Can you plug a motorcycle tire? This is a question that can spark a lengthy debate. Of course, we’ve all been there before. If you ride a lot, or if you spend a lot of time on the road, getting a flat tire is inevitable. It’s like a rite of passage.
This is the reason why car owners and motorcycle riders should know the proper way to deal with a flat tire. Punctures and tire mishaps can happen to anyone at any time, so you always need to be ready.
But does this mean that you need to buy a tire repair kit, specifically tire plugs? We know very well that they work brilliantly on vehicle tires, but how about motorcycle tires? Can you actually plug a motorcycle tire without compromising the safety and integrity of your tires?
We’ve got the answers for you right here.
Read more: Tips and guide for motorcyclist
My tire is flat, can I use a plug to repair a motorcycle tire?
The quick answer is yes, you can plug a motorcycle tire but only in an emergency situation. However, not all punctures can be repaired using a tire plug, and there are certain areas of the tire that cannot be permanently repaired with a tire plug without compromising safety and tire performance.
The answer will also depend on the type of tire that you are using. If you have tubeless tires with a steel belt ply (which is the standard tire used on sport bikes or superbikes), you can safely use a tire plug to seal the puncture so you can ride to the nearest tire shop to replace the tire.
Other people consider tire plugs to be a permanent fix, but this should not be the case.
In fact, if you used a tire plug on your steel-belted tire, you should ride slowly and replace the tire immediately.
What’s the reason behind this? The steel belt ply under the thread of the tire might fray near the puncture, specifically near the exact location of the tire plug. This can cause additional damage to the tire, which can possibly lead to more punctures and even tire failure.
But if you have a dirt bike or adventure bike, you can consider tire plugs to be a permanent fix since off-road bikes are usually fitted with tubeless off-road tires with a pliable canvas ply under the thread.
Unlike tires with steel belts, off-road tires can be plugged to seal a puncture without any danger of tire damage, but this doesn’t mean that your tire is good as new.
When it comes to riding motorcycles, safety should be your utmost concern. Your tires are the only parts of your bike that connects you to the road. You don’t want to deal with a blown tire while traveling at 80 mph, right?
Do tire manufacturers recommend tire plugs to repair a flat?
Not exactly. Continental, Michelin, Pirelli, and Shinko all agree on one thing: if you get a puncture, don’t even bother plugging the tire. Have the tire replaced immediately.
But other brands like Avon, Dunlop, Metzeler, and Bridgestone all agree that punctures should be repaired by a plug and/or patch from the inside of the tire. This is the only acceptable form of repair.
What they’re really saying is that tire plugs should only be used in an emergency situation, so you don’t end up getting stranded on the side of the road. This gives you enough time to ride safely to your favorite tire dealer so you can replace the plugged tire with a new one.
Can all punctures be repaired by a tire plug?
The glaring answer is no. Not all punctures can be repaired using a tire plug. Here are some of the basic guidelines to remember before you even think about plugging that flat tire on your motorcycle:
1. You can only plug the tire if the puncture is located on the crown or center of the tire. Any puncture that is not within the belt package should not be plugged.
2. You cannot plug a tire if the puncture is located on the sidewall.
3. There should be at least 1/32 inches (0.8mm) of tread remaining on the tire. It is foolish and irresponsible to use a tire plug on bald or balding tires.
4. Huge tears and oblong-shaped punctures cannot be repaired permanently with either a tire plug or patch. You should replace the tire at once.
5. It is not advisable to repair a tire with a V-speed rating (up to 149 mph).
6. If you repaired a tire using either a patch or plug, the speed rating of the tire is forfeited, and your speed should be limited to only 80 mph until you replace the tire.
7. It is always best to have the tire inspected by a professional after plugging or patching the tire. This will prevent internal tire damage or loss of tire pressure.
Can I use an inner tube as a quick fix on a punctured tubeless motorcycle tire?
Bridgestone and Metzeler prohibit the use of inner tubes on tubeless tires, but you can use inner tubes as a quick fix for emergency tire repairs.
But then again, this is only for a quick fix so you can ride safely and ask for assistance. Other than that, you should never consider this as a permanent fix.
What should I do if my motorcycle gets a flat tire?
If your bike is safely parked and you discovered that one of the tires is flat, it is best to call a tow truck. Of course, you can use a tire plug to repair the puncture, but you will have to inflate the tire with air and ride to the service station so you can have the tire inspected or replaced.
However, if you were riding your bike and you get a flat tire, you should slow down and steer your bike on the side of the road immediately.
If the rear tire is losing pressure, you will notice that the rear end will wiggle from side to side, and you will feel the sensation that your bike is losing power.
If the front tire is flat, your bike will be a bit more difficult to steer and balance. Do not abruptly apply the brakes! Use engine braking as much as possible, so you can safely steer your motorcycle on the side of the road.
You should immediately inspect the flat tire so you can determine the cause of the puncture. If you find a nail in your tubeless tire, DO NOT PULL IT OUT unless you’re ready to plug the tire. Pulling it out will only cause your tire to lose more air pressure.
But if you have a tube-type tire, you should pull out the nail immediately to prevent further damage to the inner tube.
We can’t stress this enough: if the puncture is located on the sidewall of the tire, you should forget the idea of getting the tire repaired regardless if you are using tubeless or tube-type tires. You need to get a new tire.
How can I prevent a flat tire on my motorcycle?
The sad reality is that there is no single best way to prevent a flat tire on your bike. But there are a few things you can keep in mind so you can somehow prevent tire punctures and prolong the life of your precious tires.
- Always check the tire pressure. Make sure that your tires are properly inflated to the specified tire pressure. Avoid over inflating or under inflated tires.
- Avoid driving over potholes, cracks, and road debris. This will prevent tire blowouts, tire damage, and even rim damage.
- Do not ride on bald or balding tires. Bald tires are dangerous, and you don’t want to gamble your life on bald motorcycle tires.
- Off road tires are not indestructible. Avoid driving over sharp rocks or extremely rutted surfaces.
- Do not use soap or harsh detergents when cleaning your tires.
- If you notice a sudden drop in air pressure, have the tire inspected by a professional to determine the cause of the leak.
Tire plugs can only be used in emergency situations. The best way to fix a tire puncture is to have the tire removed from the rim so it can be plugged or patched from the inside. This is the best way to repair a flat tire.
Yes, you can plug a flat motorcycle tire, but this should never be considered a permanent fix. After using a tire plug to fix a flat, you should drive your bike slowly and have the tire replaced as soon as possible.
If your tire is severely damaged or if you have a large puncture, you should skip the repair process and buy a new tire instead. Remember, it is better to spend money on new tires rather than spending your hard earned cash on medical bills.
Last update on 2017-04-28 PST - Details