Repairs are often much cheaper than purchasing a whole new tire, but are plugs safe to use on motorcycle tires?
When driving, safety should be your first priority. However, that doesn’t mean that you want to spend a bunch of extra money. Below, we’ll discuss when it’s safe to plug a motorcycle tire and when it’s better to purchase a new one.
Can You Plug Motorcycle Tires?
You can use a plug on a motorcycle tire for a short distance. Generally, these repairs are not meant to be permanent when used on a motorcycle tire, as they bend and flex too much. Specifically, you should avoid driving faster than 50 mph or going further than 100 miles on a plugged motorcycle tire.
Some occasions are more suited to plugs than others. Keep reading for everything you need to know about plugging your motorcycle tire.
Is It Safe to Plug a Motorcycle Tire?
Most of the conversations around motorcycle tires boil down to safety. Technically, you can plug your motorcycle’s tires as much as you want. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is safe to do so!
For the most part, tire plugs on motorcycles are only a temporary fix. For safety reasons, you shouldn’t drive on a plugged motorcycle tire for an extended period.
However, a plug will allow you to ride to a motorcycle repair shop to replace the tire.
As you can see, this differs from plugs in car tires. When used in a car, plugs can often last for years, though this does vary somewhat too.
However, motorcycle tires are functionally different from car tires. They have to do a lot of leaning and banking, which car tires don’t have to do at all.
In many cases, it is much harder for plugs to adapt to this sort of driving.
Therefore, they tend to fail sooner. In many cases, the increased pressure on the tire sidewall during turns will affect how the plug holds and flexes. In cars, this isn’t a significant problem.
With that said, the type of tire plug does matter. Some work better than others. However, they are all designed to plug puncture holes.
Which Type of Tire Plug is Best for a Motorcycle?
There are several different types of tire plugs for motorcycles. Some are better than others, so choosing the right one is essential for safety purposes.
For the most part, the most effective plugs are self-vulcanizing. These plugs are a strip of rubber that is coated with super-sticky glue.
When applied to the tire, the material vulcanizes, which basically means that it binds to the tire’s rubber.
For practical purposes, the plug becomes part of the tire’s rubber. Therefore, these plugs tend to be the safest and last the longest.
With that said, there is another method that looks very similar to self-vulcanizing plugs, but they are actually not nearly as safe. This method utilizes rubber strings with a tube of rubber cement.
In many cases, you apply the cement to the rubber strip and then insert it into the tire.
In many cases, this method may seem quite similar to self-vulcanizing plugs. However, they aren’t quite as effective. Furthermore, there is also a lot of user error involved, since there are more steps to mess up on.
Finally, one of the most popular tire plugs are mushroom plugs. As the name suggests, these plugs look exactly like mushrooms.
When installing, the top of the mushroom goes into the tire, which then creates a seal from the inside.
While these plugs do work for a bit, they aren’t nearly as effective as the other two methods we’ve discussed. For motorcycle tires, they should only be considered a very temporary fix.
In fact, the manufacturer of these plugs recommends that you do not exceed 50 mph or use them for longer than 100 miles.
Can You Fix a Nail in a Motorcycle Tire?
Technically, you can use a plug to fix a nail in a motorcycle tire. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should.
In most cases, plugs are just a temporary fix. When necessary, you can use them to get you to a local tire repair shop. However, you shouldn’t drive around for very long on them. Otherwise, they can potentially become a safety risk.
Furthermore, patches are far better for long-term repairs on motorcycle tires than plugs.
Therefore, you can use a plug to get you to a repair shop, but you’ll likely need to get the hole patched as soon as possible.
However, the site of the puncture matters. In many cases, you cannot patch the sidewall. This part of the tire simply isn’t designed to withstand damage.
Usually, patching the side of the tire makes it very likely that you’ll end up with a blowout a few miles down the road. In many cases, plugs are even more dangerous in these situations.
Therefore, it is only safe to apply a patch or plug to the treaded area. If the nail goes through the sidewall instead, you should avoid repairing that tire and instead replace it as soon as possible.
Is It Okay to Plug a Tubeless Motorcycle Tire?
Mechanics fix tubeless motorcycle tires all the time. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the safest fix.
As we’ve discussed, there are dangers of driving around on a flat tire.
If it’s an emergency and you just need ot get home, you can safely use a plug on a tubeless tire.
However, we wouldn’t call this a permanent fix, and we wouldn’t suggest that you ride “like normal” with this sor tof repair.
Instead, this is a short-term option to get you home or to a mechanic – nothing more.
In all cases, a fresh, new tire will be the safest options. The integrity of the rubber is paramount. Once that integrity has been compromised, it’s time to replace the tire when possible.
Of course, that’s not what you want to hear when you’re driving around on $200 tires.
However, those tires aren’t worth much anymore after they are punctured by a nail or another road hazard.
Furthermore, plugs can only be used on small holes. Anything above 6 mm is too large.
On top of that, you can only use plugs on the center of the tire for safety reasons. The outside flexes too much for this to be safe.
Therefore, you can only work with a small portion of the tire. If the puncture is outside that, you’re out of luck.
With that said, some people may plug tires when these specifications aren’t met – and sometimes, these plugs work. However, they are not recommended for safety reasons.
Of course, plugs can only fix punctures – not tears, slices, or oblong holes.
Plugging a motorcycle tire isn’t the safest option. Compared to car tires, motorcycle tires have to bend and flex much more, which most plugs cannot withstand.
Therefore, plugs are generally not as safe for motorcycle tires as they are for car tires.
However, you can still use them for short distance. Generally, it is recommended that you don’t exceed 50 mph or go further than 100 miles on a plugged tire.