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This is a little embarrassing, so I hope no one makes fun of me... But I am a big girl. I always have been. Very big frame, big shoulders, big head, hands and feet. My whole life I've been healthy and athletic at 5'7 230-240 pounds.

I'm 25 years old and two years ago I was put on medication that made me gain almost a hundred pounds. I've been trying everything to lose the weight, and a year ago I got rid of my car and opted for a bike, and have been riding a minimum of 2 miles a day since. I've still been unable to lose the weight, but that's not the issue I'm discussing right now.

So I began with what I believe to be a super old, possibly 1950's Schwinn Beach Cruiser, only one gear, back pedal brakes. The tires were rotted, so I used the cheapest ones I could find, CST white wall 26 x 2.125. The tubes were also CST. I began getting flats often immediately. Mostly the back tire, sometimes the front... But like once a month minimum. I now weigh 305-324 pounds.

Eventually I got a new Electra Beach Cruiser, same style bike but very large and sturdy, which I love for my weight, only the tires were rotted and I just opted to stay with the Schwinn for a while. But I did find a thorn resistant tube someone had cut to line the back tire. I put that in the back tire of my Schwinn, and actually went a couple months with out a flat. I think I got one in like 2 months, which was a big difference, and I was stoked.

However, the Schwinn's rims had broken spokes from the get go, and eventually the back rim got too warped to ride. I honestly didn't like riding the Electra as much... It was like it was easier to pedal but didn't go any where, thus making it harder to pedal. But, now I had no choice, so I put my CST tires and CST tubes on the Electra's rims including the thorn proof tube liner in the back tire.

Within a couple days, I got a flat. That was two months ago, and ever since I've been getting at least two flats a week.

Oh, I forgot to mention, someone had stabbed my back CST tire about 6 months ago so I put a boot (a piece of another tire to cover it). The last 3 times I got a flat, I could feel the air coming out of the stab hole, and the tubes puncture would be on the side where the stab hole was, even though the boot was in place.

So about a week and a half ago I bought a new CST 26 x 2.125 tire. I cut up the old one with the stab hole in it, thoroughly inspected it for thorns, and lined the new tire while it, and put a new tube in.

The NEXT DAY I had a flat!!!

So, again I got a new tube (I purchase a new tube every time because I can never get patches to hold) I checked to see if there were any sharp spokes, which there wasn't and the rim liner was still intact. I did another thorough inspection of the inside tire and found the tiniest thorn in it. However, the puncture hole on the tube was on the side, so it didn't seem like that caused it, but any way, I put it all back together, this was last weekend, and I've gotten TWO FLATS since then!

Every flat is a very slow leak. Mist are on the side of the tube, but they don't appear to be "snake bite" flats as there is always only one hole.

I've eliminated every possibility that I know of. There are two tires protecting the tube. I've searched for hidden thorns, and the rim has a liner to protect the tube from sharp spokes. The only thing I can think of is that I simply weigh too much.

I like a super hard tire. They say they take 65 psi, but I've had them pop at 55-60, so I keep them at 45psi, 50 if I can get away with it, and sometimes 35-40 if I'm using my little hand pump, because its hard to go past that, just getting it to 35 takes 300 pumps lol.

I often carry 3 to 4, gallons of water home with me as well, as we have to buy our drinking water at the store... So that's almost every day. I also live in a very old neighborhood where some streets are very bumpy.

Any way, now that I've given you the back story, my questions are as follows:

A. Could the liner I'm using (an old tire with the side walls cut off) be causing the flats? I did this under my LBS's (loca bike shop's) instruction, but I immediately was concerned about the rough edges I created by cutting off the sidewalls. They insisted it was fine.

B. I am aware the rim has a weight limit, and I am aware I should get a new one built, but as far as flats go and the tube itself, does the tube have a "weight limit"? And if so, would buying a higher quality tube be beneficial? Or "knobbier" tires?

C. I am also looking into the solid inner tubes with no air. They are surprisingly in expensive. Couple questions concerning these:

  • will they ride as if I have a "rock hard" tire, or as if I'm riding on 65psi? (Because the less pressure in the tire the more uncomfortable the ride)

  • it's always my back tire that goes flat. I have an EXTREMELY low budget, I get paid about 50$ a week, (I fix guitars at a local mom and pop guitar shop) so I will probably only be able to afford one solid "no - air" tire at first. Can I ride with one solid tire, one air?

  • Will the fact that I weight more have any affect on how the solid inner tubes ride?

