I have a 2" nail in the side of my rear tyre on my motorcycle. The nail is fairly firmly stuck in the tyre but I'm not sure if it has actually penetrated it (it has gone in sideways). The damage is not on the contact patch but clearly the nail contacts the road when I lean over (the nail has wear marks). There is no sign of air leaking so far and I think it's been there a few days.

If I just pull the nail out and it has been punctured, I'm concerned the tyre will just go flat on the spot and I wont be able to take it to a shop to be repaired.

So here's the question: I have an old tyre plug set. Should I remove the nail and if it leaks, plug it. Alternatively, should I take it so a shop and get them to remove the nail and fix the tyre professionally. BTW: I have never used a plug set before but I have no local tyre shops.

Bonus question: If the nail has not penetrated the tyre, will it have weakened it?

  • Suggestion: a picture would really help. It's not clear from the text whether there's a puncture or just damage.
    – Bob Cross
    Sep 6 '12 at 11:59

If it was me - I would get the tyre replaced.

In a car I would think about plugging it, but there I have 4 wheels and a nice strong rollcage and airbags. And even on a car tyre, plugging isn't that simple - there are things that can go wrong if you haven't done it before.

On a bike, my safety is worth considerably more than the cost of a replacement tyre. You really don't want that baby to blow out while cornering hard.

re your bonus question - yes. Any damage like this will have weakened the tyre. Your problem is you can't tell how much until you reach failure.

  • 1
    +1 because I forgot that motorcycles only have two tires: neither is extra....
    – Bob Cross
    Sep 6 '12 at 11:55

I would verify the tire pressure is correct. If the service center is close say under 5 miles and you can get there driving slowly just drive to the shop and get it replaced. The old style plugs are actually illegal in many locals. Even when they were the standard for repair they were never designed for sidewall use. The guideline for their use was in the tread area only. Any damage (puncture/large cut etc.) to the sidewall requires the tire be replaced. You may hear anecdotal evidence of people patching sidewalls with no issues but is not the accepted norm.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.