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I was cycling home today and I got a puncture a few minutes in where the air slowly drained rather than instant rim to concrete!

Fitted a new tube and 10 minutes further down, exact same issue.

Just wanted some ideas of things that can cause these kind of punctures as it seems to be bike related rather than the road.

Things I've considered:

  1. Grit inside tyre, which I did check for when fitting new tube.
  2. Over pumping tyres and travelling on bumpy roads (road bike tyres to 100psi in cold weather)
  3. Noticed a very very slight nick on the rim where, which is slightly protruding into the side wall of the tyre, although I didn't expect it would be able to get through tyre to tube. Will be sanding regardless.
  4. Wheel is mildly buckled looking at it, that couldn't cause punctures as far as I know.

It could just be bad luck, but any advice with getting to the root cause would be great. Otherwise I'll be forever replacing tubes!

UPDATE

I have Gatorskin tyres that are around a month old, so it shouldn't be tyre wear related. Repair and investigation will take place shortly based on the advice here. Pinching the tyre or debris in the tyre seem to be the most likely causes. Will post back with further update.

UPDATE 2

Repaired the puncture last night and inspected the tubes/tyre. There was no obvious debris in the tyre (unless it fell out whilst I repaired). Nonetheless, I thoroughly inspected and brushed tyre inside and out, found a small hole (2mm) in the tyre, which I can only assume was the offending point, as I didn't check alignment from the original puncture. It was only a tiny hole so I applied some rubber glue to seal it. Managed to get to work today without a repeat - so fingers crossed!

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Did you check for small pieces of glass embedded in the tire? They will often cause a slow leak like you describe and will puncture the new tube if you don't dig them out. –  jimirings Oct 30 '13 at 23:57
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It could simply be a faulty tube and that the second puncture was already there. –  DWGKNZ Oct 31 '13 at 0:10
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Another possibility is that you pinched the tube while you were changing it. –  andy256 Oct 31 '13 at 0:17
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Regarding prevention, the age-old technique of brushing your tires after running over glass or other puncture-causing debris works wonders. It usually takes several revolutions of the wheel for the road surface to hammer the shard into the tire, but only one brush with your hand to remove it. Best done with gloves or mitts. –  andy256 Oct 31 '13 at 0:23
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I've had a piece of construction staple get stuck in my tire twice. Both times the staple only barely protruded through to the tube, and the staple broke/wore off such that it was not readily visible from the outside. A cursory check inside wouldn't find it -- it was only when you pressed in the area of the staple that you could feel it sticking through. –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 31 '13 at 1:00
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7 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Every once in a while it is just bad luck. Most of the time though, if you've fitted a new tube and it starts to leak within minutes, that means you have something on the inside of your tire that is causing the leak. A thorn, piece of glass or debris, etc. Usually you can find the culprit if you very very thoroughly run your fingers along the inside of the tire. If all else fails you might be due for a new tire.

visit What steps should I follow to patch a tube?

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When removing the tube it's a good idea to try to keep it oriented relative to the tire, and then find the leak in the tube, lay the tube atop the tire, and find the corresponding spot in the tire, so you can check it carefully. If you lose track of orientation just check one orientation, flip the tube over, and check the other. –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 31 '13 at 1:01
    
Yes, I would add that a careful inspection of the outside of the tire where you pinch the outside tire to open up all the visible nicks often helps to find embedded shards of glass or metal. In a situation where you're on a long ride, not finding the root cause of a flat is a recipe for misery. –  Angelo Oct 31 '13 at 11:00
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thanks for the advice, will hopefully find something in the tire that is causing it. @DanielRHicks Useful note I saw on another answer was lining up a brand/logo on the tire with the valve to make finding the offending item easier. –  Tanner Oct 31 '13 at 11:19
    
Lining up the logo with the valve stem is a good idea. It's often easier to find the offending object if you completely remove the tire, and turn it inside out. –  Kibbee Oct 31 '13 at 12:43
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Yeah, I rarely remove the tire completely, but if I do I somehow mark the valve position. –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 31 '13 at 15:49
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After repeated punctures like you describe, I replaced my stock tires with Continental Gatorskin tires and haven't had any problems since. If your tire is looking fairly chewed up, or you tend to ride on rough and dirty roads, then you may need to upgrade to a stronger tire. It's fairly cheap and has paid for itself over time by lowering my spending on new tubes.

Also, I was getting more punctures in the back than the front, which is common given the natural weight distribution over the wheels. I opted to put ultra gatorskins on the back for the extra protection, although neither front nor back has punctured yet in over 1,000 miles of cycling.

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Major reasons for repeat punctures:

  • Bad luck. Punctures happen, sometimes several may occur over a short time.
  • Tube installation. Ensure you haven't pinched any part of the tube between the tyre and the rim causing a pinch flat.
  • Thorn/nail/spikey thing in tyre. After your last puncture make sure you check the tyre carefully for anything that might have got stuck
  • Poor quality/worn tyre. High quality tyres (gatorskins are widely acclaimed) can greatly reduce the change of punctures.
  • Riding style. If you are a heavy person and ride with much of your weight on the saddle you are more likely to get a puncture. It is good to absorb bumps with your arms and legs and be lighter on the bike reducing the shocks on the wheels.
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When you have a repeat puncture, first of all to do is to locate the puncture and then very thoroughly check the tire / rim for deformations on relative place. Then, sure, take in mind all of the comments on the question.

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I've had similar issues due to rim tape wearing or moving to the edges of spoke holes. That would be consistent with what happened to you

If there is damage to the tire (e.g. holes in the sidewall), that could also cause similar symptoms, but it sounds like you would have picked up on that.

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Did you check to find whether the punctures were in the same places on the tubes? If you did and they weren't, it's probably bad luck. If you did and they were, you've probably got something embedded in the tire casing or possibly a spoke that's pushing against the tube.

A good practice, if you're not already doing it, is to align your tire's label with the valve hole on the rim. This makes it easier to align the hole in the tube with the corresponding point on the tire, so that you can feel for embedded bits of glass, or wires from shredded car tires (notoriously problematic).

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I've noticed that getting repeat punctures can simply be a sign that your tires are past their useful lifespan. I went on a long tour and had no flats for weeks on end, but then once my touring tires passed the 2000 mile mark, I got two flats in two days. I replaced my tires and had no flats again for weeks on end, and again when the tires passed the 2000 mile mark I got a couple flats in as many days.

My story is only a couple of data points, but there does seem to be some consensus that tires simply wear out after a fixed distance -- though that distance depends on make, air pressure, rider weight, etc., see here and here.

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