D. I see people are mentioning "snake bite" flats quite a bit... But again, every time I get a flat and inspect the tube, it's only one tiny hole, and it's a very slow leak. Could this still be a "pinch flat" from not inflating the tube enough and my weight?

Any suggestions? If you honestly think it's my weight, I won't get offended, but if it is, is there anything I can do about it? (Other than lose weight).

Ps. In addition to the questions I added, I am going to try to add links to pictures of my bike, wheel, and liner I'm using later today, and again I weighed myself today, I am 319 pounds.

I originally put the wrong tire size. It's 26 x 2.125!

  • 2
    Any reasonably well-built standard bike wheel should be able to support someone weighing 240 pounds. And 45 PSI in a 1.25 inch tire is not "rock hard" -- far from it. You need to get yourself a decent floor pump, as it sounds like you're getting "snake bite" flats that would not occur if the tire were pumped up to 65-70, where it ought to be. – Daniel R Hicks Aug 10 '15 at 10:55
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    On a sidenote: I doubt that you can do enjoyable, serious excercise and travelling (getting from A to B) on a cruiser bike. If you can afford it I’d suggest completly changing to a proper bicycle (trekking bike, randonneur, mountainbike … whatever fits your needs). At least try to get the cruiser fitted (as far as possible) and keep it properly maintained. It will make riding much more enjoyable, less prone to injuries and you’ll be able to bike for hours. – Michael Aug 10 '15 at 11:07
  • Youre both right, and michael youre probably right about me needing a bike other than a cruiser. But, everyones saying i need more air pressure, again these tubes pop when i put in the "correct" amount (60-65 psi) so does that mean they are cheap tube and i need to get better ones? – rogue Aug 10 '15 at 18:07
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    @rogue off topic, feel free to delete my comment, but it's pretty hard to burn calories while biking. I commonly burn between 300 and 400 calories on 18 mile bike rides. I'm not sure how many you burn, because of many variables, but I just thought I'd let you know. – Hellreaver Dec 14 '15 at 14:37
  • If the leak is rapid enough we used to get a 5gal bucket filled with water and inflate the tube a good amount and submerge it and look for bubbles rising up. You'll have to disturb the tube initially to free any small clinging bubbles but if new bubbles are emitted, sometimes very slowly, you know where your leak is and you just need to precisely remove the tube from the water and mark it somehow. Check for leaks at the valve too. Higher pressures in the tube too can better reveal slow leaks. – jxramos Jun 28 '17 at 17:57
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Firstly, you are one impressively persistent woman!

Yes, of course weight is a factor. You just need equipment that will deal with it. In addition to the points made by jqning, I'm thinking that several things can help you

  • Larger and better tires would help.
    I checked out the Electra website, but couldn't be sure which bike you have. Some do have bigger tires than you describe, so talk to your local bike shop (LBS) about this. Also, spending more on the tires can get you puncture proof tires.

  • Since you report difficulty with getting patches to hold, I wonder if you're roughening the area with sandpaper or a little rasp, putting the glue on and letting it dry almost completely, before putting the patch over the hole? After that, put some weight on it while it bonds.

  • Consider getting new wheels built for the old Schwinn. Again, discuss this with your LBS. Get ones with the most spokes they can build, for maximum strength, and the widest rims that will fit on the bike (so that you can run the widest tires).

  • Lastly, I think you should keep more pressure in the tires, at least to the minimum pressure written on the sidewalls. A floor pump would help with that.

If your LBS can't or won't help, find another that will, and build a relationship with them. You're pushing your equipment to it's limits, so you can expect to visit them regularly. Discuss the overall problem with them and get their advice also.

And for the weight loss, I suggest two things. Don't eat before you ride, and gradually increase the distances you ride.

  • Thank you! Wish i could add a picture of the bike, itd probably help since i dont know th exact model – rogue Aug 10 '15 at 1:56
  • Maybe you could visit electrabike.com/bikes/cruiser and then post a link in your first post, or in another comment. – andy256 Aug 10 '15 at 2:05
  • Also, you can use the Up and Down buttons to give kudos to the people who answer you. It's often good to wait a day or so before choosing your accepted answer, so that others have incentive to add extra, and possibly better, answers. – andy256 Aug 10 '15 at 2:09
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    Ohhhhh i thought the green check mark was the way to give kudos or "like" an answer, haha. Thanks. I just started looking into the the solid inner tubes/tires , the kind that have no air. I was imagining them to be 50$+ but thwy are surprisingly 20$ at walmart. Have you ever used these? My main concern with them is, when using a traditional tube, if the air pressure falls under... Say 45 psi its harder to ride the bike, and it doesnt ride as smoothly. So im wondering if the solid tubes are "hard" enough to feel as though there good air pressure in it, (45 to 50 psi and up) – rogue Aug 10 '15 at 3:16
  • Sorry, no, I haven't used those. Since people all around the world use this site, I suggest that you wait for a day and see what other answers you get. :-) – andy256 Aug 10 '15 at 3:26
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I typed this whole answer and then decided to cut to the chase, which I doing here. IF you do not have a tiny splinter hidden in the tire I think you are pinching the tube between the tire and the rim during installation. This explains the flats at 50-60 lbs.

