Outdoor Self Reliance is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

How to Avoid Pinch Flats (Plus Causes)

If you are an experienced rider, you know that one of the nightmares bikers experience regularly is the pinch flat problem. The pinch flat can be very annoying because it happens at the least expected time.

Pinch flats usually happen when you hit something that causes a sharp impact. The impact compresses your tire so much that the tube is pressed against it and the edges of the rim.

If you get a pinch flat, fixing the flat tire is the next thing to do before you resume riding. Here’s everything you need to know about pinch flats and how to avoid them.

What are Pinch Flats?

A pinch flat occurs when your bike tire hits a sharp edge hard enough to press the inner tube against your rim, piercing the tube and causing a deflated tire. A pinch flat is different from a puncture and is characterized by two small holes about half an inch apart.

The main cause of pinch flats is the under-inflation of a tire since the air pressure isn’t sufficient to shield the tire from collapsing.

What Causes Pinch Flats?

Glass

Glass is a beautiful, strong, and transparent material mainly used for artistic purposes. However, once it’s shattered into tiny pieces, the glass turns into some of the worst debris around. The shattered glass will occasionally find its way into the lane or find big patches of it in areas where there was an accident.

The best thing to do when you spot scattered glass on your path is to avoid it. Be keen while you ride and do whatever you can to avoid rolling through the scattered glass. If there’s no safe way around it, hop off the bike and carry it across the dangerous area. Riding over scattered glass can increase the chances of a flat.

Goatheads

If you’re an experienced rider, you must have encountered some wild goatheads on the road. Goatheads are tiny natural caltrops that wait for a chance to stick on your tires. These plants can’t be seen when speeding, so you need to avoid riding on the edges of the trail/path. If a goathead stabs your tire, leave it until you get home. Pull it out to check the hole it has made and let all of the air out of the tires.

Worn tires

One of the most common causes of flat tires is excessive wear. Worn-out tires have much less rubber protecting the tube. Weak sidewalls on old tires can bubble out, developing a weakness. Once your tires start aging, it’s time to have them replaced. It’s easier to change old tires for new ones than to keep swapping tubes daily, just to get more life out of the tire.

How to avoid pinch flats

Inflate Your Tire Correctly

A pinch flat is more likely to occur when your tires are under-inflated. Crossing a railroad track or hitting potholes on underinflated tires can cause pinch flats because of the crisp edge that will pinch the tube when hit.

Some bike tires are more prone to pinch flats than others. Although skinny road bike tires have high air pressure, there are more prone to getting pinch flats.

Choose the Right Bike

Although this seems simple, most people make grave mistakes when choosing the right bike for their riding styles. When looking for a bike, you should consider some factors; most importantly, avoid riding your road bike on mountain bike trails.

Road bikes aren’t made for rough surfaces, roots, rocks, etc. Instead, these bikes are designed to ride on smooth cement roads and can easily get a pinch flat when they hit a pothole too hard.

If you’re overweight, you need to invest in bigger tires that can comfortably support your weight without putting pressure on the tube and rims. A pinch flat doesn’t only happen when your tube folds, but when it folds, and there’s excess weight on it, then a pinch flat is inevitable.

Maintaining Your Speed

Ensure you maintain a speed that is smooth and will match your ability to control your bike. You don’t want to get out of control and land on a big rock, causing an instant pinch flat.

Switch to Tubeless Tires

How to Avoid Pinch Flats

Tubeless tires technology has gained popularity in the recent past and is accepted by bikers of all levels. This is because tubeless tires have a greater resistance to punctures. One of the benefits of these tires is that they don’t have a tube that could get a pinch flat. Additionally, tubeless tires have a sealant inside, which, in case of a small cut in the tire, will block the hole to prevent significant air loss.

Conclusion

If you’re a cycling enthusiast, you probably won’t avoid pinch flats forever. However, if you keep these tips in mind, you’ll not deal with several of them in your riding career. Finally, ensure you have a spare tube, but make it a goal never to use it.