Yes I have entered flat tire hell in Cambodia

Feb 23, 2003
Things seemed a bit slow to me in Chiang Mai, so decided it was time to log some Cambodia time. Also my KTM is here in Thailand on a temporary import document, so it must leave the country every five months anyway. So pack up the bike fairly quickly ( translation= forgot to take my electric air pump necessary to pop the tire bead onto a KTM rim) , and head down to Bangkok which is about a 8 hour ride . No problems along the way.
The next morning I jump on the bike in Bangkok to head to the big yearly motor show in Bangkok. As soon as the bike starts up, the red oil light stays on. Damn !! Now I notice a small amount of oil under the bike that I thought was from another bike......Now tear the whole bike apart myself, and discover that the oil sending unit has failed. Oil was pouring out in between the steel housing of the unit, and the plastic inner part. :rofl . The sending unit had failed on my brother's KTM as well, pissing oil the same way, so clearly the stock sending units have a problem......A pretty cool spot to work on the bike, as there was a gogo bar right next door and all the working girls were walking past me while I worked. Riding in the back of a step through bike, I hit a bunch of auto parts stores until I found the correct unit at a Honda car dealer. Pop it in , add a liter of oil , and I am good to go.
Now I ride down to my condo in Pattaya. Next morning go down to the bike, and see the tire is completely flat from a big nail stuck in it. No drama, as the tire was pretty worn, and I had a new tire with me and a new tube. Pulled the complete tire off, and then went down to a local shop to have it fixed. Of course while he is installing the new tube, he pinches it the tire iron. So now have two new holes in my new tube which I carefully patch. Put it all together, and it seems fine.
Now jump on bike and head to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Bike is running a bit rough, but seems ok. This is the same bike that was under 4 feet of silty water a couple of years ago, and I felt the carb was still feeling the ill effects of that immersion. So having a bit of free time in Phnom Penh, I went to a local motorcycle shop. Tore the carbs out myself, carefully cleaned them, and put them back in. Just so you guys know that this international motorcycle traveling is not all glamor, endless beers , and cute girls.....


A few days relaxing in PP trying to avoid accidents from the lunatic local riders, and then down to Sihounokville which is an interesting town on the ocean. Yep, now time to log some beach time. :clap



A few days there, and then time to head back to Thailand. Now the drama starts....Doing about 120 KPH down the road, I feel the rear end let go, and the bike starts to wander off to the right. Keep cool, gently keep tapping the front brake, and slowly bring the bike to a halt by the side of the road. Shit !!!! The tire has broken off the bead on the left side, and is so hot it is smoking. Of course within about one minute 5 Cambodian guys have stopped to see what the giant foreigner is doing. It is very hot, and am now starting to sweat a lot. First rule, strip off riding gear before you become overheated. :deal The tire is too hot to work on. So one of the guys picks it up, and takes it off to a pond somewhere to dunk it in. When I pull the tube out it is toast. One of the reasons to always carry a spare tube........Think what happened was that the tire had a slow leak. Because the tire has a stiff sidewall and I was riding fast, I did not notice it was low. Now after riding like that for a while tire simply overheated and died.

The helpers at work. They seem most fascinated by my endless tools.

Put my spare tube in, and put everything back together. The tire bead went onto the rim a bit easy, but seemed ok.
As I could not produced the 60 PSI needed to pop the bead onto the rim, they jumped on a small bike and took it off somewhere that had an air compressor. A quick five bucks to my helpers, and then off down the road.
After about 50 kilometers the tire went flat again. This time no shady tree, and no helpers....Notice all the water. This is a
critical part of flat tire repair along the road in hot weather. ALWAYS carry lots of water. You may be be by the side of the road for hours, fighting dehydration as well as bike problems...

Now I see why the tire keeps going flat. The bead has been stretched out from the tire being overheated, and will no longer stay on the rim no matter what I do. Yep, am screwed now.....

I am in the middle of nowhere, about 60 kilometers from the Thai border. I now patch the tire again as it has a new hole now.
Inflated it to the least amount of air that will keep the rim from hitting the road, and then head off down the road sort of leaning to the right to keep weight off the left side of the tire. Make it a few kilometers, and it goes flat again. Am now by the side of the
road with a small shack there. Of course the guy comes out to help me. At that point the skies open up with pouring rain. Perfect !!! Just what I need .....I am there about a minute, and the next thing I know a lightning bolt hits about a hundred meters from me with a deafening crash. Holy shit that was close ! :eek1 :eek1 Then another one hits just as close. I am giving serious thought to cowering under a tree...The Cambodian guy was not fazed in the slightest, so no time to show weakness by a foreigner.. I really like these encounters, where not a word is spoken, just one human being helping another.

