My Brand New Tire Has a Nail in It!

John Burns
by John Burns

Ask MO Anything: Can this tire be patched?

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.

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.

By hitting the Return, Escape or Power Off button, you hereby accept that you’re gullible enough to believe almost anything, and absolve and all its employees, contractors, assignees and livestock, its parent company, adjacent buildings, and the city of Toronto, ON, Canada, every manufacturer ever to make anything remotely involved with motorcycles, all 50 states and the District of Columbia, President Trump but not his staff, of anything the least bit negative to include chipped nails, bloating and water weight gain or death, that occurs as a result of our advice or implication of said advice, in perpetuity and forever. We mean it.

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John Burns
John Burns

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2 of 41 comments
  • Jon Rrgh Jon Rrgh on Aug 29, 2017

    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 Panther6834 on Aug 29, 2017

    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's a LOT better (and less costly) than purchasing another new tire.