Minimizing Flat Tires on an E-bike

April 30, 2012
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Flat tires are the bane of the electric bike rider.  If you ride an ebike and feel you are getting more than your fair share of flat tires, don’t worry, you’re not alone, and there are several ways to help minimize punctures.

Ever wonder why your electric bike gets more flat tires than your normal bike? Here are some answers:

  • Extra weight. Ebikes in general are usually 2-3X’s the weight of many road bikes, which means a lot of extra stress on your tires.
  • On ebikes equipped with rear hub motors and rear rack-mounted batteries, rear tires are often overloaded and thus more susceptible to flats. Heavier hub motors can make bike wheels like lead weights, which are not as good at absorbing shocks as regular wheels, making flats more likely.
  • Most ebikes are made in China with cheap rims, cheap tires, and cheap inner tubes. Upgrading your wheels, or at least your tires, can often help.
  • When riding your ebike at high speeds you may feel impervious to the road, and pay less attention to road debris.
  • Your ebike probably sees a lot more miles than your pedal bike, ergo the increased chance of a flat.
Separately, flat tires can be an extra hassle on an ebike versus a regular bike for these reasons:
  • E-bikes are heavy and harder to flip upside down, balance, etc. to change a flat
  • E-bikes often contain external battery packs that may need to be unloaded before changing a flat.
  • When the tire on a hub motor wheel goes flat, it usually requires taking the entire wheel and motor assembly off the bike to fix, which often means carrying extra tools–or being stranded out on the road.

Here are some tips for people who ride hub motor bikes to prevent against hub motor wheel tire flats:

  • Always ride with rim tape
  • Inspect tires regularly and replace them when worn
  • Run thorn resistant high quality inner tubes
  • Run thorn resistant high quality tires (see our article on tires here)
  • Check your tire pressure regularly. This will help avoid flats and improve your efficiency (see our article here on other ways to improve efficiency)
  • Consider adding Slime to your inner tubes or installing inner tubes made by Slime
  • consider using tire liners…they are heavy…but remember weight is not an issue with an electric bike.
  • If your tires are chronically flat, consider running Bell No-Mor flats, or Serenity Hutchinson inner tubes,  which is a solid rubber inner tube which will never go flat.
  • Carry plenty of co2 cartridges, as well as a spare tube. These handy little canisters of compressed air can save the day when the worst happens and you need to replace an inner tube out on the road quickly and efficiently.

When my Astro powered trike had a flat, I had no tools and no lock and had to wait 2 hours for a friend with a truck to come get me. It sucked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eric has been involved in the electric bike industry since 2002 when he started a 6000 square foot brick and mortar Electric Bike store in downtown San Francisco. He is a true believer that small electric vehicles can change the way we operate and the way we think.


2 Comments

  1. I was tempted to try Bell No-Mor flats but many people claim using these causes damage to rims and spokes because these don’t distribute shock. What have you found to be true?

  2. My bike mechanic did a nice trick for my rear hub wheel. He took an old 700c22 tire cut and put it inside the new gatorskins. Its heavier but no flats. Also performance bike has double thick on bottom puncture resistant tubes. Very good. As article says a few ounces more to prevent flats is worth it.

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