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A friend is about to buy a second-hand Dahon Vitesse D7HG with the usual 20" wheels.

Since she knows nothing about bike mechanics, doesn't want to learn, and that bike has a Nexus 7 hub gear system, it's probably a good idea to go for puncture-resistant tires.

Before I go ahead and get a couple of Schwalbe Marathon Plus, are there other brands I should know about?

Thank you.

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There are several good brands of belted tires, though I don't know how many are available in that size. I run Forte Metro K (in a 700c size) and have been pleased with their puncture resistance. (It is often glossed over how much of a pain it is to change rear tires with a geared hub, vs a derailleur setup, so it's good to seek out puncture resistance.) –  Daniel R Hicks Sep 3 '13 at 23:37
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If you ride a bike and don't know how to change a tire, you're going to have a bad time. While there are puncture resistant tires, no tire is puncture proof, and you will probably get a puncture when you are least prepared. –  Kibbee Sep 3 '13 at 23:40
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+1. This is a well structured and valid question no worthy of down votes. –  mattnz Sep 4 '13 at 0:48
    
I know how to change a tire, but she doesn't, and puncture-resistant tires lower the odds of that happening. Apparently, only Schwalbe and Continental make 20" puncture-resistant tires. –  OverTheRainbow Sep 4 '13 at 21:04
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There are truly puncture proof tyres, but they suck in other ways. –  armb Sep 5 '13 at 9:20
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4 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

If you want something that really is absolutely puncture-proof: http://www.greentyre.co.uk/bicycle-tyres.php

But they are extremely hard work to fit and, more importantly, they combine the harsh feel of a small hard tyre with the high rolling resistance of an underinflated tyre, and they lack grip. (At least that was my experience with some 700c ones years ago; they might have improved, but I doubt it. But I was getting punctures several times a month until I fitted them. I went back to standard tyres when I changed my commute route. The Marathon Plus wasn't available then.)

Review of another similar puncture proof foam filled tyre (doesn't have a 20" size available, but gives a second opinion on the merits of such tyres): http://gearjunkie.com/flat-free-foam-bike-tires

For normal pneumatic tyres Marathon Plus is about as close to puncture proof as you can get. They can be quite stiff to get on and off though (nothing like as bad as the GreenTyres though).

http://www.londoncyclist.co.uk/why-do-boris-bikes-hardly-ever-get-punctures/

There are other 20" tyres with a puncture resistant belt, the Primo Comet for example, or the Panaracer Minit Lite "PT Shield", or the Marathon Supreme (lighter than the Plus), but I don't know of anything else as resistant as the Plus.

It won't really protect against pinch flats though. Either teach your friend to check her tyre pressure and use a pump, or do it for her.

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Thanks much for the infos. –  OverTheRainbow Sep 11 '13 at 12:40
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No tire is puncture proof.. However some tires can tolerate more than others, Schwalbe marathon is a pretty good tire, good alternative is Vredestein perfect e (I don't know for sure if it's available in 20"). Also look into "Gaadi" inner tubes, it's pretty nice for when you're travelling.

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Marathon plus are great - though I have had 1 puncture - a drill-tipped roofing screw, about 13mm long.

If she doesn't want to fix punctures at the roadside (and taking the wheel off on a folder with hub gears may be a hassle), then in addition to the best tyres you can get consensus on, you should probably run with some leave-in sealant - I've heard good things about slime, though I personally carry a spare tube.

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There are a few options to prevent flat tires. Each have their pros and cons. Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires are a decent way to go.

A quick summary of the options is below for any others who wander through this thread. Flat tires are best avoided, but a basic knowledge of replacing and/or repairing a flat tire would also be advised.

Puncture-resistant Tires

These have a thicker layer of rubber on the outside rim, giving sharp objects more to go through. However, there isn't any practical difference between these and regular tires with regard to flats. If you go over something sharp, it will go through your tire regardless. Frankly not worth the money.

Tire Liners

Liners consist of flexible Kevlar or nylon and are placed between the inner tube and the outside tire. These can be incorporated into the tire itself and sold as one piece (as with the Schwalbe Marathon Plus you mention and others). I use these personally, and haven't had a flat tire in over six years of trails and other harsh off-road use. These do add some weight to the tire, but only minimally add to rolling resistance. The feel and traction is comparable to a regular inner tube. These generally offer the best value.

Solid Tires

Solid tires are never going to go 'flat' on you, as they are made of solid rubber. However, they tend to be very heavy (increasing rotational resistance), and don't always give you the same traction and feel as a properly-inflated inner tube.

Other

Another recent fad was to load your inner tube with a 'goo' (Slime or other sealants). The idea behind this is that, as your wheel turned with biking, the inside surface of your inner tube would be coated with this substance. Any small puncture would be clogged and rapidly sealed by the escaping goo. This tended to weigh your tire unevenly as you bike, and you need to be aware of the way your tire is rotated when parking and re-inflating your tires (else the goo may clog the air valve too). It also doesn't work so well for larger holes, and it can make patch repairs messy.

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Many "puncture-resistant tires" include a Kevlar or other such belt in the tread and are quite puncture resistant. In my experience these reduce common punctures by a factor of ten or so. And Slime et al is not a "recent fad" -- Slime has been around for decades. –  Daniel R Hicks Sep 10 '13 at 1:42
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