|COBDR campsite where Sterling Noren's BMW got a flat tire.|
It was the second flat of the trip.
Flat tires can happen to anyone, and sooner or later they happen to everyone. So within seconds Sterling had plenty of helping hands, and soon his fully loaded Beemer was back on the "off" road.
|Roadside flat repair in Montana|
Having the know-how to repair a flat tire roadside is a standard bit of kit for motorcyclists who travel backcountry roads. Out there, bits of barbed wire, fence nails and other assorted agricultural debris often lurks in the center or on the sides of dirt roads. (A few years ago, 20 miles from home base in Idaho on our way to ride a portion of Sam Correro's Trans America Trail, we got a large nail in a brand-new rear Continental TKC80 that was mounted some 30 minutes earlier ...).
|A bolt punctured a tire on our Sierra to the Sea ADV route.|
|No help was to be found in a Montana ghost town.|
The usual solution for motorcyclists is know-how that comes from practicing at home.
|Rocks destroyed a Michelin all-terrain tire on our 4Runner.|
Our advice: Carry two spare tires. This is not theoretical; it happens. We've gotten two flats in a day. We've visited with travelers who've had trips ruined. There are YouTube videos on the topic. And we've had clients who disregarded our advice to carry two spares ... and paid the heavy price of a tow, often in the $1,000-plus range.
That happened a couple of seasons ago to a couple on one of our custom routes through Nevada and Idaho. Their full-size, off-road edition SUV came with a "donut" spare for 50 paved miles. But they were miles from paved roads. And a cowboy who stopped to help when they thought the situation involved only one flat noticed that they were in fact getting a second flat while fixing the first.
|Second spare tire, extra gas on Wilco Offroad's Hitchgate Solo|
But how? A modern 17- or 18-inch wheel/tire combo takes up a lot of space. It may not fit inside with camping gear, cooler, etc. The roof rack may be a good option, if the wheel can be securely attached so it doesn't migrate around. But more and more SUVs are losing rooftop cargo capacity to rooftop tents.
|Second spare tire on a Yakima Load Warrior basket and rack.|
In addition to adding placement for a second spare tire, it enables us to retain the factory spare-tire mount beneath the cargo area, and provides a mount for a RotopaX-style fuel can and, if you wish, a Hi-Lift jack. (Having had serious leakage issues with some RotopaX cans, we instead use the company's cheaper FuelpaX version to carry extra gasoline. But we've never owned, used or needed a Hi-Lift jack.)
At well over $800, the Hitchgate Solo is an expensive solution. But with three 4Runners in our research fleet, it has been a practical solution that can be swapped among the trucks.
Once assembled and mounted, the Hitchgate Solo works well, with a swing-out arm that allows easy access the cargo area. But installation reveals a couple of significant design flaws that the consumer must overcome with some improvisation and a few trips to the hardware store. (Installation problems are documented separately in an earlier post.)
We found a refurbished matching wheel on eBay, and a good-enough used tire at our favorite local tire shop. And yes, we've used them. So however you manage to store a second spare wheel and tire, it should be standard equipment. If you're a moto traveler, the ability to repair one should be a well-honed skill acquired the easy way: with YouTube videos, and practicing at home.
|Nailed! Along our Heart of the West ADV Route|