Losing weight is not the problem. It might be part of the problem - that is to say that someone who weighs 90 lbs and rides your bike might not get flats - but there is something going on here.

You are inspecting the inside of the tire, which is important. If you are thorough it eliminates one potential cause. However, I have had many holes caused by tiny slivers of metal which are embedded on the inside of the tire like a splinter. These slivers will not make a new tube go flat in the garage (in fact they cannot be felt with the fingers with the tire right-side-out); they only kick in once I am riding the bike. You might have something like this. I find them by turning the tire inside out and running my finger along it, pushing hard. You can see how this ends up - if I find the cause I get a splinter! Something might be puncturing your tire that is invisible during tire changes.

One tip - you might do this already - when you install your tube align the valve stem with the printing on the tire. When you get a flat and remove the tire and tube you can find the hole then lay the tube on the tire to find the location on the tire of the hole in the tube.

I cut up the old one with the stab hole in it,... and lined the new tire while it, and put a new tube in

i keep them at 45psi,50 if i can get away with it, and sometimes 35-40

This is throwing me off. First - using an old tire to line a new tire. This works in the "boot" situation that you mentioned but should not be generally used. Tubes are sensitive to small variations - pinches, folds, stretches - which weaken the rubber and lead to a hole. You need to make absolutely sure that you are not pinching the tube in the wire bead when mounting the tire.* You should totally be able to run the tires at the recommended pressure and you should run them at the recommended pressure.

*edit - it occurs to me that you might need help with this?

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    I find them by turning the tire inside out and running my finger along it, pushing hard. You can see how this ends up - if I find the cause I get a splinter! That can actually be dangerous - such splinters can be very sharp and quite large. Turn the tire inside-out as much as possible and go over the entire inside surface with a cotton ball. Any splinter will catch fibers from the cotton ball and be quite visible. – Andrew Henle Feb 14 at 10:45
3

Wow this is the flat tire question that just keeps on rolling

In review:

  • Installed a cheap 26 X 1.25
    Problems from day one
  • Patched tire with tire and even more problems exactly where the tire patch was
  • Installed another cheap 26 X 1.25 and put in preemptive complete tire patch using the last 1.25 and nothing but problems

Stop using:

  • Cheap tires
  • 1.25 width
    That is relatively narrow. A larger tire will handle load better. That bike will take a 2.25.
  • Tire patches
    Tire patches are temporary. They abrade the tube.

Get / Do:

  • Quality puncture resistant 2.25 tire
  • Couple quality tubes
  • No liner or tire patch
  • Run at max recommenced pressure

These tubes are costing money. A quality puncture resistant 2.25 tire will cost you less in the long run.

  • I really had no idea the width of the tire would help it handle weight better and therefore prevent flats. Lol, thank you. Also, im just guessing "CST" is a cheap brand. XD – rogue Aug 10 '15 at 18:54
  • Load improves with the square. Notice that cement trucks have massive tires. – paparazzo Aug 10 '15 at 18:54
  • I never thought of that. And i apologize but i was wrong! Just went out and checked, tires are 26 x 2.125 sorry!!!!! Dont know why i thought otherwise – rogue Aug 10 '15 at 19:01
  • Well I can only answer the stated question. My Get / Do is still the same. – paparazzo Aug 10 '15 at 19:03
3

I think I finally figured out my issue.

I've been getting a ton of flats, all mainly in the back tire, since I started riding almost a year ago. For that year I've been going to the same bike shop, and buying the same CST tubes. Again, they say they can take 65 psi, but they pop at 55psi, so I've always kept them at 35- 50 depending what pump I'm using.

