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HOW-TO: Fix A Flat
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Posts: 3,796
Join Date: July 12, 2005
Location: Germantown MD
HOW-TO: Fix A Flat - March 1, 2006, 10:32 AM


How To Get It Done

Motorcyclists who pack flat-repair kits often look at them the same way air-show pilots consider the parachute: It behooves you to learn how to use it even as you do whatever you can to avoid having to use it. In fact, it makes good sense to practice with your flat kit--on a soon-to-be-discarded tire, of course--before you need to do it "for real." As in: On the side of the road, rain falling sideways, homicidal truckers tickling your handlebar tassels.

Good thing most flat kits are easy to use. Follow along, won't you?

1. Begin by looking for the obvious cause of the flat--this should take you no time at all, as roofing nails, drywall screws and shards of safety glass tend to pop right out at you--but follow that up with a careful inspection of the rest of the tire. You're looking for additional nails and screws or any other damage that might make the tire unroadworthy even after you fix the big problem.

2. No clear-cut damage to the tire, but it won't hold air? Thoroughly inspect the valve stem. Tilt it back and look for cracks in the rubber. Check the valve stem's security. Check the sidewalls for punctures or structural failures. Unfortunately, wounds to the sidewall are fatal. You can't fix 'em, so call the tow truck.

3. Carefully remove the cause of the injury. If it's a screw, make the effort to unearth the tool kit, assemble the screwdriver and twist the screw back out. Yes, you can just yank it out, but you do so at the risk of tearing the rubber further or pulling the plies apart. Try to do as little harm as possible.

4. Clean the area around the wound. If you don't have water, just spit on it and wipe away the worst rocks and dirt.

5. Prepare the wound by using the rasp in your flat kit. Some kits don't have this tool, in which case you should use the plug-insertion device to clean out the inside of the gash. Work the tool in and out of the wound to rough it up.

6. Open the rubber cement that came with the kit and apply it to the rasp or plug-installation tool, then work it into the wound the same way you just cleaned it out. This step applies glue into the wound (no kidding!) but will also pull some of the last chunks of grime out. By itself, the cement will stay liquid for a minute or two, so you don't have to rush.

7. Get the plug ready by removing the protective wrap around the special vulcanizing ring. Do not touch it with your hands. Apply enough cement to get it wet but not dripping.

8. Slide the plug into the hole until the orange stripe is no longer visible.

9. If you're using rope-style plugs, use the installation tool with a segment of rope clamped at its center to push the cement-coated plug all the way into the tire.

10. Carefully twist the tool as you pull it up and out. Stop when a half inch of rope plug shows through.

11. Prepare the CO2 cartridges for tire reinflation, but only put a small amount of air in. Dribble water around the plug and watch for bubbles. Nothing? You're good to go.

12. Use the CO2 cartridges to refill the tire. Listen to the tread near the valve stem to know when the cartridge and tire have reached equilibrium; when hissing from the inside stops, change to the next cartridge.

13. Finally, cut the end of the plug or rope flush with the tread surface. If you don't the plug may pull out as you ride, and besides, it's just bad form. Now...on your way.
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