I've got a Specialized Pitch, size 27.5". I do a lot of urban MTBing and tricking.

I know how to ride up stairs - up to four stairs at the moment, working on getting more - you lean back, get the front wheel up the first three or so, then lean forwards and pedal, keeping the weight off the back wheel. I work up a bit of speed and then pedal up, with gears set at 1 in the front and 3 in the back (I've got 3 in front and 8 in the back). The back wheel is at ~40 PSI.

But consistently, I'll make it up this staircase ~5 times in a row, and then, at some point, inevitably, I'll get a pinch-flat puncture.

This has been the main expense on the bike recently - this one staircase has cost me hundreds in replacing the inner tube.

Is there anything I can do to avoid getting these punctures? Am I simply not doing it correctly?

  • 7
    You need to learn to patch tubes. Save up your dead tubes, and use proper patches with separate vulcanising glue to do a batch in the warm and dry. I don't get many snakebites but I've never had one I couldn't patch. Or run tubeless.
    – Chris H
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 14:01
  • 1
    Have you tried using more than 40 PSI? I have no idea about urban MTB, but usually snakebites means you pressure is too low.
    – StefanS
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 14:07
  • @StefanS - 40 is apparently the recommended pressure for trails, and I've heard that for urban you actually need to lower the pressure. Stairs could be an exception, though - in which case you've got yourself a possible answer :)
    – Mithical
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 14:09
  • 1
    @Mithrandir Logically higher pressure would be required for urban riding on tarmac and concrete surfaces. These surfaces are not loose like dirt or gravel so you get better traction and there are more sharp edges such as stairs and curbs. Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 15:01
  • @ArgentiApparatus - huh, maybe I'm mixing it up then.
    – Mithical
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 15:04

2 Answers 2


I used to get snakebites like crazy doing urban riding, even running really high pressures. I'm a big guy. What finally helped was running higher volume tires and wider. See if you can fit a wider tire in your frame, and look at getting some wider rims.

Increasing the volume of air adds more cushioning. As Batman mentioned, going tubeless also helps, since the tube displaces some of the volume between the rim and the tire.

If you're sticking with tubes, get some DH tubes. Normal tubes are around 1mm or less, DH are often around 1.5mm. They will weigh more, but might hold up better.

  • I should mention - I'm not big. At all :P. I'm a scrawny 16-year-old; I'm not entirely sure what I weigh, but... it's not too much.
    – Mithical
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 14:47
  • 4
    I don't think the point of tubeless has anything to do with the tube being a quantity of "stuff that's not air" in the tyre. The point is surely that there's no tube to get snake-bitten and that the tyre itself is stronger than a tube, so should be less susceptible to snake-bites and, if you do manage to get one in the tyre, the sealant should be able to seal the two small holes. Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 15:43
  • @DavidRicherby can the tire itself get a snake bite puncture without the rim suffering damage? Seems like a lot of force would be needed there?
    – Brad
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 16:34
  • @Brad I guess it would damage the rim but I don't actually know so I hedged my bets. Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 16:42
  • @DavidRicherby Agreed, the "stuff that's not air" is not the real benefit of tubeless, but it does contribute (a tiny amount) to volume.
    – B. Thomas
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 21:25

You have a few options:

1) Run a higher pressure

2) Go tubeless

3) Don't ride on stairs

4) Work on your technique; depending on how the tire hits the stair (and size of the stair), you're more likely to pinch flat (e.g. on the edges).

5) run bigger tires

  • 1
    I like your #3 suggestion. Stairs are not intended for bicycles in either direction, and there's a chance that OP is doing to pedestrians what cars try to do to cyclists.
    – Criggie
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 18:52
  • 1
    If the list in in order, #4 should be #1.
    – mattnz
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 0:24
  • 5) Use wider tires and/or rims if possible
    – Michael
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 9:19

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