For many motorcyclists, the feeling of a tyre going flat signals the beginning of a nightmare. Most of the time, it means a call to a recovery company, a long wait by the roadside until a motorcycle-ready truck arrives, and a ride home in the cab of a lorry rather than on your pride and joy.
However, it is possible to beat the wait and continue on your journey – at least back home or to a nearby tyre shop – if you have a puncture repair kit with you.
You don’t need to be an experienced tyre fitter or mechanic to repair a tyre enough to get you out of trouble and to the relative safety of someone who can fix or replace your tyre.
Puncture repair kits aren't to be used anywhere
It goes without saying that these kinds of repairs are only appropriate for certain geographical locations. For example, you shouldn’t ever try this on the hard shoulder of the motorway with other traffic flying past you. But if you can get off the motorway into a service station or off at a junction and find a safe place to stop and repair your tyre, then it’s definitely worth a go.
We're talking about tubeless tyres only
Note that the majority of the kits we’re looking at here are for tubeless tyres, as used by the majority of road-based bikes. Options for tubed tyres, which are used by many adventure or off-road bikes – even those used on the road between off-road forays – are different and we’ll look at these in a separate story.
How puncture repair kits work
Pretty much all the tubeless kits are based on the same idea; once you have removed whatever it is that caused the puncture, you ream out the hole, insert a plug to fill the hole (a worm, string, or plug), reinflate the tyre and you’re back on your way.
You should also be aware that some kits come with the means of reinflating your tyre (a small canister of gas, for example) but where they do not, you will need assistance or to use a mini compressor (which, if you are an off-roader mid-way through a trip, you may have with you anyway and which we will also look at in a separate article).
You can't just repair any puncture on any tyre
When it comes to repairs, Tyresafe, a tyre-industry association created to promote tyre safety, recommends that repairs are only carried out in the central 50% of the tyre and never the sidewall and that tyres with a speed rating higher than V (149mph) should never be repaired.
It suggests that for tyres with speed ratings up to J (62mph), no more than two 6mm repairs should be considered safe and that for tyres up to and including V speed rating, a single repair up to 3mm should be considered the limit. It also suggests that repaired tyres should be inspected by a professional when possible to ascertain their suitability for continued use.
The best motorbike puncture repair kits
Oxford CO2 Tyre Repair
‘This has saved the day’
Tested by Justin Hayzelden for two years, 35,000 miles - Quality 5/5, Value 5/5
There’s nothing fun about waiting for recovery with a puncture, but carry a repair kit and you’re soon rolling again. This particular pack has been part of my essential kit for the past two years and has saved the day when road testing on more than one occasion, paying for itself at least twice over.
It comes with full instructions and includes everything you need to plug a hole, though it can get a bit messy once you start squirting the glue around - a good tip is to stuff some latex gloves in the accompanying storage pouch.
There’s enough material to fix 5 punctures, however the CO2 canisters supplied will only inflate one tyre. Top-ups are available separately though (£9.99 for 4), so replace them as you use them without needing to buy a full kit every time. Use it to limp home, then get the repair properly inspected and plugged by your preferred tyre specialist.
Tyre Doctor Repair Kit
Tagged as 'Amazon's Choice', this diminutive kit sells itself as being small and simple to use and, being this tiny, should sit under your seat or in your rucksack easily. It comes with a reamer to open out the hole and an insertion tool to apply the plug, as well as a selection of 6mm tyre plugs and a small trimming knife to cut it once applied. Supplied in a handy carry pouch.
This kit from accessory specialist Gear Gremlin contains everything you need to get going again - a repair kit and gas reinflation system. The repair kit includes the reamer, plug insertion tool, knife, and a selection of 6mm plugs. It also comes with three gas canisters and the adapter necessary to use them to reinflate the tyre once the repair has been carried out. The manufacturer recommends a maximum of 40mph on the repaired tyre.
This kit from tyre retailer Two Tyres is very similar to some of the others, with a reamer and insertion tool, several strings, a tube of solution, and a compressed-gas inflation system. However, it comes with four cartridges and seems to be pretty good value.
A variation on a theme, this self-contained system from Dynaplug uses what appears to be rubber plugs that are inserted using a brass pointed end (negating the need for a reamer, apparently) which is attached to the plug. The plug, and hence the pointer end, remain in the tyre and seal the hole with no additional glue needed - the plug has its own sealing properties. Reviews seem good and it is very small to carry, though it needs a separate tyre inflation system.
Another variation on a theme, this kit from Gryyp comes with a pair of pliers and four repair tools, each with its own insertion handle. You remove the object that has caused the puncture and turn the repair plug-in using the attached handle, which is then apparently removed to leave the repair in place. It comes with a gas inflation system to get you moving again. The manufacturer recommends a maximum speed of 50mph on a repaired tyre.
Bike It Inflation Kit
If you have opted for one of the repair kits without an inflation system, this will get you going again, as a repaired tyre with no air is no use. It comes with the adapter and two compressed CO2 cartridges but more are available. Small enough to tuck under a seat or in a pocket.
A generation's answer to tyre repairs, this stuff can be a godsend for users and messy for repairers. Connect the can to the tyre's inflation valve and hit the button. The product is forced into the tyre and partially out through the hole to seal it, while the can's pressure helps to reinflate the tyre, though it may need a top-up. Wipes out afterwards for a proper repair.
More intended for the garage or workshop rather than to take out on a ride with you, this kit comprises pretty much everything you'd find in a portable kit but on a larger scale. You also get a selection of replacement valves, valve inners, caps, and a variety of other handy additions. No inflation system, but in a workshop you'll have a pump or air compressor to hand.
Used by mountain bikers for years (and even available pre-applied to tyres), this is designed to be squeezed into the tyre via the pressure valve and then, the tyre re-inflated. The pressure pushes the slime out of the leak hole, where it solidifies on contact with air. The manufacturers recommend three days or 100 miles maximum on the tyre before it is repaired properly or replaced.