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 Getting a flat while riding
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Advanced Member
6953 Posts

Meridian, ID


XR650L, 790 Adv R

Posted - 04/21/2021 :  9:45 AM                       Like
So yesterday I was out on my XR650L riding a little bit of dirt and a lot of paved highway. The road I was on at the time was mostly straight, but with a few bends in it. On the last couple of corners before I realized I had a flat tire, I noticed the tires squirming a bit. Rather than considering that my tire was going flat I was thinking that my tires weren't as good as I had thought they were. But as I slowed to turn into a side road and started leaning into the turn it felt like the rear tire folded over and slid quite a ways. I know that a rear tire sliding an inch or two feels like six or eight inches, but I was a bit concerned until I straightened it up. Yep, tire is flat.

I parked the bike off of the road in the dirt and tried to figure out the best way to solve the problem. I started by thinking of who I knew with a truck that was willing to drive 20 miles to come get me, then I realized that I had a spare wheel with a good tire on it sitting in my garage. So I rode 20 miles back home on the back of the other XR650L of the rider I was with. Riding two up on a dual sport for 20 miles isn't what I consider fun. Had my wife take me back, swapped wheels on the side of the road, then rode it back home.

That got me to thinking about how many times I've had flat tires out riding. I've had quite a few. Most were reasonably harmless, but I came very close to crashing one of those times. I found a lot of different ways to get it fixed too.

Here's a list of what I can remember:
  • Yamaha DT-175 around 1982 - Was out exploring with a friend, rode over a mountain on a dirt road into a different county and ran over a large nail. I had no way to patch a tube or pump up a tire, so I took the rear wheel off, got on the back of the other bike, a DT-400, and rode about five miles into town holding the wheel. We found a tire shop, talked them into patching the tube, I put it back in the tire, then we filled it with air, rode back, stuck it back on the bike and finished the ride.

  • Ducati Monster around 1999 - I had gotten a flat tire on the rear of the Ducati, not while riding, and took the wheel to the local Ducati shop to have it patched. I figured I could get another 1000 miles out of that tire. One week later I was riding on a twisty back road, ran over a board or something with nails in it and punctured it again. The tire picked it up and slammed it into the plastic "hugger" that keeps dirt off of the shock and took a chunk out of that too. There was absolutely nowhere to park an injured motorcycle along that narrow road where I got the flat, so I crept along for nearly a mile on the flat tire before finding enough room to park it off of the road. I flagged down another rider who was passing through, talked him into giving me a ride home, then came back with my truck, loaded it and brought it home. I figured that tire was trying to tell me that it needed to be replaced by getting a second flat.

  • KTM 990 Adv, 2013 - Was riding around town, ran over a razor blade or something, and sliced open my brand new Heidenau rear tire - just 600 miles on it. Noticed it as I was pulling into the parking lot at work. I called the local motorcycle shop where I had bought the tire to see if they had another one and they did. The shop was only about a mile away and I thought I could just ride there on the flat, but they came to get me in a pickup truck and the bike and I went to the shop with them. It was about a 3/4" slice in the tire which possibly could have been fixed with a new tube, but I wouldn't be able to trust it at speed, so I paid the two hundred buck for another new tire. Better safe than sorry, and all that.

  • KTM 990 Adv, a year or so later - Was riding down a canyon road almost directly into the sun, didn't see a large rock in the road, hit it, made it through about two more turns then the front tire was completely flat and the bike didn't want to steer. Got it stopped at the far side of the oncoming lane and was thankful I hadn't gone down. A woman in a car came by about thirty seconds later and offered me a ride the few miles into town. Called a neighbor with a trailer that regularly holds motorcycles, and convinced them to drive 25 miles to come rescue me. Patched it, had another flat a couple of weeks later then replaced that one.

  • KTM 990 Adv, probably six months later - The rear tire on that bike was so stiff that I lost air in the rear and rode it about 40 miles on the highway before realizing what the real problem was. It felt strange, but I though it was the front again. Turned out the rear had no air. It was hard to tell it was "flat" by just pushing on the tire. Finally replaced it.
No more flats until yesterday. And now I'm realizing that the tire on the XR that went flat is the same model as all of those KTM flats. I really like that tire on and off road, but I'm beginning to think that they tend to go flat way too often.

Anybody else ever get flats while on a ride? If so, how did you handle it?
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