Can Motorbike Tyres Be Repaired With A Puncture Kit?

There’s certainly no shortage of sharp objects on the roads that are waiting to rip through your tyres.

But thankfully many modern tyre designs are now tubeless allowing you to repair punctures in just a matter of minutes.

motorbike-tyre-beign-repaired-with-man-wearing-rubber-gloves

Bear in mind that a gash in the tread or a hole in the sidewall is likely a strike out of luck. As puncture repair kits (or plug kits) are commonly designed to exclusively repair small punctures found only within the tread (i.e. centre) section of a tyre.

Can all types of motorcycle Wheels be repaired with a puncture repair kit?

While it’s certainly ‘possible’ to repair both tubed and tubeless motorbike tyres, this is not always the best option. Patch repair kits have long been advised to be avoided by manufacturers as they are much better suited for repairing the inner tubes of pedal bikes.

Two of the most commonly designed motorbike wheels that you may come across are ‘spoked’ and ‘cast’ wheels.

Off-road bikes such as scramblers (or dirtbikes in the US), dual sports and ATVs use spoked rims as they can take more impact and perform better on rough terrain. They’re also far easier to repair, have higher durability and are aesthetically better suited to particular styles and models of bikes.

On the flip side, cast rims (i.e. alloy wheels) are more rigid, provide better handling and can facilitate higher amounts of horsepower and bigger tyres when fitted with tubeless tyres.

So why do spoked wheels need inner tubes?

Simple, spoked wheels are designed for the spokes to be fed through the holes in the hub from one end which is then fastened with a nipple (similar to the nut of a bolt) on the other end.

But to secure and tension the spokes (average of 28 – 200 spokes per wheel), they must first pass through pre-drilled holes in the rim (i.e. drop well).

These holes are not air-tight and are designed to allow for enough room for the spokes to be tightened via the spoke nipples on the outside of the rim.

Using an inner tube provides the wheel with an air-tight seal so you can pump and retain air pressure inside of the tyres.

Diagram of bare rim with spoke and nipples

How safe are puncture repair kits for motorbikes?

Puncture repair kits are safe enough for regular riders to repair punctures with little to no previous experience. A good kit will include full instructions on how to carry out a repair along with a list of compatible types of tyres the kit can be used with.

Most kits on the market will use rope plugs, spear plugs and mushroom plugs for puncture repairs and are specially designed for use with tubeless tyres only. But keep in mind that mending a tyre with an inner tube will require both the tube and tyre to be separately repaired to be adequate for riding.

Is it safe to patch a motorcycle’s Inner tube?

Yes and no! As the majority of manufacturers recommend you do not repair but instead replace a punctured inner tube.

And in my own experience, I have found that repairing tyres with tubes turns out sketchy as most will become lopsided after being pumped up with the patch fitted.

Why?

Because patches reduce the elasticity of the tube and prevent the repaired section from inflating to full potential (i.e. resulting in a smaller diameter). So the air will fill perfectly in some parts while other parts will not capacitate the same levels of pressure.

So while this may be a quick solution to get you home or back around for a few laps, it’s certainly not recommended for long distances or travelling further than 50 miles.

How long will it take you to repair a puncture with a kit?

Puncture kits that use plugs and patches will immediately prevent further loss of air when fitted in a properly prepared hole (i.e. reamed and had the correct application of bonding solution).

This process can take anywhere between 10 to 15 minutes depending on your level of experience. 

Temporary vs permanent Tyre repairs

There are typically two types of puncture repairs, one being a ‘temporary fix’ and the other being a ‘permanent fix’. Emergency or temp fixes are done using the common ‘rope plug’ while ‘plug patches’ is what you’ll find used as a more permanent solution.

Both have their pros and cons but are equally as effective depending on the purpose they are used for.

For example, installing a plug patch will typically take a much longer time as they require you to repair the tyre from the inside after taking removing it from the rim (and not everyone has the time to remove a tyre on the side of the road).

On the flip side, rope plugs can be fitted from the outside and are best suited for a quick fix or breakdown on the side of the road. 

