last updated 14 Sep 2022

Puncture vine (a.k.a. Goathead) [Tribulus terrestris] thorns are a constant problem if you ride in the country in the South-West. It is prevalent from August - September.
Plants can become 10 feet in diameter!
A small woody fruit (seed) – the bur – has long sharp and strong 1/5 to 1/3 inch (5 to 8 mm) - long spines which easily penetrate surfaces, such as bare feet or thin shoes, the rubber of bicycle tires, and the mouths and skin of grazing animals.
Bike tires are 8 to 9 mm thick. The CST Tracer çity Classic where I was getting the punctures was only 5 mm and still appeared to have a lot of tread after 2 years of moderate around town use.

Spines are aligned so that at least one is pointing upwards when lying on the soil surface.

Remove thorns ASAP:
I removed 6-8 of these per tire.
If you detect thorns in your tires you should remove them ASAP. You can hold your foot on the front wheel while you are riding to knock them off. Stop to get rear ones off,
You may need and X-ACTO knife or safety pin and pair of tweezers to pull the broken ones out.
It is normally possible to push them out from the inside using a small allen key. If you flex (pinch) the tyre as you do this, the thorn will usually come out more easily.
There are variety of solutions: Or DIY. See Make Your Bike Tire Thorn Resistant | YouTube for how to combine the old tube and a new tube to do the trick.
Pros and cons:
Search for Bicycle Puncture-proof Tire Pads Tyre Protection Pads Bike Tire Liner or Belt

See Puncture Resistant Tire Liners Test: |

Mr. Tuffy seems to be the most popular.

Stop Flats: Puncture Proof™ Tire Liners $20-$30/tire at Freewheeler in Davis

Tannus Armour Puncture Protection $40 each - At Ken's Bike-Ski-Board Davis

At 221 grams it can add almost 50% to the tire weight.

Slime Tube Sealant
- Instantly seals up to 1/8" (3mm) punctures
- Seals punctures for up to 2 years
- Stops slow leaks

Some Products:
Slime tire Liner rating:2.3 at mtbr

Thicker Tires:
Specialized Armadillo Elite Captain Control tires 645 grams for $60 each. The Armadillo's bead-to-bead Kevlar casings works really well at preventing thorns from puncturing the inner tube but the combination of their stiff casing and hard rubber matrix causes the tires to slip around on everything except for AC (asphalt concrete), concrete and hard pack.
The Specialized All Condition Armadillo Elite 700c Tire is the most flat-resistant tire available |

I ended up getting a Schwalbe Marathon Plus 560 grams ($60) . A 3mm thick Green Guard rubber puncture protection belt offers improved flat resistance. And I'll cary a can of slime and pump or CO2 cartridge in case of an emergency.
with a total thickness of 9.0 mm the Schwalbe Marathon Plus is the thickest tire of all tires tested to date. |
Note: The outside diameter was larger than my old tires, so I had to raise the fenders.

Continental Gator Hardshell 253 grams is another good one.

Performance results from Road Bike Tires Overview at 2015
The Specialized Armadillos were not out when they did these tests in 2015. See review at RCUK

Many road tires offer extra puncture protection. But this also adds weight and rolling resistance. If you’re commuting or riding where there's a lot of debris and want to avoid punctures, the bulk might be worth the reward.

Mountain bikes are predominantly tubeless which contain a small amount of liquid sealant inside the tires. When the tire is punctured by glass, thorns, rocks, or other debris, the internal pressure pushes the sealant out and seals the puncture almost instantly. Sealant contains natural or synthetic latex, so the seal that’s made when a puncture occurs, closely mimics the tire itself.
Tubeless-compatible rims required .
heavier Requires annual maintenance to renew the sealant.

Carbon Dioxide cartridges for emergency flat filling.
Some say Carbon Dioxide CO2 will damage rubber others say no. Some also say CO2 will leak out faster. One site says that is because CO2 is soluble in rubber. Some compare the molucular size of CO2 with Nitrogen (air is 78% nitrogen and 0.03% CO2)
The kinetic diamater of CO2 is 330pm (picometer) and N2 is 364pm; Not a big difference.
I'm still researching it.

Airless Tires

How to Choose Airless Bike Tires | TreadBikley
If your primary goal is to ditch your pneumatic tires altogether, Tannus is currently your only option.
You can still go airless with Air Fom — it just adheres underneath your current set of rubber.

