Bike ownership always feels grand, you just ride your bike whenever you want without any kind of problems, right? Right?! Just like anything in this world, there are two sides to a story, bike ownership actually has a lot of perks and benefits but there are also some problems that come along with it. Flat bike tires are definitely one of the biggest frustrations you have to face as a bike owner, and it gets worse than that.
You can do the absolute best, maintain your bike every week and still your tires will go flat? Either they keep losing air or they have become sentient and have a life of their own. Well, we are sure that it is the former case, today we will be explaining why all of this keeps on happening.
Although all of this might seem a bit annoying, you need to know that these situations can be easily fixed. Your tires will go back to the way they were and you won’t have these problems again, for some time that is.
Why Do Bike Tires Lose Pressure?
If you are one of those people that have recently transitioned to bikes from cars then you need to know about some differences. Car tires and bike tires are not the same, they work differently and they also hold pressure differently. Bike tires are more porous in nature and they actually let the air escape naturally, there is nothing that you can do about that.
Bike tires hold and run high pressure which is also the reason they lose some of the pressure. The surface-to-volume ratio is actually bigger here so air escapes more quickly, in car tires it takes some time for the air to escape. What can you do about it? Well, you can’t eliminate the whole situation but you can limit the pressure loss. Whenever a bike tire is properly inflated, it will lose a burst of pressure and then slow down to a steady pulse. This whole scenario encourages you to check the pressure of your bike tires weekly, you can max it up to ten days but not more than that.
Another thing that you can do here is to check the bike tire pressure before heading out for a ride. Trust me, this is way better than finding out you have a flat tire or worse in the middle of the road. Bike tires are slimmer and sleek as compared to car tires, since they are not denser and firmer, the air is able to escape more quickly.
Are Flat Tires The Problem Here?
Whenever you get a flat tire, repairing it properly is very crucial. Sometimes people do an inadequate job while preparing flat tires and that has serious repercussions. If you don’t remove the debris, flint, glass, or whichever object behind a punctured tire then it will make the tires lose pressure even after repairs. Make sure that the object is actually removed before you install the replacement.
Let me tell you what I do in situations like these. I spend at least 10-15 minutes examining my bike tires before heading out. You don’t need a lot of time to examine and find the root of the problem, do that and it will save you from a lot of trouble in the future.
Why Are Bike Tires Not Holding Air? Check These Signs
Did everything you could but still your bike tires can’t hold pressure properly? There are some signs that you will need to check out. Bike tire pressure is a very difficult thing to understand though, sometimes you might lose so much pressure in one day that it will be felt very easily, on other days you won’t feel any kind of difference.
Examine The Tire Tread Properly
Tire treads need to be examined carefully, sometimes there could be thorns and debris stuck in them. Tread tires have varying levels of durability, some are going to be more durable than others but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be careful. Mostly, tire treads will have a very thin print, which makes them less resistant to scratches, thorns, and other harmful objects. We would advise you to be very careful when riding on these kinds of surfaces.
Examine The Tire Sidewalls
There is a good chance that the sidewalls of your tires are damaged by debris or any other object, this happens when your tires are completely worn out. You need to examine them properly and see if there are any cuts. While inspecting them you might also come across some bruises that are running over, this is an indication that you have been riding on along pothole-riddled roads or worse. Be on the lookout for this!
Check If The Tire Treads Are Worn Out Or Not
You need to be extra careful when checking the tire treads, to see if they are worn out or not. There is a good chance that they may need some patching or you might have to change them. Examine the tread with a spare wheel, this will save you from a lot of trouble.
Check Sealant Levels In The Case Of Tubeless Tires
Tubeless tires are great but even they can lose pressure and not go flat. Even if you have new tubeless tires and they are losing pressure then you need to check out their pressure levels. Prior to heading out for an adventure, make sure that your tubeless tires are properly inflated.
You should also check the tubeless tires for any bubbles or cracks between the layers, they are very dangerous as they could cause an explosion while riding on technical and rough terrain. If you find them, waste no time rectifying the whole situation.
Examine The Valve Properly
Tire valves could also be the reason why you are facing flat tires. Make sure to tighten all the valves before you head out, and pay extra attention to tubes, puncture-resistant inner cores, and rim wheels, they can lose air very easily. If you are going to ride in wet conditions then the valves on your bike components need to be extra tight, or they will cause a lot of discomfort.
Make Sure The Tires Have The Recommended Pressure Level
This goes without saying but you need to make sure that your bike tires have the recommended pressure level. This will make sure that they have optimal performance.
|Bike Type||PSI Range|
|Kid's Bikes||20-40 PSI|
|Road Bikes||80-131 PSI|
|Hybrid Bikes||50-70 PSI|
|Mountain Bikes||30 PSI (Off-Road)
50 PSI (On-Road)
What’s The Reason Behind The Frequent Flat Bike Tires?
