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How to inflate a tyre without an air pump – 4 hacks (video)

Getting a flat tyre is oftentimes a pain (especially when there’s no air pump lying around) but you do have some workarounds

As long as one does not consider a motorcycle (or even a scooter) as more than just a mode of transportation, the art of riding is a bit hard to explain. Long, short, solo or group, trips are part of the whole experience of owning a motorcycle. In fact, hardcore enthusiasts often find the lamest excuse to go for a ride.

As a wise man once said, “it is the journey that counts and not the destination”. This line generally stays true until you get a flat tyre and the nearest workshop is a considerable distance afar.

Popular motorcycle YouTube channel, FortNine has shared four hacks to inflate a flat tyre to double-digit PSIs without using an air pump. Keep in mind that you might have to carry some extra hardware (nothing large) on the trip to make this possible. Plus, the pressure life would be just enough to get you safely to the nearest puncture repair shop.

Siphon Hose

Since we are dealing with air here, a pair of Shrader barbs (refer video if you don’t know what it is) is required in addition to the siphon hose. Ensure that one of the barbs you have is a clip-on type. Put together, the system becomes a simple pressure equaliser. The clip-on end has to be attached to the valve stem of the flat tyre while the other end is connected to the healthy tyre.

High-pressure air goes to the low-pressure region (flat tyre) and a balance can be attained between either tyre. If you are with a motorcycle group, a minimal compromise on donor air pressure would be possible.

A generous motorist can also help. Before taking air from a larger (or higher-pressure) source such as a four-wheeler tyre, confirm whether the barbs are tightly fit into the hose.

CO2 Cartridges

Carbon dioxide or CO2 gas has impressive compressibility. Thanks to this characteristic, compact cartridges (16g) that can fully inflate bicycle tyre are readily available on the market. Of course, motorcycles would need much more air than a bicycle. Hence, it is recommended to use a single 45g CO2 cartridge; the largest disposable example you can find easily.

You would still need a chuck (watch the video to understand its function) to connect a cartridge to the valve stem. Take extra care while playing around with CO2 cartridges as the reaction (evaporation of liquid carbon dioxide) is extremely endothermic (absorbs heat) and can even create frostbites. Riding gloves would provide enough protection.

Engine Compression

This unpopular method may not be applicable for every motorcycle but in those which offer easy access to the spark plug. The process is way easier if the motorcycle does not have advanced electronics. Most importantly, it should have a kick-starter. What you need is the hose of a regular compression tester along with an extender hose fitted with a clip-on Schrader barb on one end.

Remove the most accessible spark plug and connect the hose arrangement between the spark plug well and the flat tyre. Now, all you have to do is start kicking the starter lever (or kick-starter) until the tyre attains reasonable pressure at the cost of uneven calf muscles.

Expansion By Combustion

How To Inflate A Tyre Without An Air Pump
How To Inflate A Tyre Without An Air Pump

Unlike the above methods, this is not recommended for the faint-hearted simply because it involves fire and a loud ‘pop’. In the video, a WD-40 multi-use spray (popularly used as a lubricant, degreaser, rust remover, etc.) is used but any combustible spray would do the trick.

Firstly, you will have to remove the wheel (which itself requires some expertise). Since the tyre has no air pressure, its beads (inner edges) would have most likely come off the wheel rim. Using a needle nozzle, spray some combustible liquid inside the tyre at a few different locations. After that, spray the same as a ‘lubricating ring’ around the rim to make it easier for the tyre walls to slide in while also acting as a guide for the flame to reach inside.

From a safe distance, direct the flame onto the tyre using a lighter and the needle nozzle. If done right, the tyre should ‘pop’ into adequate pressure. However, depending on quality, the tyre valve might get damaged. Furthermore, the pressure generated will last only until the air cools down. FortNine has added a scientific explanation to this theory.

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