At the start of my ride yesterday I was passing through town slowly and crossed a section of cobble stones (just a line running across the tarmac). I managed to hit the one cobble sticking out of the ground. I lost a lot of tire pressure (I normally ride 23mm tires with 90-95 psi, it dropped to around 20 psi) and thought I had gotten a pinch flat so turned back home to change tube. When I got home I tested the existing tube (in the bath tub) for holes and found nothing, I've put it back in the wheel now and reinflated, got through a 50 km ride yesterday evening and still inflated this morning...

Any ideas what happened? Is this a common (or at least not entirely unheard of) occurrence for others. The valve was closed and it's not the first time its happened to me either.

Here's the offending piece of cobblework, it's nothing extreme...

enter image description here

  • Maybe the valve got depressed and let the air out? Hence no puncture, but loss of air?
    – AliGibbs
    Jul 16, 2014 at 12:37
  • 2
    Has that tube been previously patched? A similar thing happened to me and I realized a patch had failed. It wouldn't leak at low pressures - but at 120psi it would drain down to around 40-50 in about an hour.
    – Kevin
    Jul 16, 2014 at 15:20
  • 3
    I experienced a similar (same?) phenomenon once when I hit a pothole quite hard. Some air (not all) lost immediately. Prestas. I thought I might have a puncture and debated whether to stop, but the tyre didn't seem to get lower and I was quite close to the end of my ride. Got home, pumped the tyre and observed it over the next few days. There was no puncture. I don't see how air could have been pushed out of the valve by the impact but I thinks that's what happened.
    – PeteH
    Jul 16, 2014 at 20:39
  • 5
    I left the bike untouched for a week, tyre deflated again - turns out it was the tiniest of punctures, in water it produced a very small (~1mm across) bubble every minute or so, which is why I didn't spot it before. My suggestion is that the impact against the cobble stretched the hole briefly and allowed a mass exodus of air.
    – rg255
    Aug 12, 2014 at 9:11
  • 1
    @rg255 could you please post your findings as an answer, and mark that as "accepted" ?
    – Criggie
    Dec 10, 2023 at 10:04

1 Answer 1


Three possibilities that I see

  1. You did not suddenly lose air you just did not notice until you got to the cobble stone
  2. The rubber tube failed and recovered
  3. The valve failed and recovered

No so sure you had a sudden loss of air. If the tire when from 90 psi to 20 psi in a short period of most likely you would have heard that.

Since the valved is the only mechanical device I going with valve failed and recovered. Either random or by force of the cobble stone the valve unseated and before it lost all air it re-seated.

I am definitely ruling out rubber tube failed and recovered.

If this has happened to you before on that tube then I would replace the valve or tube and valve. If this has happened to you on more than one tube/valve then wow - it has never happened to me.

I agree with the comment a patch could fail and then recover at a lower pressure but if you were able to air it back up and hold I would rule that out. My mountain bike was down to 20 psi once and tube only at low pressure could not find a leak but with tire on at 50 psi it did leak (at a patch).

See picture below. The little gasket may have deformed or it has a little slit that is held together with compression. Another possibility is the the valve itself (not the knob) is not screwed all the way in. Where you see the flat spot on the the threads screw that in with pliers. I had a set of tubes that by unscrewing the pump some times the valve would unscrew so I would use a dab of thread lock. I think that is actually a picture of a presta valve that the core does not remove - so screwing that in would do no good. Presta Cut Away

  • 1
    I think a combination of 1 and 3 is the most likely scenario. As this is the beginning of a ride and due to the volume of air released I'm inclined to think the valve had been leaking prior to the ride and was only noticed at the cobbles.
    – DWGKNZ
    Jul 16, 2014 at 19:55

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