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I recently rode through a horrible thorn patch. I came out with 2 flat tires.

Upon examination, I found that the tube was punctured in 10+ places. Throw away.

The tire has 30+ small thorns in it. Some thorns go all the way through, others are lodged in the tire without piercing through.

Do I throw away the tire?
Can I remove the thorns, and keep using the tire?

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5  
So long as you get all the thorns out and no puncture is larger than what a small nail might produce, in theory the tire is good. In practice, I'd plan to replace it -- with a Kevlar belted tire. –  Daniel R Hicks Aug 4 '13 at 12:09
3  
yeah, also think about where you'd like to replace it. Far easier to do all this stuff at home, rather than having to do it on the road if the gamble doesn't pay off. –  PeteH Aug 4 '13 at 13:47
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Perhaps this is motivation to move to a tubeless setup... (all you'd do is add more sealant). –  Trey Jackson Aug 8 '13 at 19:57

5 Answers 5

up vote 9 down vote accepted

When you remove all the thorns very carefully you could keep using the tire. Unfortunately this might be some hassle with 30+ thorns and you can not be a 100% sure that you really have removed all of them. Also some may have broken off in a way that you see the remains from neither inside nor outside but the remains may be pushed further inside after some time of usage causing a new flat.

Therefore my advice would be: If you can afford it you're better off with a new tire.

If you want to save the money, try to very carefully remove all the thorns you see or feel. Especially on the inside you should check the tire with your fingers if there's something sticking through. Even then you will have to look out for a higher puncture probability that means you should be prepared to deal with it, i.e. carry an extra spare tube and a repair kit if you don't do this already.

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2  
Thank you. After trying to remove the thorns, I decided to replace the tires...and my finger tips as well. –  Jonathan Spiller Aug 5 '13 at 7:34

Why not leave this tire for another bike (like whatever-junk-left commuter) where you could simply put a tube with sealant?

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Can you afford a new tyre without it being a big deal to you?

If you don't replace the tyre there's a decent chance that you will suffer an additional puncture from a thorn you miss. You'll then have to take time to fix the puncture and, possibly but less likely, fatal damage to the tube.

It's unlikely you'll lose money by not replacing the tyre, but you may lose time. Which matters more to you?

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I believe you'd eventually have more time than it's worth trying to remove the thorns, so just scrap the tire(s) and get new tubes as well. That should save you time repairing the tubes as any missed thorns work their way through the tire carcass. It's bad enough hunting down shards of glass inside a tire, much less small thorns of the numbers you have.

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I vote replace it! Since you road through a thorn patch, I am going to assume you ride off road/trails often. Off road riding puts a lot of stress on tires, so you could have issues way sooner than later. It allows too much exposure to your tubes.

Smalls pinprick holes can become real problems creating pinch flats or let debris into the tire. Especially if you ride on rough terrain, gravelly roads or real hot asphalt.

Being stranded due to flat tire(s) is no fun, especially when tires can be replaced cheap enough.

Mike

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I don't see a connection between thorn holes and pinch flats. Nor can I imagine debris entering the tyre via little holes and even if it did I don't see how this can damage the tyre. –  cherouvim Aug 4 '13 at 15:49
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I think there may be some validity, small pin prick holes create slow leaks. In MTB tires that run low pressures compared to road and have higher air volume, these slow leaks are too are often tolerated, leading to under inflation and pinch flats..... –  mattnz Aug 5 '13 at 7:21

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