May 26, 2008

A little less rubber

Living on the wild side... with a puncture.

I got my first ever puncture on a tubeless tyre last week. Technically, I just discovered it last week; the aberrant nail embedded itself uninvited in my tyre about 3 months back.

I got these tubeless tyres about 3 years ago. I was unhappy with the OEM tyres, Bridgestone Dueler H/T. Their grip left a lot to be desired, especially when the tread had worn down a bit. Plus, the tyre wall on those were rather... weak, and were quite prone to punctures. A puncture on the Bolero, like on the Bullet, invariably means that you have to replace the tube, because you can be sure the neck will snap almost immediately.

When the Bridgestone tyres had done a little over 50k, I switched to the tubeless Yokohama Geolander A/T plus II tyres on my car. Size 235/75R15. They were rather more expensive than the Bridgestones, but I'd read very good reviews of Yokohama on the 'net, so I decided to give it a shot.

That was forty thousand kilometres ago. Now, the Yokohamas themselves are pretty worn, and show just marginal deterioration in grip. And until last week, I'd never had a puncture.

A few months back, I'd noticed one of the rear wheels tended to have low pressure. I'd inflate it to 30psi, and in a couple of weeks it would drop to about 17psi. I kept re-inflating this once every fortnight or so, until last week I decided to get it checked.

After some tomfoolery with a mug of water, the puncture guy located a nail deeply wedged into the tyre. Air was just barely trickling out from beside the nail. After some more tomfoolery with nose-pliers and scissors, he extracted the nail. The tyre deflated almost immediately when he did that.

He first set about making the hole a little bigger. Mind you, given the nail itself was about 3mm in dia, it was already quite a biggie. He then stuck some of that gooey brown stuff on a skewer and stuffed it into the hole. And that was it. Re-inflate and bob's your uncle.

This process took about 15 mins, tops. And that includes removing the wheel and fitting it back.

I have to tell ya, switching to tubeless was an excellent move. I can barely believe that I 've driven around for months with that nail in the tyre. That includes 3 long trips!