Dear MOby,

Right, so, on the way home from having new Dunlop Q3 Pluses mounted on my almost-new 2005 GSX-R1000, I ran over a flathead nail which is still lodged right in the middle of the rear tread. I’ve read about plugging tires on MO, but is there a better way since this tire is brand new? Somebody told me I could just put a tube inside, even though it’s a tubeless tire? What’s the deal?

Holey of Holies
Burbank, CA


Do not feel like the Lone Ranger, Holey, this happens to the best of us. They actually do make tubes to fit your 190/50-ZR17 rear, but you definitely don’t want to go that route unless you plan on never going faster than about 70 mph again. Heat is the enemy of the rear tire on a bike as powerful as yours, and an inner tube rubbing against the inside of the tire as it flexes – and radials flex more than the old bias-ply tires – especially at higher speeds, could cause nasty consequences should the tube suddenly decide to exhale all at once.

When tubes go bad: When the one in this Indian Chief’s rear tire gave up the ghost a few years ago at 80 mph, and exited via the tire tread, it was not a pleasant experience.

When tubes go bad: When the one in this Indian Chief’s rear tire gave up the ghost a few years ago at 80 mph, and exited via the tire tread, it was not a pleasant experience.

We’ve had lots of fun with tire plugs, which are really only supposed to be an on-the-road fix to get you to a proper repair facility. If your tire was nearing the end of its life, plugs aren’t a bad way to go, but again, we wouldn’t want to, or advise you to, use all your bike’s power and speed on a plugged tire. Or even most of it.

There is another way, though, and it’ll make you and Dunlop both happy: the permanent patch from the inside. Here’s the word straight from the horse’s (Dunlop’s) website:


Some punctures in motorcycle tires may be repaired.

Dunlop recommends only permanent plug-patch repairs of small (maximum 1/4-inch diameter) tread-area punctures from within the dismounted tire by a qualified tire repair shop or motorcycle dealer. Never perform an exterior repair and never use an inner tube as a substitute for a proper repair. Speed should not exceed 50 mph for the first 24 hours after repair, and the repaired tire should never be used over 75 mph. Advise your customer to check inflation pressure after tire cools for at least three (3) hours following run-in, or sooner if air loss is suspected. See the Dunlop Service Advisory for additional motorcycle tubeless-tire repair information. Follow the same repair procedures for tires on rims requiring tube replacement. The repairer is solely responsible for the repair and any instructions to the repaired-tire user.

Advise your customers that no form of temporary repair should be attempted because secondary damage caused by a penetrating object may not be detected and tire or tube deflation may occur at a later date.

Dunlop does not recommend the use of liquid sealants. These are a form of temporary repair, and they may adversely affect ply material and mask secondary damage caused by a penetrating object. Advise your customers that reliance upon sealants can result in sudden tire failure and accident.


Finding a dealer willing to perform the patch operation can be hit and miss, but most independent bike shops will be happy to permanently patch your tire – and will have enough experience to recommend that you don’t patch it if they spot unexpected internal damage.

Definitely keep an eye on the hole and on your tire pressure afterward, but you’ll probably find your new Q3 Plus is as good as new.


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  • Gruf Rude

    Happened to me once; patched the inside of the tire and never had a bit of trouble for the rest of the life of the tire.

  • Curtis Brandt

    “the repaired tire should never be used over 75 mph”

    Should be no problem on a GSXR1K. Just keep her under about 9 grand in first gear.

    • Born to Ride

      I once had a plugged tire up to a buck twenty before I remembered that the tire was plugged, my heart sank into my stomach, and immediately closed the throttle.

      • Breezy Acres Farm

        If I remember correctly my tires on my 73 shovelhead had tubes in them stock and I never went anywhere under 100 in those days. hahaha

  • HazardtoMyself

    Last new bike, the dealer offered a tire and wheel warranty. 5 years, unlimited miles, any tire (as long as not more $$ than OEM) for $299. Only caveat is tire tread must be greater than 3/32s and for wheel replacement it has to be major damage where it can no longer hold air.