Flat tires are problematic but why do they keep on happening? There are a lot of reasons for flat tires that you need to know. Here are some of the common reasons for getting a flat tire:
- Stuck Debris In Tires
- Inadequately Inflated Tires
- Worn Or Cracked Tires
- Problems With The Bike Wheel
- Very High Or Low Levels Of Pressure
- Defective Valve On Your Bike Tire
- Being Careless On The Road (Running Over Everything)
You really need to take care of your bike tires because they are the only contact point with the surface. Bike tires are responsible for a lot of things, such as comfort, grip, safety, efficiency, and also fun. Most bikes use clincher tires for day-to-day operations, these tires have an inner tube housed between the tire and metal rim, and they are then inflated with air. Inflating the clincher tires with the right PSI level is very necessary, refer to the graph that we have added above.
There is something very interesting that you need to know about bike tires, this is something that most people don’t know. Most bike tires are designed in a way that lets them resist rapid deflation but it is impossible for them to keep in all the air, this will not allow the user to ride comfortably or ride at all. These tires also have soft rubber compounds which makes riding fun and comfortable, if they are hard enough then they will simply take the joy out of riding. Did you know that before the advent of pneumatic bike tires, early bike designs were known as bone shakers? These bikes were constructed out of wooden wheels and iron tires, just imagine how they must have felt to ride.
Modern tires and surface debris are not a good combination though, riding on this kind of surface will make these tires deflate very quickly. No matter what you do, there are going to be small pieces of flint, metal, stone, and glass that will penetrate your tire’s defenses and harm them. It will take only 90 seconds for you to notice when they have penetrated and this will make you lose the bike’s control.
There isn’t much that you can do in situations like these, we would advise you to start patching up your tire as soon as you start feeling the change. Other than that, tubeless tires are a very good option though. Even if something strikes the tubeless tires, the liquid sealant inside the tires will close the gap as soon as possible.
When filling up the bike tires with air, make sure that they are not poorly inflated. Always remember the recommended PSI levels for different types of bikes, we have mentioned them in the graph above. If you are not careful, the inner tube of the clincher tire can easily be punctured.
No matter what kind of puncture there is, you must always fix them as soon as you can. If you delay the repairs then it could be too late for you and since replacements are not cheap, you need to take precautions.
Other Reasons Behind Tire Deflation
Getting a flat tire is depressing but getting a deflating bike tire without any kind of flat is worse. Here are the possible reasons your bike tire could lose pressure without going flat.
Be Aware of Pneumatic Bike Tires
Pneumatic Bike Tires have gained a lot of popularity over the last couple of years, they make the life of cyclists a lot easier. Some of the best bike tires are Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR, Schwalbe Pro One TLE, and more. You have to be very careful with their repairing process, one of the easiest methods is to inflate them directly with your bike pump.
Although you don’t need any kind of special tools or specific knowledge to operate a bike pump, you just have to be careful enough. If you can’t get yourself to use a bike pump then we advise you to seek the help of a professional.
Tubeless Bike Tires
Tubeless bike tires have made the life of cyclists very easy, you don’t have to worry about anything when it comes to them. Even if you are very careful, there is a chance that your tubeless bike tires could face a pressure loss. The best approach for this kind of problem is to remove any kind of old patches there are and fill them up with air. You could do this or you can just directly inflate your tube, both ways work.
Once you are done inflating the patch, place it very carefully over the hole before you reinstall it. This has to be done very carefully, you don’t want to repeat this problem over and over again.
Rim Deformation Is A Real Problem
You might not have heard about rim deformation but it is a real thing and it can really bug you out. Chances are the Rim Deformation is the real cause of why your tires are wearing out more quickly than before, they could even bulge out on the circumference if you are not careful enough.
Apart from rim deformation, faulty valves could also be the culprits. How can you know that you have a faulty valve? When your bike air leaks between the expansion and contraction cycles, this is an indicator of a faulty valve.
How can you solve these problems? Just make sure that there is always enough tread left appearing round and it should be without any sharp ridges.
Did you know that your tires could burp? Well, not the kind of burping that we humans do but a very distinct kind of burping. There are normally two types of burping that bike tires can do, one is when they lose air. In the second type of burping, tires release CO2-rich fluids, you will hear a “POP” kind of sound when this happens.
Fixing the burping issue is very easy, just place your bike tire in front of an open window. This will normalize the air movement and even fill up the pressure.