What are the risks of riding a motorbike with a repaired tyre? 

Permanent repairs suggest you can ride at any speed for any amount of time while emergency repairs are good enough for “emergencies” alone (implying you can fix your bike and ride it home but nothing more). 

It’s well worth speaking with the manufacturer of your motorcycle tyres to find out if your wheels are compatible with commonly sold repair kits, along with any other information that you should be aware of.

That being said, it’s probably wise to ride at a reduced speed (20 mph below speed limits) to ensure you get home safely on a temporarily repaired tyre. However, according to the AA you should not exceed more than 50 mph for a maximum distance of 50 miles on a punctured tyre. 

Average Cost Of Repairing a puncture 

The average cost of a well-made puncture repair will set you back £20 to £40 ($35 to $50) that will come with all the tools including:

  • Tyre plugs or patches 
  • A reamer tool – used for reaming/widening the hole to the correct size for the plug 
  • Bonding solution (also known as rubber cement or cow gum) – is used for coating the plug and helps with bonding together 
  • Insertion Tool – used to place over rope plug and insert into the hole 
  • Small Blade – Used for cutting the excess rubber tails leftover from rope plug
  • CO2 capsules + Air feed nozzle (optional) – this should pump the tyre to about 10 PSI 
  • Pliers – For removing the offending object 

Types of motorbike puncture repair kits 

There are four main types of puncture repair kits that will ‘either’ include spear plugs, mushroom plugs, patches or rope plugs. 

image of tyre with different types of repairs i.e. plug, spear, mushroom and patch

Rope and spear plugs are the most common of repair kits as they are both affordable and easy for beginners to deploy.

Mushroom plugs on the other hand require you to bore out a larger than average hole, then insert a probe, then place a mushroom into the plugger and screw the plugger onto the probe. Long process, very complicated, and in my humble opinion, overpriced. 

You lose all your air in the process and it’s pretty much the most difficult way you can repair a puncture. 

Lastly are internal patch plugs, which by far are the best and most effective way of repairing a motorcycle tyre if you are looking for a permanent solution. But they’re also the longest to install as they require you to remove the tyre and plug the hole from inside.

What Should You Consider Before Attempting A Repair? 

The type of tyres you have (i.e. tubed or tubeless) will determine your potential options for repair. Generally, the factors to consider include: 

Location Of The Hole 

Is the hole in an area where it can be repaired (i.e. the 70% centre surface area of the tyre) or somewhere on the sidewall where it cannot be repaired (sidewalls are far too flexible and may spit out the plug)? 

Shape Of The Hole 

Tears, blow-through holes and oblong cuts are far beyond repair and will need a complete replacement to be adequate for riding.

Size of The Puncture 

Tying into the last point, if a hole is generally larger than a 7mm diameter then a full tyre replacement is needed. As you’ll find that most tyre repair kit manufacturers will not offer repairs beyond this size (because a hole too big is too unsafe for repairs).

sizes of puncture holes that can be repaired with a kit

How do you reduce the chances of motorbike punctures?

Two of the most common causes of tyre punctures (from impact) are low tyre pressure and worn-down tyres (i.e. minimal tread depth). 

Luckily, you can easily lessen the chances of impact punctures by regularly checking and maintaining tyre pressures (according to manufacturers’ specs), and changing tyres before running down to the legal minimum tread depth of 1mm.

Sufficiently pumped tyres are less likely to puncture on impact as they have an increased resistance between tyres and the ground (over a tyre with low air). 

This goes hand in hand with damaged tyre walls, damaged rims and sharp objects being near your bike. So remove potential hazards to reduce the risk of damage. 

