You have repaired your punctured tire using a plug, and you can’t help but ask yourself, how long does a tire plug last?
As a conscientious bike driver, you want to ensure your repair is safe and will stand the test of time. After all, the last thing you want is the worry about a sudden blowout caused by a shoddy repair.
HOW LONG DOES A TIRE PLUG LAST?
You successfully used your tire plug kit and used a good quality bicycle pump to re-inflate your tire. However, as you push off to continue your ride, a single nagging question haunts you. How long does a tire plug last?
The simple answer is indefinite. A well-performed tire plug repair will retain air within your tire and prevent deflation. Because of the way a tire plug works, it is designed to form a permanent fix for your bike. That is, however, until you have another puncture!
However, before you ask yourself, how long does a tire plug last, it is worth understanding how they work.
HOW DOES A TIRE PLUG WORK?
Tire plug repair kits are readily available from many bicycle suppliers and offer a simple yet effective way to repair your tubeless bike tires.
How the plug works
Tire plugs consist of strips of leather, covered with a sticky, un-vulcanized rubber compound.
Vulcanized rubber has an intermolecular system with highly cross-linked polymer chains. In other words, the rubber retracts to its original shape when exposed to heat or pressure. Unvulcanized rubber does not act in this fashion.
How the magic happens
When you use your plug-repair kit on your bicycle tires, you force the sticky unvulcanized rubber into the hole. Consequently, the plug fills the hole.
When you set off on your journey, the heat and pressure of the wheel react with the sticky substance, and it vulcanizes. As a result, the repair becomes a part of the bicycle tire to form a permanent fix.
Different Rules for Cars
Please note that legislation regarding the use of tire plugs states that a plug must be used in conjunction with a patch when it comes to cars and motorized vehicles. Also, a qualified professional must undertake the repair.
THE CONVENIENCE OF A PLUG REPAIR
When you ask the question, how long does a tire plug last, you must also take into account some crucial points.
The good bits
A tire plug constitutes a quick and low-cost solution to repairing small holes in your bicycle tires. Additionally, the repair will last for the lifetime of the bike tire. By carrying a kit with you when you venture out, you may quickly and efficiently repair your tire flat on the go.
Tire plug repair can fail. However, this is usually due to the inappropriate application of the plug. If you try to use the plug repair on a large hole, then consequently, the repair may fail.
It is essential to use the plug method for smaller holes, such as those caused by nails. Large tears or rips will not prove so effective to fix with a plug kit.
REPLACE OR REPAIR?
Sometimes, you may have no choice but to replace the tire. In the case of a catastrophic blowout, no amount of patches or plugs will solve the problem. Safety should always sit at the front of your thoughts, and it is far better to replace your tire if in doubt. Also, consider consulting a professional if you feel concerned about your repairs.
HOW TO USE A PLUG KIT
The plug kit forms the perfect companion for your tubeless bicycle tires. If you ask yourself, how long does a tire plug last, you may also wonder how to use one.
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Push in the plug
It may prove a little challenging to locate the puncture. However, if you pump the tire up a little, you should hear a hissing sound. Alternatively, run your fingers around the tire to locate the offending problem. A combination of both techniques should enable you to discover the puncture before you begin.
Also, if you have a water bottle with you, try spraying a little water over the suspected damage. If tiny air bubbles appear, then you have found the culprit!
Start by threading the plug through the applicator with equal amounts sticking out from both ends. You may have different sized plugs in your repair kit, so use a plug appropriate to the size of the puncture.
Push the applicator through the puncture hole in your bike tire. This will require a little brute force. The needles of the plug repair kits tend to look quite robust, so you will need to flex those arm muscles. You need to push it in far enough so that at least half the plug remains inside the tire while the other half sticks out from the tire.
If you have difficulty pushing the applicator in, add a little more air to the tire as the extra pressure will help you to push the applicator through the rubber. However, take care not to push the needle in too far. You don’t want to lose the repair strip inside the tire.
Pull out the applicator
Once you have achieved the above step, you may proceed to pull the applicator out of the tire. Trim the ends of the plug before you re-inflate your tire.
Look out for the tire bead
Make sure the tire bead is in place. Sometimes, a puncture will result in the tire bead becoming unseated. If so, you will need to attend to this with your toolset as best you can as you inflate your tire.
Use a bicycle pump
Use a good quality, accurate bicycle pump to re-inflate the tire to the recommended pressure.
HOW LONG DOES A TIRE PLUG LAST, ANSWERED
We now know that a tire plug in a bicycle tire repair can last indefinitely. We also understand that for motorized vehicles, a professional must use a tire plug and a patch to form the necessary repair and meet the requirements of the law.
Have you used a tire plug on your bike? Perhaps you have some advice to offer? Why not leave a comment below as we would love to hear about your experiences.
Featured image by: Unsplash
Jonathan O’Ryan is what you might call a seasonal digital nomad. When he is not thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail or finetuning his custom UL camping gear in the middle of nowhere, he comfortably sits at his home desk – yes, he still has a physical address, we don’t know for how long though – sharing his insights on all things outdoors with Wilderness Today’s audience. We know life is an adventure, Jon, but we’d still like to have that urgent work email answered by noon.