If you’re out there munching kilometers on your motorcycles there is bound to be a day where you’ll face a flat tyre. Tyre technology has improved over the years from different materials on the center to what’s there on the sides to radial tyres that we see on most bikes today that help in reducing weight and get better grip and handling. And these tyres are fixable by way of plugging them in case of a puncture. So how many times can you keep plugging your tyres and is it safe to do so and when is it time to replace that tyre. We answer these for you.
Modern bikes with spoked rims are also made to accommodate tubeless rims, the old fashioned tube is now losing its popularity and that just means that you don’t have to carry puncture patches, iron, tyre levers and all that added weight for tools to remove the tyre. That brings us to the fact that motorcyclists are plugging a puncture all the time as that is the way to go in case of an emergency. But do we know how many more times we can plug till it’s not safe and is there a proper repair process to this? And are you plugging your tyre so you can make it back home or this is a long time fix till the tyre is replaced?
So what do the manufacturers say? Bridgestone, Metzeller, Pirelli all agree that a combination of patch and plug applied from the inside of the tire is the only acceptable permanent repair, each group has its own requirements and restrictions. Here are a few areas they all agree on.
When it comes to plugging your tyres, manufacturers as well as tire plug makers all agree that the repairable area is at the crown of the tyre specifically the center 75% and you cannot plug a sidewall because it doesn’t have the structure to hold the plug, most tire manufacturers do not recommend repairing tears, slices, and oblong punctures.
-The British standard that exists for motorcycle tyre repairs also states that no repairs are allowed in the sidewalls (these flex continuously and a repair is likely to fail), Repairs can only be made in the centre of the tread area, to within 25% of each side of the centre line. Only two repairs per tyre are allowed up to the J speed rating, and one up to the V speed rating. Up to the J rating, repairs no bigger than 6mm are allowed, and up to the V rating only up to 3mm is allowed. Anything else and the BS says the tyre must be chucked.
-Bridgestone says for optimum tyre safety, only tyres that suffer a penetration in the tread area and meet the below criteria are repairable.
1. Puncture occurs from belt edge to belt edge on tread area
2. Angle of puncture penetration is within 45° from the vertical.
3. Puncture is no larger than 6mm
4. Tyre has not worn below 1.6mm of remaining tread depth.
5. Tyre has no visible sign of under inflation or run-flat damage.
6. Maximum of 3 repairs with a minimum of 150mm between repairs
7. Penetration occurring in side wall cannot be repaired
Beyond these basic guidelines opinions vary and we recommend to contact your local representative for the specifics considering the conditions the tyres are being ridden would be tested by your tyre manufacturer.
So what plugs are available in the market?
Commonly found are the rubber impregnated ropes, the stop and go mushroom plugs, and most recently the Victor speed plugs. What makes the SNG Tire Plugger a good temporary repair endorsed by manufacturers, namely Avon and Metzeler is the mushroom plug. The plug shaft expands under pressure to fill the puncture and the mushroom head of the plug seats on the inner wall allowing no air to escape. The Victor speed plugs is a patented product that is quicker than traditional tire string plugs. It’s as simple and fast as screwing it in and breaking the top off.
We know this blog was about flat tyres and how to fix them. Hopefully all the knowledge will come in handy the next time you’re on the road but before that we recommend how to use the plugs by practicing it on a spare tyre. To more miles !