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I have a Specialized Crosstour that is about 10 years old. I rode it occasionally and never had a flat. Then it hung in my garage for a couple of years. When I took it down, the tires were flat and I couldn't shift.

It went for a tune-up. Hours after getting it back, the front tire went flat. There was a single small hole, so I applied a patch. After sitting overnight, it was flat again. The new hole was 2 inches from the previous.

I tried patching it again. Before patching, I inspected the tube & tire. I couldn't see anything and didn't feel anything sharp.

The second patch went flat, so I took it apart, and wiped down the rim, rim strip, and inside of the tire. Never did I feel anything sharp.

I installed a new tube this time. This held for about 3 days, and then was flat again (I never rode the bike this time). This time the hole was on the opposite side of the wheel as the previous holes.

In all cases, it was a single hole on the spoke side and I aired the tires to 95 lbs.

My only guess right now, is that I am causing the flat by pinching the tube when putting the tube in. I air the tube up a little so it is round and am pretty careful when I put it in the tire.

I'm not sure what to do next and what could explain the punctures?

Update 1

I came home on Tuesday, and my wife had taken it to the bike shop to be repaired. They didn't find anything and their new tube is still holding fine (3 days later).

I'm forced to conclude that I was causing the hole by my poor installation technique.

Update 2 The new tube install from the bike shop held for 3 days at about 30psi. At least it was at 30psi before I aired them up to 95psi and rode 2 blocks on our street.

The next day, the front tire was flat again. I haven't yet taken it apart to see where the hole is.

Final Update

I accepted Popup's answer because it seemed the most likely explanation. I have replaced the rim tape with cloth tape AND used a thorn resistant tube. I will do the same to the rear when I have an issue with the rear tire or tube.

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    You may indeed be holing the tube while installing it. This is especially likely if you're using screwdrivers to mount the tire. – Daniel R Hicks Jun 21 '15 at 2:44
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    Have you turned the tire "inside out" or in some way looked carefully for a foreign object that is free inside the tire? You know how hard it can be to get water out of an old tire? I'm wondering if something like that could be happening to you with a sharp object that "floats around." – dlu Jun 22 '15 at 21:19
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    Another thought would be that the rim strip isn't doing its job and the tube is getting cut on the edge of a spoke hole, or maybe just over stressed if the rim strip allows part of the tube to slide by it into a spoke hole. – dlu Jun 22 '15 at 21:21
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    If you're repeatedly getting a hole on the spoke side ("inside" of the tube) then you almost certainly have a spoke poking through. – Daniel R Hicks Jun 29 '15 at 3:08
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    @altomnr - Of course, rim tape will do no good if the spoke is too long. – Daniel R Hicks Jun 29 '15 at 21:31
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As you point out that it's on the spoke side of the tube, my guess would be that the rim tape is off. (Or worn.)

I had a similar problem, where I got a puncture roughly every week, and it turned out that the rim tape was moving. It looked OK when I opened everything up, but must have shifted when I put it together.

However, don't do what I did, which was to cover the rim tape with duct tape. While it did stop the streak of punctures, it also meant that the next time I had to take it apart there was gooey glue stuff everywhere.

EDIT

Change the rim tape. - Even if it looks OK it might shift when you pump the innertube.

  • That's my theory of what could be happening, too. What is the "right" way to fix, though? – Craig Treptow Jun 29 '15 at 12:52
  • What I finally did was to take it to an LBS. There I was scolded for making such a mess. They quickly diagnosed the problem as a worn rim tape and swapped it. But only after making a big show of cleaning up the gunk. – Popup Jun 29 '15 at 12:55
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    Ok, so perhaps my next step is new rim tape. – Craig Treptow Jun 29 '15 at 12:56
  • @Popup please create your own answer with this solution and mark it answered – jqning Jun 29 '15 at 19:17
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So, to post dlu's comments as an answer:

Have you checked the inside of the tire for a loose object? I'm thinking that there might be a small piece of glass or metal that is loose inside the tire. It could be moving around as you inspect the tire, so you might not see it (it would be at the bottom). Being on the spoke side makes it a bit more puzzling. Have you looked under the rim strip to see if there is a spoke that is sticking up? – dlu Jun 21 at 3:16

Have you turned the tire "inside out" or in some way looked carefully for a foreign object that is free inside the tire? You know how hard it can be to get water out of an old tire? I'm wondering if something like that could be happening to you with a sharp object that "floats around." – dlu Jun 22 at 21:19

Another thought would be that the rim strip isn't doing its job and the tube is getting cut on the edge of a spoke hole, or maybe just over stressed if the rim strip allows part of the tube to slide by it into a spoke hole. – dlu Jun 22 at 21:21

And here's an unsupported speculation on my part: your old tube had aged poorly (thus springing leaks easily), the second patch just didn't take, and the new tube came pre-punctured from the factory. I readily admit that this is too complicated to be likely.

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