Take an extra tire on cycling trip?

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Anonymous's picture

I'm trying to travel light and have been told this is advised. Agree? Disagree?

Anonymous's picture
Christian Edstrom (not verified)

Hi Maggie,

I think it depends on where you're going. If you have newish tires, and have the know-how how to boot a tire if needed, and are traveling in the eastern US or western Europe, I think you can go without a spare tire. In the western US, where distances are greater, I might consider bringing a spare, especially if I was riding 23-622 or narrower tires. Of course, in the case of a total sidewall failure, one could always hitchhike...

That said, when Ivy and I toured the Dolomites and Alps, we carried a spare folding clincher. I strapped it to the outside of my Carradice bag. We didn't use it, of course. We didn't even suffer a puncture.

Oh, and a dollar bill makes a good emergency boot.

- Christian

Anonymous's picture
Gary Katz (not verified)
Booting a tire


I have some idea of what you mean by ""booting a tire"" because I have heard of and used the dollar bill trick; however could you elaborate on what the term means and describe some other techniques?



Anonymous's picture
Christian Edstrom (not verified)

Hi Gary,

Booting a tire is typically done when you've gotten a puncture that leaves a large (3-5mm or bigger) gash in the tire. This generally happens when you ride over steak knives or use Continentals (crummy sidewalls, at least on the GPs I had).

After replacing the tube on a puncture like this, you'll typically have one of two problems. If the gash is really really big, the tube will press hard against the gash, bubble out and blow. If the gash is smaller, you'll be able to ride away, but the rubbing of the tube against the edges of the gash in the tire will eventually (usually a few miles) puncture the tube again.

It's these two problems you're trying to solve with a boot. You do this by laying a thin, flexible, but strong membrane between the inside of the tire and the tube. It's helpful if this membrane is adhesive on one side (the tire side), so it stays in place, but that's not critical for an on-the-roadside repair. The best materials for booting tires (IMHO) are:

1. Park tire boots (about 80mm x 50mm, cut to size) are tough, adhesive and made for the purpose.

2. FedEx Tyvek envelopes. These are extremely tough and soft, so that they won't rub the tube the wrong way. If you use the adhesive flap, you've got adhesive too! Use the rest of the envelope to make a mitre and protect yourself from the sun.

3. Dollar bills. Not adhesive, but tough. Oh, one thing to be aware of is that riding many miles like this will slowly shred your dollar bill from the tire flexing. So don't use a hard currency like Euros or Canadian dollars, unless you can hedge the position.

- Christian

Edit: For grammar.

Anonymous's picture
fixed (not verified)

Power Bar wrappers, Cliff Bar wrappers, etc., work fine too.

Anonymous's picture
Christian Edstrom (not verified)

And Powerbars appear to contain a pretty strong adhesive. Good suggestion!

Anonymous's picture
Gary Katz (not verified)
Booting Tires

Thanks for the thorough and humorous explanation. There was also a mention of tire booting in a recent issue of roadbikerider.com's weekly e-mail. Unfortunately, I didn't save it, but they recommened using a strip of denim.

Happy New Year.


Anonymous's picture
David Regen (not verified)
Duct tape to the rescue!!!

"I've used duct tape on badly slashed tires. You have to go all the way around the tire, including the rim. Your bike will have that classic hillbilly look, and you'll have a ""thump, thump, thump"" until you get a new tire, but it will work. I wouldn't take corners too fast, though.

You don't have to take a whole roll of tape--just cut off a foot-long piece and wrap it carefully around something like a short pencil."

cycling trips