Are flat-free bicycle tires any good?
November 20, 2005 4:16 PM   Subscribe

Are flat-free bicycle tires any good?

So, fifty miles into a ride today, I got the dreaded flat tire - probably because I was riding on the shoulder of a busy highway and ran over some junk. Does anyone have experience with tires that are advertised as "flat-free"?

I ride a road bike, and don't want tires that will slow me down (at least not much). - I guess that means the tires need to have a similar PSI rating as "regular" tires?
posted by JeffL to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sporting armadillos and I think they're grand, but some people think they are too harsh. Don't put that flat-fix goop in there, that is some nasty stainyourjeansforever stuff. Oh, and I think the slimmest 'dillo you can get is a 23. I'm on a 25 and think I get great traction and don't have to worry about flats.

Wow, sorry bout the rambling.
posted by jmgorman at 4:32 PM on November 20, 2005

I've got Green Goo in my tubes. So far, I've got 3,000km without a puncture. Occasionally, I notice a small leak of sticky stuff, but it's never enough to force me to reinflate the tyre. I just carry on cycling, and the tiny patch of sticky stuff disappears. It's like magic.
posted by veedubya at 4:45 PM on November 20, 2005

There was some recent discussion here, including this link to airless bike tires.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:47 PM on November 20, 2005

The Armadillos will roll over just about anything without a puncture, but put me in the category of people that hates the feel of them. I suppose it would be harmless to get a pair and try 'em out. But I have had great success with Vittoria's belted tires (the ones that have 'PRB' somewhere in the description; for example, the Rubino Pro).
posted by Wolfdog at 5:03 PM on November 20, 2005

I have a tire liner in my rear wheel. I average about one puncture every two years, and that's with commuting every weekday of the year, rain or shine, and doing long rides with my club almost every weekend.
posted by randomstriker at 5:46 PM on November 20, 2005

If the green goo works - well that is just plain awesome. Problem is when it doesn't work and you bring your bike to the co-op and I get to pull it all apart and teach you how to patch it. That is when the green goo is teh suck.

I have heard good things about Wolfdo'gs rubino pro's - maybe I should try a pair and see what a real tire feels like :).
posted by jmgorman at 5:53 PM on November 20, 2005

There are two kinds of flat-free tires: those with goop inside to seal leaks but otherwise are inflated or solid tires. The solid tires are awful beyond compare so much that I doubt you can find any for purchase, at least easily but who knows with the internets. The goop tires slow you down, supposedly. A friend has used these to good effect and says he doesn't notice the slowness. I think it might be the weight that matters wherein the slowness will show up mostly as you try to spin them up and accelerate. Most riding is at constant speed where it should be less of an issue, but I haven't tried them myself. I would check out the threads at RBT.
posted by caddis at 6:40 PM on November 20, 2005

They are pretty much mandatory in parts of Cal where you get these spiny tree things that puncture regular tires (and Nike Air running shoes) within minutes. I have always used the flat free tubes.
posted by fshgrl at 9:32 PM on November 20, 2005

What about thick-walled tubes? Isn't that what Armadillos are? I've had that kind without complaint -- no goo, but not solid neither.
posted by Rash at 9:34 PM on November 20, 2005

here in AU you can get thick-walled inner tubes to use with regular tyres. They seem to work reasonably well - 1000km on my most recent set without a puncture.
posted by polyglot at 11:46 PM on November 20, 2005

It sounds like these are the options:

1. Armadillos, which are tires made of some sort of tough material. I guess you use standard inner tubes inside them, and the tougher tire prevents anything from getting to the tube.
2. "Green Goo" that goes in the inner tubes, I guess.
3. Non-pneumatic ("solid") tires - it sounds like these don't work well.
4. Tougher inner tubes - I guess these go inside regular tires?

Did I miss anything? The Armadillos sound appealing, unless the ride is unacceptable rough.
posted by JeffL at 7:39 AM on November 21, 2005

Armadillos are nice (more than 1000miles on my current pair without a flat), one of their biggest downsides is that they can be really hard to mount to a rim.
posted by dial-tone at 7:47 AM on November 21, 2005

Yeah, one more thing - you can get a tough tire liner to go with your current tires.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:47 AM on November 21, 2005

I noticed some people have suggested the tire liners (Mr. Tuffy, etc), but I had borrowed a pair from a friend during the fall a couple of years ago when I lived somewhere with huge numbers of really bad thorns on the bike path. (ah, California and its dedicated bike paths).

In my experience, the liners did absolutely nothing against thorns. Definitely consider a tire with a built in liner of some sort (a friend swears by his Armadillos; I've not tried them personally) and avoid the very light racing tires which tend to not protect terribly well. I'm curious to see what other opinions people have of the flat-free tubes.

Personally, I tend to think that the occasional flat is inevitable. At least it only takes a few minutes to change out the tube. Unless, of course, you have one of those bad rim/tire combinations that is overly tight....
posted by JMOZ at 8:21 AM on November 21, 2005

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