Bicycle Tire Liner Abrasion

The front tire (a Primo Comet blackwall) on Mary’s Tour Easy was flat when we rolled out of the garage a few days ago. While a flat isn’t pleasant at any time, it’s much nicer to find one at home, before the ride, rather than out on the road!

I figured the tire ate something sharp that managed to work its way through the tire liner and into the tube; that’s rare, but it sometimes happens. These two pix of the tread show why we use tire liners: sidewall-to-sidewall nicks, cuts, gouges, and gashes, despite the fact that the herringbone tread has plenty of life left in it. Click the pix to enlarge, if you dare…

Tire cuts 1
Tire cuts 1

And another section; it’s like this all the way around the tire. I think this one is the better part of a year old, so it has maybe 2000 miles on it. It handled 200+ miles along the Pine Creek Gorge rail-trail this past summer, which was sharp crushed gravel, but most of the cuts came from roadside debris on our ordinary utility rides around home.

Tire cuts 2
Tire cuts 2

As it turned out, the tire liner had prevented all those punctures from reaching the tube, while killing the tube all by itself. The sharp edge where the the two ends of the liner overlap had worried its way through the tube.

Abrasion from tire liner
Abrasion from tire liner

The tire liner wasn’t a genuine fluorescent green Slime strip, but some translucent brown thing. The difference: Slime liners are thinner and don’t have nearly this much abrasive power.

Alas, I didn’t have a Slime liner in my stash (remedied with the most recent bike parts order), so I put the brown liner back in with a few layers of genuine Scotch electrical tape to build the end up a bit. There’s really no good way to feather the end without making it into a ragged knife edge.

New tire and tube, of course. I’m not that crazy!

With any luck, the liner and tape will behave for another few years, until the tire wears out, and then I’ll replace everything. Other than this event, flats aren’t a big part of our riding experience.

13 thoughts on “Bicycle Tire Liner Abrasion

  1. It’s been my experience that the brown type liners always cut the tube eventually, and *my* experiments with using tape to cover the edges to prevent abrasion resulted in the tape adhesive dissolving the tube so it failed in lots of little pits that developed right at the edge of the tape. Sigh. I hope your results are better.

    1. I should’a known that wasn’t going to work… thanks for the heads-up.

      When I do the spring wipe-down on our bikes, I’ll take the tires apart & replace those liners.


  2. I had a lot of flats before the slime liners and three since. One nail puncture, one liner tube wear through and now this time the liner wore through the outside of the nobbie mountain bike tire or did not prevent a large hole in an open space without knobs. I felt the end of the overlapping liner right there at the big hole. I trimmed the liners and did not sand them down. I came up with the solution on my own to use sand paper after seeing resulting liner end shaped hole. I am switching to smaller tires to reduce drag and match husbands style. The bike shop said that they trim and grind the Tuffy liners. I did not trim the liner much and now I am wondering how much to trim it if one wants very little lump from over lap. Also, inflate tires a bit as you position liners-it helps. I guessed about that tape problem accurately. Well now I must repair to the bike.

    1. they trim and grind the Tuffy liners

      That sounds a lot like the too-thick liners I used: seems to me that if they require tapering, then they’re much too thick and the bike shop knows it!

      I think trimming the liners to a narrow overlap is a Bad Thing: too much thickness variation in too small a distance, plus they might wind up being too short after the tube’s at pressure. I’ve trimmed them to about 1.5 inches, more or less, and that seems to be OK.

      But, in any event, not fixing a flat by the end of the road is just wonderful: I enjoy it every time it doesn’t happen…

      Ride on!

  3. Roadside debris? Could you please clarify that a bit for this European who’s apparently living in a more or less roadside-debris-free paradise? :D

    1. Well, around here, the shoulders of the road (we don’t have “bike lanes” or “bike paths” or any of those fancy contrivances) tend to collect all the junk that falls from / gets thrown out of vehicles: broken glass in all sizes, rocks and gravel, nails / tacks / staples, metal objects, and so forth and so on.

      Not to say that the roads are covered with junk, but I got sufficiently annoyed with on-the-road flat repair that deploying Kevlar-belted tires and Slime tire liners looked like a Good Thing.

      1. I do remember the expressways used to be a lot messier when I was young, but environmental consciousness coupled with larger and/or more enforced fines for littering significantly reduced that to the point where it seems to have largely disappeared. But, perhaps due to our national love for cycling, none of that ever interfered with me cycling to school/work and for pleasure. What you do encounter fairly often is things like twigs or entire branches after a storm or some such, but experience teaches you quickly which branches can be safely regarded as a mere bump and which are more dangerous for your tires and require circumvention or removal. My biggest annoyance while cycling used to be tourists clogging up the cycling paths.

        1. tourists clogging up the cycling paths

          There’s a rail-trail creaking into life near here and we sometimes ride the short section that’s now open. We’re generally using it as a way to get between two points, not as a destination, and find that it’s almost as annoying as riding the roads: pedestrians walking four abreast across the entire path, skaters veering from side to side, and wrong-way cyclists.

          Ah, but they’re getting out and having fun, we keep reminding ourselves…

          1. The clogging I was referring to was of a rather different nature: there was this rather small cycling path along the way I used to cycle to school. In some places of it passing was impossible, but in most it was a matter of both going off of the path a little (the ground next to the path was very solid, not muddy or some such). But some of the tourist cyclists that barely managed to keep themselves from falling would ride straight up in the middle leaving you little room for maneuvering. Of course it was even worse if you were behind a bunch going the same direction since then they were oblivious to the fact that a bell means “please move to the right a bit.” There was also a corner with no visibility where everybody announced their approach with their bells, but of course in tourist season you’d do that and still almost crash into some tourist turning English-style rather than staying on the right of the path properly. The sort of clogging you refer to did occur, but mostly due to little lambs walking around. They were far too cute to be annoyed with. The sheep were part of a natural keeping the grass and other nature tidy effort, but sadly they seem to have been removed a few years ago.

            1. everybody announced their approach with their bells

              Which are inaudible through the earbuds… [grumble]

          2. I assure you those tourists had no such excuse. ;)

            That said, mine just filter out the worst noise; they don’t make me deaf.

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