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Thank You For The Curse

Blog Date 6 February 2020

By Ren Withnell

It always, every bleeding time, seems to be the case that there will be an issue with the bike before I am due to venture any further than my regular haunts. A week or two beforehand I'll discover a frayed cable, a wobbly wheel bearing, a seized bolt or an oil leak. Something that really ought to be done before a big trip. Something that always requires parts and/or time that I just have not got.

Oh? What? I ought to check the bike out sooner? But I do! I'll go over it (or them) carefully with three or four weeks to spare and everything will be fine. Then something will give up, change, break or alter in a bad way typically one week before departure. In that same week I'll be working, so a lot of flapping around and stressful spannering happens in the evenings. 

The CB500X is almost new at 2,700 miles. Still I check it over thoroughly with 2 weeks to spare. All good. Then I head to Sharon's the weekend before I'm due to ride to my Dad's place. One mile before I arrive I see glistening in the road then the distinctive crunch of glass beneath my tyres. Crap.

The next day the rear is as flat as an engineer's table. Damn. This is Sunday. I'm 27 miles from home. I'm working all week. If this tyre is shredded I won't have time to get a new one fitted at a shop. I do have a part worn spare at home but have I the time and the tools to fit it? Oh for poop's sake I was looking forward to just getting through the week then off to see pops. 

The tyre plugger is my only hope. If this doesn't work I'll be leaving the 500 here and getting Sharon to run me home. I'll be going to my dad's either in the car or the on the 125. The 125 is drinking oil and the car is, well, you know, a car. The plugger plugs the hole but it is leaking.

I've been here before. You fit the plug, it leaks a bit, you ride the bike and pump up the tyres a couple of times then the plug seems to settle in and seal up completely - see Stop N Go Tyre Plugger Observation. As such I'm not too worried. I ride the bike home successfully then I check the pressure during the week and it drops from 42psi to 15psi over 5 days. It probably needs riding to seal it up properly.

So I set off on Saturday morning with my foot pump in the top box, just in case, well, you know, and 42psi in the tyre as specified in the manual. I reckon it'll heal itself as the ride goes on, that rubbery mushroom will soften up and seal up just fine.

2 hours later at the services I've lost 3psi - but the tyre will be warm so it's likely more. I pump it to 42psi despite it being warm. 2 hours later it's the same again. It's not self healing is it. I arrive at my dad's place and put the bike away, convincing myself it will cure overnight after today's jolly good heat cycle. 

The next day I'm taking a short ride out to meet with a friend at Petworth, 20 miles north of dad's place. The tyre is now at 20psi, a drop of 22psi overnight. Poop. Testicles. Self stimulation. I am now slowly coming to the realisation that this time this plug is not going to magically heal right up and be forgotten about. This time it'll need to be fixed proper like. I inflate the tyre.

Ren's CB500X with luggage and a footpump connected to the rear wheel
I've been doing this a lot on this trip.

As I leave my dad's place out of the driveway I hear "click click click", there's a stone in the front tread. "Click click click", I'd best check that. OH FOR ####'s SAKE!!! There is now a short self tapper in the front. I have to pull it out as it's only partially in, maybe, just maybe I've got away with it?

The tiniest bit of air comes out. Dad suggests we immediately take it to the garage but meh, I've seen worse. I'm just hacked off with 2 goddam blasted punctures in a week. I know my focus won't be as good as it ought to be so I keep the speed low, good job too as 2 van drivers try to take me out on 2 separate occasions.

The next day it's time to come part way home. The rear is back at 20psi, the front has not lost any pressure at all. I suspect the screw might have just nudged the inner but I'll keep an eye on it. I keep on checking them both and inflating the rear until I get to Bidford-on Avon where I'm stopping the night. 

The next day is a repeat of the previous but at least I am home.

I know who to blame for my misfortune - the Bikes And Travels readers!!! Why you lot you... We'd discussed the puncture resistance of the Michelin City Pro and of Borsuk's tyre gloop and if you pesky people had mentioned this it would never have happened. Grrrrrr!

Having now removed the tyre I can see the issue with the plug. The issue is at the end of the installation tool is a Ren. This Ren did not pull on the plug sufficiently to seat the top of the mushroom up against the inner of the tyre. Never-the-less I'm still blaming with you lot for cursing me.

The head of the rubber mushroom is about 1mm from the body of the tyre, this may cause the leak
That mushroom ought to be firmly flush against the tyre. Your fault.

If you feel like easing Ren's pain and your guilt - send him large sums of money.

