No-one wants a puncture – it can totally ruin your day.
If you’re off touring abroad and you don’t have a puncture repair kit, not only will it ruin your day but it can turn into a logistical nightmare too.
Fortunately for most of us who go touring, we’re not heading to remote locations like the chap pictured above. If you are, then a puncture repair kit should be at the top of your packing list.
Whether you’re in the wilderness or on the M3, a puncture can be safely repaired in under half-an-hour if you know what you’re doing, so it makes sense to carry a kit rather than chance your arm.
There are plenty of options when it comes to puncture repair. In this guide we’ve picked two great kits to keep you on the move. We’ve also highlighted a couple of good options for bikers on a budget, plus we discuss other areas that you might not have thought about when it comes to stopping a puncture from ruining your day.
This Gear Gremlin kit comes with everything you need to fix a puncture on either the front or rear tyre of your motorcycle. You remove the offending object, clean out the hole, then insert the bung with a bit of glue, pull it back through and then clip off the ends. The gas cartridges enable you to pump up the tyre and you’re good to go. A great item for your underseat storage.
If space is at a premium or you are keeping weight to a minimum the Dyaplug system is a great choice. It works for all tubeless tyres – both cars and motorbikes. No need to ream (widen) the puncture hole, just remove the offending object, insert the plug then pull it back tight and cut-off the excess material. The only thing you’ll need is a way to inflate the tyre. Either a compact pump or a gas canister kit.
There is a British Standard for motorcycle tyre repairs, it is BSAU159. As it is a British Standard it is a recommendation and not a law.
The recommendation states that you should not repair a puncture to a tyre’s sidewall and that any repairs on the tyre should be to punctures that are within the central 50% of the tyre.
Any repairs should be inspected by a professional, who would remove the tyre in order to inspect the internal surfaces to check for any signs of damage.
The maximum number of repairs and size of the hole are dictated by the British Standard too.
Speed symbol up to J: Max 6mm and 2 repairs
Above J up to and including V: Max 3mm and 1 repair
Above V: Non-repairable
If in doubt, always contact a professional tyre-fitter.
If you’re comfortable with repairing your tyre and you’ve got the means to inflate it, then this motorcycle puncture repair kit from Slime is all you need. At under £8, it’s a no-brainer. You’ll obviously need something like a handy multi-tool to clip off the ends of the repair bung once it’s in place.
Or you could opt to use Slime tyre sealant, which you pump into the tyre, then inflate it, carry on a few miles at a low speed to spread the Slime around the inside of the tyre, where it will seal the existing puncture and coat the rest of the tyre so that any new punctures will be sealed. Slime is billed as a temporary ‘get-you-home’ repair but many bikers use it for the life of their tyre.
There are various types of motorcycle puncture repair kits but the most common type is the plug and glue kit. A quality kit will have everything you need to get you going again but keep in mind that most canisters will get enough air in a tyre to make it safe but you'll have to top it up, either with a hand pump at the roadside, using a petrol station machine or sort it when you get back home.
There are many schools of thought when it comes to repairing a puncture or preparing your motorcycle tyre against this scenario.
Some riders put tyre slime in their tyres before a puncture. The idea of this is that the slime will -self-seal’ a tyre should an object penetrate the carcass and it does work.
Others will only use a tyre plug as a ‘get-out-of-jail’ card and replace the tyre as the earliest opportunity.
It’s worth noting that most slime kits aren’t legal for tyres of higher speed ratings, so if you have a V or Z rated tyre, double check.
There’s also a third choice; tyre foam also known as tyre weld. This really is a ‘get-you-home’ solution.
The foam is applied from a pressurised bottle and it has two uses – the foam looks to plug any puncture hole while the gas and expansion of the foam inflates the tyre.
The reality is that foam won’t plug anything other than a very small puncture (think a box nail or smaller) and it doesn’t have the strength to keep a tyre inflated. If you have managed to creep to a petrol station and all they have is foam, then it’s useful if it gets you to a garage who can replace the tyre. Think of it as something which slows the puncture down rather than fixes it.
Slime and Foam are both relatively large items to carry, so if space is at a premium, you could also use slime as a layer of protection before your trip and then carry a repair kit should you need it.
Some road and all off-road motorcycles have tubed tyres. Spoked wheels are much better than cast wheels at dealing with rough terrain but due to the spoke’s inability to keep a reliable air-tight seal, inner tubes are used.
You can’t use a plug or bung method when it comes to fixing a puncture on an inner tube, you’ll need to remove the wheel, take the tyre off the rim and repair the puncture, just like you would do on a bicycle.
My first tip for anyone with tubed motorcycle tyres is: take a spare tube with you. It’ll save a lot of messing around with a repair kit.
