If your bike’s tire got punctured but the bike is closed, you may be wondering whether it’s possible to repair the tire with duct tape and how long such a repair might take.
Duct tape is certainly a staple to have around the house. But can you repair a flat tire with it?
Duct tape may work as an emergency patch for a punctured tire in a few rare situations. But it isn’t an ideal fix, and you should only revert to it if you don’t have a patch kit or tire sealant at hand.
Read on to learn more about repairing a bike tire with duct tape, what the pros and cons are, and what other options you have.
Can You Patch Your Bike’s Flat Tire With Duct Tape?
If you’re caught short with no puncture repair kit and you just got a flat tire, duct tape is worth trying.
When it works, it will often provide a good enough patch to get you home. Better than walking with the bike by your side, right? If you try to use it on a long ride, it’s likely to fail and leave you with a flat at the worst possible moment.
Duct tape doesn’t perform well when it gets hot, so it’s not ideal if you live in a warm climate or if you’re riding in sultry summer. The tires will get hot when you’re using them, so make sure that you don’t depend upon duct tape for long rides in particular.
Furthermore, duct tape is only water resistant—not waterproof.
That means that if you’re riding it in wet or even damp conditions, it’s likely to start peeling off before long, because moisture will seep under the edges.
How to Fix a Tire With Duct Tape
Exactly how to fix a tire with duct tape depends on the type of tire at hand.
On Clincher Tires
Dismount the tire and remove the inner tube. Inflate the tube and locate the punctured area (if in doubt, hold it to your ear and turn it; you will hear a hissing sound).
Tape the area, trying not to squeeze the tire. The inner tube should retain its shape as much as possible. Otherwise, the tape will give way due to the additional pressure.
On Tubular Tires
If you’re riding with a tubular tire, you don’t even need to take it off. Clean the area around the puncture, then seal the tire and rim with duct tape. Apply several rounds of tape, as much as the distance between the spokes will allow.
On Tubeless Tires
In the case of a tubeless tire, you should apply the tape to the inside of the carcass. Dismount the tire and put a good amount of tape on the hole to seal it as well as possible.
If you’re on a road bike with slick or semi-slick tires, you can try to seal the tire and the rim just like you would do on a tubular tire. This will be much harder to do on a knobby tire as it will be a real challenge to form a seal.
How Long Will A Duct Tape Patch Last?
Duct tape patches won’t last for long, and, in general, you should only be using one to get yourself home after a tire has gone flat.
If it’s a long journey, they may not even manage this.
The amount of time a repair will last does vary, of course, depending on the tire, the tape, the conditions, and how well you managed to stick the tape to the rubber. Some people have had success with tape lasting for several rides—but you shouldn’t depend on this.
Instead, use duct tape for an emergency repair and get yourself home, or start carrying inner tubes in your bike’s bags so that you’ve got a replacement tube when you need it.
What Else Can Be Used To Make A Patch?
If you don’t have a patch kit and you don’t want to buy one, you might be wondering what else you have at home that could be used to create a temporary repair. There are not many options, as household items don’t tend to be well suited to fixing bike tires, but you could try rubber cement.
To use this, sand the area and clean it with alcohol, and then cut a patch from an old tube or another piece of rubber. Coat the underside of this with rubber cement, and then apply it to the hole. Squeeze hard while it bonds, and then cover it with some plastic wrap to help keep the patch in place.
You may see other clever suggestions on how to fix a bike tire without a patch kit, and if you’re stuck, you may wish to try these. However, they will not generally work well, and many people find that they just end up in a mess with a flat tire, miles from home.
If you have got your bike home, the best thing to do to repair it is to order a patch kit or, for small punctures, tire sealant. These tend to be readily available and cheaper than a new tire.
Most household items will not do the trick and should be avoided.
Remember, a tire is full of air under pressure. And, unless they have been specially designed, most materials will not work well for patching a tire. It is very unlikely that quick fix solutions such as clear/packing tape, silicone sealant, or other general household items will hold for more than a few miles, if that.
If you repair a bicycle tire poorly, you run the risk of damaging the rims of your bike.
In case the tire blows out on the way, you may have to ride it back without an air cushion, which could bend the metal.
You can make a temporary patch for a bike tire using duct tape, but on the whole, duct tape is not a suitable substance for repairing a bike tire with, and you should avoid using it if you have access to a puncture repair kit instead.