    I don’t normally purchase any extra warranties for anything. This though has been worth it. 4 years left on it, and have already received 4 replacement rear tires due nails.

    • BDan75

      Whoa. You don’t work in construction, by chance?

      • DickRuble

        He cleans roofing sites.

        • HazardtoMyself

          I should look into that. Might be a career boost while also allowing me to get some front replacements too.

      • HazardtoMyself

        Yeah you would think so, but no. Just everyday commuting. Roads just are full of crap. Seems they never get swept. Will see the same pieces of large debris from wrecks or just crap from the back of trucks in the same spots for weeks before they are ever removed.

        Even at gas stations nearly every time I pull into a space if you look you will see a nail or screw somewhere.

  • Mark Vizcarra

    Next time buy some Ride-on tire sealant

  • Jon Jones

    Indeed, a plug-patch installed by a skilled technician (me) is a good repair. We’ve had customers come back with a nail in their new tire within 20 minutes of installation. I’ve NEVER seen a properly installed plug-patch fail.

    I’m a bit thrifty to say the least. I have a nice collection of tires that customers chose not to repair. I burn these tires up on my commute to my thankless, miserable job as a motorbike mechanic.

    DO NOT INSTALL A TUBE.

    • HazardtoMyself

      Hard part is finding the skilled tech. Still remember going into a shop to get a tire replaced. Took 3 1/2 hours when they said 45 min.

      When I asked why so long, the tech said it was because the chain was too tight and it was really hard to get the wheel off. Questioned him how that was possible, and received a response of I have been doing this 25+ years and I know what I’m doing.

      Chain was in spec when it went in. Came out as tight as a banjo string with no play. This experienced tech argued that is how it is supposed to be and refused to loosen it.

      • Jon Jones

        Agreed. Hard part is always finding a tech who doesn’t have a big, stupid ego, insisting they’re right when they’re clearly wrong.

        That’s why I remain humble, if not lovable.

    • Max Wellian

      I’ve simply plugged a few of my own tires and ran them until they ran out of tread. Rubber blends in after a while and it’s darn near impossible to even tell.
      My Triumph came with tubes from the factory. It also has radial tires. People take them to the track a lot too. I get Burn’s issue with the high power, but unless you’re a really fast track rider or a nut job street rider, the tube would be fine.
      If I start hearing that the Corsas on Thruxtons ridden at the track start exploding, I’ll try and remember to issue a correction.

      • Jon Jones

        My point here is do not install a tube in a tubeless tire/wheel combination. Plug the injury instead, preferably with a plug-patch.

        • Max Wellian

          I agree that the plug/patch is the best solution, I just don’t think that street riding it with a tube in it would be an issue for most riders. The tires that came with my Thruxton are labeled “tubeless” too.

          • Born to Ride

            Your rim is designed to accept a tube, the GSXR wheel is not. I think that is Jon’s point.

          • Max Wellian

            The only thing special about tube rims is that without a tube they’ll leak air quick.
            Many seal their tube rims and run tube free tubeless tires on them.
            A tube certainly isn’t going to hurt a cast aluminum wheel.
            Again, plug and patch is best, but if the only way I could save a new tire was to run a tube, I wouldn’t hesitate.
            A couple nice things about tubes are:
            1) I like to use Ride On and I don’t have to buy and add it with every tire change.
            2) If a hard shock bends the rim, the tube will still hold air and allow it to limp home.

          • DickRuble

            I think Jon Jones, who’s in the business, should do a comparison. Take a tube wheel and tubeless one, compare the rims, compare the tires, take pictures and post a write-up. It’s an interesting topic. I am running with two rope plugs in my rear tire, and have no qualms about it. I am also the cheapest of the cheapest, but knowing the effects of a tube blow-out, I would not use a tube in a tubeless tire, especially one that has just had a puncture.

  • JMDGT

    On a new tire I’d go for it. Finding a tech you can trust, priceless.

