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I had my bike serviced on Monday. Part way through the workshop called to inform me that they thought both tyres were perished and needed replacing. I trusted their judgement and gave them the go ahead.

It was fine on Tuesday and Wednesday. Today - Thursday - I got it out this morning and discovered the front tyre was flat. I re-inflated it and rode to work and it seemed fine. But it was completely flat again by lunchtime, so it's a slow puncture.

I haven't ridden any out of the ordinary routes, nor am I aware of having ridden over anything that would cause a puncture. So, obviously, I'm now wondering if the service might have had something to do with this.

I don't want to take it back to the workshop and start throwing accusations around without some evidence. So is this likely just coincidence? Or, if there's a significant chance they might have damaged the tube while replacing the tyres, is there anything I can do to prove it?

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    Could be a coincidence. Were the replacement tires of the same type as before? If not, there is a possibility the new tires could be more susceptible to punctures by foreign objects. – Rider_X Apr 19 '18 at 16:14
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    Most likely the tube was defective from the factory. – Daniel R Hicks Apr 19 '18 at 19:53
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    Just to add to both answers: I've had tubes fail shortly but not immediately after a bad job (mine) of replacing them. That was always within a few hours of pumping them up to full pressure – Chris H Apr 19 '18 at 20:37
  • I feel with you, having repaired a second flat in two days (one front and one rear) on a bike that has hardly been used since its last servicing in which the tires/tubes have been replaced. – Willeke Apr 20 '18 at 18:30
  • Tubes are an example of the rule of three. If I get one flat (from puncture of whatever), I know there'll be two more before I can put away the patch kit! – outsideblasts May 4 '18 at 4:10
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To me, this sounds like coincidence. If the shop had punctured the tube and caused a leak, I don't think it would have held air for two days before showing any signs of going flat. Especially given the fact that you reinflated the tube and it went flat again by lunchtime. The leak is fast enough to make the tube go flat in just a few hours, so it seems unlikely that the tube would be OK for Tuesday and Wednesday and only start leaking on Thursday. When replacing the tube, you should look for the cause of the leak. You might be able to find a foreign object that caused it, but it's possible you won't with a typical puncture. If you find the side of the tube leaking, that might indicate that it got pinched by the tire during installation

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Highly unlikely that tire installation was just clumsy enough to cause a slow puncture that appeared a couple of days later. Pinching the tube with a tire lever would cause a relatively large hole or rip.

I think you would have a hard time convincing your repair shop they caused the problem in any case. Patch the leak and move on.

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    @MattThrower Punctures are the most common problem on bikes. Politely you should make the effort to learn how to 1] swap tubes (in case you get a puncture while riding) and perhaps 2] patch a tube (although replacement tubes are cheaper than ever nowdays.) Plus finding the hole in the tube cah show you if its a foreign object, a pinch flat/snakebite, a spoke, or maybe a poor installation, or even just an old perished and rotted tube (remember your tyres were old enough to be perished.) – Criggie Apr 20 '18 at 2:31
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    @Criggie Well, I took your advice, bought some levers and learned to do it myself. It looks like the service had punctured the tube and patched it badly, which explains what happened. I found getting the tyre back on to be ridiculously hard - it took me half an hour of sweating and swearing to get the bead back in. Wouldn't be surprised if I've damaged the new tube doing it :( At least I learned something, I suppose. – Bob Tway Apr 20 '18 at 12:39
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    @MattThrower Aha! In that case I would go by the repair shop and point out your dissatisfaction with the issue. If it was a new tube they should have just replaced it. If it was your tube they should have at least told you what they did, and probably have replaced it for free. – Argenti Apparatus Apr 20 '18 at 12:49
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    @MattThrower glad they sorted the issue. There are a many tire repair videos on youtube that are worth watching to pick up tips. – Argenti Apparatus Apr 20 '18 at 12:54
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    @MattThrower excellent skill you've learned there - If you have a flat while out riding, you can swap tubes and continue your ride. – Criggie Apr 21 '18 at 0:04
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I have just repaired my second flat in two days, on a bike that has hardly been used since its last servicing.

I did not find the reason for the first flat, but for the second I did find a small piece of metal in the tire.
So I am pretty sure the hole comes from the way the guy worked on the bike. Not on purpose but still.....

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I find this is now a very common pattern - a (usually slow) leak within the first 2-3 weeks of putting a new tube in. I think the tubes are crap, and probably have bubbles (voids) in the rubber that fail quickly when stretched.

I think that 3 things have happened

  • Tube rubber is not very rubbery anymore. Where the spoke nipples are, the tubes permanently stretch and thin out, and often times actually burst. I assume this means more plastic and less latex in the mix.

  • Un-inflated tube circumference is much less than what it used to be. I thought I was imagining this until I was under an old house, where there were old 26" wheels,tubes. The tube for the 1-3/8" tyre is the same as I buy now for a 2" tyre. Todays 35mm tubes are the same as I used to get for 27mm.

  • Tubes come from the factory with weak spots that fail in the first few weeks of use. Mostly slow leaks, but sometimes they just get 1/4" splits in the rubber, just sitting parked.

  • patches fail more, I think because of the far greater tube stretch. Possibly the non-rubber doesn't take the glue, as failed patches can be pulled off.

I now try to use "oversize" tubes. I recently discovered that 29ers are actually 700C, so I use 29x2" tubes for 700cx35mm tyres, and so far it seems to be working out.

So I recommend to get oversized tubes if available. Do NOT use tubes at the upper part of the size range. If it says it is for 30-37mm tyres, that means 30, and definitely not 37.

  • It does sound like these are crap tubes, as you say. Did you try a different brand and did you try getting your money back on the tubes that failed? – David Richerby Apr 30 '18 at 13:00
  • I have tried different brands, and they all seem the same. But they probably are all out of the same indonesian factories anyway. Anyone making bike tubes in the USA or Germany, regardless of brand? Patch them, carry on. My crusty local mechanic doesn't believe me. I simply don't remember this happening before the mid 2000's - but then I didn't have a family, and 5 bikes to keep going either. Using Slime is your other option. – Henry Crun Apr 30 '18 at 13:10

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