On last Saturday’s group ride a buddy and I were dropped by the main group. The fast dudes must have been feeling good because by mile 8 we were already going over 25 mph and I finally gave in at 27. The other guy did the same about 30 seconds later. That left us to ride by ourselves and we had a great ride despite the wind. We followed a short ride 25 mile loop and enjoyed the cool temps.

About 3 miles from the finish I heard a loud ‘pop’ from behind me. I knew immediately that my buddy had just flatted so I pulled over. Upon further investigation he discovered that not only had he flatted but he had a hole in his tire as well. It looked like the tire had simply become worn in one spot. The result was a hole in the tire and a flat tube.

I asked him if he had a boot and he said, “A what?”

We took care of his tire but I thought booting a tire would be a great topic to discuss here on the blog.

What is a Boot?

If you’re thinking cockroach-killers then I need to educate you. A boot, in relation to cycling, is a piece of material placed between the tube and tire to keep the tube from bulging out of a hole in the tire. I think we can all agree that the tube is held in place by the tire. If the integrity of the tire is broken (i.e. a cut or large puncture) the tube will bulge out of that hole when you attempt to re-inflate it. With the tube sticking out you’ll be flat again faster than you can say Yippee Ki Yay. And possibly followed closely by the rest of the famous line from the movie Die Hard.

In order to keep the tube in the tire where it belongs, and get back home, we used a boot.

What Can Be Used as a Boot?

In order to use a boot you need to carry something with you (your seat bag is a good place) that can serve as a boot. Some examples include:

  • A dollar bill – I usually carry a one in a ziploc bag with my phone for this purpose. Plus it doubles as money if you need it. Remember the Afflac commercial? They give you cash which is just as good as money.
  • An old piece of tire – probably the rest thing to use because you’re using the same material as your tire and because the boot will be the correct shape.
  • Emergency boot kit – Park Tool makes an emergency tire boot kit that contains three pressure sensitive adhesive boots.
  • Patch kit backing – the plastic sheet those patch kit stickers are attached to can be used in a pinch. That’s what we did on Saturday. I didn’t have a dollar bill (must have spent it) but I did have a patch kit. Worked like a champ.

Whatever material you use just make sure it isn’t stretchy. Like a piece of tube. If the material can stretch then it won’t form a solid barrier between the tube and hole in the tire.

Once you have the boot in place the pressure in the tube will keep it in place. Be careful when re-inflating and watch the booted area to make sure a bulge doesn’t develope. I wouldn’t inflate my tire to full pressure either just to be on the safe side.

A boot is only a temporary fix so you need to replace that tire as soon as possible.

Closely related to this topic is my article 6 Tips to Repairing a Bicycle Flat Tire.

Anyone have suggestions or creative solutions for a boot?

PhotoC: TouringCyclist