It’s never fun when it happens, but it’s a fact of life – pneumatic-tire electric scooters get flat tires. The risk of a flat tire will always be present, but after years of using my Xiaomi M365 Pro (notorious for flats), I’ve developed a checklist of a few simple steps that go a long way to prevent flat tires in electric scooters.
Electric scooter flat tire prevention checklist
- maintain and clean your electric scooter regularly
- ride responsibly
- check tire pressure and make sure it’s inflated often, preferably before every ride
- use heavy-duty inner tubes
- fill tires with Green Slime or some other sealant
- use tire liners for inner-tube tires
- replace tires if they are old or worn out
- consider an electric scooter with solid tires
And luckily, even if a flat happens to your scooter, you can fix or mitigate it rather easily.
If you get a flat tire on your scooter, stop riding immediately. Riding with a flat tire will irreversibly damage your rims. Get your scooter to a repair shop, or use one of several methods to fix the flat yourself.
Let’s take a deeper look into the reasons why flats happen, how common are they, and exactly how to prevent, and possibly eliminate them.
Why flats occur?
There are several reasons why a flat tire can happen to your scooter.
The first one is a sharp piece of debris puncturing your tire. This can be any object that penetrates the inner tube, including glass, nails, wood, anything that’s sharp and hard.
The second reason why flats happen is because of a strong impact. This can happen, for example, if you hit a sidewalk while riding fast, or ride fast over rough terrain.
The third one is more pressure applied on the tire than it can handle. Usually, this happens to older, worn-out tires, that have taken some abuse over time. Often, they are under-inflated as well, which greatly increases the odds of getting a flat.
Also, related to the above, you must ensure that your tires are inflated at the correct tire pressure. Both over-inflated and under-inflated tires can easily result in flats.
The final and least frequent reason is improper installation of the tire. Your scooter will arrive with the correct installation 99.99% of the time. You only need to make sure that if you or a mechanic replace a tire, it is properly installed.
How common are flats in electric scooters?
Flat tires in electric scooters with air-filled tires are still pretty common, and are one of the most frequent scooter defect types. This is especially true for inner-tube tires. With any popular scooter, on average, you may get one flat every six months.
Further, there are two different types of air-filled tires :
If your scooter has inner-tube tires, the chances of a flat are bigger. Inner-tube tires are more common than tubeless tires.
In scooters with bigger, patterned tires, or scooters designed for off-road experiences, flats are less common. These models are built to take more punishment on rough terrains, so you won’t get a flat because of a small piece of glass on the street.
Flats don’t happen to models with solid tires. However, solid tire scooters come with many tradeoffs, and may not always be a good solution. We will examine these tradeoffs below, and see whether a solid-tire model would make more sense.
Flats are somewhat common, and you shouldn’t panic if they happen. Let’s see how to address them.
How to fix a flat tire on your electric scooter?
There are three main ways to fix a flat tire.
The basic method to fix a flat involves:
- releasing all the remaining air from the tire
- removing the tire from the rim
- either fixing the tire if the damage is repairable, or using a new tire
- installing the tire back on the rim
- inflating the tire
However, this process can be very complicated for some models. Sometimes, removing the tire means you need to remove a lot of the parts around the wheel. Or maybe, installing/uninstalling the tire is very complex or requires tools you don’t have.
In that case, consider the second method, which is fixing the tire without removing it.
The third method is taking your scooter to a mechanic.
Let’s examine the first two methods further.
Replacing (or repairing) the punctured tire – process for inner-tube tires
You will need the following tools:
- Allen key that arrived with your scooter, or a universal multitool with an Allen key (EKLIND on Amazon is very cheap and of great quality)
- tire levers (this cheap tool is a lifesaver for fixing tires, you can find it on Amazon here)
- water and dish-washing soap
- repair-kit glue (unless using a new tube)
- tire patch (unless using a new tube)
- tire inflator (VacLife is great value, you can find it on Amazon)
Before you start:
- Remember to keep everything you remove in a safe place. If you lose a screw or some important part, you will have to order a new one and wait for it to arrive (not fun!). I just get a plastic box and put everything in there when I’m doing something like this.
- Remember how everything looks and feels. Take several pictures as well. You will need to make sure everything is in the same way when you are done
- Take note of the directions of the pattern on the wheel. You should put it back in the same direction.
Start by releasing all the air that may have remained in the tire. Unscrew the valve and press inside it with the Allen key to deflate it.
On many models, you will have to continue by removing the plastic covers around the wheels. Use the appropriate Allen wrench key for this, it should have arrived together with your scooter when you first bought it.
After that, you will have to loosen the nuts around the wheel from both sides, so that you can remove them. Use a wrench for this.
Remove the wheel of the fork. Be careful not to scratch or damage any parts.
Then, using tire levers, remove half the tire from the rim. Don’t remove it entirely, just have half of the wheel “protruding” through the tire, like concentric circles. You can use a solution of water with dish-washing soap to make the removal process easier.
Now, here’s the tricky part. You will have to dig with your fingers between the wheel and the tire, and find the inner tube. Remove it.
Only then proceed to remove the wheel from the tire completelly.
We are standing at a crossroad now. You can decide to replace the tube, or repair it. This will depend on how badly was it was damaged – if the holes are too big, use a new tube.
If you want to try and repair the tube itself:
- inflate it a little
- place it in a bucket of water and soap, and see where it makes bubbles to find the holes
- once you’ve located the holes, let the air out and let it dry out
- sand and degrease the surface around the hole
- apply a small amount of glue from a repair kit, smear it around with your finger
- wait for a few minutes for the glue to dry out a bit, the exact time will be specified on the glue, if not, wait for 3 minutes
- apply the tire patch, use strong pressure and make sure it fits the area around the hole perfectly
- remove the plastic cover from the top of the patch
After you have the tube, either the repaired or the new one, clean both the inside of the tire, and the wheel itself. You don’t want any debris there – it will puncture your tire again in no time!
