Can You Ride A Bike With A Flat Tire? And Is It Bad to Ride on a Flat Tire?

From this article you will learn if you can ride a bike with a flat tire - from learning about cases it can work in to fixing wheel right on spot
John Watson
John Watson
John is an experienced cycling enthusiast and a great asset when it comes to writing skills. He's a Bachelor of Arts and a talented journalist. John is in charge of our blog read more
Reviewed By
Jessica Kingston
Jessica Kingston
Expert Consultant
Jessica is our expert consultant on all things connected to biking - gear, technique, you name it. Being a pro cyclist in the past, she knows exactly how things work in and read more
Last updated: August 16, 2023
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Flat tires are a cyclist’s worst nightmare. They’re equivalent to a car breaking down just as you are in the middle of your recreational drive. Getting a flat tire is not only a major inconvenience but could also be dangerous depending on where you are. For instance, if you’re in the middle of a secluded terrain and far from home, your transportation options could be limited.

In such a situation, you’re left wondering, ‘Can you ride a bike with a flat tire?’ How difficult is it? In this guide, we’ll answer your most pressing questions, including what you should do when you experience a flat tire. Let’s dive right in!

In Which Cases You Can Ride a Flat-Tire Bike

According to a PubMed study Trusted Source Health benefits of cycling: a systematic review The purpose of this study was to update the evidence on the health benefits of cycling. A systematic review of the literature resulted in 16 cycling-specific studies. , cycling on your commute to work has been linked with increased cardiovascular fitness. Cycling also has additional benefits such as improved joint mobility, increased flexibility & muscle strength as well as improved posture. Most importantly, regularly riding your bike can help you reduce your stress levels.

Technically, it is possible to ride a bike with a flat tire, but this is a short-lived solution. So, just don’t ride it. There are, however, 2 main circumstances under which you can ride a bike with a flat tire:

Slight tear

There are instances where the tire has only experienced a slight tear or simply has a minor leak. In such a case, you can ride your bike on a flat tire, but you’ll have a harder time pedaling, and you’ll experience poor tire performance. In some cases, you may even cause a serious accident.

No choice

There are situations where you have no option but to protect your safety. For instance, let’s assume you’re in the middle of dangerous terrains when your tire gets flattened. It’s getting late, and the trail you’re on is regularly frequented by wild animals, and there’s a low chance that you’ll get any help. In such a situation, you can ride your bike. You should, however, remember that you have the option of walking your bike.

If you’re interested in getting a reliable and high-quality bike suitable for heavy riders, we have compiled two comprehensive guides for you; the best bikes for overweight females and the best bikes for heavy riders.

What Happens while Riding a Bike with a Flat Tire

Can You Ride A Bike With A Flat Tire? And Is It Bad to Ride on a Flat Tire?

Riding a bike with a flat tire is not only uncomfortable but also very dangerous. You risk damaging your bike and also sustaining injuries.

Bike Damage

Irrespective of the extent of the flat tire, you will certainly cause more damage to your bike if you insist on riding it in that condition. Keep in mind that the wheels and tires are different. So if the tires are not properly inflated, the rims and wheels are left unprotected and more vulnerable to damage. Sitting on the bike will also cause more strain and pressure, causing some parts to break or the bike to bend.

Tire/Tube Damage

A flat tire can be easily fixed whereas a shredded tire can only be thrown away. When riding a bike with a flat tire, you can completely destroy the tire and its inner tube. Flat tires don’t provide enough cushioning for tires to absorb the impacts of rough roads. That’s why the inner tubes can also be damaged during cycling on a flat tire. 

Rim Damage

You can also damage your rims when biking with a flat tire. In casual conditions, rims are stiff and responsive but that can change when tires don’t protect them. After such an extreme ride, a full wheel replacement can be required and this will be much more costly. 

If you hit the rims hard when riding, they can crack. Don’t try to put a new tire on a broken rim or it will puncture the tire. Plus, if you ride on exposed rims, the spokes in the wheels can loosen or break.

Frame Damage

When your tire is flat, it doesn’t provide the shock absorbers needed for bike frame protection. So the added pressure can bend or even brake the fame. You don’t want to replace a whole bike because of a flat tire. But if it happened, you can replace it with an option that won’t break the bank. If you’re in the market for affordable bikes, we have compiled a guide on the best bikes under $1,000 just for you.


Contrary to popular belief, bike injuries can be fatal. In fact, a study by the NCBI Trusted Source Injuries related to bicycle accidents: an epidemiological study in The Netherlands Bicycle accidents resulting in hospitalization have a high mortality rate. Furthermore, a high incidence of multitrauma, fractures and cerebral haemorrhages were found. revealed that bike accidents that result in hospitalization have a very high mortality rate. They conducted a study among 1986 patients, all admitted as a result of biking accidents and realized that 41% of them had suffered multi-traumas.

If you ride a bike with a flat tire, then you’re putting yourself in harm’s way. For starters, the flat tire can worsen, making the bike unstable and causing you to fall off it. There’s a high chance that when this happens, it will be unexpected, which will make the fall fatal.

