FIX-IT: Avoid & fix flat tires; Products and tips
No matter if you are in the middle of race or on a long trail ride, a flat tire is a hassle. In racing, a flat could be the difference between winning and losing, while on a trail ride, they could cause you to be stranded.
One of the most common breakdowns your ATV can have is a flat tire. No matter if you suffer a flat deep in the woods, on the racetrack or in the back of your pickup, they are a pain. However, flat tires can be avoided or at least fixed, without too much trouble, if you have the proper tools. We have gathered up several products and put together some tips to help you prevent or fix that next flat tire.
In a perfect world, tires would be so strong they would never go flat. To make this happen a tire would have to be so stiff and heavy that comfort and traction would be compromised. So for now, flat tires are a fact of life. On the positive side, there are many products that will either help prevent flat tires or keep you from slowing down if you do get a puncture.
The latest product to help you keep on riding with a puncture is Tire Johnys. These are large foam inserts that fill most of the tire’s air space. With the tire dismounted from the wheel, the Tire Johnys are easy to install and will outlast several sets of tires. A set of four Tire Johnys retails for $400–$500 and are available for sport quads, 4x4s and UTVs. Contact Tire Johnys at (661) 513-9935.
Here’s a brief step-by-step procedure on how to plug a tire. Locate any foreign objects that may be causing your tire to lose its air pressure.
If possible, air the tire up to about ten psi, then spray plain or soapy water on the foreign object. If air is passing by it, the water will bubble, notifying you of the leak.
Pull out the object in question. If need be, you can push the object into the tire and clear the hole.
Insert the rough reamer to clean the hole of all debris and heat up the rubber.
Insert a clean rope style plug into the insertion tool.
Force the rope into the puncture. This will take some effort. If it slides in easy, your hole may be too large for just one rope. Add a second rope if one doesn’t stop the leak.
Trim the rope to just under knobby height.
Finally, air up your tire to the proper pressure. You can spray water on the installed plug to make sure the leak has stopped.
Tire Balls are the original flat prevention device for ATV’s. The product consists of many small oval shaped, tough rubber balls that get placed inside your tire during the mounting process. Like the Tire Johnys, this product allows you to keep riding at nearly full speed even with a large hole and no air pressure in your tire.
Tire Balls weigh slightly more than a Tire Johny and are much harder to install. They will outlast several sets of tires and the individual balls can be replaced if they are punctured. Tire Balls retail for around $170–$200 per tire and are available for most sport quads, 4x4s and UTV tire sizes. Contact Tire Balls at (877) Tire-Ball.
To actually prevent small flat tires, there are several liquid sealants offered. Companies like Slime, Quad Boss and High Lifter use blends of rubber, fibers and glue to seal small punctures as they happen, from the inside.
This liquid is placed inside the tire before it’s filled with air, then coats the under side of the tread as the wheels rotate.
Each company claims their product will seal up a puncture their up to a 1/2-inch object and that their product is better than the others.
High Lifter and Quad Boss put their label on another company’s sealant and Slime has been manufacturing and perfecting their own product for 20 years. We have used all three of the sealants and they work equally as well.
These sealants cost between $30 (Slime) to $50 (QuadBoss) per gallon and a typical ATV tire requires 24 to 32-ounces. Contact Slime at (888) 45SLIME, High Lifter at (318) 524-2270 and you can find Quad Boss products at your local Tucker Rocky parts dealer.
Just about any ride we go on somebody gets a flat tire. Wether it’s caused by lack of experience, poor quality tires or from a Rattlesnake bite in mid ride, a flat should not end your day.
Having the proper tools stowed away in your quad’s storage box will not only keep you out of deep trouble, it could make you hero to others on the trail
When we go out on test rides, we never leave home without a tire repair kit, from either Slime, Kolpin or Genuine Innovations. These repair kits include rope style plugs that can be used to plug most small holes by inserting the gooey rope into the puncture and then re-inflating the tire. We have plugged up very large slices (even sidewall tears) with multiple ropes stacked on top of each other and caked with rubber cement. At the very least you can turn a big puncture into a slow leak just to get you home.
For larger quads with bigger tires, we take along the Smart Spair kit from Slime and a couple of rope plugs. Their kit has a small 12-Volt compressor and a small bottle of Slime. The complete kit comes in a compact case that will fit in any on board storage box and sells for $40.
