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I am riding the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail (FKOHT) in February 2021. There will be flats. The ride is unsupported. Most riders say they have at least two flats on the ride, some riders have as many as 8! I use clinchers and tubes. I admit freely that I am a weakling and cannot get some tires on the rims without using a Koolstop tire jack, which I do carry with me on the bike. The Koolstop tire jack is not perfect, but it mostly works for me.

Whats the best strategy? Use a tire with flat protection that I will have to wrestle with and use the jack if I get a flat? Or use a tire that I can mount by hand, but will probably have less flat protection and one that will likely result in more flats?

Or is it just a matter of using a tire I like and stop over-thinking? I would like to spend my time riding, not fixing flats.

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    This is pretty individual. Daniel says definitely belted. I say I prefer supple tyres and like that I do not risk breaking my levers every time. One does not have a flat that often anyway. Nov 8, 2020 at 17:19
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    Or you can use tubeless, but that is probably out of the scope or not an answer you are interested in. Nov 8, 2020 at 17:20
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    Just buy a puncture protected tire that is either not manufactured by Schwalbe or called "Marathon plus". It's not that all puncture protected tires are equally bad, it's just that one specific model that's somehow really popular.
    – ojs
    Nov 8, 2020 at 17:44
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    juhist-I thought long and hard before signing up for Bicycles.Stackexchange. I realize that other people's humor is not my own and that humor also doesn't translate over the internet. You have quickly convinced me that these forums are not for me. I wish I could say thank you and mean it...I am 61 years old and a lifelong rider. Technology is changing and I realize I don't know everything and thought I would throw the question out there and see if someone answered with an idea I hadn't thought of.
    – user53504
    Nov 8, 2020 at 18:36
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    I have started to only purchase tubes with a removable valve, which lets me add sealant inside the tube. This won't prevent flats from large gashes, but the sealant does fill in small punctures. Nov 9, 2020 at 17:29

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Questions related to ease of mounting can be nebulous to answer, because usually much more than any other factor, what determines how difficult a tire is to mount is the tolerances of the rim and tire. The most difficult mounting situations occur when the bead seat diameter of the rim happens to run large, and the bead diameter of the tire runs small.

There are some known models to avoid if mounting ease is a priority, but there is no totally reliable way to buy a tire that's easy to mount, because tolerance problems can strike randomly. Light, supple tires mount easier on average, but it's not a guarantee.

Some highly flat-protected tires are notorious for being difficult to mount. As pointed out in the comments, the Schwalbe Marathon Plus has become a poster child for this. The reason is that, especially in narrower sizes, the massive amount of casing armor makes it difficult to get the beads sunk in to the rim well so that the section of tire 180 degrees away can be pushed over the rim and seated. They're also stiff and can be hard to even wrangle the first bead on.

I think that as long as you have still have the ability to reinstall the tire when needed, using a bead jack if necessary, it makes more sense to just choose something tough enough for the roads you'll encounter and the loads you'll be carrying. Unless it's thorns/goatheads/cacti/etc you're worried about, the stuff that gives you flats in a lot of flat-prone areas can also damage or destroy tires. Undergunning it carries the risk of a tire getting sliced instead of simply punctured, which is the kind of damage that the overbuilt casings of proper touring tires are good at mitigating.

If you do want to have some insurance against punctures that won't make any difference in mounting difficulty, you could also use tubes with sealant in them. Sealant has downsides, but can work well in areas plagued by thorns and goatheads, and makes a little more sense in an event ride type context than day-in, day-out.

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    While the Marathon Plus is really hard to mount, I would totally go for it: Its puncture protection is so good that you can expect to ride a 171km trail many, many times without any need to patch a tire. Nov 9, 2020 at 14:18
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As I commented above, I ride long distances on fairly tough tyres. My favourite for paved roads and occasional gravel are marathon supreme, but I've used a few others. Punctures, for me, are rare. But while I can go thousands of km without a single puncture, I've also had 3 within 100km (2 of them on gravel forest roads). So you're right to be prepared, but don't be too pessimistic.

If you do get a puncture on the road, don't rush, that always costs more time.

At home I have a bead jack. It's handy, especially for brand new tyres. I don't carry it on the road but you may choose to. There are some tricks that help enormously.

The first, which works better with some rims than others, is to make sure that the opposite side of the bead sits right down into the middle of the rim as you finish mounting the tyre. With stiff (protected) sidewalls a strap may be called for (releasable cable ties are good here). Don't finish opposite the valve, but near it.

The second is to put tyre on using levers, just for the last little bit. You have to be really careful to not pinch the tube. Just the tiniest bit of air it in will help. Not all levers work very well. This method can cause adjacent sections to unmount if you're not careful. Again, straps can help.

This is all harder on narrower tyres and narrower rims, but especially on rims without a deep groove in the middle (i.e. most modern double-walled rims)

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According to the map and pictures found at https://www.floridastateparks.org/sites/default/files/inline-files/FKOHT_Brochure_033120-web.pdf

The route looks to be mostly sealed surface with some boardwalk sections. There will be no off-road sections, and no significant climbs.

So you'll be able to carry a fair amount of kit on your bike if its well-packed. I'd suggest carrying 3 or 4 inner tubes of a size to suit your wheels and tyres. Additionally, carry a pack of stickers (the pre-glued patches that do not require glues)


As for tools, I'd go with 3x tyre levers that you like, in case one breaks. Since you like your koolstop jack, absolutely carry that too. You'll want an air pump to reinflate, and compressed air cartridges are an option too but if they run out you still need the pump.

