Picking up a puncture is one of the most common reasons for a flat tyre on your motorbike. Punctures happen when a foreign object pierces the tyre, creating a gap for the air inside the tyre to pass through. Getting a puncture repaired is not as simple as it seems, as you need advanced tools such as a tyre machine or a grinder.
However, it’s worth knowing your options as there are a number of dos and don’ts when it comes to puncture repairs. You can only repair the centre of the tread area, to within 25% of each side of the centre line, meaning if you’ve picked up a puncture on the sidewall, you’ll be needing a new tyre.
The tyre’s speed rating and history of past repairs will also dictate whether or not you can fix the puncture. Any tyres with a speed rating up to J (62mph) can only have a repair up to a 6mm maximum size of the damage, and can be repaired no more than two times. Tyres with a speed rating between J to V (149mph) cannot be repaired more than once and only if it’s no bigger than 3mm.
Any tyres above a speed rating of V cannot be repaired.
How to carry out a tyre puncture repair
If you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere and pick up a puncture, it helps to have a temporary puncture repair kit under your seat. These can help you get home, or to a garage where you can replace the tyre, although using these kits usually renders the tyre unsuitable for repair. They will usually also have some speed restrictions, so make sure you read the instructions and stick to the guidelines.
If you get a puncture at home, you may want to take the wheel off yourself and take it to a garage for repair.
Start by placing your bike on its centre stand or, if your bike has bobbins, place it on a rear paddock stand. Once the bike is secure, start by removing your front wheel.
Loosen the pinch bolts located at the lower end of the fork leg and the caliper bolts which are also located on the fork leg. Typically, the pinch bolts are Allen keys while the caliper bolts require a rachet and socket. Sometimes calliper bolts can be Allen key or torques bits, depending on the manufacturer.
Once the calipers have been removed from the bike, remove the front wheel axle nut and push the spindle through. The front-wheel will now be free, remove the spacers and place in a tub with your bolts.
For the rear wheel, you just need to remove the rear spindle, the tyre will drop giving you access to remove the chain from the sprocket and to slide the rear brake disc out of the caliper.
How to repair the puncture
Repairing a puncture is a specialist job. It requires training and specialist tools, so this section is aimed at those suitably experienced to carry out such work.
Once your wheel has been removed from the motorbike, mark the puncture by circling where the tyre has been damaged, then deflate the tyre. To do this you need to unscrew the valve stem located in the tyre valve. This will remove the seal inside the valve deflating your tyre.
Once your tyre has been deflated, break the bead and remove the tyre from the wheel. Once your tyre is off the rim, position the puncture away from you, and with a drill and a 6mm drill bit, drill through the item that has punctured the tyre. This creates a hole for the ‘mushroom-shaped’ puncture repair patch to be placed through. Some puncture patches may be different sizes, depending on the tyre.
However, before you put the repair patch through, using a grinder you need to smoothen the inside of your tyre, so the patch can sit flush and create an airtight seal.
Once the inside of your tyre is smooth, put some liquid rubber over the ground part of the tyre, this will act as a ‘glue’ for the rubber puncture repair patch.
Place the rubber puncture patch with the metal end facing the outside of the tyre and pull through with pliers. Snip the excess rubber off the repair patch and use a roller to seal the patch against the tyre.
Once the repair patch is in place, leave for a few minutes to set before putting the tyre back on the rim and inflating it.
When the tyre is inflated, put some soapy water on the repair and check for any air leaks.
Balance the wheel and refit to the motorcycle. Once the wheel is on the bike, use your workshop manual to find the torque settings and go over all the bolts to make sure they’re torqued correctly.
If your wheel is tubed, it’s a little bit simpler. Yes, you have to mess about taking the wheel off and then lever the tyre off to get to the tube, but once you have it’s like fixing a puncture on your pushbike as a kid and we all know how to do that, right?
How can you reduce the risk of punctures?
Reducing the risk of punctures is nearly impossible. Picking up a puncture is generally just unlucky. Some riders swear on using ‘gunk’ that you pour inside the tyre and it seals the puncture as it happens, however, this ‘gunk’ can lead to serious damage to your tyre, the best advice is to get the tyre repaired or if repair is not acceptable in the circumstances, replace the tyre.
Breakdown recovery certainly won’t protect you from punctures, but it is something that can prove invaluable if the worst does happen. Punctures are one of those breakdowns from which you can rarely limp home from, so having the reassurance of a recovery service to take you home or to the nearest garage can be one of the best way to minimise the inconvenience suffered by flat tyres.