January 2006 Safety Thoughts 

Riding Tip – Controlling a Flat Tire 

Safety Officer, Dave Hansen 


This month I’m returning to a subject that is related to that most critical of components; tires. 

First of all, let me preface today’s discussion by saying that I am a firm believer and vocal advocate for tubeless motorcycle tires. There is a much lower chance for a sudden catastrophic failure event with tubeless tires than with tubed tires. 

Unfortunately, many among us still prefer the traditional look of spoked wheels, necessitating the continued use of tubed tire & wheel assemblies. For those who prefer this traditional look, this talk’s for you. 

When you have your flat, I hope it happens in your garage. If you’re riding though, you should: 

  1. Ease off the throttle and slow down gradually. 
  2. Do not use the brakes. Braking,especially braking hard, will only make keeping control of your motorcycle even more difficult. If you must use some brake, apply gradual force to the brake on the good tire and ease your motorcycle to a safe stop. 

Caution: Using the brake on the wheel with the bad tire can cause the tire to separate from the rim, resulting in immediate loss of control. Be aware, however, that integrated braking systems don't permit “rear-brake-only” applications, while linked braking systems do not allow for single-brake operation. On motorcycles with either of these two systems, braking with the “good tire only” may not be possible. Any braking necessary should be done very lightly and with great care. Avoid downshifting too. Like braking, this will only make your bike less stable. 

  1. Firmly hold on to the handlebars while keeping your arms bent. Do not “fight” the steering to correct the wobble or weave that will likely develop. Focus instead on maintaining control by keeping your motorcycle directed in as straight a line as possible until it comes to a stop. 
  2. Remain seated until your motorcycle has come to a full stop. 
  3. Once stopped, push your motorcycle as far away from the travel lanes as possible. 

Finally, if this occurs during a group ride, everyone around the rider experiencing the flat needs to give that rider the entire and exclusive use of the lane and roadway to get stopped safely. If traveling at any rate of speed at all, they’re going to need it. 

Ride Safe!