Too many flats... here's one solution.

I have been having an inordinate number of flats from thorns and glass on my 29’er. As I was fixing one today I remembered a little gizmo that I used to have on my road bike. The thing was called a tire saver, and it was basically a wire that rubbed gently on the tire. It would knock the stuff out of the tire before it had a chance to do any harm. I made one for my 29’er, and I’m sure it will save me from patching so many flats in the future. Unfortunately it won’t work on anything knobby, just smoothish road tires.

I used a wire coat hanger, and made a yoke that attaches with my brake bolt. Two small pieces of plastic tubing connect the yoke to the wire that rubs the tire (another piece of coat hanger). I bent the wire on the tire to the profile of my tire, and the light pressure from the plastic tubing is all that holds it against the tire.

I may make it a little narrower so that it can go under the fork crown and be tucked out of the way, but for now it should work nicely.

i don’t know about that size, but motorcycle tubes work very nicely, and if those aren’t available, puncture free tubes should be available in that size.

I could add more rubber, but I would rather have a lighter wheel. Weight at the circumference is the worst kind of weight.

I used to have a setup like this on my road bike with sew-ups, and I never had flats.

Cool. I take my old tubes, cut them down the middle and put one or two around my current tube.
I NEVER get flats.

Ever thought of going tubeless?

Tubeless would be interesting. I have thought about it, but I have to find out more about it. From what I understand it is heavier than a tube in most cases, but offers a liveliness like a sew-up. If I could get that road feel it would certainly be worth any moderate weight gain.

Looks like youre running the Schwalbe Marathon tire.
Next time you change it, get the Schwalbe Marathon Plus. It got a gel compund inside that protects the tube from sharp edges and stuff.

Have a read of this. Not sure how much would translate from bmx but must be worth a go.


the tire is a big apple 29x2.35. After working in a bike shop for 9 years I have seen many different kinds of flats, and these ones are plain old stuff getting through the tread. The bulk of my flats are goat heads.

The Big Apple is supposed to have a kevlar belt in it to prevent flats. My thought is that if it is working at all I must be riding on the worst section of road ever.

Thanks for all of the advice about flats. I will look into going tubeless. I was posting this idea for the benefit of anyone else with a road uni, and puncture problems. It’s simple, cheap, fast, light, and it works well at what it does.

Nice. Looks a lot more useful than the ones that I made for my bike a couple of years ago. I hope it works for you - mine were hopeless.

I tried to buy a pair, but no-one seems to sell them these days. From most of what I’ve read, that seems to be largely because they’re not particularly effective.

The OP mentioned that he didn’t want a heavy tyre.

I’m running Marathon Pluses on my bike. The 20" on the front has been on for 18 months without a puncture, and I really don’t notice the extra weight and rolling resistance over a standard Marathon or the Marathon Slick that I was using before. I’m very, very pleased with it.

The 26" on the back is a different matter, though - with the bigger wheel I notice the increased rotating weight. I’ll replace the 20" M+ with the same, but I’ll probably try the Marathon Supreme for my next 26" tyre.

With a 29" tyre, I’d expect the weight of the M+ to be really noticeable.

I think a major part of the problem is the broken glass issue which we face in many places in the world. We have the worst section of road ever here too- and it’s everywhere. When I used to ride my 28" to Bell Block every day, some weeks I had up to 5 punctures. We need effective systems at stopping people from breaking glass on the roads, or to find an alternative to glass! If anyone has any creative ideas about glass management please share them. Many good ideas are being ignored by our regional council and local government when we suggest things like a refund on bottles (most people won’t smash a bottle that cost them $2 extra). But I don’t think tying glass to money would fix it either because the most evil people have the most money, and would not care about small change.

Changing to a 36" reduced my punctures from heaps to almost zero. Most of my tire problems have been caused by faulty manufacturing on the 36" innertubes, with two of them splitting at the seams untouched by glass. I’ve still got a slow leak caused by this defect. At 5 times the cost of a regular innertube there is really no excuse for such a consistently faulty product (two out of three tubes had the same fault).

My muni has a tubeless tyre; I don’t see me ever converting it back, given the feel of the ride and the puncture resistance is much better. I haven’t converted my 29er yet but it’s on the list. I use a “poor man’s” tubeless setup that only uses some sealant and a smaller diameter inner tube cut in half as a rim strip; it involves very little outlay so would be good if you want to give it a try without spending loads of money if it doesn’t work.

A half way house you could try would be to get a tube with a removeable valve core and put some tubeless sealant in it; it’s very good at sealing punctures from thorns and cuts from glass so I see no reason why it wouldn’t work in a tube too.


I really should look into the poor mans tubeless setup, as that pretty much describes me.

I think that tire savers were available for a long time, but as tires got knobby they became useless. With smooth road tires they really work well. I still have one on an old road bike. Maybe I’ll dig it out and take a picture for comparison.

There have been a bunch of really good things for bikes that aren’t available anymore. It seems like a bunch of them were small companies that just stopped for one reason or another. I’m sure that these didn’t go away because they were not effective.

Nifty concept. Does it catch if you ride backwards?

I tried them with Marathon Slicks and didn’t get good results. They /were/ rather badly home-made tyre savers, though.

I don’t see how going tubeless can prevent the puncture flats discussed. Is there something else used in the tubeless conversion to prevent punctures? I thought that it just prevented pinch flats.

There is a latex sealant added that can plug thorn holes.


I found this thread doing a search (go me). Doesn’t the green slimy crud work for a unicycle? It works great for my mountain bike but I was thinking that I may not spin the wheel fast enough on the uni to make the slime effective. Does anyone use it? It’s great for goat-head thorns.

Yep, works great IMO. I’ve used Slime in all my unicycles for several years now w/o any issues with flats. Of course I will say I wasn’t really experiencing a rash in flats before I started using Slime. However after flatting at about the furthest point away from my car during a long muni ride one day (and having no spare tube or patch kit) quickly convinced me for the need to inject all my unicycle tire tubes with the stuff and I’ve had (knock on wood) no issues with flats ever since. About the only problem I’ve had is not being careful when swapping out tires and damaging the tube’s valve to the point that it basically was tearing away from the tube. :astonished: As an example of how well it does work for unicycles, I will say I had one tube that had a slow leak in it and after putting the proper amount of Slime in it, the slow leak was gone…