It isn’t only embarrassing but also dangerous if your tire explodes. Before we go into factors that may cause a bike tire to explode, let’s know why bike tire explosions occur.
Tire explosions or tire blowouts are triggered by various elements, including warmer temperatures, insufficient tire inflation, overload, severely worn or broken tread, and using low-grade second-hand tires.
Bike tire explosions are arguably one of the most common worries among new bike riders. While tire blowouts are frequent, there are practical techniques to avoid them.
In this article, we’ll explore possible causes of bike tire explosions, preventive measures, and quick fixes.
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Causes of bike tire explosions
Cycling can be a fun activity given the right conditions. However, bike tire explosions are a frightening experience that can cause mild to serious injuries, and in some cases, death.
Riders are typically catapulted from their bikes, resulting in an accident, which can be fatal. Bikes in such cases go from being easy to control to exceedingly difficult to control.
Accidents caused by tire blowouts could result in serious injury to both the cyclist and, in certain cases, other road users.
There are several reasons bike tire explosions occur. Below are some of the most common causes of sudden bike tire explosions:
- Warmer temperature
- High speed
- Direct impact
- Stunts and reckless driving
- Using low-grade second-hand tires
Tropical and subtropical climates are noted for being hotter. Air pressure in bike tires ridden in hot conditions can become very reactive and unstable.
A tire explosion is a foregone conclusion when there is an excess buildup of heat on or in your tires.
They taught in school that temperature is directly proportional to pressure. This means heat builds up inside the tires, causing the air to get heated. Once pressurization occurs, bike tire expansion is inevitable.
Let’s not forget the effect of friction on the tires by the surface of the road. The heat from the road would further weaken the tires when the temperature continued to increase.
Different bike tire brands on the market are designed for specific speeds for the best functionality. The materials used and the design process helps tires to tolerate speeds, but only up to specific points.
Any further than that and the tire structure can be compromised. The cause of a bike tire blowout, in this case, would be structural constraints, heat generated by friction, and other factors.
Bad roads are a common problem in many parts of the world. Expert cyclists experienced enough to avoid impediments such as potholes and bumps still suffer from bike tire blowouts caused by direct impact.
Engaging in such a direct hit can poke your tire surface causing pressurized air in the tire to escape. Your guess is as good as mine; the resulting effect is tire explosion.
As per a report from the Sydney Morning Herald, about 102,000 people are wounded every day because of unsafe roads. There are 3,600 fatalities daily, equating to about 1.35 million deaths yearly due to road traffic accidents around globally.
One of the prevalent causes of bike tire explosions is inadequate air pressure. Under-inflated bike tires have resulted in about 75% of road accidents inspired by tire explosions.
Excessive flexing develops when a tire is under-inflated. This can greatly increase the tire contact with the surface of the road.
The increased frictional force is formed, resulting in overheating in the tire. The heat generated in this situation is significantly greater than what would occur if you were riding on a really hot summer afternoon.
Expect the inevitable to happen if your bike tire is under-inflated. Also, the risk of tire blowouts due to under-inflation is far greater than when the blowout is caused by increased temperatures alone.
Overloading a bike can cause tire breaks in the same way that under-inflated tires do.
Exerting too much weight on your bike will cause the sidewalls to flex when the load shifts to the tires. The pattern will be similar to what happens when your tires are under-inflated.
Generally, the bike weight limit ranges between 275 to 300 lbs. Any more can cause tire expansion and explosion. You can find the overall bike weight limit in the company’s guide.
Stunts and reckless driving
Mountain biking, wheelies, and drifting are all fun, but they can also be deadly if your tires are not well-managed.
It pays to be very careful with your tires if you use your bike for any of these activities.
Stunts of this nature can significantly wear out, deteriorate, or destroy your bike tire. Tire blowouts are also very common with bike riders who perform these feats.
In some situations, riders aren’t aware of how serious the problem is until it’s too late. This can cause their bikes to fail them when they least expect it.
If you engage in extreme bike riding activities, it is essential that you take the time to properly inspect your bike tires as regularly as possible.
Using low-grade second-hand tires
Utilizing already used bike tires isn’t only careless, but also very risky. One of the leading causes of bike tire explosions is using substandard bike tires.
India has a sizable market for used and outdated bike tires. This market has recorded a rise in the purchase of these inferior tires, which is quite unfortunate.
Never jeopardize the quality or safety of your tires. Protecting your life is far more essential than saving a few bucks.
Blowouts happen when bike tires can no longer hold in air pressure in the tire walls. You should also know that most tire explosions aren’t caused by a sudden traumatic incident. They are usually caused by gradual deterioration.
Explosions usually begin when there is a tiny hole in the tire, which can be formed by driving over road debris. Hitting a curb or obstruction at high speed can also cause it. Avoiding unsafe potholes and curbs reduces the likelihood of a blowout.
