How To Avoid Flat Tires on eBikes
Getting a flat tire is one of the biggest causes of pain in the cycling world. Since the beginning, people have been trying to find every solution to avoid getting flats. However, truth be told, there really is no guaranteed and full proof solution to avoid them. Flats are going to occur.
Electric bikes in general tend to get a lot more flats than a regular bicycle. This is due to the heavy weight that they have and the faster speeds that they travel. Additionally, most of the electric bikes in the market tend to have rear hub driven motors which situates the majority of the weight of the bike on the rear. This results with the rear wheel getting pushed down to the surface much more than the front. In turn, this will result in more frequent flats in the rear wheel.
The good news is there are many steps and options you can do to mitigate and lessen the chances of you encountering flat tires on your electric bike. We will discuss in this article the adjustments you can make as well as components you can add to help prevent them.
Increase Tire Pressure
One of the simplest things that we always recommend to people to help mitigate flats is to adjust the tire pressure. A lot of people like to run their tire pressure a little bit lower because it gives a comfortable and cushy ride. Because of the low pressure, the wheels can absorb the impact on uneven terrain, rough and rocky roads, and similar obstacles, and the rider won’t feel the impact as much. However, due to the lower tire pressure, it creates more surface of the wheel to come into contact with the ground and the tires become more susceptible to flats. Therefore, if you always go for a ride and want to minimize encountering flats, we recommend that you inflate the tires to their higher recommended pressure.
For example, our electric cruiser bike which use Schwalbe fat frank tires, has a recommended lower end tire pressure of 30 to 45psi. To make it more flat resistant, we recommend inflating it to a higher pressure of 50 psi or higher. If it is any less than 45 psi, it will give you a plush and comfortable ride, but as previously mentioned, you will get flats more frequently.
Issue with Fat Tires
Fat tire bikes are very popular all over the e-bike market. However, one of the things that is a little unfortunate about the fat tires is that the bigger the tire is, the lower the tire pressure will be. For example, Schwalbe has a maximum tire pressure of 65psi. But compared to skinny 700 road tires, which typically have around 80 to 120psi, fat tires are on the low side of pressure.
Another issue with low tire pressure on fat tires is what is called a pinch flat. Pinch flats only occur when your tire pressure is too low. When going over a hump, if the tire pressure is too low, the tire might flatten as it comes down and the metal rim itself will pinch in between the ground and the wheel tube. Because of the weight of the bike and wheel, the tube will tear like toilet paper. So, the second you hit that bump at too low tire pressure, you're going to get two lines in your tube and your tires are going to go flat.
We really must stress that you should always make sure that your tires have a high enough pressure. It is always advisable that you check it before going for a ride.
Use Tire Liners
Aside from the tire pressure, there are also some accessories you can get for your ebike to help mitigate flats. One of these is a tire liner. It is a thin piece of extruded plastic material that goes inside the tire and in between the tube. This basically creates an extra layer that a puncture would have to go through before it can penetrate the tube.
There are many styles of tire liners. There are really thin ones, like the Mr. Tuffy Tires Liner, that are inexpensive and widely available in the market. Then, there are also super heavy duty tire liners, like the Tannus Armour, that are big foam inserts which require a fair bit of work to install.
Obviously, the heavy-duty tire liners are much more protective than the thin ones. However, it will potentially give you a little bit of a rougher feel. In our shop, we've installed a lot of Tannus liners, and most of the time people usually have the same complaint about them. They don't get many flats, but the ride becomes very hard and harsh. Since the tire is filled inside with a hard material, it takes away the cushion that a normal air pressure would have afforded you.
Another important aspect about having heavy duty liners is that you should always stay on top of your tire pressure. Liners stay in position by using the pressure of the tube, which presses it against the tire to hold it in place. If the tire pressure drops, the tube wouldn't be pressing the liner against the tire as firm as it should be. When this happens, the tire liner can shimmy out of place, wrap around the tube, and then it can actually cause flats. The thing you bought to prevent flats can actually start to cause you flats if you're not being careful with them. So be sure to always check that you have adequate tire pressure.
Another thing you can add to help prevent flats is by using a tube sealant or tire slime. The sealant is injected inside the tire, and it will coat and plug up the holes. The most popular sealant you can find on the market is the Slime Tube Sealant. They also manufacture specific tubes that come prefilled with their sealant as well.
You can do all of the things we mentioned above, but at the end of the day, flats are still inevitable. But if you do follow our recommendations, you will be sure to prevent many flats from happening and continue to enjoy riding your ebike. If you do come across a flat on your rear tire (which can be a real pain in the rear) then check out our electric bike rear wheel removal page. Fixing a flat on the rear wheel of an ebike is a lot tougher than fixing one on the front tire, so we recommend ensuring it is done properly.