While we were waiting for the others to arrive (Saturday Ride), Gary
noticed that his front tire had picked up a screw somewhere along the
way. It was in the dead center of the tread, so was a perfect a case
where plugging can keep ya chugging.
Several of us in the group had tire plug kits and small compressors,
but someone else was quicker at unpacking his than I was. Before he was
done, there were a lot of "students" gathered around the master "ride
rescuer". Plugging done, Gary's ride savior, hooked up his portable
compressor (good to have even with a Gold Wing since they can often
inflate a tire faster than the suspension compressor of the bike),
inflated the tire, checked for leaks, and repacked his bag of tricks.
Gary's eagle-eye confirmed that he was satisfied with the repair. The
entire group of 40 bikes were back on the road without missing Gary's
great company. Wisely, Gary kept an eye on the pressure of the front
tire at each stop but it confirmed that the tire was holding like it
should. The day was saved!
I have used my plug kit a couple of times. Every few years I get a new
set of plugs to replace the ones that have aged. Once was when I picked
up a nail and noticed it after parking the bike in my garage. I knew a
more perfect time to "practice" couldn't have been made to order. The
task of plugging was relatively easy and following the instructions
resulted in a successful repair that lasted to the end of the useful
life of the tread (~2000 more miles of closely-monitored local riding).
If I would have been heading out on a long trip, I'd have considered
replacing the tire simply for the peace of mind it would give during
the trip. In many cases plugging can mean the difference between ending
your trip or making the next roadside wonder (or at least getting to a
shop on a date and time where you can get a replacement tire). In my
personal opinion it pays to have plugging as an option.
The kit used Saturday was the newer "Pocket Plugger" Stop & Go kit
(http://tinyurl.com/qhf4a). Mine is the original, "Standard" kit
(http://tinyurl.com/zmdla). Watching him use the newer kit showed me
that both work equally well. The Pocket Plugger packs smaller. If I
were buying today, I'd get the small version.
They have a full line of sticky-string and mushroom plug type kits at:
Small compressors can be had from many stores for under $25. Just make
sure that they can reach more than the PSI that you run in your tires.
An example from a quick Google search found this one
(http://tinyurl.com/lqtsc) that can do 275psi. You could leave the
cigar lighter adapter on if you have a matching socket on your bike or
you could install battery clips, an ASE connector (like used on Battery
Tenders), or a Jastek connector like I use (http://tinyurl.com/mguks).
I removed the plastic housing and then tied an old boot lace to it so I
can hang the pump from the bike when using it; "skeletonizing" it. I
also carry about 8 CO2 canisters and an inflation tool
(http://tinyurl.com/8j55s). This is just a belt-and-suspenders
solution. As with most things I set up for long trips, there's over
engineering and redundancy. Most people would be served well with the
plug kit and a "skeletonized" compressor. All of these kits fit into a
single Eagle Creek "Half Cube" (http://www.eaglecreek.com/40151.html).
For one-stop-shopping for many of these items try Rider Warehouse
PLUG YOUR TIRES AT YOUR OWN RISK
You should treat a plugged tire as if it were "at least" one rating
level lower for both speed and load. In other words, slow down and pack
There have been some reports that the mushroom plugs don't play well
with steel belted radial motorcycle tires. In those cases, folks have
recommended the sticky string versions. I've not had a mushroom plug
failure yet but again, I've only needed it on 2 different occasions;
one of which was the the bike that didn't use steel belted tires.
Again, In my opinion, it's better to have a kit and not need it than
need it and not have it.
Most tire manufacturers don't endorse plugging ANY damaged tire. With
liability concerns what they are these days, I can only tell you what I
would do with my bike and my circumstances. You are left to make you
own, informed choices and live with the consequences. However a plug
kit can get you out of the NV "Outback" (or back on the road during a
shorter trip) and to the nearest shop where a new tire can be mounted.
Even roadside assistance can't do that on a holiday Sunday.
I am neither an employee nor an agent of any of the companies
mentioned. I am simply a consumer of several and am reporting my
personal experience. Neither I, nor Actual Riders, are endorsing
plugging as a solution for anyone. Having all the information at hand I
made a personal decision. I am providing the information above for
informational purposes only. Each rider should weigh their options, the
risk levels, and make their own choices accordingly.