04 March 2010

Safety Project: Tire Kit

A few years ago I got a flat rear tire on a solo ride.  I was in Dahlonega, GA at mid day during the week.  Everyone I knew was at work and I had to wait until long after the sunset before anyone could come rescue me.  The experience stayed in my head, tucked away as something that needed rectifying.  As prepared as I try to be, buying gear or carrying water and snacks, beyond my factory tool kit stowed beneath the seat on both bikes, I had done nothing to be prepared for a flat tire.

When I discovered motorcycle forums, I saw various posts about carrying an air compressor on the bike.  I often wondered how someone would do that.  The image I had of an air compressor did not match something that one could safely store on any motorcycle.  I imagined various things, but nothing prepared me for the reality until I was walking through the automotive section at Wal-Mart and saw a Slime 12v inflator.

Bells went off as understanding dawned.  I'm sure the lady pushing her toddler thought I was nuts when I voiced an audible, "Ohhhh!"  She looked at me for barely a second before scurrying away to safety.  Wal-Mart sells the inflator for around $20 but in my cash strapped new life, that was a lot of money.  Later on the forums, someone posted a sale on the Slime Motorcycle kit but I didn't have the money and by the time I did, they were all sold out.

I'd also read about a cheaper mini compressor that I could get at Harbor Freight for under $15, if I was patient even cheaper than that. Reading the forums inspired me to do a little research.  I found a great article from Motorcyclist Online about tire repair with detailed pictures of a repair and a kit.  I didn't want to get a kit with the CO2 cartridges because I knew after a couple of uses they would have to be replaced.  I decided I needed a mini compressor.

My patience was rewarded at the end of February when my monthly Harbor Freight sales paper came that had the mini air compressor on sale for $8.  It was time to build my tire kit.  I took the tips I'd read on the forums and the article to come up with it.

The product of a quick trip to HF in the snow:

Reading the forums, I discovered this small compressor could be made smaller if you removed it's plastic outer casing:

It's so much smaller without the case!

Next I added a Slime Tire Repair Kit with the string style tire plugs rather than mushrooms because I read they were easier to use and often seated better than the mushroom style plugs.  Since it was a kit, I included a closeout headlight and dollar store pliers (not pictured):

Figuring out what to put it in and where to put it on the bike turned out to be a bigger problem than I expected.  I didn't want the stuff loose under the seat and the dollar store utility bag I had was way too big.  I ended up using a dry sack from Wal-Mart.  Here is the whole kit before I stuffed it in the sack, as you can see I added a mini folding knife:

Stuffed in the sack:

Stored under the seat:

On the ride where I got stranded, a nurse stopped and took me to the closest gas station which was much farther away than I thought.  I waited there or across the street at T.W.O for my friend to come with a trailer that was nearly too small for the bike to come get me.  I had to endure his fussing all the way home and later a lecture from my brother about riding so far away from home.

I tried to explain that's where the good roads were, but my brother wasn't having any of it.  I guess that's why it stuck in my mind so well.  I came away from the incident feeling chastised like a little girl and I didn't like it.  I'd lived nearly 3,000 miles away doing the same thing I did that day without any incident and lived to get Lupus and move home.  I didn't need their lectures.

If I'd had a kit that day, or even the tire stuff you put in the tire but is not good for the rims, I never would have heard any of that.  With this kit, I don't have to hear it again.

1 comment:

  1. Don't get a hand caught in the gear on your pump. I doubt it would take a finger off but I bet it wouldn't be fun either. (I think I have the same pump in black) but I keep mine in the truck. Glad to know you have a tire kit. (it is on my to get list)


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