Air Foam Tannus
<$100 $120 to $160
Simulated Pressure 45-65 PSI 80–115 PSI
Weight 280–320g 310–800g

How good are anti-puncture tire liners?
I've used them some and install them in shops for years and my opinion on them isn't so good for a few reasons.
They migrate, most of the ones I've seen while changing flats have been S-shaped all the way around so only partial coverage on top.
No sidewall coverage.
I have replaced dozens of tubes that were cut where the liner overlapped.
Most of this experience was with Mr. Tuffy's. I suppose they are (usually) better than nothing but IME you're way better using with a tire with built in flat protection or just a heavier tire.

What Is The Best Option For A Trail Full Of Goat Head Puncture Vines | Discussion Starter
· #1 · Sep 12, 2011

MTBR says "I purchased a 2011 Camber Elite 29er a few months ago, which is equipped with a Specialized 29 x 2.2 Captain Control front tire and a 29 x 2.0 Captain Sport rear tire. The trails and gravel roads I ride on are riddled with puncture vines on each side of their clearings. In August the goat head branches dry up and fall on the trails and roads where they can readily puncture your tire. I have been getting at least one flat on every ride, which is getting really old. The last thorn I picked up has worked its way through and outer knob and lodged itself in the casing where the only way to remove it is the cut the inside of the casing and dig it out like splinter, which will destroy the tire.""
Here are my three options:

1. Purchase (2) Specialized Armadillo Elite Captain Control tires for $70.00 each. The Armadillo's bead-to-bead Kevlar casings works really well at preventing thorns from puncturing the inner tube but the combination of their stiff casing and hard rubber matrix causes the tires to slip around on everything except for AC, concrete and hard pack.

2. Convert to tubeless using Stan liners and latex compound for about $65.00 assuming both my tires will seal and the Stan Liners fit my Specialized/Alex rims. Note; I have read that Specialized 2-Bliss and their non tubeless ready Sport tires do not seal very well--has anybody successfully converted Captain tires to tubeless? The other concern I have with tubeless is the Latex drying out because the bike will be stored in my garage, which can get up to 110 degrees in the summer.

3. Ghetto tubeless with either two 24" inner-tubes or Gorilla tape, Stan's presta valves and latex. This setup ranges from $20.00 to $40.00.

4. Two very heavy slime 29er tubes for under $30.00.

5. Tire liners for $50.00. 6

. And my cheapest option is to tough it out and either patch and or replace my tubes every week on the trail or at home.

Can anybody weigh in on the pros and cons of the options above or offer other alternatives for my thorn problem?

Tubeless is going to be your most flat resistant choice. I would try the Ghetto method first vs spending money on the Stans rim strips. I have used both in the past and here is my findings:

-Split Tube is easier to seat the tires, no chance of leaking around the valve stem or spoke holes, and prevents burping. The downside is it's one and done, but if you don't switch out tires often then this is the method I'd recommend for the first time user. Use Q-Tubes, Continental, or Schwalbe tubes that have removable valve cores if you use Presta tubes. This will allow you to add more sealant.

-Gorilla Tape makes it much easier to swap tires. Tape the rims and really make sure it's stuck down before mounting the tires to prevent leaks. How easy it is to seat the tires is very dependent on the rims. Some rims work really well while others can be a real b!tch to get the tires seated. The Gorilla Tape does not create a seal between like the split tube so there is a bigger chance of burping or a blowoff.

Specialized 2Bliss tires work fantastic with latex sealant, not sure where you're hearing different. The rear Sport tire I cannot comment on since it is not a 2Bliss model, but it is wire bead so it should at least not have any bead blowoff issues.

Split-tube ghetto tubeless is only one-and-done in terms of the trimmed tube, not the tire. If you pop the tire bead out of the rim you will have a hard time getting the trimmed tube to sit properly back in the same place. Sealant can last between one and many months depending on the heat and how often you're getting punctures. Use a schrader tube or a presta tube with a removable valve core and you will be able to pull the valve core and pump new sealant in through the valve without breaking the tire bead loose. This doesn't let you clean out the tire, but the dried sealant won't really leave much weight.

Best puncture-proof tyres for cycling 2022 CyclingWeekly
Best Road Bike Tires For Puncture Resistanc | BicycleUniverse
Best Road Bike Tires|TRIGearLab
Road Bike Tires Buying Guide |
Puncture Resistant Tire Liners Test: |