DIY Tech: Tubeless Tire Plug Fix
Recently, in preparation for a day out on the Indian Bobber, I was sidelined by a flat tire. As soon as I opened the garage door, I saw the head of a screw sticking out of the rear tire; a deflating situation, literally and figuratively.
See, it’s crunch time here at American Iron Magazine and we’ve been working our fingers to the bone in order to bring you the latest and greatest in American motorcycling. No, really, this job’s almost as stressful as your local pubs’ beer-tasters, and that’s an occupation that brings stress levels to a foamy head. So, I was looking forward to a nice long ride on the bobbed scout, my go-to therapy when life kicks back.
Sadly, seeing a flattened rear tire only added to the shoulder-crushing weight of having to ride and review brand new motorcycles for a living. But, being a seasoned moto-journalist, I assessed the situation and asked myself, “What are the qualifications needed to become a professional beer-taster?” After that, I decided to plug the tire and share this moment of triumph over adversity with you, the AIM reader.
It’s good practice to always have a tire repair kit with you when riding. They’re usually small enough to stow under the seat or wherever you have a little room for storage. Most kits don’t come with pliers or a knife, so these items will need to be added.
Plugging a tire, as I’m showing here, is just a quick fix. It enables you to get off the road, to a shop or home. This isn’t a permanent fix; the tire will need to be replaced, or permanently repaired with a patch and plug, if you’re planning to keep it.
So, here we are with a flattened rear tire, a simple plug kit, and stress levels bordering on foamy. Time to take a deep breath, get some air in this tire, and get the bike safely back on the road.
1. Locate the source of the leak, in this case a screw.
2. Use the rule of thumb to make sure you can safely plug this tire. Anything on the side or within a thumb’s width of the tire’s edge cannot be plugged.
3. Set up the insertion tool by pulling a sticky rubber reinforced rope plug halfway through the end.
4. Set the preloaded insertion tool and reamer tool aside, but within reach of the rear tire. Make sure to keep the rope plug clean.
5. Remove the screw (source of the leak) using a set of plyers.
6. Quickly ream the puncture using the reamer tool. Don’t overdo this step; you want a tight seal.
7. Insert the rubber rope plug about halfway into the tire. This will require some force. Make sure the bike’s in gear and push. You want this to be a tight fit.
8. Pull out the insertion tool and the rope plug will remain in the tire by slipping through a small opening on the end of the tool.
9. Using a knife or razor, trim off any excess plug.
10. Using the CO2 cartridges, reflate the tire. This tire required two cartridges.
11. Test for leaks using the old spit method or anything that will produce bubbles.
12. If no bubbles appear, you’re ready to get back on the road. Remember, this is a temporary fix. The tire will need to be replaced or permanently repaired as soon as possible.
• Tire plug kit
• Knife or razor