I’ve been fixing flat tires a few too many times lately. As in three times in one week. More often than not, the punctures were caused by staples like these.
I have pulled entire “fresh” staples out of my tires. After staples have been on the road for a while they look like this.
The latest rash of staple-induced flats got me thinking. I had many punctures while riding in Houston and Den Haag, but none of those were caused by staples. Broken glass, sharp flints and stones, and thorns – yes. But not staples.
Do Malaysian roads have an unusually high proportion of staples mixed in with the other road debris?
I did a little survey, asking respondents to rank the following causes of bicycle tire punctures, from most frequent (1) to least frequent (6). The choices were:
Staples or other wire
Flints or other small stones
I received 42 responses. The table below shows the number of times each option was ranked as the most frequent cause of punctures. Two respondents did not indicate a top cause of punctures.
30.00% of respondents ranked Staples or other wire as the number 1 cause of punctures. 22.50% of respondents ranked Pinch flats as the number 1 cause of punctures.
22.50% of respondents ranked Glass as the number 1 cause of punctures.
33 of the respondents live in Malaysia. 3 live in North America. 2 live in The Netherlands. 2 live in Australia / New Zealand. 1 lives in The United Kingdom. And 1 lives in another Asian country.
2 out of the 3 North American respondents ranked Staples or other wire as the number 1 cause of punctures. The other North American rated Staples or other wire as the second most frequent cause of punctures. So perhaps I was just lucky to avoid staples when I lived and rode in the United States.
Interestingly, both of the Dutch respondents ranked Staples or other wire as the least frequent cause of punctures. Which matches my own experience over more than two years of cycling in The Netherlands.
The sample size is small, and the methodology is not scientific by any means. Nevertheless, this survey does show that Malaysian cyclists suffer more punctures due to staples or other wire (usually fragments of steel wire from failed car and truck tires) than from any other cause.
I don’t know why there are so many staples on Malaysian roads. Perhaps stapled paper, being light, gets blown out of rubbish trucks and onto the road.
I do know that some Malaysians have the atrocious habit of tossing rubbish out of their moving cars. Which has to be the explanation for the most unusual cause of a puncture reported by a Malaysian cyclist. A chicken bone.
Other causes of punctures reported by respondents were variations on pinch flats – hitting a pothole, drain grille etc. (4), faulty valve stems (2), worn or misaligned rim tape (2), old inner tubes (2), nails or screws (2) and overheating by being left in a car under a hot sun.
I have my share of pinch flats too. My fault for not checking my tire pressures before every ride.
There’s not much I can do about the staples and other debris on the roads, apart from staying off the road shoulders as much as possible.
Perhaps it is time to consider an old-school device – a tire saver / tire wiper.