Now, you have to put the tire back on the wheel. Make sure the tire direction is the same as when you started. Usually, the arrows in the pattern point down.
Then insert the tube between the wheel and the tire. A small but very effective trick here – start with the valve first.
Use the tire levers again, to put the tire back around the wheel.
Inflate the tire using the tire inflator. Make sure it doesn’t leak any air. If your inflator has a gauge, make sure you pump the tires to the pressure that your scooter’s manual recommends.
When it doesn’t, put all the parts back into place. Make sure you tighten everything nice and strong, but not so strong that the wheel has trouble spinning. The wheel must be able to spin freely after you put it back on.
Congratulations, you repaired your flat!
I know this entire process is difficult to understand through text only. Here’s a great video demonstrating how to install a new tube on a Xiaomi M365.
And another great video, this time showing how to install the tire but also repair the tube itself, also on a Xiaomi M365.
Fixing the flat tire without removing it (using Green Slime)
With some scooter models, you have to basically disassemble half the scooter just to remove a wheel.
If you don’t feel like doing that, or you don’t have the necessary tools, you can consider a simple, cheap, quick way to repair a flat. However, it will only work for small punctures – big damage and blowouts will not be fixed with this method.
What you will need:
- a tube of Green Slime
- tire inflator
With this method, you just:
- completely deflate the tire, and if there’s debris in it, remove it
- shake the Green Slime bottle if needed
- position the valve in the upper half of the tire so that the slime falls down
- remove the valve core with the tool in the cap of the green slime bottle
- fill it with about 1.8 oz / 100 ml of Green Slime
- the slime effectively seals the hole from the inside
- inflate the tire again, make sure there are no leakages
- spin the wheel a bit so that the slime can spread out evenly
The best thing about Green Slime is that not only you can use it to fix flats, but you can also use it before a flat happens to prevent flats!
You can find Green Slime on Amazon here, the 32-ounce bottle is much better value than the 8-ounce one.
Here’s a great video of repairing a flat tire with Green Slime.
How to prevent flat tires?
Even though fixing a flat can be easy (and even fun if you enjoy tinkering with your scooter), it’s still a headache.
To avoid flats as much as possible, you need to follow a healthy maintenance routine, but also apply a few extra tricks.
Basic tips to prevent flat tires
Regularly inspect your tires for damage. Remove and clean any debris or junk stuck in or around the wheels.
Before every ride, an old-school kick in the tire will suffice. I recommend measuring the tire air pressure and making sure it’s sufficiently inflated at least once a week.
Further, you should ride as safely and responsibly as possible. You may be surprised, but sharp objects are actually less common reasons for flats. More often than not, the rider carelessly riding at great speed and hitting something is a bigger risk. Follow these steps to prolong your tire life when riding:
- avoid riding in wet weather – debris sticks to wheels easier in wet conditions, and water moves smaller particles inside the wheel, between the tire and the tube
- ride with your entire body – slow down and bend your knees if you are to cross a bump, and never do jumps no matter how low the sidewalk is
Advanced tips to prevent flat tires
Before we go on with the more advanced tips, a recommendation – don’t fix what’s not broken. These methods all require tinkering with the tires.
If you’ve never had issues with your tires, you can skip this section. Unless you’ve had a flat, these methods may be more trouble than they’re worth.
But if you’ve already had a flat, they are very easy to apply.
Still, it is recommended to only choose one of them, as it hasn’t really been tested if they work well together.
We already mentioned that Green Slime or another sealant is a great way to prevent further flats. You can definitely use it as a preventive matter in any case, but I’d consider it only if I’m fixing a flat already. From all the advanced methods, this is the one I would recommend.
Another great tip in case you’re already replacing your inner tubes would be to get heavy-duty, thorn-resistant inner tubes. These will be a bit more expensive, but they will definitely last longer. I would recommend this solution if you live in a city with lots of debris on the streets.
Further, you can consider anti-puncture tape, or tire liners, to make your inner tube more resistant to flats. It is a hard, rubbery tape that you tuck between the tube and the tire. You will need to deflate the tire first.
You can find the best anti-puncture tape, Mr. Tuffy on Amazon.
Here’s a great video demonstrating the process on bike tires.
Finally, one drastic preventive measure is to replace the tire, the tube, or both, if they are worn out. This is the most expensive, most complex step you can take to make sure you don’t get a flat, but I would only recommend it if you’ve had your tires at least for 5 years and you’re starting to notice they’re wearing out.
Should you consider solid instead of pneumatic tires?
If you’re constantly getting flats, even after you’ve tried some methods to reinforce your air-filled tires, then you should seriously consider getting a scooter with solid tires.
Some places and environments are simply too much for the average air-filled tires. Many cities are full of small pieces of junk and debris that are unforgiving to the typical 8.5-inch tire.
But the downsides of solid tires are numerous. Besides your rides being very shaky and uncomfortable, you will also get poor traction, fewer options for adjustments, and in some cases worse performance overall.
Plus, it’s not like you’ll buy one pair of solid tires and you’re set for life. Solid tires wear out as well, oftentimes even faster than pneumatic ones.
To learn more about the different types of tires, and how they compare to each other, check out our full solid vs pneumatic tire guide.
This is a great rule of thumb: if you’ve had more than 3 flats in a year, only then consider getting a solid-tire scooter, or replacing your air-filled tires with solid ones.