  • DickRuble

    Of course, Dunlop would tell you that you should wash the tire in Evian water, brush your teeth before handling the tire, and that the plug be applied by virgin bachelor olive growers from Sicily. I don’t have time for that, so I use something like this.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51DsGziMyDL.jpg

    Since the last plug (there’s two of them) it’s been 2500 miles and I haven’t even had to adjust the pressure once.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      I agree. I plugged the tubeless tire in my Harley once and in my car once and they both ran till the end of their life. Had zero problems. Didn’t have to take either tire off the wheel. I use the small Stop N Go tire plugger kit which includes a 12V pump and take it with me on camping trips. Long ago I had a nail in my Harley’s brand new rear tire with a slow leak and rode it to the dealership. They put the bike on a stand and sent the tire across the street to a tire place to be hot patched. I was happy because the hot patch was only $35, but the dealership charged me for two hours of time on the stand which was $120 so then I wasn’t too happy.

      • Born to Ride

        What the hell, they charged you per hour that the bike was in their shop? I’m pretty sure that is illegal unless you signed for it prior to the approval for the repair.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          They couldn’t use the stand for any other bike and they couldn’t get my bike off the stand since it didn’t have a rear wheel.

          • Born to Ride

            You signed a repair order that specifically stated that you would pay per hour of time that your bike was on the lift? That is absolutely not how labor charges work for automotive repairs.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            No, I didn’t know I would be paying for the stand time. That dealership is out of business anyway. I bought my bike there in 2007. I was happy that I didn’t have to pay $300 for a new rear tire since they said they were not allowed to patch the tire.

          • Born to Ride

            You coulda put them out of business sooner if you filed a grievance with the BAR.

    • Mike Parker

      I plug all my tires with nail holes(car, truck, and M/C) with tire plug kits and have never had a problem in 30 years. As long as the puncture is in the middle of the tread, I say plug it. Recently had my M/C tire pick up two nails in one week and plugged both. That was 2300 miles ago. Still have probably 6000 miles to go on that tire and am not going to spend $300 to replace it for a nail hole I don’t care what the “professionals” say that just want to sell tires. I have plugged 10 ply truck tires with huge holes in them, tires that run 80 lbs. air pressure and haul heavy loads w/o problems.

      • DickRuble

        You’re going 8300 miles on your M/C tyres? I guess you don’t get an inspection sticker very often 🙂

        • Mike Parker

          I have 8324 miles on the rear tire of my Honda Fury(200/50R18) and will probably get that much more. NC does require annual inspection. Unfortunately, the front 90/90-21 is good for about 8K which I just replaced.

      • DesperateDan

        The thing to remember, Mike, is a bike only has the 2 tires and when one gives out the results are usually painful. There is no problem with a run to work moped or trailey which doesn’t generate much stress in the tire but a 180 hp sports bike is a different matter. I bin any tire with a penetration puncture on any of mine. Cheap fixes are cheap but lives are different. I have yet to meet a tire shop that only wants to sell me a tire. The internet put a stop to that on price alone. My guy has no problem with me turning up with a wheel and tire. He still gets the service charge.

  • Ronald Vennell

    I’ve been using rope plugs in my tires for many years and have yet to experience a problem. The only tire I ever replaced early was a rear that caught something triangular shaped that required 2 rope plugs to seal so that I could finish out the last 600 miles of the trip..

  • allworld

    I personally have plugged tires, old tires get tossed once I have the replacement in hand.
    I use rubber mushroom plugs like “Stop &Go”, which if done correctly can be very effective repair and has allowed me to get full life out of the tire.
    That is my experience an I assume the risk that I have taken. You have to assume your own consequence for your own actions, so …………..

  • Vrooom

    I was entered in the Alcan 5000 in 2006, got a puncture on the second day, plugged it, rode the remaining event to the Arctic circle then back to Anchorage, then home to the NW, about 6K miles, all with a plug in the tire, it never leaked. Kids, don’t try this at home, but it worked for me. An internal patch is a much better solution.

