Fixing a hole

I ride a bicycle, to the extent that it’s probably “enthusiastically”. Among other things, this must mean I can make pronouncements about bicycling equipment. Great.

Getting a puncture is annoying, isn’t it? My usual commute is particularly bad for thorns and shards of stone – oh, woe unto me. But I suppose repairing a puncture – adhering a little patch of rubber to the punctured inner tube, fixing a hole where the air was getting out – is satisfying.

Relentless innovators haven’t relented in innovating in the field of puncture repair. A recent innovation is “quick” sticky patches which obviate the supposed drudgery of using a tube of vulcanising rubber solution. Some hucksters call these patches “glueless”, which is patently poppycock as there’s still glue involved – it’s just already on the patches.

At some point, I bought just such a kit, offered by Meqix of Taiwan. It’s very fancy – some patches, some minimalist magnetic tyre levers, and some other items all fit neatly inside a sleek metal case. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say it’s like if Jonathan Ive designed a puncture repair kit, but really it reminds me of one of Asus’s high-end laptops. It even comes with the world’s smallest zester, for … making your tyres citrusy? (Well, actually, it’s for preparing the surface of the inner tube for the patch – but sandpaper, also provided, is a better tool for doing that.)

It’s fine. I still have, and use, the levers – it’s nice that they’re magnetic, even though I suspect the magnetism of destroying at least one debit card. But the patches. They don’t help with the most dreaded part of repairing a puncture – levering the tyre off the wheel, and finding the hole. They don’t adhere to the inner tube very well. Traditional bring-you-own-glue patches do a better job, and give more satisfaction.

Which puncture repair patches do I like? Years ago, I had some dispiriting puncture repair experiences, with some low-quality backstreet rubber patches. I would fix a puncture, and then air would start leaking out from beneath the patch. Was I doing it wrong? Was I a bad person? Then I chanced upon some Rema Tip Top patches, and everything changed. It turns out that product review website The Wirecutter agrees, which is a nice affirmation:

After splitting very tiny hairs over 36 hours of testing, our official endorsement goes to the Rema Tip Top TT-02 patches, which do everything the competition does, but better. All of these patches have beveled edges; the beveling on the Rema is thinner and finer than what you’ll find elsewhere. All of the patches flex with the tube; the Rema flexes better. The edge of the patch is also ruffled, which makes the task of peeling up the patch from the glue more difficult because there’s more edge surface area to bond—that’s a good thing. You can save a couple of bucks by going with a generic brand, but I wouldn’t. There’s nothing more annoying than a failed patch at an inopportune moment.

So we have a good way to repair punctures, but what would be even better? No punctures at all. Can you tell where this is going? To be continued.