Punctures: what’s the best inflation method?

A puncture is always an unpleasant surprise. As soon as you notice it your first thought usually goes to a spare inner tube. Have I got one? Is it still in good condition? Then once these initial doubts have been dispelled and you’ve replaced the tube, it’s time to inflate it. But with what? A pump? Mini pump? “Inflate and repair” aerosol? CO2?
These are basically the options available, and though hardly anyone carries a classic long pump with them attached to their seat tube any more, it would still be (weight apart) the most effective solution.
Foam sprays are certainly quick and convenient, but once used the inner tube cannot be repaired and has to be thrown away. Also, if you have several miles to go before you get home there is a risk the repair won’t hold.
Then there are mini pumps and CO2 sprays, which are almost always used in combination for added convenience.
Here are a few tips to avoid wasting the spray and having to walk home pushing…

  • Available in 12 and 16 g cans, it’s always best to opt for the larger size because you can get higher pressures. Don’t worry about over inflating, as tyres these days can comfortably hold 10 atmospheres.
  • Instead of the simple dispenser connection it’s best to use a hybrid mini pump. It fits comfortably in your back pocket and has the added advantage of allowing you to inflate the new inner tube slightly before applying the spray, thus allowing it to be replaced more easily and avoid “pinching” it between the tyre and rim.
  • The CO2 cartridge is located inside the pump body. It can be pierced to release the carbon dioxide using a special tipped screw.
    The most delicate step is attaching the pump to the valve. Just the slightest of errors can release and waste all the gas. So, before piercing the can, make sure everything is in place and properly connected.

The operation is not difficult, it just takes a little practice, and you need to account for a bit of “wastage”. It’s best to practise a couple of times at home and always carry at least two spare sprays.

One last thing, compressed CO2, which expands rapidly, absorbs heat so you’ll find the cartridge will suddenly become ice-cold during use.

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