But a repair kit is a handy thing to have, especially if you’re doing a lot of miles.
This inner tube repair kit is the type you’re looking for. You’ll also need at least two but probably 3 quality tyre levers like these ones or these ones and at least two but probably 3 rim protectors. Of course, if you’re probably adventuring, you could get away with a set of slat-head screwdrivers if you know what you’re doing (read, ex-motorcycle tyre fitter) but if not, at least one tyre lever and one rim guard will help you out. You can then use a screwdriver or whatever comes to hand to take the place of the tyre spoon as you work your way around the rim.
These kits are essentially the same as a bicycle inner tube repair kit, except they don’t come with the plastic tyre levers and the patched are usually quite a bit larger.
If you have tubeless tyres in your bike, first and foremost, take a spare inner tube. A tubeless repair kit is your second option. You'll need the means to remove your wheels and tyres to fix or fit the inner tube. Slime or a plug won't work.
The tyre plugs in your kit will only last a few years. To check if they're still good, peel one off its backing strip. If it starts to fall apart you need to replace them.
You'll need a blade to trim the plug once fitted - not all kits come with one.
If you have a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System on your bike, check that any tyre slime you use is safe to use with this system.
If your bike starts to feel hard to steer, that's more likely than not the sign of a puncture. Best to pull over a check your pressures.
We’ve covered the kits that will help you deal with a puncture but there are a few other accessories you can use to help you spot a puncture and better deal with one.
Real-Time Tyre Pressure Monitoring
If your bike doesn’t have a fancy TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System) and you’re not that good at keeping on top of your motorcycle’s tyre pressures, these Tyre Pressure Alert valve caps are a great addition. You buy the valve caps that are calibrated to the minimum pressures for your motorcycle’s tyres and if the pressure is too low, you’ll see yellow indicator or a red indicator depending on how little pressure is in the tyre. Great for those of us who aren’t as good as we should be when it comes to checking pressures.
Easy Access To Your Valves
One of the things that might be stopping you checking your tyre pressure as often as you should is the fact that on most bikes, getting access to your valves is a bit of a faff. Especially on the front wheel where you have to battle with the tight gap between the wheel rim and the brake discs.
Enter the 90-degree tyre valve which you fit on your rim when you next change your tyre, meaning you have much easier access to your valve and thus you’ll probably check your tyre pressures more often.
This is a permanent valve and shouldn’t be confused with the majority of these 90-degree valves which are designed to be screwed on to your existing valve in order to make access easier.
These temporary valves can’t be left on as they may unscrew under the huge forces generated when riding and may cause a rapid loss of tyre pressure. We don’t rate the temporary valves as screwing them on is just as much of a faff as getting the airline or tyre pressure gauge onto the standard valve in the first place.
Once you’ve fitted 90-degree valves, you’ll never go back!
A Quality Tyre Pressure Gauge
If you’re serious about your tyre pressures, don’t rely on a petrol-station readout. They only have to be checked every 6-months and the reality is that Trading Standards don’t have the resources to check every petrol station, so use them as a rough guide.
If you don’t have a TPMS on your bike, you have two choices when it comes to checking your pressures; analogue or digital.
The benefits of an analogue pressure gauge are that you have no risk of the batteries being flat, so it’ll always be there when you need it. This RaceX tyre pressure gauge won an Auto Express award and gets great Amazon customer reviews. It’s compact enough to be carried on the bike too.
Most digital tyre pressure gauges are smaller than their analogue cousins but you do need to ensure the batteries won’t let you down. One way to do this is to turn the batteries around so they won’t drain. We’ve picked this Michelin digital tyre pressure gauge. Sure, you can get cheaper digital pressure gauges but Michelin is a quality brand and it gets good customer reviews. It’s compact, features a built-in light and clear LCD display plus it uses CR2032 batteries which are cheap and tiny, so you can always gaffa tape a spare onto the body of the gauge.
Bike Seal Motorcycle Puncture Repair – A great choice, either as a puncture repair or preventative measure.
AirPro Puncture and Inflation kit – Another popular kit, comes with everything you need to plug a tyre and re-inflate it.
BikeIt Tubeless tyre repair kit – Plug kit with 5 plugs but you’ll need a way to pump up your tyres after you’ve repaired the puncture.
Rema Tip Top Tubed motorcycle tyre repair kit – a solid option for those with tubed tyres.
Can I use slime in a tubed tyre?
No. The slime is designed to work with a thick tyre which has a material carcass. A motorcycle tyre inner tube is thin rubber and the slime won’t create a solid structure.
Thanks to the following websites which helped us research and write this motorcycle puncture repair guide:
How accurate are petrol station forecourt tyre pressure gauages: