What can you get for a dollar these days? Not much, but it can save your ride if you tear your tire.
If you've been in the sport long enough, you've probably been on a ride where you or someone else gets a slice in their tire. Even if they're running tubeless with sealant, sometimes it's too large to get sealed. And while the tubeless tire plugs are awesome, sometimes it's not pluggable, too. Time to put in a new tube, but first we must bandage up that cut.
Commonly known as a "tire boot", the idea is to take something and line the inside of the tire where the gash is located so that the fresh tube isn't exposed to the road or trail, which would inevitably lead to another burst tube.
Many decades ago I had read in some cycling magazine about using a dollar (or any paper money) to act as a tire boot. While you can also use bar or gel wrappers, duct tape, or bits of trash you find on the side of the road (I actually did this with a buddy a long time ago), a bill works great. There are also official tire boots you can purchase, which are certainly not a bad idea to have in your pack. But if you don't, chances are you have a couple of dollars stashed in your tool kit or seat pack for those emergency stops at the gas station that doesn't take credit cards for purchases less than $10. And if you don't have some bills in there, make that happen.
After you have access to the inside of the tire and the old tube (if applicable) has been removed AND you've swept the inside of the tire to make sure there's not other sharp debris in there, it's time to put in the boot. I've read about wrapping the bill around the tube, but I've always just lined the tire where the gash is located. I will usually fold it so it's at least two-ply for more protection. Making sure the boot doesn't move while installing the new tube, I carefully then reinstall the tire completely. Look to see that you haven't pinched then tube by squeezing the bead together inside the rim (you shouldn't see any tube sticking out) and then CAREFULLY and SLOWLY re-inflate your tire to 20-30 psi. Take a look to insure the tube isn't poking out of the cut and then re-inflate to riding pressure, reinstall your wheel, check your brakes, and you're off!
I've had to use tire boots more than once, and it's always interesting to me what they look like when you pull them out. Yes, remove and discard the tire as riding with a cut in your tire, even booted, is not a great way to continue and can be dangerous.. I remember using a five dollar bill once and I had many miles to go. When I removed it after the ride, it was super compressed and really smooth from being jammed in there with the 120 psi we used to run back in the day. The five bucks went back in my pack and I was ready for the next adventure!
Have any tips or tricks? Shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment below.
Keep on riding!
Coach B.L. is the head coach at BJL Coaching and an avid racer and cycling enthusiast himself.