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Monday, 15 October 2018

In Praise of Dog Turds!

I've had a few punctures during my motorcycling career but in all that time, most of them have been slow(ish) leaks where I've been able ride to a safe point to properly address the problem.  Just 4 months ago I made a post about a puncture I got less than an hour from home.  Even though the leak was quite serious, carrying an electric pump got me home with multiple stops.  I've never actually had to use any of the repair kits I've carried over the years........ UNTIL NOW!

On Sunday, I was out on an IAM coaching ride with my colleague Drew in the central north island, some 170 km from home.  He was riding a Honda ST1300 and I wanted to see how he handled tight, narrow country roads with lots of elevation changes and blind bends.  East of the town of Cambridge and a long way from anywhere is a really challenging bit of road called French Pass.  We were both making good progress but when I followed him round one bend, the handling felt slightly spongy.  Wondered if it was my imagination but the next corner was worse, so called over the comms for Drew to pull over in a safe spot whilst I checked what was happening.  He stopped in a farm gateway and almost as soon as we stopped, the owner of the property came out to see if he could help.  As well as the farm, Chris ran a local mechanical maintenance business and offered his workshop so that we could do a proper inspection.

Sure enough, something long and sharp had entered the tyre but there was no sign of it.  My screw-in and snap-off Gryyp plugs weren't going to be big enough so it was time to try the euphemistically-called dog turds.  I can see where the name comes from, even though they are Chihuahua - sized!  For the uninitiated, this is the dog turd kit:

Chiuhuahua-sized dog turds!

The turds are comprised of a fibre rope impregnated with a sticky substance.  The rope gets doubled over and pushed through the puncture with an awl and the sticking out ends trimmed off.  My kit didn't have adhesive with it, just relying on stickiness and friction.

Using Chris's industrial compressor rather than my portable one, the tyre was inflated and after thanking Chris and his wife profusely, we set off again - RESULT!  Unfortunately, my optimism was short-lived as half an hour later, coming into the small town where we were due to finish the training ride, down went the tyre again!  The looped plug had clearly come out.  The turds were at least 10 years old and I suspect the principal reason was that they had lost a fair bit of stickiness.  Fortunately for a Sunday, a local auto accessories place was open and Drew rode round and got me some new super-sticky ones.

You can just see the two ends sticking out of the tyre

Chopping off the ends, a bit of spit was applied to see if there was any leak from the puncture - there wasn't!

Spit and not-polish

Soon after, Drew went on his way home to the Bay of Plenty and I headed north towards home in Coromandel.  Unfortunately, about 20 km up the road, the same thing happened again.  A closer inspection indicated that one dog turd probably wasn't adequate so I rammed 2 in and added one of the Gryyp plastic snap-off screws to lock everything in place.  I was lucky to inflate it to the proper pressure as my ancient inflator failed just as I reached the right pressure.  I did have a short bicycle pump in the bag but using it would have been moving into heart attack territory.  Given my previous lack of repair success and the fact that it was getting late in the afternoon, I didn't want to be stranded miles from anywhere on the Coromandel Peninsula (aka Deliverance/banjo country).  A couple of quick phone calls and I arranged to leave the bike at an IAM friend's place just short of the Peninsula and Jennie would pick me up from there.  As it happened, this repair worked perfectly and I arrived at my mate's place with no loss of pressure.  Still wouldn't have risked it to get me all the way home though.

Quickly pulled the rear wheel to take it somewhere where it could either be repaired or replaced.  Hell, it's only 4000 km old and the one before that was only 2000 km old.  At this rate, I'll never be able to do an end-of-life evaluation of the Michelin Road 5!  I'd prefer to think it was sheer bad luck on my part than a design weakness in the tyre.  A parting shot by my mate Tony before I headed home with Jennie was him threatening to sell the bike on the NZ equivalent of eBay before I got back!  

Tony, with his best "Have I got a deal for you" salesman's look!

I could probably have found a repair place a bit closer to where I live but this morning, headed on a 280 km round trip to south Auckland to one of my favourite tyre dealers as I knew that they had a new Road 5 tyre in stock if the belting was badly damaged.  Fortunately, I only needed a mushroom plug, not a new tyre which was a bright spot of good news with all the time-wasting.  Also took the opportunity to have a right-angled valve fitted to make life easier and bought some more Muc-Off bike cleaner (brilliant stuff), some Motul oil and a new filter so it turned out not to be a bad day.

Nice right-angled alloy valve stem

Tomorrow will see me returning to Tony's to re-fit the wheel and bring the bike home.  Oh, and a nice lunch on the way home as thanks to the long-suffering Jennie for ferrying me about!

