The TIRE PLUGGER! Tire Repair Kit
by Ridge Henderson
I was cruising along nicely about 20 miles east of Rugby, North Dakota when I felt a funny little wiggle out of the rear tire. Hmm… I gently backed off the throttle, eased over and rolled to a stop on the side of the road. Flat tire.
Well, that’s no good, but I was happy that it was no more exciting than that. Didn’t happen in a hot corner. Didn’t happen in a metro area in four lanes of cars with half of the drivers on the phone or otherwise partially-engaged in piloting their cars. Far from that, I was on the side of U.S. Highway 2, heading west across North Dakota in late August. A long way from dangerous curves or cell phone-talking, non-attention-paying metro automobile drivers but also a long way from help. With a flat tire. On the side of the road.
When touring, I like to give the tires a quick inspection in the morning. This is easy with a center stand; just give her a quick spin and eyeball the surface. Unfortunately, I skipped this check this particular morning.
Here’s the deal: Some piece of metallic detritus had taken up residence in my rear tire. When the tire shucked the piece of metal, it quickly and completely deflated. I was only partially equipped to deal with a flat. I was packing a tire plugger kit I’d received as a gift. It was actually branded The TIRE PLUGGER!, exclamation mark included. That, in my opinion, is good branding!
What I didn’t have was a method of re-inflation. I was certain I didn’t have room on the bike to pack a pump. “That’s stupid!” you say, but I had considered this very scenario. My thinking? I could plug the hole, then call a tow truck for some compressed air and be back in business. This would avoid the hassle of loading the bike and the cost of a tow. My ace-in-the-hole? I knew my buddy was packing a portable pump on his larger, monster touring machine so, not stupid. But still, I was on the side of the road and I could have inspected the tire in the morning. So, kinda stupid.
Stupid or not, we had the elements for self-rescue. A flat tire, after which I was still upright and unscathed. A tire plugging kit. A pump. Let the fixing begin.
Here’s a tip. If you buy one of these kits (and you should,) practice once on an old tire. It’s dead simple, but not intuitive. If you practice once, it will be a breeze on the side of the road. Which is exactly what my buddy had done. He guided me through the process. Simple. It took me two tries. If I had made a practice run at home, it would have only taken one. We inflated the tire and were back on the road.
Elapsed time: It was approximately 9:30am when I pulled over to the side of the road. By 12:00 noon we were 80 miles down the road in Minot with the bike on the lift at Valley Sport & Marine, getting new tires. Good as the plugs are, they are not meant to be a permanent fix, so you do need to replace the tire.
Cost. Well, the new tires were not inexpensive. You know that. This would have been a lot worse with an 80-mile tow to the nearest bike shop added in. So, the plug kit saved me both time and money. And now a plug for Valley Sport & Marine in Minot. The parts guy, an ex-wrench, put the new tires on for me. He didn’t have to. Not on a Saturday, not when he was working by himself answering the phone, taking care of parts sales and dispensing advice like all parts guys must. But, there were no wrenches on duty, so he did. Thanks.
There you go; one of those, fix-it-yourself, we-are-all-in-the-same-family moments. Isn’t riding fun?