Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fun Times With Flat Tires

I have been lucky enough experience two flat tires this year. One on my SV650 and one on the Ural.

The flat on my SV happened on the way home from teaching a BRC less than an hour before I was to leave MN for my trip to India.

At first, I wasn't sure what it was. The rear started to wobble slightly like my luggage rack had broken again. A few miles down the road it was clear what was happening as the wobble became more pronounced. The rear tire was going flat. Arg!

I was only three miles from home and without my tire repair kit. I was also being picked up by a friend soon to leave the country. Not a great time for a flat. I decided, perhapaps unsafely, to continue riding slowly to see if I could make it.

The rear continued to get worse until about a mile from home where it leveled off just above absolutely unrideable. Riding on a flat rear felt a lot like riding on ice and snow, so it was weirdly comfortable. Yay winter riding!

I made it to my house and up the hill into the garage. I left the bike in disgust and left for India. When I got back, I put a new tire on and admired the large nail still in the tire. The bike suffered no other damage.

My second flat of the year was with the Ural during the sidecar ride for kids. After the first few hours of rides, the sidecar started to feel squishy. I stopped to take a look at it, and it was nearly flat.

I tried to put more air in with tire pump hoping denial would fix my problem. It didn't.

The Ural has a spare, so I set about swapping the tire. I had a small audience of kids asking questions about it. They were eager to get back riding!

The spare went on without trouble. There was a small nail in one of the knobs. Darn.

After the second ride, I decided to stop. The spare was grinding excessively. The bearing sounded like it was shot.

Fortunately, I have new tires, tubes, and bearings ready to go on. A fun weekend project to get the bike ready for winter.


  1. Somehow it feels even worst when there's loads of life left in the tyre. Thankfully, hasn't happened to me in some time now, touch wood. Murphy's law states that you are more likely to have a flat with a brand new tyre and if you are not carrying your repair kit.

    1. Flats happen, and they are annoying for sure. I am glad I was able to take care of both without too much disruption.

  2. "The spare was grinding excessively. The bearing sounded like it was shot"

    From my very limited experience with Urals, I have the impression that the wheel bearings in the sidecar wheel are not used at all as the axle turns at the same speed as the wheel. The "real" sidecar wheel bearings are the ones in the swingarm that the drive shaft runs through. When I took off the sidecar wheel, initially I couldn't figure out why the axle was turning with the wheel. Getting a bit slow in my old age...

    I just ordered tire studs and new tires. Hopefully they get here before the snow flies.

    1. I just got my new tires... just have to spend the time to put them on. I got the K37snowtex again. The tires I had last year were horrible.

  3. I recently had a flat on my R80, it felt like you mentioned, like riding on snow/ice and the road "felt" bumpier. My tire had a slash cut, no way to fix that so it was trailer time. Never had a flat on the sidecar tire, don't think I've heard of any other rig owner with one....have had like 4 flats on the pusher over the ownership of two rigs.....

    1. The only flat I ever had was on the Cozy sidecar. The tube was worn through due to a rough spot on the inside of the rim.

    2. I had one flat in my pusher the first month I owned the Ural. This is only my second flat tire with that bike. I had two with my SV650 so far, both luckily in the rear and close to home.

  4. Oh, boy, flats can be fun! They're a necessary part of riding but nobody likes them.

    I've had front flats on 2 of my recent 6 Baja rides. Go figure.

    A friend rode out from Arizona last weekend. We rode all over Baja and back to California. It was then that he experienced not one, not two but three flat tires!