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This morning I discovered that my commuter folding bike had a bad flat tire, and I ran out to buy a new tube, no problem. I didn't notice until after I'd changed the tube that the tire sidewall was beginning to crack.

I need this bike for my commute tomorrow, and am not going to be able to get a replacement tire on short notice. Is there anything I could do to reinforce the sidewall to minimize the chance of a catastrophic flat tomorrow?

I saw something on Answers.com about supergluing tears in tires, but I don't know if that's good advice or not.

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See also: bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/15905/… –  amcnabb May 31 '13 at 17:51
    
Several years ago I recall seeing a (very temporary) repair accomplished by wrapping the tire (with tube in it) with medical adhesive tape. (This was on a group tour and we were out on a bike trail where the service van couldn't come, so the goal was simply to make it to the next road crossing.) I wish I'd thought to get a picture of it. –  Daniel R Hicks May 31 '13 at 22:37
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7 Answers 7

You need to "boot" the inside of the tire with a dollar bill or purpose-made tire boot or some such. You shouldn't glue the boot in place, but you may use a small dab of glue to keep it from shifting while you install the tube and inflate the tire.

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Note that this is a short term solution. I've never used purpose made boots, but I do know from experience that the edges/corners of a dollar bill can eventually wear through the tube. You really need a new tire asap. –  jimirings Dec 20 '12 at 1:57
    
+1 for the dollar bill suggestion. I wouldn't ride for weeks with it in place, but it will get you home, and hold at least until you can get to the LBS and buy a new tire. –  Stephen Touset May 31 '13 at 19:34
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I usually carry a park tool emergency boot in case of big tears on the tires. When in need and desperate, a dollar bill along the inside of the tire where the crack or tear is on the tire does the job too. Just keep in mind that it's a very temporary fix and a replacement tire should be bought as soon as humanly possible.

Just make sure not wrap the dollar bill around the entire inner tube.

Be Safe and Be Green.

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You can make your own boot from an old tire..... –  mattnz Dec 19 '12 at 4:42
    
If you make your own boot, it should be cut from the sidewall of the old tire, and the tire should be one with relatively thin sidewalls. For the dollar bill, it should be folded once or twice. –  Daniel R Hicks Dec 19 '12 at 12:22
    
Energy bar packaging (that silvery plastic) has been consistently used by my acquaintances, they say it works fine. –  heltonbiker Dec 19 '12 at 13:34
    
+1 for emphasizing the temporary nature of the repair. –  amcnabb May 31 '13 at 17:49
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I use a standard tire patch on the inside of the tire to fix this. It's only a temporary fix, but it works very well.

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I've used a tire patch for a large puncture, but would not trust it for a bruise or slit. –  Daniel R Hicks Dec 19 '12 at 12:23
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I have used tire patches on slits in the tire. It's reliable enough to get you home on a long ride. You do need a new tire. –  Gary E Dec 19 '12 at 15:59
    
Yeah, if it's the only way to get home you do it. But the dollar bill is a better choice. –  Daniel R Hicks Dec 19 '12 at 16:35
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I have my doubts about using superglue. Superglue typically dries into a stiff,hard non-flexible film. The tire bends and flexes and the glue will fail. If the crack is a small age crack in the side wall and doesn't go through the cord inside the tire, I would just put in the tube and ride. If the cut/crack goes all the way through the cord and is visible inside the tire you can cut a piece of the old tube and glue it over the split on the inside of the tire. If you don't have anything but preglued patches use one or two of them to cover the hole. Install the tube and inflate the tire. Check the tire in the repair area to see if the crack is spreading. I have used a tire boot (it basically a large patch) on mountain bike tires with success. MTB tires run at much lower pressures. The boots are available at your local bike shop and are worth having for situations like these.

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What kind of glue would you use on the inside of the tire? –  appux Dec 19 '12 at 0:33
    
Also, would you recommend replacing the tire as soon as I can, even with one of these fixes? –  appux Dec 19 '12 at 0:34
    
The same glue /cement that comes with a regular bike patch kit. Not being able to see the actual flaw in the tire, I would say you should replace it as soon as possible or ask your local shop to evaluate it for you. –  mikes Dec 19 '12 at 0:45
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I'm assuming you lived through your commute, but for posterity if your tire has a sidewall tear because it's so dry-rotted that it's failing on it's own, you need to skip the commute and fire up the car or take the bus.

If you've got a small sidewall cut you can actually use the rubber glue type patches to seal the hole from the inside. I regularly do this for tubeless punctures that are too big for the Stan's goop to seal. Same principle for tires with tubes.

For bigger punctures you can use a purpose made tire boot. Basically the same as the tube patch, only bigger.

In a pinch, a folded up bill, a candy bar wrapper, whatever's handy. I've seen people stuff leaves in a cut tire to get to a tube to stay in - mixed results on that one.

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+1 for mentioning that you should skip the commute. –  amcnabb May 31 '13 at 17:51
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I remember I had ~ 2 inch tear on my Kenda K-Rad. I glued it from the inside with a rubber adapter from a light reflector and it did a good job for another half a year. It's totally not the end of the world and in the worst case scenario you will simply stuck with flat (your tube will escape from the tear and pop like a baloon).

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If possible, please use alternative transportation.

If you are really really persistent and want to repair your commuter bike rather than using other means, there are glues and patches available online (even on the high-street shops). I have seen them and they are okay for a normal dry weather day to fix the tyre and keep going. BUT I STILL WOULD NOT RECOMMEND THEM because if the weather is hot, they might affect the tyre. It is always good to have a backup tyre, but hey! you cannot predict that it will have trouble when you are at home (may be at work?).

The best way to preempt and avoid this kind of problem is to check your tyres every 2-3 months, or earlier if you have had quite a rough tarmac to go through recently. Tyre cracks are also affected when you keep your bike outside overnight for a long period. Atmospheric pressure, humidity, temperature, etc. affect the tyres. keep that in mind.

I hope this helps

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