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How to Prevent a Flat Tire

Pneumatic Tires

Pneumatic tires, or air filled tires use air pressure to provide you with a comfortable, relaxed and smooth ride. When compared to solid tires, pneumatic tires give you a higher quality ride, better mileage, and more secure grip on the pavement. On the downside, the risk of punctures is greater and having to continually maintain air pressure, or PSI.

When it comes to pneumatic tires, checking your air pressure is crucial in preventing a flat, as an under-inflated tire is just asking for it.  If you don’t know the air pressure, or PSI, look at your tires sidewall, and it will be printed there. At this point, it’s good to mention that when reading customer reviews which make complaints about tires, the flats might not be the fault of the manufacturer. Instead, it may simply be riders who are not paying attention to the air pressure. If the air pressure is not at the optimal level, the ride will be poor and the risk for flats increase.

Solid or Airless Tires

Airless tires replace air with a filler in order to keep them up and running and free from punctures. This filling is composed of either a durable rubber or polyurethane foam. If your electric scooter does not come with solid tires, you can purchase them separately if you wish. The downside to solid tires is performance. You’ll definitely be sacrificing the quality of your ride as their shock absorption value is very low. Still, solid tires are a great option for those of you using and electric scooter to take you through industrial areas, or places littered with debris.

Airless tires can also be honeycombed, which will be mentioned in the specs. The term honeycomb refers to the pattern of the interior rubber, as it resembles a bee’s honeycomb. These tires are often found on top brands such as Gotrax GXL, and are preferred over solid filled tires, as the honeycomb pattern absorbs shocks and provides a smoother ride.

What Causes a Flat?

While riding, your tires can sustain a flat from sharp objects such as glass, metal, and nails. Not only that, but if your tire doesn’t have proper air pressure, it can obtain a flat from tube pinches. Pinch flats are also called “snakebites” as you’ll see two tiny holes close to one another. Here, the tube has become pinched between the tube and tire, usually because the tire is under-inflated when you smack into a hard object.

Flat tires can also be due to improper installation. When you neglect to partially fill the inner tube before installing the tire, you risk a potential flat. This is due to the inner tube pinching between the rim and tire, with the pinching resulting in a hole. Also, check your valve stem. If it shows signs of corrosion, air could be escaping your tire. Finally, inspect for tire bead leaks. Look at your pneumatic tire, and notice how it rests against the rim. This is called the tire bead, and there are times air will escape, leaving you with a flat. To test this, spray some soapy water on your tires, and notice if you see any bubbling. If so, you have a tire bead leak.

Inspect Your Tires

This is quick and easy to do, so should be regularly, preferably after each ride. You want to inspect the tire for any bits of debris which could cause a puncture, such as glass, small sharp pebbles, or any sharp object. Even if they are not causing you a puncture today, with constant riding, they could very well force themselves through the tire, resulting in a flat.

Next,  check both the tread and sidewalls for wear and damage. Look for any signs of dryness or cracking, as well as everyday wear and tear. Keep in mind that electric scooter tires do wear down over time, and need to be changed after 2,000 to 3,000 miles. During inspection, give special attention to your rear tire, as it must support not only the rider, but also the battery.

Watch Where You Ride

The health and welfare of your tires depends on how and where you ride. Always pay attention to the terrain, taking care not to plow through holes or smack up against hard curbs, roots or rocks. It’s also a good idea to steer clear of the shoulder of the road. The shoulder is where you’re probably going to come across the debris that gets tossed aside as cars drive past. Finally, avoid all things “shiny”. Sharp objects such as bits of glass, nails, and metallic fragments will reflect the sunlight, so if you see a shiny patch ahead, chances are it’s a scattering of broken glass.

Tire Slime

Also known as sealant, tire slime is used to prevent flats or help to seal a puncture. Slime works when you inject the recommended amount into the tire. As you ride your scooter, the slime will coat the interior, sealing a flat or creating a more flat-resistant tire. Most brands of slime will be able to handle a puncture up to 1/4 of an inch.

Tire Liners

Tire liners are strips made from flexible polyurethane. These strips are then applied between the tube and tire, providing your tire with an extra, protective barrier between road debris and your inner tube. Tire liners, such as the eco-friendly Mr. Tuffy, are inexpensive and quite easy to install. Some riders prefer the tire liner to the slime as they claim it’s lighter and results in a smoother ride. Remember to keep the liners centered to the tread when installing to get the most protection.

Talcum Powder

Yes, you read that right, talcum powder. Talcum powder or corn starch are used because they create a slippery surface on the inner tube, which means there’s little or no risk of the tire and tube sticking together. However, it’s best to avoid baby powder, as it contains oils. Search online for “Tire Talc”, and use that instead. One rider recommends adding talc to a ziploc freezer bag, then inserting your inner tube and shaking it around a bit. This way, you can be certain your inner tube received full coverage, and all without the mess and hassle of coating it without the bag.

Final Thoughts

As you can see from our opening story, electric scooters are quickly becoming part of our urban landscape. Once purchased, it’s the riders responsibility to keep the scooter in top-notch condition, and a bit part of that is tending to the tires. By performing routine maintenance care, frequent inspections and keeping the air pressure to optimal levels, you’ll be able to extend the life of your electric scooter’s tires with ease. By becoming familiar with the different types of tires available to you, you’ll be able to choose the tire type that best suits your needs. For instance, if you like the dependability of solid tires, but miss the comfort pneumatic tires give you, then look into having your scooter fit with solid tires with a honeycomb structure. By paying attention to the health and well being of your tires, you’ll be reducing your risk of ending up stranded due to a flat.

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