Tyre Liners
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Stop that Puncture?

Tyre Liners are a plastic strip placed inside the tyre between the outer case and the inner tube. The idea is to prevent sharp objects which may penetrate the outer casing causing a puncture. Liners come in different widths to fit different size tyres.

There are many brands but probably the most well known is Mr Tuffy. If you get a puncture while using Mr Tuffy the manufacturers claim they will replace your inner tube - this is not a claim I have put to the test.

Do they work?

From my own experience they dramatically reduce the number of punctures on narrow, high pressure tyres and the wider slicks on my hybrid  - I am a great fan of these things.

Disadvantages

Well, there are probably three:

  • They add weight at the circumference of the wheel just where you don't want it.
  • They make the tyre less flexible.
  • They have been known to puncture the inner tube where they overlap.

The first couple are not possible to overcome however for most commuting or social cyclists they are not really a problem either. As far as my cycling is concerned any difference made by the liner is marginal and the benefits far outweigh any notional loses.

As for the final disadvantage it is, in my opinion, possible to overcome it completely.

Preventing the Liner Damaging the Inner Tube

There are three possible ways of overcoming this problem:

  • Before installing the liner - file, sand or shave the sharp edge of the liner where it rests against the inner tube. When the liner is manufactured it is cut to length by some sort of guillotine, the edge it creates is a beautiful, sharp right angle. Rounding off this edge reduces the chance of it cutting into the tube.
  • Reverse the overlap. If the end does puncture the tube after repairing the tube reverse the overlap (after again smoothing the edge). This worked for me when I first installed a set of these liners I suspect the tyre 'creeps' on the rim due to the constant rotation in one direction and thus pushes the end of the liner against the inner tube, By reversing the overlap the end is no longer pushed against the tube. (That's my theory anyway!)
  • Glue a small piece of old inner tube on the end of the liner so it will wear through this rather than the actual inner tube. I haven't tried this method personally but I am assured it works.

In all the years I have used tyre liners I have only had one puncture; this was from a piece of glass that had obviously been in the tyre for a very long time and which had slowly sawed its way through the tube and the liner. I suspect that if I had inspected the tyres occasionally I could have prevented this.

Alternatives

Before using liners I had installed thorn resistant inner tubes on an earlier bike (we are talking 27" by 1.25" steel rims now). Basically these are an inner tube with a very thick outer wall and seemed to work well as I had no punctures in over a year of almost daily cycling. These inner tubes are heavier than the tyre liners, used Schroeder valves (car type) and were used on tyres with a maximum pressure of up to 65 psi so perhaps should be considered for low tech runabouts <g> - from memory these inner tubes were marginally cheaper than the liners.

There are also sealing solutions which are put inside the inner tube and which seal any punctures as they occur. Apparently it can be rather messy as it requires the tube to be holed to insert the liquid and then repaired with a normal repair kit. I haven't tried this method but would be interested to hear from someone who has.

I read an article in Australian Cyclist by a guy who toured through the Northern Territory, he put an old tyre minus the bead inside his normal tyres. This is taking the concept of tyre liners to the extreme degree but if conditions are harsh I guess this is what it takes!

Copyright © Bruce Lloyd 2005


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