Then, someone stabbed my back tire. Up until it was stabbed, I got one to two flats a month. Once it was stabbed, it caused even more flats (one a week) until I got a new tire a week ago. Under instruction of my LBS, I cut the sidewalls off the stabbed tire, and used that to line the new one a week ago, and since then I've gotten 4 flats- 4 flats in one week! Each time I've been buying a new CST tube.

Today, I had a flat. I pulled the tube out and inspected it. There were no thorns, and it was NOT a "snake bite" hole. It was just one small hole toward the side, and you could see a long line or "streak" that looked like the tire I used to line the new one had been rubbing the tube. The edges are pretty rough, so I deduced THAT is what has now been causing my flats and took it out.

A friend brought me a new type of tube; "q tube" and a bottle of "flat attack" slime which comes highly recommended and in reviews is said to be far better than regular slime. We slimed the new tube, and pumped it up to a FULL 65 psi, and put it on leaving out the tire liner, no liner this time!

Then, the front tire was slightly low. The front tire still had a CST tube in it. We put the rest of the "flat attack" in the front, and fully pumped it up to 65 psi, even though its been my experience it pops at 55 psi.

Then she left, and I rode to 711... And my bike felt better than EVER fully pumped.

But... Half way here.... The FRONT tire popped! Completelley popped, scared the heck outta me, haha. So now, I'm sitting at 711 getting ready for a long walk back in the heat.... And based on our common factors and variables, I THINK I finally solved the issue. Firstly, the fact that the "q tube" is holding the maximum air (65 psi) and the CST tube YET AGAIN popped with 65 psi in it shows an obvious quality difference, or perhaps an old tube. So, obviously since I've only been using CST tubes, that is a major factor, since I can't pump them up all the way they are more susceptible to thorns and punctures, and the quality in general, plus my weight.

So I have concluded the following:

  • weight is a factor, but not the issue. Some one my size needs quality tubes and tires, and the tires need to be filled to the MAXIMUM, because putting so much weight on them really "puts them to the test".

  • the fact that my tubes would pop at the maximum psi means I need higher quality tubes for my size. Extra weight on the tire works the tube and tire to the max, and means it needs to be able to hold more air.... Cheap tubes can not hold enough air for someone of my weight. Cheap tubes (what I've been using, and I don't mean price but quality) are more susceptible to punctures, and again, will not hold the maximum PSI needed, especially for a heavy person.

  • at my size, things rub, poke, and puncture the tube easier, meaning a roughly cut old tire for a line is not a good idea!

  • tire pressure is very important. I should only use my hand pump in emergency situations, and other wise use a floor pumo, and check the air pressure every other day or so.

In simpler terms, I initially was getting flats because of low quality tires, which includes the fact I couldn't fill them up to 65 psi.

Then, once my tire got stabbed, I was getting flats due to the hole (obviously)

And now, this past week, I've been getting them for a few reasons, those being;

  • again, cheap tubes.

  • low air pressure, which was necessary due to the low quality tubes

  • the tire liner being too rough and rubbing the tube

  • also, the fact it's monsoon season here I'm sure played a factor.

  • my weight makes all these factors THAT much more important

Now, again, this is all my guess bases on this morning's events.

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    Well, you have nailed one thing and that is correct pressure. As for quality of inner tubes, slime etc - it is much better to invest in quality tire with puncture protection. It is the outer tire that is meant to protect inner tube, not the other way round. And as far the quality of inner tubes goes, I buy the cheapest ones I can find, and inflate them at 87psi with no problems. But the outer tire, rim, and rim tape have to protect it and not have any sharp edges. – Davorin Ruševljan Aug 12 '15 at 9:05
  • Consider marking this as the "accepted" answer because its what worked for you. Its a year later - would you be able to add an update on how things have gone ? – Criggie Nov 13 '16 at 9:26
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    I second @DavorinRuševljan: Tubes are not designed to handle any forces. They only exist to provide a seal to the air. All the forces are handled by the tire only. Thus, forget about the "quality" of tubes, care for the quality of your tires. – cmaster Nov 7 '18 at 10:37
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They say they take 65 psi, but I've had them pop at 55-60, so I keep them at 45psi, 50 if I can get away with it, and sometimes 35-40 if I'm using my little hand pump

Well, there's your problem. 40 PSI is just not enough pressure for a 1.25" tire, especially if it's carrying a lot of weight. You're probably getting pinch flats from hitting potholes and so on (that's when the tire gets pinched between the rim and the road surface). Get some wider tires, and blow them up to the recommended pressure. It helps if you get a floor pump.

2

Currently I weight around 300 lbs, ride bicycle daily 10-20km, and did not have flat for months.

