City streets strewn with broken glass or a freshly cut hedge alongside your favourite off road trail can make your bike ride hell.
A flat tire on your bike can ruin your day out and if you are not carrying a puncture repair kit or a spare tube and tire levers, you could be in for a long walk home...
Even if you are prepared, you can still be caught out. I've been on at aleast 2 club rides where every spare inner tube and puncture repair patch was used up when almost the whole group fell prey to hedge trimmings!
Puncture resistant bicycle tires can reduce the amount of time wasted fixing punctures instead of enjoying your bike ride.
You may notice I never refer to puncture PROOF tires here. Only solid tires are puncture proof. Even the toughest puncture resistant pneumatic (filled with air) tire can be punctured, but it usually takes something like a nasty piece of glass or a nail to do it.
Bicycle tires are made puncture-resistant by adding a tough protective layer to the tire, often kevlar or a hard rubber or nylon. This puncture resistant layer will make a tire heavier so a puncture resistant bike tire is always a compromise between weight and toughness.
Puncture resistant bicycle tires are available from a number of manufacturers - here are the three of the best selling:
Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tires
Probably the most puncture resistant bike tire available but also one of the heaviest - they weigh in at around 900g each.
The Schwalbe Marathon Plus has been the tire of choice for most of the recent Round the World record attempts
Specialized Armadillo Tires
Good puncture resistance and avilable for road bike or mountain bike, Specialized Armadillo bike tires are the 'unoffocial official tire of choice' of the New York City bicycle courier. Significantly lighter than the Schwalbe Marathon but still with a good degree of puncture resistance.
Continental Gatorskin Tires
A middle ground between high performance and puncture resistance. The Continental Gatorskins are fast rolling puncture resistant bike tires. Lighter than either the Schwalbe Marathon or the Armadillos (weight approx 350g depending on size) but not as puncture resistant.
Please note, even if you do fit puncture resistant tires, still carry a pump and repair kit as you will possibly still get an occasional puncture - just not so often...
Fixing a puncture in winter can be a grim experience - cold hands, slushy bike and wheels - not nice...
Here are a couple of tips I picked up before I became a convert to puncture resistant bike tires. Punctures are now so rare that when I recently lent someone my puncture repair kit the glue had completely dried up!
Winter Puncture Repair Tip No1 - Always carry a spare inner tube.
Fit the new tube after finding and removing the offending sharp. Fix the punctured tube somewhere nice and warm.
Winter Puncture Repair Tip No2 - Carry a cigarette lighter in your repair kit.
If patching your tube
If the inner tube is wet, dry it off around the puncture.
a)Apply rubber solution (glue)
b)Set the rubber solution alight for 2 or 3 seconds then blow it out - this will evaporate some of the solvent.
Of course, if you fit some puncture resistant tires then you may never have to use those tips...