Flat tires are an unfortunate reality, no matter what kind of vehicle you use. Can you use super glue to fix a bike tire?
A sudden flat is a real headache, which is why everyone is looking for a way to get rid of the problem – or at least find a quick solution, such as using super glue.
You should not use super glue to fix a bike tire. When super glue dries up, it becomes very inflexible and brittle, which can make it fall off the tire and leave the patch open again. It is also vulnerable to temperature change, and therefore not the best for bike tires.
While things like superglue and other such patch fixes are considered useful for other kinds of patches, they are not suited for bike tires for multiple reasons.
We considered different opinions and experiences from bike owners who have tried this method out personally, and also tested it out ourselves on a spare tire. We have collected our findings together in one place.
Why Super Glue Is Bad For Bike Tires
Superglue, or cyanoacrylate glue, can be used to fix a puncture in two ways: one is to patch the inner tube, and the other is to fill the spot that’s been pierced through. In the long run, both of these are subpar options at best and are not helpful at all in the worst-case scenario. You may even be better off with other solutions than using super glue.
Patching the Inner Tube
When you ride a bike, the inner tube is consistently changing its shape. As you ride, the tires roll around and the air pressure in the tire changes through inflation and deflation. If you do not manage this, the tire may actually burst. This is why it is important for the inner tube to stay flexible.
With super glue as the patch, this becomes difficult. Superglue dries and becomes hard, brittle and inflexible. When this forms the patch on the inner tube, the flexibility needed for the changing air pressure is gone, and the tire can get harmed.
In the best-case scenario, you’d be able to ride the bike a couple of times with this patch before it eventually stops working. The patch may even just fall off due to inflexibility. The result you get is an ‘open-wound’ – that is, the part of the tire that had been punctured is now open, and the tire is flat again.
Filling the Inner Tube
With very small perforations, like pinhole cuts, you might think super glue is fine since the hole isn’t too big and wouldn’t change the inner workings much. However, while you can fill a small hole with super glue and have it work for a little while, it is still not a good long-term plan.
For one thing, when the tube inflates, the puncture in it becomes larger. This causes strain on the bond between the pinhole and the superglue and can tear the tire a bit.
On top of that, since super glue is not flexible and will harden, it will not expand along with the tube itself. This will result in failure, and your tire will just be filled with superglue that isn’t carrying out its purpose.
Flexible Super Glue
Some formulas of super glue come with better flexibility due to some changes in the formula. These are usually better at patching a bike tire than your average super glue but are still not the best option. The bonding strength and stability offered by rubber cement is usually the best choice for patching bike tires.
On top of being subpar as a solution, these types of superglue are actually very expensive too and can result in you paying too much for something that doesn’t work very well.
Fixing Small Cuts With Super Glue
Though we said that super glue isn’t great for fixing tires even at the pinhole level, there may be some benefit to them.
Over time, as you spend your time riding your bike, small bits of stone and glass or any other kind of sharp object can cause damage to your tires. These are usually not enough to cause a flat on their own, but over time, with many of them, you can find yourself stuck with a flat tire.
In such cases, even though the flexibility issue remains, super glue can be a temporary solution. You can remove the sharp objects and fill the small cuts with super glue. The tire will not be airtight if you go for this option, because again, the issue with flexibility has not been resolved.
However, you don’t always need a 100% airtight tire when running the inner tube, so superglue can be an acceptable short-term solution.
However, remember, this only works for small cuts that are barely visible from a distance. With larger cuts, super glue is not going to work, and you’re better off sewing or replacing the tire entirely.
Super Glue is Vulnerable to Temperatures
Another problem with superglue is that it is highly vulnerable to low and high temperatures. If you want to break an object that has been super-glued together, all you have to do is put it in the freezer, where the temperature is low, and the glue will become extremely brittle. This will result in breakage.
Similarly, subjecting super glue to high temperatures does the same. When you’re riding a bike, the friction results in the tires heating up. If you fix these tires with superglue, the patch will become brittle due to the temperature as well.
High-end super glue is obviously less vulnerable than the average kind, but these are expensive and still not very useful for fixing bike tires. Therefore, using any kind of super glue for fixing bike tires is not very helpful.
Alternatives To Super Glue For Fixing Bike Tires
Duct tape is often used as a temporary fix for tire punctures while you get the tire to the mechanics’ shop to be repaired. However, while duct tape is a better fix for tires than super glue, it is also highly inflexible and doesn’t work very well as a long-term patch either.
The best option for tire patches is to use rubber cement. This is a type of sealing material with very strong bonds. Not only can it hold firmly for a number of years, it is also flexible enough to be suitable for bike tires – or any other kind of tires. Unlike superglue, which attaches the patch to the inner tube, rubber cement merges the two pieces together and still preserves flexibility. This is what makes rubber cement a much more desirable option for your tires.
So, can you use super glue to fix a bike tire?
Technically, you can use it for tiny cuts in the tire caused by minuscule sharp objects. While still not the best option available, it is cheap and easily accessible, and therefore can work in the short term.
For the long-term, and bigger cuts or holes, super glue is absolutely not suited as a solution. It is brittle and inflexible and can hinder your bike tire’s performance as a result, on top of opening up sooner and causing air holes.
About THE AUTHOR
Mountain biking is more than just a hobby for me - it's a way of life. I love the challenge and excitement that comes with it, and I'm always pushing myself to go faster and ride harder. Some people might think that mountain biking is dangerous, but I see it as the only way to live.Read More About Danny Lawson