For sport quads with smaller tires and less on-board storage, Genuine Innovations has a variety of tire repair kits that contain rope style plugs, tools and a compact CO2 inflation device. We like their CO2 inflator that doubles as a hand pump, for those instances when you need even more air. Genuine Innovations repair kits range from $29-$53. Contact them at (800) 340-1050 or www.genuineinnovations.com.
Another choice for trailside repairs is using the Kolpin Flat Pack. This unique product is basically two pieces of PVC pipe that can be used as a hand pump. In the center of the pipe you will find the inflation hose, a handful of rope style tire plugs and insertion tools. The self-contained units can be placed in a large storage box, strapped to the cargo racks, tied to a bumper or carried in a backpack. The Kolpin Flat Pack sells for $40. Get one by calling Kolpin Powersports at (877) 956-5746.
Usually a large sidewall tear will spell the end of the road for an ATV tire. When we suffered a large sidewall tear on our 22×11-9 Honda 700XX rear tire, there were no replacement tires available, so we had to explore other options.
Our local tire shop, Tire X Press, turned us on to a thick sidewall patch “boot” that is strong and flexible enough to repair large sidewall punctures.
Along with an inner tube, we were back out on the trails. We installed an inner tube as a backup in case the patch didn’t hold. Since the hole was so large (one inch in length) an inner tube alone would not work because it would work its way out of the hole and pop.
After 100 miles, the patch is holding up great. Our suggestion is to ask your local shop to perform a fix like this before you give up on a sidewall puncture.
Another tip we received from Slime was a reminder to not overlook your trailer tires. If you use a trailer to haul your ATV’s, a flat (or two) on your way to the next ride would not be fun. A quart of Slime installed in your trailer tires just might save the day without you even knowing about it.
The Power Spair from Slime is an all-purpose repair kit. It consists of a bottle of Slime, enough ropes for a lifetime of punctures and all the tools to get you going again. We keep a Power Spair in all of our trucks and even carry it with us on large group rides or tests.
To conclude this article, we wanted to highlight a few of products we use in our own shop when it comes to servicing tires. The Air Stand is basically a motorcycle stand with a small air tank welded in to the center. This way, you can always have a little shot of air close to you when working on your quad, at home, or at the track. The Air Stand retails for $160. Contact Trick Tank at (704) 717-5230 or www.tricktank.com.
Slime offers a deluxe kit called the Power Spair that can be kept in your truck, trailer or at home. The kit retails for $80 and contains a heavy duty 12 volt tire inflator, 16 feet of coiled hose, 30 rope plugs, a tire gauge, caps, valve stems, stem remover and a 24-once bottle of Slime, all in a carrying case.
Finally, you can check the pressure of your ATV tires with the small plastic tire gauge that comes with your ATV or a high dollar unit like this one from Motion Pro. The Motion Pro low Pressure gauge features a liquid-filled 2.5-inch dial readout, air release valve, swiveling, thick braided airline and a strong rubber coating for added durability. The gauge reads pressures from 0-psi up to 15 psi and retails for $90. Gauges in 0PSI-30 or 60 psi are also available. Contact Motion Pro at www.motionpro.com
Regardless, to get an accurate reading, you should use a low pressure gauge and always inflate your tires to the recommended specs molded on the tire or printed on the ATV’s bodywork.
Most ATVs use between 4-8 psi, depending on the application. Slightly higher pressures may help reduce flats, and cause your quad to slide more. Slightly lower pressures will give you more traction but increase your risks of a sidewall puncture or the bead breaking loose from the rim. Now ride on.
Tire Johnys–(661) 513-9935 www.tirejohnys.com
Tire Balls–(877) TIRE-BALL www.tireballs.com
Slime–(888) 45SLIME www.slime.com
High Lifter–(318) 524-2270 www.highlifter.com
Quad Boss www.quadboss.com
Genuine innovations–(800) 340-1050 www.genuineinnovations.com
Motion Pro–(650) 594-9600 www.motionpro.com
Trick Tank–(704 )717-5230 www.tricktank.com
Kolpin–877) 956-5746 www.kolpinpowersports.com