Yes you need decent tires, and you have to inflate them properly. Search the web for the puncture resistant tires, and choose one that has best reputation. They cost much more than bargain tires, but when you factor in how much it cost to change inner tubes every few days and frustration associated with it, they are an bargain.

Secondly, every tire has to be properly inflated, and the proper pressure is often printed on the tire. I am inflating my Marathon Plus to maximum recommended 6.0 bars.

It would be good to check your rim as well, maybe there are some small metal splinters flying around them and causing the flats. Also check you rim tape, and if all spokes are flat and not piercing towards the tube.

Keep up, cycling will be fun once you get over these initial obstacles.

1

I'm not sure weight is the main issue. There are several questions on this site from people weighing more than you, and the general advice seems to be that it should be fine. Sure, more weight puts bike under more stress, but bikes are generally fairly sturdy. But make sure that there are no missing spokes, and check regularly if there are cracks in the rim or the wheel buckles; if so, perhaps replace it with a sturdier mountain bike wheel.

I don't quite understand your liner and that might well be the main issue. I would just get a good, puncture-proof tire, and a new tube, and not use anything else. My experience: I used a proper kevlar tire liner for a while, but had many punctures too. It is very difficult to align the liner properly inside the tire, and it can move and pinch the tire. After several punctures I just took it out, got good new tires, and that's it. I don't understand the way you make your own liner out of old tires, but this is really difficult to do properly and you may well create sharp edges or pinch points that damage the tube. With a good tyre, you don't need another liner between tire and tube at all.

It seems that you already checked for damages in the rim or spokes that stick out, and make sure the rim tape (the plastic that goes around the rim over the spoke nipples) is in good condition.

Keep the tire well inflated near the maximum (the number is printed on the sidewall). If it's underinflated, the tube can move or get pinched when you go over a kerb for example, and that will also lead to damage.

Finally, observe carefully where and how you ride. Perhaps there are locations where you go over a kerb or road damage, and if you take that too fast, it can damage your wheels.

  • To clarify, again, i took my original CST 26 x 1.25 tire that had the stab hole, cut the side walls off with a razor as instructed by my LBS, and lined the new CST 26 X 1.25 tire with it. The edges where i cut the sidewall off are rough, but LBS insisted that wouldnt matter :-/ – rogue Aug 10 '15 at 18:57
  • Sorry, just realized ive been putting the wrong tire size, my tires are 26 x 2.125 , sorry! – rogue Aug 10 '15 at 19:05
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@andy256 First let me say, this is my first time using this site so im still trying to figure things out, lol....still not sure if I am using this correctly. But thanks for editing my comment. Its a lot harder to make sure you capitalize every "I" and add the correct punctuaction and whatnot on a phone. 😊

@jqning Thank you for your answer! However i am unclear on one thing, so i am going to try to better explain this: when i originally started getting flats, the man i go to fix my bike told me to make my own liner between the tube and the tire by cutting the side walls off an old tire. So, when I bought the new tire, I cut the sidewalls off the old one with a razor, and placed it inside the new one, then put the tube in it. After cutting the sidewalls off, the edges did feel rough.... So i asked the guy who owns the shop I go to about it and he said thats fine, that wont bother the tube...now im wondering if thats not fine, and that could maybe be the cause?

  • 1
    You can just add comments like this under your post :-) – andy256 Aug 10 '15 at 1:04
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    That's a tried & true method, stick with it. But something in your system is failing you and you've got (frankly) a broken system. Cheap tires, cheap tubes, low psi, improvised tire liner, are leading to mystery punctures. Get a quality 2" wide (or 1.9") tire and a floor pump with a gauge. The quality tire can probably take >80 lbs of psi. Pump the tire to the proper psi using your "tire as tire liner" system. If your tire blows off the rim that alone will tell us some things! And when putting the tire on the rim do it carefully and don't use screwdrivers or levers to push that last bit on. – jqning Aug 10 '15 at 2:31
  • Thank you! I have been using a flat head screwdriver or plastic lever. Im guessing if my tubes pop at 60 psi, when they say "up to 65 psi" that means they are really cheap tubes then, haha. Thanks! – rogue Aug 10 '15 at 3:20
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    The quality of the tube has virtually no effect on the pressure that the tire can handle. – Daniel R Hicks Aug 10 '15 at 10:58
  • Guys i apologize! I initially got the tire size wrong, its actually 26 x 2.125!!! Sorry, i dont know why i thought other wise. – rogue Aug 10 '15 at 19:04

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