There are tricks to dealing with tight tyres/rim combinations, and it can really help to pack along some plastic or velcro cable ties. The technique is documented in this answer https://bicycles.stackexchange.com/a/63961/19705 and I've mounted schwalbe marathons for a coworker with this method.

You can also carry a spare folding tyre too - they're more bulky than heavy, but sometimes a gash may not be repairable. With touring, its all about being ready for the most likely issues.


Your final resource is other riders. I almost always check on other riders who are off the bike, with a wheel out. If you're stuck, don't hesitate to wave down another rider and ask for help.

There's definitely a difference between helping someone who is prepared but stuck, vs someone who simply didn't prepare. Who knows - positions could be reversed on another day.

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I'll expand on the option of tubeless, but I recognize that it may not be the best solution for the OP. The OP will either need to acquire some technical expertise, or pay a bike store to mount the tires and learn to insert a tube in a tubeless tire. This may or may not be worth the cognitive effort. There is an argument for using what you know. Also, it may require new equipment.

Tubeless tires obviously have no inner tube. The tire is designed to be airtight in combination with the rim and with latex sealant. That sealant offers protection against most punctures. It will seal most punctures without rider intervention. You do lose a bit of pressure while this happens.

On mountain bikes and gravel bikes, the technology is very well regarded. I'm not sure about its use in bicycle touring. However, touring bikes should have relatively wide tires at much lower pressures than performance road bikes. In the latter category, the high pressures demand very tight fits between the tire and rims, and the standards for both are still evolving. I'd expect tubeless to perform well in touring setups, but I don't have any personal experience.

Tubeless may require new tires and rims. You need to use a tire that's specifically designed to be set up tubeless. The same is true for rims, although many current rims are tubeless compatible even if they were sold with inner tubes.

In terms of logistics, many of us pay bike stores to mount the tires. I think that tubeless tires generally fit tighter than tubed clinchers. There are definitely a few new techniques to learn with tubeless, e.g. sometimes an air compressor or CO2 cartridge is needed to seat the tires, after which you need to inject sealant or else the tire won't remain airtight, and the sealant requires refreshing every few months. In the field, if you have a puncture that self-seals, you can just top up the pressure. Some slightly larger punctures may need you to insert a tubeless plug (here is one review of a Dynaplug kit) into the hole, then reinflate the tire. If you are out of plugs and the tire won't seal, or if the tire has been cut, you should boot any big cuts (which you would do on a tubed clincher anyway), and you can then insert an inner tube and keep riding. Thus, you do want a spare tube with a tubeless tire anyway, although you may well not use it. If a rider's hand strength makes it difficult to remove and replace a tire bead (e.g. to put in a tube), then they would still need to consider something like the Kool Stop bead jack mentioned in the original post.

Again, this answer is provided for general information. It may be an option for some. However, it is trickier to use and maintain. One good general guide to tubeless tires is here, but this site generally focuses less on touring applications. As yet, tubeless is not yet clearly superior to tubed clinchers for performance road cyclists, although I'm not certain about the state of play in touring.

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There will be flats

Don't be so certain.

This is a 171 km long route. In the last 1500 kilometers (1000 miles), I have not had a single flat. I use extremely thin racing-style tires with no protection at the sidewalls and practically no puncture protection (since you can't reasonably sell a tire with absolutely no puncture protection today, they have to add a bit of it and advertise it as a "puncture protected" tire). In those 1500 kilometers, I have ridden often through a tunnel that most of the time has broken beer bottles.

I weigh so much (110 kg) that the narrow 28mm tires I use are working near their limits. In fact, in my use a wheel having less than 36 spokes will have its nipples unscrew. I have not had any pinch flats recently despite this. The tires I use are not tubeless, they are traditional clinchers (so at least in theory they are susceptible to pinch flats).

What is my secret, then? I watch where I ride. If there are broken beer bottles on the road, I evade them. If there are any irregularities in the road, I stand on the pedals in the fore-aft position and put my arms to 90 degree angle so that both my legs and my arms are in an optimal position to take any road irregularities. Then the unsprung mass is just part of my legs and arms, and the bike. My main body weight is not part of the unsprung mass.

Whats the best strategy? Use a tire with flat protection that I will have to wrestle with and use the jack if I get a flat?

There are no tires that are fully protected against flats.

In particular, clinchers are always prone to pinch flats. No amount of "puncture protection" is going to change it.

About other types of punctures, the best approach is generally to use a tire-rim combination that allows mounting and dismounting the tires easily with standard tire levers, and then just fix the punctures when they happen. Any puncture protection that is thick enough to be effective enough (i.e. that it would prevent more than 90% of punctures) will slow you down so much that the amount of time you lose due to rolling resistance will be 10 to 100 times the amount of time you save to fix punctures. And remember, even if there was a puncture protection that is capable enough, it still wouldn't protect you from pinch flats.

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    is this sarcasm or is this serrious?? cuz it aint funny
    – Pete
    Nov 9, 2020 at 11:09
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    The first part of your answer has a good core - "technique" is a valuable skill to improve. However punctures happen, and have to be resolved. OP is on an unsupported trip, so every item (tool, spare, food/water, etc) has to be carried on the bike/rider. OP is asking specifically about tyres, flats and repairing punctures. Your later points about 36 spokes, brakes, motors, dropouts detract heavily from your answer's useful point. And the last bullet list really doesnt work. As @pete says, sarcasm doesn't come across, so I suggest you edit the answer, focus on answering the question.
    – Criggie
    Nov 9, 2020 at 11:29
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    I have edited to remove the irrelevant parts of the answer.
    – Criggie
    Nov 9, 2020 at 19:20

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