Damaged Valves Could Be The Problem
Another common reason for the tires going flat or deflated is because of damaged valves and this is something that you shouldn’t take lightly. You could be facing pinched Presta valve stems or pinch flatting- this is when you don’t inflate your bike tires properly.
Here’s how you can fix a leaky tire Presta Valve Stem:
Other Problems That You May Face With Bike Tires
You might have heard about all the bike tire-related problems, but have you really? We have explained why your bike tires could be having a pressure loss or why you might be getting flat tires but there are also some other alarming problems that you can face.
Here are some common bike tire problems that you can face:
Problem With Bike Tires (In A General Sense)
Sometimes you might feel like you have done everything for your bike tire but it is still having problems, what is the best approach at that time? Your bike tire could bulge or it might not even inflate properly. The best solution for this type of problem is to get a new bike tire entirely, don’t waste your time and money on useless repairs. You can also check out our guide on how to inflate a tubeless tire.
You need to get a new bike tire of the same model and inspect it properly before installing it, make sure that there are no leaks or cuts. Remember, tubeless tire will never go wrong.
Inner Tube Could Be Punctured
Your bike’s inner tube could be punctured because of any sharp object, you need to be on the lookout for nails or thorns. In order to fix this problem, you will need a bike pump with an inner tube patch kit. Bike tire levers are also very necessary.
The first thing that you need to do is remove the bike tire and find the puncture. You can use the kit if the puncture is small, if it is big then you will need to replace the whole inner tube.
There Could Be A Problem With The Wheel
If your wheel is having problems then this can cause your bike to shake and wobble which can be really dangerous if not rectified in due time. This could be because of the wheel bearing, axle, or spoked being damaged. You will need to replace them. If the problem persists even after the necessary repairs then you will have to take your bike to a professional mechanic.
Do Bikes Tires Go Flat In Cold Weather?
A bicycle tire can gradually lose air pressure when exposed to cold weather, this is the reality but is often overlooked. We know that cold temperatures are better at separating water vapor than hot temperatures. This allows the vapor to escape from the air, when this happens the vapor doesn’t condense into liquid form when entering a bike tube, which is later on compressed by the bike tire pressure.
A lot happens when we ride the bike if liquid water flows out, when this happens, the liquid water evaporates and forms droplets like a mist, it does this over exposed surfaces of the tire. When the temperatures start becoming cold, the air pressure drops as well which makes the tires go flat.
Tips and Tricks To Limit Bike Tire Pressure Loss
Bike tires lose air and there is nothing you can do to stop it, you can still limit the whole process though. You just need to regularly do bike tire maintenance and make use of the following tips and tricks.
Try Pumping Them Again
If your bicycle tires are losing air then you can try pumping them again, but inflate them properly this time. You can try dropping the pressure and pushing it back into shape, just to see what kind of effect it would have. If this is not solving your problems then maybe your inner tube has caught water or debris which is making the whole process very difficult.
Repair The Puncture Properly
You could face tube bursts or even a hole could develop on your tire, this is the time to go easy on the air pump rather than letting everything loose. Apply nominal pressure at first to repair the puncture, if you don’t, it may leak more air in the process.
If there is no progression then you will have to replace the damaged tire, sometimes you have to go for the hard approach.
Warm Up The Tire
Prior to going out for a ride, you can warm up the tire to 40 degrees (Celsius) or 180 degrees (Fahrenheit). This will automatically reduce the pressure that builds itself due to the wind. Now that your tires are warmed up, you will need to have them ready with 20 PSI, this is where you have to gradually raise the air back without opening the valve.
Some Additional Tips
Here are some additional tips that you should keep in mind.
- Pressure range will vary from one wheel size to the other as they come in different sizes.
- If you are carrying more cargo on the bike then it is better to increase the pressure.
- Lower tire pressures are great for comfort and grip while higher pressures promote speed.
- Modern road, gravel, mountain, and hybrid bikes have widened tire widths for comfort, which is why you should fill them up with higher pressure.
No matter if they are tubeless tires, rubber tires, or just your normal bike tires, they will lose bike pressure, it is how they are supposed to function. Sometimes the situation could go haywire and the tires could lose a lot of pressure in a very short period of time, there are plenty of reasons for that and we have explained them to you.
Your tires could lose pressure without causing a flat and sometimes immense damage could lead to a flat. You need to be ready for both scenarios and we have made sure that you are armed with the necessary knowledge. Bike tires stay inflated for a week to ten days max, if they start deflating before that then there could be an issue. If you can’t seem to fix the problem on your own then we suggest that you seek the help of a professional. Stay safe out there!