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We have a lot of goatheads1 in our area, and they have a tendency to do something like this to bike tires:

Goatheats

Unfortunately, I ride a road bike (specifically a Kona Dew), so I have much smaller, thinner road bike tires. Is there any type of tire I can get that is resistant to goathead thorns?

1 aka Tribulus terrestris, puncturevine, caltrop, cathead, yellow vine, goathead, burra gokharu and bindii.

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7  
+1 for the scary-a** picture! –  geoffc Aug 25 '10 at 20:01
    
Ouch - that IS a lot of goatheads... –  Zannjaminderson Aug 25 '10 at 20:03
    
@geo even though that isn't my own picture, my wife has come back from rides with tires that look like that (she has 26" cruiser tires). The really scary part are the thorns where the body breaks off - you have to pry the rest of the thorn out with the tip of a knife blade. –  Jared Harley Aug 25 '10 at 20:05
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"I ride a road bike", not "rode bike", please. :) –  Neil Fein Aug 25 '10 at 20:56
    
@neilfein Wow, do I feel embarrassed... thanks for the correction. This is what happens when I try to multitask! –  Jared Harley Aug 26 '10 at 1:31

12 Answers 12

up vote 20 down vote accepted

I switched to using Specialized Armadillo a while ago because of frequent punctures, and I haven't had any since making the switch. I'd highly recommend them.

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I put these on, and nothing's worked it's way through yet. Here's hoping! –  Jared Harley Aug 26 '10 at 3:28

I haven't tried them specifically with goatheads, but I've run through nails, staples, glass and just about anything else you could find in an urban environment on Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires.

I have never had a flat over thousands of miles with their Marathon Supremes, either--and they're much lighter and better riding--but they're not as puncture-proof as the Marathon Plus tires.

Neither I, nor anyone in the group of hundreds of cyclists on a local Seattle mailing list have ever seen anything more puncture proof than the Marathon Plus tires.

http://www.schwalbetires.com/bike_tires/road_tires/marathon_plus

They're available in 700x25, 700x28, 700x32, 700x35, and even 700x38 and 700x45.

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I found the Marathon Plus tires worked very well –  Ian Aug 27 '10 at 10:37
    
The link in your answer does not work anymore. Additionally, The Nobby Nic double defense (schwalbetires.com/node/2671) also appears to be worth a look. –  Paul Wagland Jan 31 '11 at 1:58
    
I have had a p*ncture in a Marathon Plus, but only one in quite a large amount of riding. They're the least p*ncturable tyre I've used. But p*nctures do happen! –  Мסž May 11 '11 at 2:57
    
Updated link: schwalbetires.com/bike_tires/road_tires/marathon_plus –  Mike T Jun 25 '11 at 23:43
    
Marathon plus tyres are amazing. I got one puncture ever (in 10 years) using them and that was when a huge nail managed to puncture through the side of the tyre, thus avoiding the protection. –  icc97 Aug 27 '11 at 12:45

Just about any tire is going to be vulnerable to punctures especially as they age/wear. I've found the Continental Gatorskin tires to be effective and I match them with Mr. Tuffy tire inserts. As long as I check the tires for embedded thorns/glass every few weeks, I can go a few thousand road miles or more without a flat.

The downside of using inserts and thicker tires is the weight increase. To me, this is negligible and well worth the decrease in flats.

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This is my exact setup, and althought I don't have problems with goatheads where I live, I haven't had a puncture in over 2 years with this combination. –  Kibbee Aug 28 '11 at 1:21

You can run Slime in your tubes to seal any punctures from those goat heads as well.

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I've had tubes with Slime before and didn't care for it. Spits green goop at you sometimes when pumping in air. Some people say they notice differences in how the tires behave when they have Slime, too. –  freiheit Aug 28 '10 at 3:47
    
The tires are heavier for sure with slime. –  Jay R. Oct 1 '10 at 4:05
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The link is very strange... –  Sarge Borsch Mar 7 at 23:16

You could also avoid using tubes and switch over to a tubeless system, which some of my friends have had great successes of using, in terms of reducing punctures.