Reader's Comments

Snod said :-
If it makes you feel any better I have had several mushroom plugs recede into the tyre and not seal properly, the last one in the rear of my K100 straight up refuses to stay where I put it. I'll be moving to the sticky brown strips when I run out of mushrooms, they seem to stay in place. As far as I can tell sometimes they disappear back inside when nudged by a stone or similar when the hole is too big, the mushrooms are only good for small holes like from small nails.
13/02/2020 10:43:17 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I have just purchased a pack of them there "proper" puncture repair patches that they use at tyre shops. I'm going to do a more permanent repair with a little luck.

We all have different experiences. All my previous Stop-n-Go mushrooms have settled in just fine and the stringy, gummy, sticky things caused me issues. We have to accept both are only meant to be temporary fixes and success is based on the size of the hole AND operator skill (or lack thereof).
14/02/2020 11:28:36 UTC
Snod said :-
That's interesting, what issues did you have with the gummy strips? Did you use ones with adhesive or not?

I tried a gummy strip without adhesive (just shove it in with the big needle eye tool) and yes okay it did leak but very slowly and it never threatened to not work. I do have a vague inkling that the mushrooms may be better for radial tyres and the sticky strips better for bias ply though.
14/02/2020 05:09:50 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I had the tacky sticky gooey strips, jet black, 5 between 2 little rectangles of plastic. For me several didn't seal completely and compared to the mushrooms they were hard to fit. I wouldn't be surprised if the problem was user error as it was with this last mushroom.
15/02/2020 06:39:32 UTC
Bill said :-
They all should be treated as emergency get you to your destination repair, which it did Ren, even if it requires topping up with air.Then a tyre shop repair or tyre replacement. Saving your life is more important than saving the cost of a tyre, you can only buy one of the two.You need to reach the grumpy old man stage to keep us entertained with your tales.
Regards Bill
15/02/2020 10:03:05 UTC
nab301 said :-
Ren , Just remember , punctures come in threes , and I don't think the screw in the front tyre counts as one !!

15/02/2020 02:44:28 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
nab301 yes thanks for that, it's not like I'm not already hyper paranoid without your assistance.

Bill - at what point do I go from being a grumpy man to a grumpy OLD man? Is there a threshold, a fixed age? I have just done my first "proper" patch, you know using them patches they use at the tyre shop and sanding the inside of the tyre and using glue - no not glue - vulcanising solution. I'll refit the repaired tyre when the part worn I've got on now is fully worn.
17/02/2020 08:57:33 UTC
Bill said :-
Ren, have you started making a noise when you get up from the chair?
It's not a specific age I known some grumpy old sub 40 year olds it's a state of mind.

When will you be opening Rens tyre repairs as you are not taking over Norton?
17/02/2020 08:08:48 UTC
Bill said :-
If the tyre shop doesn't take off you could give this a try
17/02/2020 08:49:16 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Bill - yes I have been grunting and groaning for a good number of years now. Simply standing up involves at least an "urgh!" if not and "eeeoooourgh!". What puzzles me is I never actually chose for this to happen, I never noticed it becoming a thing until it was too late and it became a thing. It just crept up on me without so much as an "excuse me".

As for Ren's tyre repairs. I need legal assistance. You see being a cheapskate and a bodger means I don't wish to offer any warranty of comeback on the repairs. Otherwise I'll be bankrupted within the first few days.

As for tyre furniture there might be some mileage (sic) in that! I need to invest in a new blade for the jigsaw, oh and the best way to chop a tyre in half is with an angle grinder. How do I know this? Experience boy, experience. Smells like burnouts when you grind them though.
20/02/2020 10:25:11 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Ed, sorry for delay, family business has interrupted my otherwise mundane life of late. That and fence posts.
You asked about Stormy Dennis, Wooler's OK other than very high winds. The borders had it rough, particularly Hawick (pronounced Hoik). We've got another two wild days forecast Friday and Saturday, can't wait.
On the subject of getting old, I would like any serious suggestions (yes you Borsuk) as to why my back hair is getting long enough to plait and I have more hair sticking out of my nose and ears than I have on my head. It has also been pointed out that I sigh with contentment when I sit down or when drinking tea.

20/02/2020 03:50:32 UTC
Borsuk said :-
No idea what so ever Upt.
All I know is that I now have a hairy chest for the first time in my 58 years and my ear hair grows 5 times faster than the ones on my head. I am not quite a silver back but I am getting there.
20/02/2020 09:15:13 UTC

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