wood around and I couldn't lay the bike over as the grass was bone dry and she loves to 'spit up' fuel when prone.

    Like the safety class teaches. Hold on tight and ride it out. Stay off the brakes. Buy new underwear.
    #1
  2. Conedodger

    Conedodger Wanna Ride

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    I've always wondered what that experience would be like. Had it happen to me after 30+ years of riding, albeit at a much lower speed. I was in town at ~35 mph. Fortunately, I was able to move to the right lane and into a nearby parking lot. Turning into the slight uphill entrance to the lot was a challenge. Bike did not want to turn.

    Glad it worked out and you remained on the bike.
    #2
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  3. craigincali

    craigincali Just hanging around

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    "Merged into rush hour traffic outside of city limits. Approximate speed was 80-85mph." i wish my rush hour traffic was 80-85 MPH. Hahaha

    Glad you are okay. Sounded like you did a great job. I must say that a sudden front flat is my biggest fear while riding. Did you find what caused the flat
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  4. satmanski

    satmanski Sausage Creature

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    It appears that it was either a flaw or a slight tear in the tube. It wasn't even a hole, more of a smear. Probably a scuff during install that expanded over time. I didn't find any puncture or debris in the tire. Yeah, I'm lucky with traffic.
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  5. rockitcity

    rockitcity Been here awhile

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    Glad you made it out ok. Was the bike meant to run a tube on the rim? Riding 4 miles on a flat seems like a bad idea in any but the most dire circumstances. Might be time to join AAA with motorcycle coverage. It's not that expensive. Or maybe carry some Flat-fix in a can? That might not work on a tube, though.
    #5
  6. Doug Just Doug

    Doug Just Doug Silly Party Candidate

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    Wow. Since you stayed upright, you obviously did the right things. *clap* Thankfully, in 30 some years of riding I've never had a front blowout. Had a half-flat front that became obvious as soon as I pulled away from the house one morning. Just wrestling that around the block back to the garage was tough enough; I can't imagine a blowout at speed.
    #6
  7. Andyvh1959

    Andyvh1959 Cheesehead Klompen

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    Wow, good on you to have enough head in the game to do the right things. Especially since you were on tubed tires! I have had a rear tubed tire go on my Honda 750, in the city, at 30 mph and it seemed like the bike had another steering fork randomly turning whichever way it wanted. I felt lucky to stay upright and get to the side of the road. I had a tubeless radial rear tire go flat on my BMW R1100RS at 70mph in the middle of Iowa. I could kinda sense something didn't feel right, but I was still stable and in control even at 70 mph. That convinced me that tubeless tires are FAR safer than tubed tire as regards punctures and blowouts.
    #7
  8. viajero

    viajero Too old to be a nOOb

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    Happened to me on a two lane road in rural Missouri. Ditches on both sides of the road.

    It took everything I had to keep the bike (VFR) upright and on the pavement. Probably the scariest thing ever to happen to me without crashing.
    #8
  9. jay547

    jay547 Long timer

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    I've had a bazillion flats it seems like but luckily never a blow out.
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  10. mminob

    mminob Been here awhile

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    Seems like in this hi-tech world of ours nowadays , someone would come up with a bib moose type liner to replace the old fashioned air tube and tubeless type technology ?

    The foam used in these are ok for a while on a dirt bike , however , you can not use them for high speed road bikes due to heat build up and degradation of the foam as it wears down in the tire ...

    Maybe someday soon the dangers of a flat tire will be a thing of the past , I hope :thumb

    [​IMG]
    #10
  11. Dolly Sod

    Dolly Sod I want to do right, but not right now

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    How old was the tube? How much highway riding had you done on it? I know there have been a few inmates who's HD or Extra HD tube have melted from running sustained highway speeds.

    Those things can build up a lot of heat.
    #11
  12. robfilms

    robfilms Been here awhile

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    glad you are alright.

    good to remember that msf course especially when instinct says grab that front brake.

    thumbs up.

    rob
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  13. NickW1

    NickW1 Been here awhile

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    Well done, scary shite that! :clap
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  14. hvMULEwiltrvl

    hvMULEwiltrvl Adventurer

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    I am happy that you keep your wits and made it to safety.