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On my touring bike I have ridden over 25,000 miles of commuting, training, and touring, with seldom a puncture. I have used Continental Top Touring 2000 tyres, and more recently Vittoria Randonneur City tyres, both in 28mm width, and I find their puncture resistance excellent.

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I buy the puncture-resistant tubes and don't have any flats. They're the same price as regular tubes and work as well with regular tires as regular tubes with gator skins or the other puncture resistant tires. This is a cheaper, and in my opinion, better way to go. The other advantage with buying a tougher tube vs. a tougher tire is you can still ride a supple tire. The gator skins or armadillos are really hard and don't provide as good a ride.

Here's the link to the tubes:

http://www.performancebike.com/bikes//Product_10052_10551_1034747_-1___

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We recently had an horrendous experience with goatheads. Naive perhaps but took to a country area that had flooding. The local bike shop installed thorn resistent tubes (yeah think ones) plus some "green slime" that was silsicon based that would autoseal any puctures. Our tyres look exactly as per the image and we needed pliers to remove the thorns. Took the bikes out again in the same area (whole region covered post floods) and was able to remove the goatheads manually from the tyres and the pressue was maintained - even 4 weeks later. Original tubes defalted after one hour of ride. Cost me $25 a tyre including fitting (on holiday so no options). Oh and we had mountain bikes, but the bike shop chap assured me that the "slime" was good for all tyres. You can't prevent the puncture so much as prevent the resultant air leakage.

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Solid core tires?

They ride like lower pressure tires, alas. But with thorns like those, best of luck with anything else.

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And weigh a ton I dare say? –  Zannjaminderson Aug 25 '10 at 20:03
    
I seriously contemplated a pair for a while, but never worked up the courage. I held a pair at a bike show, and would say, not so heavy. But then I weigh a lot, and am not a freak about minimizing weight on the bike. –  geoffc Aug 25 '10 at 20:16
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I tried some solid core tires years ago and had a problem with them rolling off the rim in turns--it was pretty disconcerting. Is that still a problem or has it been taken care of? Or was I just trying to ride them too aggressively? –  Tommy Williams Aug 25 '10 at 20:56
    
I've had a pair - and they're horrendous. The problem that they will always have is that, even if they feel as soft as real tyres, the air cannot be displaced to other areas of the tyre and so they don't deform anywhere near as much as even a high pressure tyre. This gives worse traction, a harder ride and more bent rims. –  Will Sep 23 '10 at 17:40

I rode 5,000+ miles this summer (bike centennial route from VA to OR) with no flats on one pair of Vittoria Randonneur (700 x 28) tires. Very impressed and the front tire still looks brand new. I'll probably replace the rear tire pretty soon, but it was a trooper too (all of the weight for my touring bike was on the rear wheel)!

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An alternative that I've found works reasonably well on the cheap is to put the punctured tube inside the tire and then inflate the new tube under that (so you end up with the tire, two layers of thinner rubber from the flat tube, and then the inflated tube, then the rim)

Gives an extra layer of protection stopping the thorn from penetrating the inner tube.

It also happens to be a whole lot cheaper then most other solutions (you've already paid for it) and without the problems of something like gel.

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Mr. Tuffy Tire liners do basically the same thing, only provide much better protection, and cost about the same as a couple of tubes. Sure you may have a couple of punctured tubes sitting around, making it essentially free, but tire liners are much easier to get in place. mec.ca/AST/ShopMEC/Cycling/TiresTubesWheels/Tubes/PRD~4001-642/… –  Kibbee Aug 29 '11 at 20:53
    
@Kibbee: That is true, but as I said, it's an "on the cheap" solution using something that you already have if you've hit a patch of those thorns. –  Trezoid Aug 30 '11 at 2:37

I rode a bike in Bullhead City, Arizona (named after the tremendous amount of goatheads) for about four and a half months. I pulled at least that many out of my tires every day or every other day. Liquid sealants like Slime or similar were the more affordable, but more tedious, solution. Still, it was a lifesaver when I was miles away from water sources.

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