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Thread: Tire Punctures - Car Tire versus Motorcycle Tire

  1. #1
    R1200RT Artiee's Avatar
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    Tire Punctures - Car Tire versus Motorcycle Tire

    Early this morning, as I headed home from a night shift, I was approximately 10-12 miles from home, when I noticed my lane changes and cornering were begining to feel a little mushy instead of the clean, crisp snap I normally feel during execution. Suspecting a possible tire problem, I checked both tires after pulling into the garage, but didn't immediately notice anything. As I had to be back to work tonight, I didn't spend much time looking but planned to check again after getting some sleep.

    When I woke up, I again checked my tires. This time, I noticed the rear tire was very low - 12 PSI. I re-pressurized the tire to 35 PSI and began running a soapy sponge over the tire. Almost immediately I found a small hole blowing bubbles in the soap suds. There was no time to work on a flat tire ( that will have to wait until Tuesday) so I headed to work in my car.

    As I was driving I got to thinking about previous motorcycle tire punctures I've suffered over the years, as compared to car tire punctures. I've had the motorcycle since the spring of 2006 and have put almost 80,000 miles on it. During that time, I've suffered approximately 6 or 7 tire punctures (one tire lasting only 20 miles ). During that same time period, I've suffered only one puncture to a car tire.

    As a basis for comparison, at my household, in addition to my motorcycle, there are three cars -- my wife's car, the car my high school age daughter uses, and the car I use when I can't use my motorcycle. That means at any give moment there are 12 car tires (not counting the spares) and two motorcycle tires -- a 6-to-1 ratio of car tires over motorcycle tires.

    From the spring of 2006 through today, the miles driven by cars (all three) is approximately equal to or great than the 80,000 miles I've put on the motorcycle. All other things being equal, statistically, the odds say I should have had more car tire punctures than motorcycle tire punctures. Now I know there are differences in the construction of motorcycle tires and car tires, but are those differences significant enough as to make a motorcycle tire more prone to a puncture versus a car tire?

    What are your views/opinions on this?


    (....or am I just unlucky when it comes to motorcycle tires? )

  2. #2
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    I find if I drive in the same part of the lane as the car tires are in I get fewer flats versus driving more in the center. I think more of the debris that ends up in the car tire section of the lane probably gets picked up by all the traffic and is spread out evenly.
    Only motorcycles are using the center of the lane and much less traffic to distribute the the debris.

    Just some of my random thoughts on flats.
    Anthony S.
    2012 R1200GS

  3. #3
    I agree. Debris tends to get knocked over to areas not directly in the normal car wheel tracks, or some car has already picked it up. Guys and gals who frequently pull onto the shoulder to talk, or look at a map, or whatever also seem to get more flats. I think that our tendency to switch wheel tracks from time to time may also contribute some to flats. That said, in her Million miles Voni has had flats, three in one two-week period in 1999, and in my 750,000 I have only had three or four flat tires.

    Urban areas are worse than rural areas. Suburban areas with lots of construction are worse yet. Drywall screws seem to fly everywhere. Don't ever go near a redevelopment project with lots of demolition and debris hauling going on, and worse yet, stay out of areas that had a hail storm with lots of residential re-roofing happening. Roofers haul open boxes of nails bouncing around in the backs of their trucks and seeping past the tailgates like flour out of a sifter.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://web.bigbend.net/~glaves/

  4. #4
    Mars needs women! 35634's Avatar
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    There was another thread commenting on how the rear tire usually goes flat, the collective reasoning being that the front tire stands the nail up, and the rear gets punctured. If that is true, and applying the same reasoning to cars & trucks, with the longer wheelbases the front tire may stand the nail up, but it has more space & time to lie down again or drift outside the wheel track before the rear tire hits it.

    I also seem to have more flats on the bike than than my cars, despite the cars having more and wider tires.
    1987 K75S
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  5. #5
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    An old school thought says that by adding a "mud flap" to the front fender you reduce the number of punctures in the rear tire.

    No impirical data, just remembering some stuff old Brit riders used to say.

  6. #6
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    The construction crash in NC now that funny money is gone from the system has kept junk out of my tires on all vehicles for several years now though I did recently put a plug in friends tire that had a nail in it- but the tread was nearly gone so it was an easy target. Bikes start off with a lot less tread depth than any car tire so are easier to puncture.

  7. #7
    Registered User Anyname's Avatar
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    I'd expect that the much thicker, harder and heavier construction of car tires protects them much better than thin, soft and light bike tires.
    BMW R bike rider, horizontally opposed to everything...

  8. #8
    Polarbear Polarbear's Avatar
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    Try this!

    I've had more on my bike than my 18 Wheeler rig! I avg. about 1 flat a year on three bikes. My last, GSA1200 got a brad nail in Bloomsburg at the rally grounds on depart day. I plugged it, made it home OK, 3400m.

  9. #9
    It's a way of life! oldnslow's Avatar
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    Automobile tires are generally steel belted (or sometime of puncture barrier), and the rubber on a new tire would be about 1 inch thick or thicker. I don't know of any steel belted motorcycle tires.

  10. #10
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    Back in the 70's and 80's I had a boat-load of flats. But, in the 90's more carpenters started to use nail guns, so there are a lot less nails on the road. But, there are still drywall screws and demolition.

    When I lived by a townhouse development, I had over a dozen flats one summer on my R100/7. I still keep enough tools and supplies to fix any flat.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by oldnslow View Post
    Automobile tires are generally steel belted (or sometime of puncture barrier), and the rubber on a new tire would be about 1 inch thick or thicker. I don't know of any steel belted motorcycle tires.
    Metzeler 880
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://web.bigbend.net/~glaves/

  12. #12
    Rally Rat
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    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by PGlaves View Post
    Metzeler 880
    Not to mention the Metzeler Z6, the Bridgestone BT020, Avon Viper VP2 and others.

    Steel-belted motorcycle radials not uncommon.

    PS: And 'Thank You' Paul for calling them Metzelers - not "Metz-lers." It's a three-syllable word that according to Bernie, my German-teacher neighbor, if you pronounce it Metzler over in Europe, they look at you like you never made it past fourth grade!!!

  13. #13
    Back in the Saddle mcmxcivrs's Avatar
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    I'm keeping in solid contact with my wooden desk as I write this so as not to curse my future tires, but I've not had a motorcycle tire punture, leak, failure or anything of the sort in over 25 years. In all my years of riding, I've only suffered a single flat on a motrocycle. In the same time I've had at least three puntures with cars. And just to be sure all things are equal, my car mileage vs my motorcycle mileage is about 2:1 in favour of the cars, which still leaves the motorcyles as far better in tire puncture department in my experience.
    Ed Miller, Calgary, AB
    2008 K1200GT, 2019 F850GSA

  14. #14
    Just to add some more mystery. I've been riding a Guzzi for 33 years and never had a puncture (I'm knocking on wood as I write this). My '06 RT has had 3 or 4, can't remember exactly. The goose has spoked wheels with tubes. Could it be that tube tires have some more puncture resistance??

  15. #15
    God? What god? roborider's Avatar
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    Never had a flat on my RT in 60k miles, but have had 3 on my car in about the same time.
    Rob C. , Raleigh, NC
    '10 R12RT, R90/6
    2007 CBR600RR & 09 V-Star
    Suzuki DR 350

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