“Hey! How many flats have you had?”


This question is asked of us frequently by strangers we meet on the road. They are usually shocked to hear our response.

Since we’ve started this trip in October 2011 we have traveled about 5000 miles. In this time we haven’t had a single flat or had to change out our tires. Here’s how we keep such a clean record.

We bought super tough tires-Schwalbe Marathon Plus. These are well known tires for touring and some folks have claimed to use them for over 10000 miles. Our friend Cass Gilbert reviewed Schwalbe tires recently and you can check it out here.

We use tubes with slime in them. Whenever there’s a puncture the slime seeps out and seals the hole. These in combination with the tires are a strong match up.

Every few days Bryan takes a look at our tires to see if anything is stuck in them. As the tires wear little gashes and holes occur in the rubber. This is where small sharp things get stuck and lie in wait for the next object to push them in further. This is how flats happen. By “picking” out the thorns, glass shards, and steel belts from automobile tires we prevent mishaps. Bryan uses an awl and sometimes tweezers too to get the job done. These two tools are invaluable on the road.

Bryan “picks” the front tire

It’s a dirty job, but it keeps us rolling!

Another key to keeping our tires pumped is rather simple: don’t run over anything. Avoid all rubber scraps as they have little piece of sharp steel belts in them. Try to avoid broken glass, sticks, and trash. Think of the side of the road like an obstacle course.

We also try to keep our gear as light as we can and we evenly distribute the weight in our four panniers.  We go with a balance of 60% in the back and 40% in the front.  We haven’t ever broken a spoke.  We try to keep the center of gravity low on the bikes, so heaviest things like water and food go in the bottom of our back panniers.

All these details contribute to flat free riding on the road.

Keep the rubber side down,

Debi and Bryan


3 Responses to ““Hey! How many flats have you had?””

  1. Very informative! Hope you guys are doing great! We miss you back East but love it that you keep rolling! Roll on Roller Rebels! Lots of Love

  2. 2 Frank Zangara

    Great info. I was also wondering how your tires and bikes were holding up. More important….how are you two holding up?


    • 3 thrubike

      Hello Frank! We are doing pretty great. We are loving this part of the country-huge mountain views, endless climbs and descents, super nice people and mostly courteous drivers. It’s been a long haul now, we’re on our 9th month. We are starting to dream about settling somewhere and we continue our travels to figure that out. Thanks for checking in with us-how are you? Travel plans for the summer? The southwest was so exciting, maybe you’ll get out here soon. Take care, Debi and Bryan

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