Most of the time, emergency-use items such as first-aid kits and tire repair kits are just so much extra weight. In those rare occasions when they are needed, they are worth their weight in gold.
It was a beautiful Texas winter day, brisk but clear, and the last day of the year. The blue skies and rolling fields beckoned.
Riding out of College Station, where I had spent the previous night at the TWTexans end of year BBQ and Pie Run, I headed north toward scenic OSR (Old San Antonio Rd). It was quite a contrast from riding in west Texas. Lush green farm fields populated with herds of livestock behind white painted fences bordered the small two-lane.
The recent storms had made an impact. I stopped briefly to wait for a pilot vehicle to guide me through an area that had been hit by a tornado. There was trash everywhere; twisted metal, ravaged farmhouses, and bits of paper and wood. The road was covered with mud from the construction crews struggling to re-erect downed power lines.
I fueled up at the intersection of OSR and I-45. The gas station had been there a LONG time. The modern (but still not yet card-reading) pumps were in back, and the older style pumps (not working, but still neat) were in front.
Heading north toward my highly anticipated transition from the “Prairies and Lakes” region to the “Piney Woods” region, I noticed my rear tire wallowing into turns. I pulled over and found that it was losing air but I felt it would probably make it south to Madisonville (a larger town on I-45).
Which brings me to:
Review – Progressive Suspension Tire Repair Kit – Tubeless tires
I’ve been pretty lucky. My last flat tire was back in mid-2002, over 60,000 miles ago. It was a sad, messy affair: That first moment when I realized that something must be very wrong because I was able to flat foot my bike…limping it under power around to the corner gas station…kneeling there looking grimy, cute, and helpless with a just-bought plug kit until a passing motorist took pity on me and did the deed.
In the last hours of 2006, I was in a very different situation. Due to the diligence of a past boyfriend, I was prepared with a never-used plug kit and a little more confidence in my wrenching chops.
After discovering the flat, I slowly rode the bike 15 miles to the first gas station I saw and pulled over next to the air pump. A wandering-by BSG (big strong guy) balanced the bike so I could get it onto the centerstand. Optimistic, I dismissed him with thanks and put 75 cents into the machine to get it to dispense air.
I shouldn’t have wasted my coins. As soon as air began entering the tire, I heard it hissing loudly out. I rolled the wheel around (DOH- should have done this before buying air) to find a staple sized sliver of metal lodged in the tire.
Some needle-nose pliers from my onboard tool kit easily removed the sliver and I was rewarded with a rush of escaping air as my tire went completely flat.
My plug kit included an awl-like implement, several torpedo-shaped rubber plugs, a tube of cement, air cartridges and a tube for using them (not needed in this case), and (happily) a small sheet of instructions.
The instructions were straightforward enough. Ream out the hole with the awl, smear hole, awl, and plug with cement, insert plug (it fit neatly onto the awl for the push), and trim the plug. It seemed easy enough for the greenest novice and much more simple than the sticky string-type plugs I’d struggled with in 2002. The plugs included a “self-vulcanizing strip” around the narrowest part, which I guess is supposed to permanently bond to the tire when it heats up.
The instructions mentioned nothing about drying time for the cement. Just to be safe, I left it to cure while I went into the gas station for more quarters and a bottled Starbucks caramel frappuccino.
I heard no tell-tale hissing when I filled the tire with air, so I felt safe to head home. Throughout the ride, I frequently tested the air pressure by rolling the bike side-to-side to feel for wallowing. It held air sufficiently to get me into my garage.
I would recommend this kit. It’s simple to use and small enough to fit on most sportbikes.
Progressive Suspension Tire Repair Kit, Tubeless Type – $34.95
Also available as a bare bones kit without air cartridges – $9.75