  • Rich

    Yup, I’ve got that Tee shirt…also reads “in own driveway…” Last year, my son’s new (150mi) Michelin Commander split from sidewall to sidewall, like it had been sliced with a machete…at 50 mph. No damage at all to the front tire, yet the dealer said it was a road hazard… I’m grateful for his youth, strength, and MX training…and probably good Irish luck, which helped him bring it to a safe stop.

  • elgar

    Nail in the rear tire, on a high horsepower/high torque GSXR 1000?
    Patches/plugs/inserts are temporary fixes at best, to hold you over until a new tire is replaced. A ‘repaired’ tire has a maximum ‘speed rating’ of some 75 mph, and frankly, that speed is questionable…
    Bite that $$ bullet and replace the tire with a new, properly speed rated tire…good grief.

  • Gary

    Lawyers determine the advice you get on this issue.

    Personally, I have no problem riding on a bike with a temporary plug, but only far enough to get to a dealer who will patch it from the inside. I have absolutely no problem riding on a tire with a properly installed internal patch. IMHO, it’s as good as new.

    There, that ought to give some lawyer somewhere some heartburn.

  • RyYYZ

    When I got a screw in my nearly-new Tourance I took it to a local aftermarket shop and had them install a plug-patch. Rode it out without worrying any more about it (including the top speed limitations).
    When I’ve gotten a nail or screw in a tire that was more than half worn, I’ve just plugged it from the outside using typically sticky strings, and kept it an eye on it, while moving up replacement time.

  • Starmag

    This just happened to me. Within 25 mi of a new tire mount I got a small screw. None of the local shops would fix it so I did a rope plug and watched it carefully for the next week, when I then got a 1/2″ slice from a piece of metal. I could have lived with the plug but had to replace the tire on the large slice. Two damages in less then 50mi.s. You are definitely not alone.

  • quickfxs@yahoo.com

    Dunlop say never exceed 75mph even with an internal plug/patch.
    Best bet is to just buy another tire

    • toomanycrayons

      “Best bet is to just buy another tire”

      Agreed. “Your life rides on your tires.”-Tazio Nuvolari

      “Crashing is never cheaper than rubber.”-anon.

  • Mike Tsar

    The Plug Patch installs from the inside of the tire and when done properly it becomes part of the tire. I have done many at my shop with no issues.Cheap fix for an expensive problem.

  • pismopal

    Take off tire..repair hole with cemented boot patch inside the tire. This is a permanent safe repair. The plug is next best but not nearly as reliable as the boot patch. Good luck finding a shop to repair the tire but you can at least find a shop to remove the tire for you to patch.

  • Jon Rrgh

    As he said, this happens to the best of us. When it happens to me I mount a new rear tire and give the punctured one to a squid. Hweeee, burnouts! When I am going 150mph I like to know that I have a tire without any repairs in it. Just me.

  • Panther6834

    I had the same thing happen several years ago, with my 1st-Gen Suzuki SV650 (currently have a 2nd-Gen SV650S)…and, worst of all, it happened only three days after the new tire (and a Pirelli, at that) had been installed. I was riding down 10th Ave near San Jose State University, where the city was doing some major road repairs, and, somehow, picked up an unknown & unwanted “passenger”. A few miles down Monterey Hwy, at a red light, a driver in his car noticed my tire was getting flat, honked his horn, and, when I looked, he pointed out the tire. Thankfully, I made it home before the tire was even halfway flat (although, by that evening, it was totally flat).

    The next morning, I had it towed to my shop, Superbike Performance. They removed the wheel, and I carried it a couple doors down, to Road Rider. They told me that, because the puncture was close to the edge of the tread, a plug would be impossible, and even a patch probably wouldn’t hold. They suggested getting a new tire, to which I informed them this WAS a new tire. They said I could try the patch, but they wouldn’t guarantee it would hold (again, due to the puncture being close to the edge of the tread. Well, more than a year later, that patch was still holding up, and the tire was getting plenty of use. Unless the puncture is along the sidewall, I highly suggest giving a patch a try, even if the puncture is close to the edge of the tread…it’s a LOT better (and less costly) than purchasing another new tire.