Do wet riding conditions increase the chance of getting a flat tire?
December 11, 2006 1:40 PM   Subscribe

Do wet riding conditions increase the chance of getting a flat tire?
posted by Chuckles to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total)
I think you're talking about riding a bike. If so, the answer is yes. Small shards of glass, etc. have a greater tendency to stick to a wet tire, therefore increasing the risk of a puncture.
posted by suasponte at 1:50 PM on December 11, 2006

Response by poster: So, if a shard is held in place by surface tension, it might get two or three (or more!) revolutions to work its way through the tire. Interesting..

Any links, or other effects that might be significant? For example, water can carry garbage onto, but also off of, the road surface, so that is kind of a wash. Maybe water cleans the muck off of shards, making them sharper..

Ah.. Clean glass would cling to a clean tire much better than dusty glass to a dusty tire! Add some wetness for surface tension as well.. Doh!
posted by Chuckles at 2:10 PM on December 11, 2006

I don't really have a scientific answer for this, but my purely anecdotal experience from over 20 years of couriering, road racing and commuting in excess of 8000 miles per year says OH HELLS YES!

so, um, there you have it.
posted by lonefrontranger at 2:14 PM on December 11, 2006

confirmation bias may also contribute - Wet weather presumably also increases your chances of noticing how miserable it is to be changing your tire instead of being at home already :)
posted by -harlequin- at 2:28 PM on December 11, 2006

Yes, no scientific studies to give you, just anecdotes. Working sag at an MS-150 in the rain. It was actually much worse after the rain stopped at the roads were wet, rather than having water moving over them. It used to be fashionable to use tire savers to flick off glass, etc.
posted by fixedgear at 2:28 PM on December 11, 2006

I believe the water also has a lubricant effect which makes it easier for whatever is out there to puncture your tyres.
posted by pharm at 2:41 PM on December 11, 2006

Huh, the tire savers are pretty classy.
posted by craven_morhead at 3:14 PM on December 11, 2006

I commute daily by bike through rain, snow, and wonderful weather and I have not noticed any influence one way or the other. I still get 2 flats a year, tops, and they generally coincide with the start of tailgating season at the university I live by...

I might buy the "a few more revolutions" thing that suasponte and Chuckles say (and the rest of the gang) but I wouldn't go as far as to say my own experience backs it up.
posted by sablazo at 3:22 PM on December 11, 2006

imho, yes, and of course it is the worst time to flat. nothing like changing a tube in the rain.
posted by caddis at 6:13 PM on December 11, 2006

tire savers never worked by the way, also just my personal opinion, but i still compulsively wipe my tire with my glove after riding through glass
posted by caddis at 6:15 PM on December 11, 2006

Response by poster: Believe me, I was contemplating confirmation bias while walking home this afternoon, but something about the experience seemed so familiar. I had extra time to give it some deep reflection!

I think of flats related to the road - I've had holes at the base of the valve, and holes due to too-narrow rim tape - a very large percentage have been in the wet. 2 dry to 5 wet, in the last couple of years, maybe, and I'm not exactly commuting. I am an all weather cyclist, but I have some flexibility, and I tend to use it to avoid the worst weather.

As I think about it, the couple I've had on dry have been staples and tacks and other sharp bits of metal, where the flats on the wet are normally kind of inexplicable. I'll have to go see if I can tell what caused this one in the next five minutes :P

It would be interesting to test this out, actually. If only I could get some research funding!

the tire savers are pretty classy

Err, don't you mean the tire savers are pretty lossy? :)
The friction probably isn't that bad, but flats are pretty uncommon, so..

I'm also thinking that kevlar tires might make sense now (not economically, just the idea). If you are getting staples through, I can't see that kevlar helps much, but against glass wearing it's way through over a couple of revolutions, it should be ideal.

Thanks for all the help!
posted by Chuckles at 6:31 PM on December 11, 2006

I have had very good luck avoiding flats with the Vittoria Open Corsas. I can not tell you the number of times I have ridden through fields of broken glass and been amazed that I somehow never flatted. They ride like tubies and corner well to boot. If I were commuting in city streets I would probably get something with a gel inside, but they slow you down and I try to stick to back roads. The worst time of year is prom season when all the punks through their empties out on the road because they are afraid mumsie and dadsie might find out they got shit faced, as if they didn't already know.
posted by caddis at 6:53 PM on December 11, 2006

I didn't say I was going to run out and get a set of tire savers, but they're interesting, anyway.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:49 PM on December 11, 2006

Response by poster: If I were commuting in city streets I would probably get something with a gel inside

I've ridden with goop-tires. I had one tube that the goop seemed to do a really good job with, when I finally had it off I found a few holes that had been filled. A couple of other times the goop wouldn't even fill one hole, and it is a serious pain when it is leaking all over the place. Also, I don't think the goop likes pressure higher than about 60psi..

Thanks for the tire suggestion caddis, but.. I'm riding on $17.00 tires - Canadian dollars. So, you know..

The running surface is getting very cut up, actually. I pulled about 4 tiny pieces of glass out of small slits, and in a couple of places the slits are 1-2mm, on the inside. I guess that might mean it is time for a new tire.

Cool, $10 tire! Okay, I'm price conscious, but maybe not that price conscious.. And they would add 1.5lbs! A pair of these would save almost a pound.
posted by Chuckles at 9:29 PM on December 11, 2006

If you want actual puncture resistant tyre recomendations, then Schwalbe Marathons are the mutt's nuts as far as I'm concerned. I don't use the Marathon Plus: too heavy & besides I've had no punctures at all in three years of riding the standard Marathons on busy roads with lots of broken glass.
posted by pharm at 3:45 AM on December 12, 2006

I have ridden quite a bit in wet weather, I tend to agree that I get more flats in nasty conditions than fair. My reasoning was a little different. I always figured since it was wet out, I could not see the road hazards as well and ended up riding through broken glass particles which I would have plainly seen and avoided if not for the layer of wetness on the road.
posted by JigSawMan at 5:51 AM on December 12, 2006

I've never notice a correlation between rain and punctures. However the climate around here means I ride dry at least 80% of the time even if I ride every day, so number of kilometres is probably swamping the possible effect of rain on punctures.
posted by Mitheral at 1:59 PM on September 26, 2007

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