I now put in my final tube which is for a front tire. I make it only about 10 kilometers before the tire rolls off the rim again.

It is now 3:00 , and I have to get to the border. At this point bike will no longer move forward, so sadly time for the KTM's very first truck ride. :cry Most of the vehicles on the road are SUVs which cannot carry a bike. I was starting to worry that I may have to sleep by the side of the road for the night, as I sure as hell am not leaving the bike there !! Finally a small truck comes by that is so packed with people it looked like you could not fit a doll onto it. Of course he comes to a halt to see what is wrong. After some fierce negotiating we settle on 28 dollars to take me to the border. Everyone gets off the truck, and the loading starts. Here the preparation starts. There is a mob of people from the truck standing behind me. No problem mister, we can fit it right in......

Ready , lift !!

See , we said it would fit right in...

Ready to roll. :clap :clap The rocks under the centerstand are to elevate it so the tailgate will almost close.

Now the 15 people pile back onto the truck. The young kid who was the translator indicates to me to sit on the only space
left, the seat of my bike....So away we go to the border at high speed.

Chaotic unloading of the passengers in town. After this he then took me to the actual border which is about 6 kilometers away.

Yes, now the final indignity of pushing my mighty KTM across the border to Thailand.:cry :cry
On the Thai side I find a woman with a truck who will take me to Pattaya, about a 4 hour drive. She wants 5000 baht which seemed a bit steep to me. Then a Spanish tourist with his Thai girlfriend wanted to go to Pattaya as well, and offered to pay of 2000 baht of the truck rental. Cool !!!! Let's go !!! Loading up on the Thai side.

In Pattaya I have an old KTM tire which I now put on. A few days of gogo bar time , and then time to head north back home. About an hour on the road to Bangkok, and then flat number three. WTF ???? Somehow I think I have pissed off the flat tire gods....Looked like a sharp puncture in and out, as I could see and hear the air come out of the hole. At least I am at a gas station with air, a repair shop near by, and cold gatorade at hand.

I have the nearby shop fix the tire as I am sort of tire burned out by this time. I of course carefully check the inside of the tire for any residual nails still sticking inside. Nope, all clear. Here is the shop putting on a pressure patch on the tube.

Finally off to Bangkok with no problems. Next morning I wanted to leave. As I am sitting outside the at the hotel restaurant area I happen to glance over at my bike parked in front. WTF WTF WTF WTF !!!!! Yes another flat tire. I felt like I had entered the twilight zone of flat tires. Finished my coffee and got to work removing the tire.

Now off on a small step through bike operated by a hotel worker to where we finally find a car tire shop that is open on Sunday. Guy seems a bit grumpy to be working on a motorcycle tire but he finally relents and agrees to fix it. His tire machine makes short work of pulling the tire off. Of course there is a small nail sticking inside.

He now puts on two hot patches that work perfectly.

A fun trip overall , I was pretty mystified by all these flats. I swear on a stack of bibles that every time I have a flat I carefully check the inside of the tire for things sticking inside. To skip that part is foolish to say the least. I had a smooth and easy trip back to Chiang Mai where I am now recovering from FTT ( flat tire trauma). Hmmm now where to next ?
Dec 30, 2003
A lot of flats, especially blow outs around the valve are caused by them overfilling the tires with air.

I had a screw in my rear tire recently in Snooky, left it for a new tube. I checked the tyre pressure .. it was way over 65psi .. where my gague ended.

I had a flat due to this one time on route 4 .. I had a spare tube and some locals changed it in a village .. gave them a couple of bucks (yeah I know I overpaid)

We once spent 5 1/2 hours getting 9 holes patched in a tube near Sre Ambel after a nail in the tyre.

One day on a trip for ribs to Kin Svay, I had a screwdiver bit in the rear tyre and something in the front tyre on my Dejbel. I rode it back to Vays in PP with no problems after a dozen cans of beer (abut 15 -20 kms). Took them an hour to put new tubes in.

I changed one myself at the base of Bokor one time .. blood sweat and almost tears .. should have gone back to Kampot .. would have been quicker.