Leaking Motorcycle Tires and Soapy Water




It’s not been a great week for tires. I knew I had some type of leak in the rear tire on the motorcycle as it was flat the same day the battery died. Reminder: give your motorcycle love in all seasons.

I put the bike on its center stand and spun the rear wheel looking for nails, screws… any type of foreign object. I didn’t see anything. The rear tire looked to be intact. Dammit! I was looking for a very simple fix but instead this was going to be more of a challenge.

Right before Death Valley my rear tire was mysteriously leaking air. I looked all over and couldn’t find any type of puncture in the tire. I took it over to the great folks at KC Engineering see if they had any better ideas. They took the rear wheel off and put it into a tub of water looking for a stream of bubbles. It turned out the tire was leaking air between the sidewall and the rim of the wheel. I’ve never heard of leakage there before.

I pumped up the tire and was on my way. I figured I could always add air to the tire if the rear end got squishy on the ride into work. It turned out the ride was just fine. On the way home check the tire pressure and I had only lost about 3 pounds of pressure. I chalked it up to differences in pressure due to temperature.

Fast forward to the weekend. I checked the rear tire pressure and I was down 20 pounds over three days. Not good. I figured I likely had a leak in the same place I did last time. It was likely going to mean $80 to get fixed :-(. Since this was my first Christmas since living here didn’t want to miss the toy ride. I’ve never been able to do it before. I figured I was losing air at 6 pounds per day. I was only going to be gone a couple of hours. I’d be fine, right?

It was great to see Laura, Jimmy, and Tim at Alice’s. I shared what was going on with the bike and Jimmy asked,” have you checked the valve stem?” I sheepishly said no because I didn’t think to check there. Also, I didn’t need a big tub of water to check for leaks. It turns out soapy water does that just fine.

I came back down the hill and dumped some soapy water onto the rear tire, Including the valve stem. Eureka! I found my leak (or at least one of them). Doing a little research on the Internet it turns out that’s not any cheaper to fix as the tire has to come off the bike.

I asked Greg over at Santa Clara Cycle if the valve itself may just be loose. He tightened the valve inside of the stem. Hopefully that fixes it. I came home and poured more soap you are over my valve stem it appears to be holding air. Hooray! I think I have a good fix, but a couple more days will tell.

Once again, moral of the story: Love your motorcycle.:-)


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