I Plugged a Motorcycle Tire

And you can too!

Motorcycle tire with a screw in it
WTF?! Pickup your spare hardware, people!

Twenty years of riding motorcycles on the street, and I've managed to avoid a flat tire. Well, until December 31st, 2020 anyway. That damn year...

~ Flashback ~

I remember greeting a good friend who came to my wedding in 2005. She was a little late because, upon pulling out of her driveway, she discovered a flat tire. Knowing she had a four hour drive, I asked how in the world she managed to still arrive at all? She told me she just plugged the tire, filled it with air, and continued on her way. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. This story changed my life - no joke.

~Dissolve back to present ~

Close up of motorcycle tire with a screw in it
Seriously, this tire only has like 2k miles on it

Since this revelation, where I learned regular-old-us can do the impossible, I've gone ... overboard. The last time I had the tires replaced on our Honda Element, three of the tires had plugs in them. One tire had three plugs. I never get permanent plugs installed because I love the independence and because these things seem to last forever - I'll go tens of thousands of miles with these plugs. I feel like I'm cheating fate; I'm hacking the Gibson every time. I typically use the Slime brand plugs, rubber cement and all, and I've found success every single time.

Motorcycle tire with roadside plug installed
Forty miles. It holds air, and I didn't lose traction.

But now I was finally faced with the question I always had. Would this work on a motorcycle tire? Yes it works - just like on a car. However, you want to be sure you cut the excess plug material carefully and as close to the surface of your tire as possible to minimize the effect it has on your contact patch. In other words, keep the contour of your tire surface as consistent as possible. But most importantly, only plug it if it's nearish the center of your tire. The contact patch gets smaller as you lean and as you rely on the edges of your tire.

Inside of a plugged motorcycle tire
I ended up replacing the tire. Here's the inside!

For further reading, RevZilla has the best write-up I've seen on this topic. Anyway, for peace of mind, keep a plug kit on your bike! I know I will.