Saturday, July 14, 2012

Just in case

The other day I was reading a post by Biggo and in his write-up of a local ride he described how one of the riders suffered a puncture and that they fixed it on the road and managed to get home safely.  They had to borrow a compressor and in a comment I mentioned that I carry a compressor with me now.  Biggo in return asked me what sort of compressor it was and now that Geoff has posted about his puncture preparedness I thought that I better add my two cents.

First up, it appears that I carry the same kit as Geoff previously has and I can vouch for it's effectiveness.

Disgustingly blurry pic of my Genuine Innovations kit
Kit contents - one rope missing...
On a long weekend away a few years ago my tyres were subjected to a bit of abuse in very hot temperatures (high 30's) and wore a lot quicker than I had expected.  Before leaving I was sure that they would last the distance - unfortunately I was wrong.  Riding out a gravel driveway in Hicks Bay, a small stone managed to puncture my rear tyre.

Quick as a flash, with some guidance from others (we'd already fixed one puncture the night before) we found the leak and had it plugged.  Some kind locals then loaned us an ageing compressor which soon had me back up to pressure for the 500km ride home.

In Geoff's post he questions the effectiveness of the stick ropes to maintain pressure but if you insert them properly then I believe they are amazingly good.  Firstly you thread the rope throw the awl and poke it through the hole and a reasonable way in.  Then you give the awl a twist and remove it before cutting off any excess rope and re-inflating the tyre.  Both bikes that suffered punctures on this trip were loaded up (one had a pillion as well) and made it home with no issues in very hot conditions.  My tyre lost no pressure but obviously came off the bike at the first opportunity.

The plug after 500 hard kilometres
Now to the one thing that I don't like about the kits (although it is a small criticism), the CO2 canisters.  These will never inflate you to the required pressure but on the plus side, might give you enough pressure to ride to a compressor.  I've solved this by now carrying a compressor.

Initially I was going to do what Geoff has done - buy a cheap compressor and break it down to the smallest possible size I could be removing any case or excess bits and bobs.  But when I visited Supercheap the compressor I ended up with was on sale and offered a few other handy features.

The handy features start with a built-in pressure gauge and the ability to dial up what pressure you require and the compressor does the rest - too easy.  The other neat feature is the built-in light - this might come in handy if I'm every unlucky enough to get a puncture in the middle of the night...

I've left the 12v plug on the compressor as both my bikes have sockets and they're far easier to use than fumbling around for the battery (the Connie's battery is well tucked away).  And so far I've been lucky enough to not require the compressor to fix a puncture but it has been used a number of times to top up various bikes' tyres.

The compressor is probably quite a bit bigger than Geoff's one but as I'm now getting a bit more off the beaten track with the DL I'm starting to build-up a bit of an emergency tool kit so now have a tool bag that can easily be swapped between top boxes.  The compressor, repair kit and a number of tools fit easily in it.

So, I hoped I'm prepared for the unplanned mishap but really would prefer to lug this all over the countryside and never need to use it!


  1. That's an impressive repair on a totally munted tyre Andrew :-)

    Hey, I like your compressor mate, very tidy! Is the gauge accurate? The one on mine reads 10 psi high compared with my digital gauge which I've had checked.

    1. It's not too bad Geoff - I think it reads a little low compared to the TPS on the Connie. I tend to trust the TPS and don't normally carry a tyre pressure gauge (I should for the DL though). It's definitely good enough to get you close if you've got a flatty.

      I usually check my pressures at home where my home compressor's gauge is pretty good. I don't really trust service station gauges...

  2. Hi Andrew

    Thanks for the info. Looks like the weather is going to be poor tomorrow so a trip down to super cheap on the cards :-)

    1. Onya Biggo! I got mine a while ago so don't know if they still have them. Geoff's solution is neat if you haven't got much room though.

      I reckon a cheapie is the way to go - they can get knocked around in your luggage and in my opinion if they work just that one time you need them then they've been worth it.

  3. Always best to be prepared than being stuck out in the middle of nowhere.

  4. I think having the repair kit with you is like having full insurance coverage. You don't know if you'll ever need it, but if for some reason you do, you'll be glad you have it.

  5. I carry a small slime compressor with me..its very handy like today I ended up off the pavement in an area with some sketchy roadish conditions, ruts, large rocks, STEEP descents. So, I get out my handy little pencil gauge and proceed to drop the tire pressure to about 20psi...this lets the tire absorb more bumps and increase surface area and traction. After sixty or so miles I returned to asphalt, inflated the tires to their normal psi..and continued home..

  6. We actually had a flat tire last year on one of the Vespas and where glad we carried a tire plug kit. One never know.

  7. Andrew:

    I carry two types of plugs; worms & mushroom. I have a mushroom tool and the one you have. I also carry a compressor in the underseat compartment of the "strom.

    I also have ride-on tire sealant installed in my tires:

    If I ever get a flat I just hope someone comes along that will know how to use all this stuff

    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

  8. Anonymous4:27 pm

    I'm going on an extended roadtrip next month and have a similar tire repair kit, minus the CO2 setup. Instead I have a Slime 12v compressor that runs off the bike's battery. Glad to hear that you got satisfactory results from the tire plugs.

  9. Wow, Useful tips especially for lone bike riders. Always be prepared, ryt.