Other Ways To Increase A Motorbike’s resistance to Impact Punctures 

A few pro ways to reduce the chances of your tyres bursting include: 

  • Buy higher quality tyres that are broader and tougher (but be aware that this will come at the cost of a higher price and heavier overall weight)  
  • Inner tube Saddles – This product sits between the rim of the wheel (drop well) and the inner tube which will increase protection against pinch flat (or snake bite) type punctures. But again, this will come with a higher cost, is difficult to install and will reduce the overall lifecycle of a tyre to an average of 1500 miles. 
  • Ultra Heavy Duty Inner Tubes: Essentially, these are thicker tubes that work just like regular tubes, so they can be fitted to any motorbike wheel with tubes. A heavy-duty inner tube manufactured for a 19-inch motorcycle tyre will typically weigh around 500g (4lbs).

What’s better? Tubed or Tubeless Tyres?

Neither type of tyre is better as they both have their benefits depending on the purpose they are serving (i.e. type of motorbike and roads you’re riding on)

Tubeless tyres are faster to repair and commonly fitted to alloy wheels that are likely to shatter on high impact. Tubeless tyres cater to smoother roads and higher top speeds while tubed tyres offer a wider range of sizes and better off-road handling (i.e. less chance of shatter).

Best repair kits for motorbikes

If you’re looking to get the best repair kits for a motorbike but aren’t sure about your options, here are some of the top contenders. Explore these kits and finally choose the one that works best for your bike!

WesternWeld Plus repair Kit (Best overall kit for durability strength and effectiveness of repair) – This kit holds up the best in the most unpredictable environments and is manufactured with the highest quality of tools and plugs that I have ever purchased.

Slime Plug repair kit (Best Budget choice) – This kit will do everything the Westernweld does but comes at a much lower price. When tested, a plug from this product held 52lbs of pulling force compared to Westernweld’s 82lbs of force before coming away from the tyre (which are both more than enough for your tyre repair).

Dynaplug Pro (Best for minimal storage) – This is the best tubeless repair kit for those that need to free up storage space on their bikes. Available with a nifty nylon pouch, this repair kit measures 4″ x 1″ and weighs around 85g. The spear plugs are super simple and fast to use and are perfect for roadside repairs when out on the roads.

FAQ’s About Using Repair Kits On Motorbikes

Can you use Car tyre Repair Kits On Motorbikes?

Absolutely! Car tyre repair kits and repair kits for motorcycles are the same thing. The majority of puncture repair kits are labelled as being suitable for both 2 and 4-wheelers (yup! cars and quads too).

Is foam a Good option for repairing motorbike tyres?

No! I would not recommend you use foam unless you are happy to completely dispose of the tyre afterwards. Foam will damage the internals of a tyre, is hard to clean away from the rim and will give you an uneven pump resulting in unbalanced wheels.

Foam is only feasible for absolute emergencies when no other methods of transportation are available for you to get home.

Q. Are Air Pumps Included in Repair Kits?

The majority of repair kits will not include air pumps so you’ll need to buy this separately. Many kits now contain CO2 canisters that will pump two tyres to an average of 10PSI per capsule used.

Conclusion

A repair kit can be a lifesaver in a difficult situation but are for the most part temporary and best suited for getting you home. Some kits are better than others, but generally, most of the kits on the market today will be sufficient for the vast majority of you reading this post.

By far, the rope and spear plug style puncture repair kits are the easiest to install with the highest level of resistance when riding for long distances. And they’re generally a lot cheaper too! So you can’t go wrong.

I recommend carrying out a practice run of repairing an old disused tyre to learn the process before experiencing a puncture in real life. Best of luck with fixing your tyres.

Leon Angus

Leon Angus

I love bikes. All types, but mainly motorbikes (or motorcycles for those in the U.S.). I'm a qualified Motorsport Engineer that currently lives in the UK and drives trains for a living (weird combo, don't ask), I love to cook, into fitness and ride bikes for funsies! This website is my path back into the motor industry where I can share helpful advice for bikers along the way. Learn More about my mission here

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Leon Angus

Leon Angus

I love bikes. All types, but mainly motorbikes (or motorcycles for those in the U.S.). I'm a qualified Motorsport Engineer that currently lives in the UK and drives trains for a living (weird combo, don't ask), I love to cook, into fitness and ride bikes for funsies! This website is my path back into the motor industry where I can share helpful advice for bikers along the way. Learn More about my mission here

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