After cycling for a few miles, air pressure in the tire drops progressively as air leaks through the hole. This can result in a steady decline in the diameter of an affected tire. The more weight exerted on the bike, the easier it is for blowouts to occur.
If you’ve ever experienced an explosion from a bike tire, you’d notice the level of damage that can happen in a matter of seconds.
Without a doubt, tire bursts are harmful. Riders can go into panic mode and lose control of their bike.
Notwithstanding, this doesn’t mean that there are no sure ways of preventing blowouts from happening.
How to prevent a bike tire from exploding
No bike rider prays to be involved in a bike accident. The following are steps to take to prevent your bike tire from exploding.
Check that your tires are in good shape and condition
All tires include a treadwear indication bar that tells you when a bike tire requires replacement. The tread depth should ideally be between 1.5mm and 2.5mm.
One of the clear signs of a worn-out tire is a decrease in tread depth. Ultimately, your indicator bar overlaps with the rest of the tire.
If this is the case, having your bike tire replaced is the smartest thing to do. It’s also best to maintain a slow and steady ride if your tires’ condition is compromised.
Make sure you use the proper tire pressure
As previously stated, one of the leading reasons for bike tire explosions is under-inflation. Tire pressure rises as temperatures rise and fall as temperatures fall.
You can keep an eye on the weather conditions in regions where you ride your bike. Maintaining the recommended pressure as specified in your bike’s owner’s manual is an effective way to prevent tire blowouts.
Always choose well-known brands
Large corporations have dedicated R&D centers where tire products are carefully designed and extensively examined before being distributed to the public. These tires brands get approval from reputable agencies before they are introduced to users.
This process helps to cross out unknown brands or counterfeits. It also educates bike owners on the right tire brands to trust and invest their money in.
Carefully examine your bike rims
When bikers investigate the reason for a puncture, rims sometimes go unchecked. Jagged rims can cause a lot more damage to your bike tire than the road you ride on.
Look out for the following on your rims if you recently experienced a flat tire that wasn’t caused by a sharp object or a severe impact:
- Check that the rim tape is flat and smooth around the wheel and that it is not lumped.
- Assess the rim tape to make sure that it covers each spoke hole.
- Evaluate the valve hole and the rim edges. Check for any jagged edges that could induce a flat.
Start fixing the issue if you observe any of the above listed. You could start by replacing outdated rim tape and filing any noticeable sharp edges.
Don’t cover the rim with electrical or other home adhesives. Doing this will not give adequate protection against a puncture.
Avoid hard braking
Usually, the first thing most bike riders experiencing tire explosions for the first time do is slam on the brakes. Experts would tell you that this is the worst thing you could do in such a situation.
Carefully bringing your bike to a stop after a tire blowout can help avoid accidents. You can start by applying the brakes gently, instead of a hard brake.
Pay attention to the road
It is important that you consider the road you’d be riding on so you can prevent tire punctures that may cause explosions.
If no bike lanes are available, ride as far away from the gutter as allowed. Moving away from the curb also makes you more noticeable to oncoming traffic.
It is also important to stop and check your tires after passing through roads you aren’t sure are safe for your bike. You could also stop to clear out debris you think might puncture your bike tire.
Also, you should avoid manholes and potholes as much as possible. It shouldn’t matter if they are open or closed.
Paying enough attention to what’s in front will reduce your chances of getting an impact puncture. It would also minimize the risk of bike tire explosions.
Dangers of exploding bike tires
Let us consider some of the likely effects of exploding bike tires on both the rider and the people around them.
- It goes without saying that an abrupt explosion can result in significant injuries when a momentary loss of bike control leads to an accident.
- The upper or lower limbs suffer the most bicycle-related injuries. Then followed by the head, face, neck, and lower and thorax.
- Injuries affecting the upper or lower limb can be quite serious. Victims may need to get an x-ray to be sure what the damage is, and how to proceed with medical help.
- Injuries to the head, neck, and thorax may be more complicated to treat, as these are sensitive body parts. Nevertheless, an X-ray may also be required before any serious medical attention is provided.
The majority of bike tire explosion accidents result in surface injuries including lacerations, contusions, and abrasions. Treating injuries in this category may not be so expensive, and a simple first aid could help.
Abrasions can range from minor to serious road rash, and in some cases, may require the removal of embedded debris.
In some cases, there is a chance that injuries sustained from serious bike tire explosions could lead to death. Understanding that a bike tire explosion poses more danger than physical harm is essential.
Riders must also consider the possible financial strain that can occur when such explosions occur.
Many riders who survive bike tire explosions end up spending more than they ought to in either fixing their bikes or paying the medical bills of the people they injure. Bike tire explosions or blowouts are more serious than people take them.