Motorcycle Tire Repair: Three Ways to Fix a Flat

Don’t let a flat tire strand you on your next motorcycle adventure.

fixing a motorcycle flat tire on the road

Back in the "good" old days of magneto ignition and leather-belt final drives, roadside repairs on a motorcycle were the rule, not the exception. Today, so long as you're not a crasher, you can probably ride a new bike across a continent without doing anything more than topping off the tank every few hundred miles and maybe changing the oil and filters.

Except for tires.

Don’t get us wrong: Modern motorcycle tires are about a million times better than what we had just 30 years ago, but flats are still the bane of an ADV rider’s existence. And the more interesting and less traveled the road, the greater the chance of a flat. Today, you better have a motorcycle tire repair kit or at least a few tips at your disposal.

What to do? With the tubeless tires on bigger ADV bikes, a plug is the go-to solution, and there are two options.

A caveat here: Every tire company on the dry portion of the planet will tell you not to plug or patch one of their products. But get real: If it boils down to being eaten by hyenas or chancing a plugged tire, the choice is clear—at least to us.

Stop and Go flat tire repair system

Stop & Go

The Stop & Go system uses a mushroom-shaped rubber plug, which you “inject” into the tire with an included tool resembling an industrial-strength hypodermic needle. The Standard model uses a large, pistol-shaped gun to shoot the plug in; most of us will opt for their smaller Pocket Tire Plugger whose insertion tool is the size of a typical screwdriver. First-hand experience has been quite good with this product, both on streetbikes and ADV bikes. Advantages? Solid feel and few worries about the plug spitting out at higher speeds.

Dynaplug flat tire repair system


This is a more familiar product, basically a rope-like section of plugging material impregnated with a sealant. Separating the Dynaplug from the more common part-store tire plugs is its brass tip that makes insertion easier. So does a special insertion tool, slightly smaller than the Stop & Go. The Dynaplug might seem a bit dodgier, but you can stack up to four plugs (according to the manufacturer) in a single hole.

Tube Time

With a really bad puncture (like a rock slice) your only fallback option is to carry a tube, tire irons, and a way to remove the old (tubeless) valve stem. While this is a hassle, especially since you need to dismount the wheel from the bike, it still beats walking. Make sure you carry a tube large enough to fit your rim. The tire companies will tell you not to put a tube in a tubeless tire, and you should probably listen to them. On the other hand, they never offer to come out and get me when I’m stuck, so I carry a tube.

Aerostich air pump

Airing Up

Three choices here: CO2 cartridges, a compressor, or a bicycle pump. CO2 is the minimalist's preferred option—it's just a matter of how lucky you feel and how many you carry. A compressor is heavier and more hassle, but as long as your electrical system functions, you'll have air. A mountain-bike pump is appealing: light, cheap, foolproof. But it also took Editor-in-Chief Mark Hoyer more than 500 strokes to reinflate the rear tire on a big ADV bike. And "stroke" is the operant term: Even though Hoyer is firefighter-fit, he just about had a stroke using the thing. Still, there's always one in our daypack as a last resort.

Seen that picture in the "Motorcycle Road Trip: Jeff's Baja Adventure" story, the one where they broke three wrenches trying to get a wheel off? Dismounting a wheel and having a friend pack the part out for a repair only works if you have the right tools and if someone (who shall remain nameless) has paid attention to axle torque. A wise old Roman, Vegetius, once observed, "Si vis pacem, para bellum." If you want peace, prepare for war. Were he a motorcyclist, he might have told us this: If you want to ride, prepare for flats.