You may also sustain injuries due to a bad form. It is much harder to ride a bicycle with a flat tire as a deflated tire will have considerably more rolling resistance than one which is properly inflated. Your body will overcompensate for the flat tire, ultimately straining your tendons and muscles and causing significant damage. And, admit it; riding under the threat of fall can induce anxiety and is stressful. That’s why it is bad to ride on a flat tire.

How Far Can You Ride on a Flat Bike Tire

But if you’re a risk-taker and choose to ride on your flat anyway. How far are you going to get? These 5 main things will determine the distance you can tackle.

Tire Condition

The state of your tire plays a significant role in determining the distance you can travel on your bike. The severity of a flat tire can greatly impact the distance you can go.

There are various types of flat tires, such as slow leaks, punctures, blowouts, pinch flats, etc. The specific type of flat tire will affect how far you can travel.

For instance, a blowout, where the tire loses all its air instantly, will result in a shorter distance traveled compared to a slow leak, where air leaks out over an extended period.

Type of Bike/ Wheel

The type of wheel material can affect this, with carbon wheels being more durable and stiff, while alloy wheels can flex more easily. However, even an alloy wheel with slight bends can still be ridden in an emergency, while a carbon wheel is more susceptible to cracking and breaking.

BMX and mountain bikes, which are built for stunts and rough terrain, have stronger and wider rims and more durable tires compared to road bikes, allowing for a greater distance to be traveled with a flat.


The distance you can travel on a flat tire also depends on the surface of the ground. A smooth, flat road will provide an easier ride compared to rough terrain with obstacles such as rocks, potholes, and uneven surfaces. These can cause additional damage to the tire and make the ride more difficult. It’s important to be mindful of the terrain and to adjust your speed and riding style accordingly to ensure a safer and smoother ride home.


Speeding on a flat tire will only worsen the damage done to it. It is not safe to ride at the same speed as a fully inflated tire. The higher your speed, the greater the risk of the wheel failing. It’s important to prioritize your safety and that of your bike, by taking it slow and riding cautiously to minimize damage and ensure a safe journey home.

Weather Conditions

Riding a bike on flat tires in inclement weather can be extremely hazardous. Rain, ice, or snow can make the road surface slippery and difficult to navigate, even with properly inflated tires. However, when a tire is flat, the risk of an accident increases even more.

Cycling accidents caused by weather-related conditions such as ice account for a significant percentage of non-collision accidents. Adding a flat tire to the mix can only further decrease the distance you can travel and increase the potential for a dangerous situation. It’s important to be extra cautious when riding in bad weather, especially if you have a flat tire.

Bike and Rider Weight

The weight of both you and your bike can have an impact on the ease of your ride. The more weight the tires have to carry, the harder it becomes to move forward. This is especially true for a flat tire, which can slow you down significantly. A heavier bike or gaining weight can also contribute to the tire losing air at a faster rate, resulting in a shorter distance covered. However, there are other options available.

What to Do When Tire’s Flatted

Every cyclist gets a flat tire every once in a while. The best way to handle a flat tire is to always be prepared. You need to be ready to perform quick repairs should you get into an accident. As soon as you get home or to your car, change a damaged bike tire. Here are some of the things you should always keep at hand:

Patching kit

If you regularly cycle far from your residence, then a patching kit is a must-have. It comes in handy when your tube has a small leak, and patching is significantly cheaper than tube replacement. You should, however, note that if the tube is extensively damaged, e.g., the tear is liner or the hole is located near the valve stem, you will have to replace the tubes.

According to expert reviews, the PRO BIKE TOOL 14 PC Bicycle Inner Tube Patch is the best model. You can use it to repair different tire types & sizes, and is a quick, simple, and reliable kit. This kit also comes with rubber solutions compared to other manufacturers that only include one.

Portable pump

You can use a pump to inflate the tires. The beauty of bike pumps is that they are small and compact, therefore portable. Based on multiple recommendations, the BV Bicycle Ergonomic Bike Floor Pump should be part of your cling arsenal. It comes with a smart valve head and a durable steel barrel. It also has 160 psi and is ergonomically designed.

Call help

If you’re taking a cycling road trip, you might want to learn emergency numbers for the area to be able to call for help.

Final Thoughts

So, can you ride a bike with a flat tire? The quick answer is yes, but you really shouldn’t. Cycling a bike with a flat tire or a puncture causes extensive damage to it but also puts you at risk of sustaining injuries. You should only ride such a bike if the tires only have a slight tire or you have no option, and your safety is compromised. The best thing to do would be to repair it, call for help or simply walk your bike back home.


Health benefits of cycling: a systematic review
The purpose of this study was to update the evidence on the health benefits of cycling. A systematic review of the literature resulted in 16 cycling-specific studies.
Injuries related to bicycle accidents: an epidemiological study in The Netherlands
Bicycle accidents resulting in hospitalization have a high mortality rate. Furthermore, a high incidence of multitrauma, fractures and cerebral haemorrhages were found.

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