There is an upside to this story though.  Getting practical experience of using dog turds was invaluable in case I ever need to use them in the future when help isn't readily at hand.  So many riders don't carry repair kits and it can be a bit more than inconvenient in some circumstances, especially a long way from anywhere with no cell coverage and no-one about.


18 comments:

  1. Nice one Geoff! Dog turds are awesome. I few years ago I got 2 punctures in one day (rear tyre was fairly worn out) and I reckon I can fix a puncture in less than 10 minutes now. A mate had one a while ago that we repaired twice and for fix number three had to put 2 turds in - tricky but it got him home.

    Always carry my tyre repair gear and compressor. One thing I have done is change from a normal cigarette type 12v plug to a flatter twp-pin plug - I've had 2 of the cigarette type get smashed rattling around with all my gear.

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  2. Hi Andrew,
    Yep,it might not seem like a good experience at the time,but it's good to know how to do it. Drew had a compressor with the flat 2 pin plug but no repair kit so it was good for him to see too. I just have croc clips straight onto the ibattery but Will go 2 pin too.

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  3. One of our group had a flat on Saturday, also in a near new tyre. He 'turded' it and got home OK. I carry a 'Stop & Go' kit which puts a greasy rubber mushroom plug into the tyre. I've never used it fortunately.

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    1. Hi Jules,
      Does the head of the mushroom sit on the outside or inside? I'm assuming you force the head through the hole. I think the old cross ply tyres may have been more resistant to punctures, probably because they had steel belting.

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    2. Head is forced inside the tyre. Here's a link to a video of a fella using the Stop and Go pocket plugger kit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NfuBFNaA1U

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    3. Hi Jules,
      Thanks so much for that - have never seen it before but will certainly be getting one. A combination of that and dog turds will definitely be prudent insurance, especially as I'm heading for the upper south island in February!

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  4. Essentially a few punctures in one day? Bugger!
    It makes me wonder that the dog turd kit that lives under my R1 rear seat is 1991 vintage. Perhaps I should bin it and get a new kit before I am stranded in Baja country too?
    Glad you could salvage the tyre at least.

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    1. Hi Dave - bugger indeed! It's quite likely that your turds have lost a good deal of their stick, so to speak! The difference between my old ones and the new ones from Repco was huge. Well worth the $5 to replace. Better collect my old CO2 canisters together too until I sort my old compressor out or get a new one too!

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  5. What is it with new tyres and getting punctures? Seriously.
    I feel you pain mate. I had a puncture on a new tyre 2 years ago with only about 1500kms on it. Since then I also now carry some dog turds with me. Haven't had to use them yet, but its only a matter of time.
    I don't know about you but I hate the though of riding a bike with a tyre thats been plugged.

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    1. Steve,
      It probably falls in the same category as dropping or scratching a bike when it's pretty new! I certainly wouldn't want dog turns in for very long but those purpose-designed mushroom plugs are ok.

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  6. Great to read about this. I was carrying one of these kits for a while, until I realized that my Harley Heritage...well, apparently spokes == tubes and tubes != compatibility with these. I've seriously considered even changing out the rims strictly to remove the tubes, but... spokes just go so well with the Heritage. Now that my wife is riding with me, though, on her own non-tube tires, I guess I should get another kit to carry.

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    1. Thanks for dropping by, Will! Carrying a kit of some kind is good insurance. I know some people carry one of the many versions of the pressurised foam or liquid. I don't know how effective they are but they make a real mess to clean up before a proper repair.

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  7. Honestly Geoff - I'm wondering what it is with you and tyres... You're going to be the world's expert on the Michelin Pilot 5 by the time this is through!

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  8. Blowed if I know Lee, must be cursed! Rob Van Proemeren suggested that I make some posts on bike forums to see if others have experienced similar problems. I thought that was pushing it a bit far until Steve Wright copped one in his on Sunday. I really do hope that it's down to chance rather than a property of the tyre.

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    1. Just watch wear you're going Geoff ;)

      Leave those poor nails, screws etc alone!

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    2. Maybe someone hates bikers up our way Andrew!

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  9. Just a quick heads up on the 'Silly string' tire kits (dog turds), once folded in half and pushed through the tire, twist the handle as far as you can and continue to do so as you with draw the tool... I've never had one fail having even ridden a tire several times on UK tracks!! That being said, with yours being 10 years old, there's no guaranteeing they wouldnt have failed either way (O_o)! Great read, Keep up the good work!

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    1. Thanks Anon! Always great to have additional input on getting a safe tyre repair. Yep, when comparing my old impregnated rope with the new ones, I'd bet good money that lack of adhesive on the first repair was the real issue. A timely warning to replace them every few years.

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