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I was lucky last winter I went the entire winter without getting a flat. I attribute it mostly to:

  • sharp items on the road being hidden under snow and ice
  • less agressive riding resulting in no blow out flats

I am curious how other people deal with flats in the winter. Although I always carry a spare tube and CO2 I don't think I would be able to change a tire with bulky winter gloves on. Changing a tire gloveless is also not really an option.

How do you deal with flats in the winter?

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what kind of winter are we talking about here? sounds like it's mighty cold if you can't take your gloves off for a minute or two. –  dove Jan 13 '11 at 12:44
    
@@sixtyfootersdude i just read a previous question of yours. fair play to your for cycling in -22, would be near impossible if it ever got that cold in ireland. we had a very cold december (-10) and the country almost came to a standstill and cycling would have been a life hazard given the state of the roads and driving. –  dove Jan 13 '11 at 12:58
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I changed my tube once when it was around 5F and snowing. I basically took my gloves off, did something for 15-30 seconds, then put them back on for a minute. Repeat until I was done. God that sucked. –  whatsisname Jan 13 '11 at 16:57
    
I remember one day in Ashland, WI... it had been below -5F for more than a week. That day, the temperature got up to 7. That's PLUS 7. Man. We were walking around in short-sleeves. Jeez. I'm glad I moved to California. A big ++ to you for cycling in these conditions. –  DC_CARR Jan 13 '11 at 18:24
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5 Answers 5

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Prevention (good tyres, good inflation, regular checks).

For most rides, walking isn't an option, while I do sometimes run my commute, I use the bike because generally I want to get home. So a spare tube and CO2 is obligatory - with practice and a decent place to work (which can't always be guaranteed at the side of the road) I can change a tyre in less than five minutes.

In colder weather (at or around freezing) I ride with thin liner gloves inside cold weather gloves and I find I can change a tyre with them still on; this both keeps the fingers slightly less cold, but also a little cleaner.

If you're operating in a climate that regularly sees weather that's cold enough that five minutes without gloves is not an option, chapeau. But I think I would be looking for run-flat options (e.g. goo) and some way to get me home quicker than on foot!

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I think tire choice is key. Add liners if you're in doubt. –  infamouse Jan 21 '11 at 20:24
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I walk.

I'm not being a smart arse. I'd rather the inconvenience of a walk rather than having to bring the necessary equipment with me every time, knowing the one time I forget is when I get a flat.

Granted this could be difficult if distances are long but I'd try and call in for help in that case. Like yourself I've managed the whole winter without a flat, yet!

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If you bike ride a significance distance often, it pretty much is standard to bring the equipment around with you every time. 5-20 miles can be a pretty long way to walk. –  whatsisname Jan 13 '11 at 16:56
    
I would still walk to some shelter, where I could then fix the flat in ~0F instead of -20F :) –  zigdon Jan 13 '11 at 18:48
    
This isn't an answer. Why did anyone vote this up? –  amcnabb Jan 18 at 2:45
    
I've been commuting by bike for over 20 years in the winter and this has been the best way for me to deal with flats. Not sure how this isn't an answer (your comment was neither constructive nor reasoned). You probably just want to down vote my answer if you think it's bad, that is your right. –  dove Jan 20 at 8:30
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When I was living in the North Country and it was cold... like below zero for most of January... I switched to puncture-resistant tubes. I mean, I wasn't going for long rides. I wasn't riding because it was a lot of fun--it was transportation and I was on a beater-mountain-bike with big knobbys, anyway. The extra weight wasn't that big a deal. The thick rubber tubes are heavy, but they keep your rims off of the pavement and you have to hit something serious to get a puncture.

In the spring, I took those damned things out of my tires and put lightweight tubes back in. Nice thing about the heavy-rubber tubes is that they last for several winters.

For running back and forth to the grocery store, it worked fine.

So. Answer to your question... at -22F. Avoid changing a tube.

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I always carry good walking shoes with me. If the bike fails on me for any reason, I can walk it the rest of the way.

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It doesn't work for everyone, but in my area I can take it on the train, taxi or just walk it home. One of the advantages of having a small folder and living in a dense area.

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