How To Patch a Tubeless Motorcycle Tire

Flat tire in a car? You’re back on the road in fifteen minutes. Flat tire on a motorcycle? You need to have a plan. I used this generic string-type tubeless tire repair kit after noticing that my rear tire was losing a few psi per week. Here's how you can too.

The kit consists of a rasp, a needle tool, five sticky strings, and some rubber cement. The only thing it’s missing is a pair of pliers to help remove the foreign object from the tire. It's always a good idea to carry a good multitool too.

I pulled the 3 millimeter-thick nail out of the tire. Hiss! It took a great deal of force and twisting to get the 6 millimeter-thick rasp into the rapidly deflating tire. In fact, it felt like a very bad idea—if the repair didn’t work, the tire would be ruined and I’d have to call a tow truck.

After cleaning rubber particles from the enlarged hole with a glob of rubber cement and the needle tool, it was time to insert the repair string. The string is a sticky, 4” long rope about as thick as a pencil. It threads through the needle tool, which is forced into the tire until only one third of the string remains visible.

The needle tool is yanked straight out of the tire and the excess string is cut off nearly flush with the tire. The needle tool is split at the tip like a pinched fork, which allows it to be removed from the tire without pulling the string out as well.

After one month and 608 miles of two-up riding and highway speeds, the plug still looks great. The tire has lost about 1 psi. I’d have no issues riding on it until the tire wore out, and a quick look around on forums shows that many riders with plugged tires do just that.

I’ve heard that Germany doesn’t allow plugged tires. I’ve also heard that a repaired tire loses one speed-rating. That means this Z-Rated tire would become a V-Rated tire, with a top speed of 149 mph. That seems absurdly high. Safety also depends on the position of the patch, if the tire has steel belts, who does the work, and the way the tire is constructed. I advise against patching any tire without first contacting the manufacturer. If there is any doubt, replace the tire.

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