    Five years ago I had a similar incident. I had just gotten two new Dunlops on my Electra Glide Standard. I always do new tubes and rim strips with new tires. I take the wheels off and take them to the local Honda dealer for the tire swap.

    I took a day trip east on I64 to Tidewater VA to visit with a friend. I was in the third lane from the right in four lanes of traffic all going approximately 70 mph. I recall thinking that the pavement felt grooved all of the sudden. I then quickly realized that I had a front blow out. Luckily the tire was new so it held its shape well but the handlebars were very unsettled to say the least. I just rolled off the throttle, checked my blind spot on the right and moved into the lane on the right. I then did the same blind spot check and moved into the far right lane. The front end by this time was really squirrelly. I then got to the shoulder and was almost stopped when I recall thinking that I made it that far - don't drop it now. I keep it upright.

    It took about five more minutes before the weight of the situation dawned on me. That was a close one. Had I went down I would have been run over by several vehicles.

    I took the tire off and the installer had pinched the tube when he put the new tire on.
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  15. satmanski

    satmanski Sausage Creature

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    Never noticed any heat. I think the internet agrees that hd tubes 'build up heat' but I've never seen proof. My tube was completely intact except for that spot. A mousse builds up heat and falls apart and the proof is easily found in videos. Tube was a few months old w/ a few thousand miles. I think it was a pinch from installation that eventually opened up.
    #15
  16. satmanski

    satmanski Sausage Creature

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    I agree tubeless is safer with tpms to get a warning first. This was a tubeless tire with a tube in it because ktm put clay rims on the 1190s and mine was long ago rendered non-tubeless by a rock. Depends on what terrain one rides in but in general i think tubeless is safer overall plus you get the benefit of attempting a plug fix. After the plug fix, then what? Most say throw the tire away, I know I would run it if it had a bunch of tread left so maybe the risk/ money ratio is the real determinate of 'safety'.
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  17. scottrnelson

    scottrnelson Mr. Dual Sport Rider

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    I ran over a two inch (or so) rock in the Sierras near Placerville a few years go on my KTM 990 Adventure. I was heading into the setting sun at the time and didn't see it, I'm just guessing as to the rock size based on how it felt. The tire stayed inflated long enough to make it through two more turns, then the bike just wouldn't steer. Turning the wheel at all made it feel like the front was going to slide in the other direction. It felt like 15 seconds before I figured out the right thing to do, although it was more like 3 or 4 in reality.

    Once I understood the issue I kept it straight, used the rear brake, and came to a stop on the left edge of the road. Good thing there was no oncoming traffic or I might have dumped it instead. I usually had stuff for tire repairs with me on that bike, but not on that particular ride. A woman in a car that I had passed just half a mile back asked if I was okay and waited while I pushed it over to the side of the road where I could leave it, then gave me a ride into Placerville. I was very appreciative of the help.

    The tire was a Heidenau K60 Scout. Once flat it seemed to totally lose connection with the road. I've had a flat rear Heidenau too and that thing was so stiff that I could pretty much just keep riding. Interesting how different the front and rear tires were.
    #17
  18. el Pete

    el Pete toda su base

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    Mine was similar, but the tire started making a strange noise so I stood up to take a look and just as I bent forward the tube let lose. Was probably slowed down to 65 by the time it blew, but it was a pretty sketchy situation. Near as I can tell a previous patch developed a slow leak and as the pressure dropped the temps increased, and the tube finally shredded. Threw a fresh tube in and continued south (at a muck slower pace).
    #18
  19. ben bodie

    ben bodie Ben Bodie

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    I'm in the same boat with my 1190R, rims won't hold a bead anymore so I'm forced to run tubes. Besides carrying an extra tube and tire spoons (which aren't always feasible to carry) what else will keep you from being stranded from a flat tire? Is slime an effective tool? I've never had much luck with it...
    #19
  20. William Wolfen

    William Wolfen Dirt Seeker

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    Spare tubes, tire irons(I carry 3), air compressor, bead lube(I carry WD40), and tools to remove the wheel. Nothing else will save you. A buddy to help is always nice. Me and a buddy once needed 5 tire irons and a ton of effort for a 21" K-60 Heideneau.
    #20