I used my folding bike to get from South Bend to Argonne National Lab for the third time this past weekend. Getting to the lab on Friday was a breeze but, unfortunately, I got a flat like I did on similar trip to Pennsylvania last summer. I was unprepared (again.. sigh!) and had to run the bike for 3.5 miles in a cold rain to catch Metra.
So, why was I not prepared, yet again? First of all, I try to pack as light as possible for these trips. A pump and patch kit certainly aren’t much, but my Dahon Boardwalk S1 not only has bolt-on wheels, but the rear wheel has a coaster brake. Accordingly, to remove the wheel I also need a crescent wrench and screw driver. And, it is a major pain.
I realize that a tube can be patched without removing the wheel, and after getting more practice once home, it really isn’t too bad. But it still takes quite a while, and it can be very challenging to find small holes and very easy to miss multiple holes. Further, most of my rides on it are only 2-10 miles in a stretch; I suppose I’ve been playing (and loosing) the odds to some extent as well.
Anyway, I’ve now had three flats on my folder, yet my total mileage isn’t much over 250 miles (as a side note, this has saved >2000 driving miles!). Clearly I need to be better prepared, but I now view flats as a major obstacle to dependable multi-modal car-free travel.
My Boardwalk came with low-end components, and I’m now wondering if some new tires would be a good investment. The stock tires are Kenda Kwests, but I’ve heard great things about Schwalbe Marathon Plus. They’re heavy and expensive (>$40 each, even for the 20-inchers I’d need), but I’ve read many testimonials claiming thousands of flat-free riding miles.
Anyone have any experience with these, or have recommendations for “flat-proof” tires available in 20-inch sizes? Any other ideas to reduce flats?