Can You Ride A Motorcycle With A Nail In The Tire?


While riding your motorcycle around, you are bound to get a nail or a screw in your tire at some point, especially if you frequently drive through places with large amounts of construction going on.

So, can you ride a motorcycle with a nail in the tire? It is unsafe to ride a motorcycle with a nail in the tire. Whether there is immediate deflation or air slowly leaks out, a nail in the tire makes the tire completely unreliable and can lead to serious injury to the rider.

Getting a nail in your motorcycle is not only dangerous, but it’s also a huge inconvenience. Sometimes you don’t know it has happened until a few days later. It should always be addressed upon discovery.

Why You Shouldn’t Ride With A Nail In The Tire

The truth is that your tire could react to a nail or screw puncturing it in several different ways. You may hit a nail and it could cause your tire to blow. You may hit a nail and it could still hold air just fine with the nail in it. You also may have your tire begin to slowly deflate.

All of these scenarios depend on a variety of different factors. This is all dependent on the condition of your tires, where on your tire that the nail sticks, the size of the nail, and the speed of the bike when it hits the nail.

With so many variables, hitting a nail can cause so many different results. Ultimately, a tire with a nail in it is never safe. Even if a tire is holding air, you can never be certain how long it will continue to hold air. As you ride around, your tires get hot from the friction on the road. The tire also flexes as it drives moving the nail.

This can cause your tire to go flat in sometimes a very inconvenient place. So next time you see a nail in your tire, make sure that you take care of it right away to save yourself quite a bit of trouble down the road.

The ultimate reason to not ride with a nail in your motorcycle tire is that it’s best for your own safety. It can be tempting to keep riding on a tire with a nail in it, especially if the tire is still holding air. It may seem like it’s totally fine and it’s not losing any air pressure.

The sad reality is that this can change at any moment unexpectedly. As I had mentioned before, your tires get very hot first from driving on the road and secondly from the friction between the road and the tire. This raise in temperature will cause the tire itself to expand. An expansion in the material of the tire can cause a gap to form around the nail allowing air to escape.

It is also important to remember that when riding, your tire is constantly flexing. As you drive down the road, go around turns, and do just about anything with your bike, your tire will flex. This movement can cause the nail to wiggle around and move. If you move the nail just right, it might entirely come out of the tire. This can cause you to lose all of the air in your tire suddenly. Also, the road vibrations while driving around can cause a similar effect on the nail.

Getting a flat tire in a car generally is not a very dangerous situation. You are riding on four wheels and even if one is flat, balance does not become a concern.

On a motorcycle, good balance is very critical since you’re only on two wheels. If your tire suddenly goes flat, it can become extremely hard to steer or even keep your motorcycle upright. This becomes more and more dangerous at higher speeds.

Is A Nail In The Tire Something You Can Fix Yourself?

If you get a nail in your tire, do you have to buy a new tire? The answer is that usually that isn’t the case. Most punctures can be easily repaired. By taking your tire to a shop, it can generally be fixed within a few minutes and end up costing you only about $20. Although, this is not extremely expensive, is this also something that you can do yourself? It actually is something that you can learn to do yourself fairly simply.

First, you will need to buy a tire plug kit. These are relatively inexpensive and will give you all that you need to fix tires. Next you will want to take the tire off of the motorcycle. Once you have removed the tire, you will want to make sure you know exactly where the leak is. If the nail is still in the tire, this is very easy to find. Otherwise you may need to use soapy water in order to help you find the leak.

Next you will want to remove the valve stem core with the valve stem tool from your plug kit. There will also be a reamer in your kit. This looks somewhat like a drill bit. You will twist this in and out of the hole to prepare it for the plug.

Next you will need to insert the plug which means you’ll will apply contact cement to the area where the plug is needed. Then insert the plug with the special tool.  Then all you need to do is trim any excess of the plug that sticks out and put your tire back on. Fill it back up with air and you can get back to riding.

What To Do If You Hit A Nail While Riding

What should you do if you hit a nail while riding your motorcycle around? This can be a tricky question to answer. Hitting a nail can result in a wide variety of different reactions by the bikes tire. You may instantly blow your tire. You also may have the bike start to wobble. You also might find that the tire will start to slowly deflate. Lastly, the nail may have no immediate noticeable effect on the tire.

Reacting to such a broad spectrum of situations can be difficult. There are definitely general guidelines that you can follow to keep yourself as safe as possible though.

When you are riding and you hit a nail, it is always best practice to immediately pull over if possible. Once you’ve stopped, take a look at the tire. Can you noticeably hear air coming out of it? If so, you probably won’t be able to ride much further at all before the tire is flat. 

If you decide that you need to keep riding, be sure to keep your speed low. High speeds with questionable tires is a recipe for disaster. Avoid freeways as much as possible until you can get your tire fixed. Click here to see our other article about how to handle a high speed wobble on your motorcycle.

What To Do If You Are Stranded With A Nail In The Tire

If you hit a nail and are now stranded with a flat tire, what can you do? This can be a very tricky situation on a motorcycle. With a car, you likely have a whole spare tire that you can put on in place of the flat. You may even have an air compressor on hand that you can use to pump air back into a low or flat tire.

On a motorcycle you likely will not have any of those things. You could carry a tire plug kit with you everywhere you go. This will resolve any minor punctures that do not entirely drain the tire pressure. If the tire does go completely flat, even if you plug it, you will not be able to put air back into it without a compressor.

There are many different roadside assistance services available. AAA is one of the most famous and most common of these services. Members can get free roadside assistance at any time of the day. If you were to get a flat, they can come out to help you fix a flat. If needed to, they can also even tow you to another location. These services are great when in a pinch.

Another one of your greatest resources in times like these are your friends. If you happen to be near people that you know, you can always reach out for some help. You may be able to get your bike loaded up into your buddies’ truck and taken back home. You can get someone to take you to get your tire repaired. Never underestimate the usefulness of friends in situations like these.

Also, never underestimate how much a nail in your tire can ruin your day. It’s best to stay on the side of caution and use alternative methods to get home rather than risk it on your motorcycle.

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