There was a time when punctures were a common occurrence. Roads were in a worse condition than they are now and there were many carts carrying small sharp objects such as nails, tacks, glass splinters and fragments of metal that could drop onto the tarmac. Today there are so many wheels traversing the highways and tyre quality has improved so much that the odds on your tyre coming into contact with a sharp object that can cause harm is remote. But punctures do happen and as it is now a rare occurrence it can catch any traveller unprepared.
The other day I felt my front driver’s side wheel scrape the curb and stepping out of the car to examine it thought the tyre looked flat. I still had some miles to drive that day so as a precaution I strove to change the wheel but try as I might with the onboard wheel brace I could not shift the wheel nuts. In the end I ruined the edges of the wheel locking nut which according to the RAC rescue service man I was forced to phone for help rendered it unusable. He also told me that whoever it was changed the wheel when I last renewed the tyre had over tightened the wheel nuts so that I had no chance of moving them with my wheel brace. The only option was to inflate the tyre and hope it remained inflated until I got home. This I duly did and to my astonishment the tyre remained inflated for several weeks afterwards.
These days it is quicker and easier for garages to use airguns to remove and replace wheels when renewing tyres. As a result a badly trained mechanic can pay little attention to the torque that should be applied and over tighten the wheel nuts. I now know that if I cannot loosen the nuts myself I must call an expert. I have since replaced the locking nut with one I obtained from my car dealer. I have also bought a can of tyre sealant foam to carry in the car as an emergency measure to get me home. In my motorcycling days I carried such a canister in a side pannier as it was too complicated to carry out roadside puncture repairs and of course there was no spare wheel. It is heartening to remember that precautions I took while touring the roads of the UK and abroad on two wheels around forty years ago still stand me in good stead now I journey on four.
Bike Travelling Man: a life with two motorcycles can be found at