Stuck in the middle of nowhere with a gert big gash in a lightweight tyre? The Bank of England Five Pound Note is an excellent, robust tyre boot that will get you home, and then you can pop out and spend it on well-deserved cake.
On Sunday's ride, about 8km from Saffron Walden, I hit a patch of completely trashed road. All the tarmac had been scraped off in preparation for resurfacing, leaving the concrete slab base and lots of sharp stone chips. I hit one with the rear wheel, resulting in an instant puncture and a centimetre-long gash in the tyre.
All around me were fields. It looked like a long walk to the nearest village, and a quick look round yielded no roadside debris that I could use as a tyre boot. Lightbulb! I have cash, in the form of one of them new-fangled plastic fivers. I'll try that.
When the bank of England put its new fiver into circulation on 13 September last year, one of the proudly touted advantages of the new plastic note was that it was stronger and more durable than the previous paper version. The Bank said: 'Each new polymer note is expected to last at least 2.5 times longer than the current paper notes. This is because polymer is stronger than paper so the notes can better withstand being repeatedly folded into wallets or scrunched up into pockets.'
Surely a banknote intended to withstand that sort of day to day abuse could also hold my inner tube in place enough to get me home.
I slipped the fiver between the tyre and tube, and held it in place with one hand while I pushed the bead back over the rim with the other. That's a bit tricky, but I can hardly complain that the Bank doesn't supply some sort of adhesive to help keep the cash in place. I might pop a bit of double-sided sticky tape in my ride pack for future disasters though.
I pumped the tyre up, inflating it to about 70psi – enough to hold the rim off the ground, keep the tyre in shape and keep the fiver in place, but not so hard that it was likely to bulge the note out of the tyre. The new fiver may be durable, but it didn't seen sensible to find out if it could stand being rubbed against the road.
I carried on into Saffron Walden, stopping at the excellent Bicicletta cafe for cake and cappuccino. It's a bike shop too, so I considered buying a replacement tyre. But the fiver had held so far, and it's not like I'm short of spares at home, so I pressed on.
Another 25km and I was home. The tyre was still inflated, and when I took it out the fiver was hardly marked. Not only had it got me home, but I'm confident I could have safely done a much longer ride and it would have held up.
Make sure there's a new fiver in your wallet every time you ride. If you don't need it as a tyre boot, you can always spend it on cake.
Brilliantly effective tyre boot that can also be used to buy cake
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bank of England Five Pound Note
Size tested: N/A
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The Bank of England says quite a few things about the five pound note, but for our purposes the important bit is:
"Each new polymer note is expected to last at least 2.5 times longer than the current paper notes. This is because polymer is stronger than paper so the notes can better withstand being repeatedly folded into wallets or scrunched up into pockets."
It can also withstand being used as a tyre boot, and it does so admirably.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The plastic Five Pound Note is an upgrade from the previous paper model, using high-tech plastic to make a note that is sufficiently tough and waterproof it can be very successfully used to reinforce a damaged tyre.
The note was almost unscathed after 35km of riding. I'd happily trust it for a much longer ride.
It may say one gram up there, but that's because our system demands you put in a weight. In fact it doesn't register on our scales at all.
Taking a Five Pound Note out of the cash machine my reduce your bank balance by five quid, but when you've used it as a tyre boot you can take it out of the tyre and use it to buy cake at its full face value. Try doing that with an old bit of tyre!
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Brilliantly. It allowed me to finish a ride as if nothing had happened.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Being able to use it to buy cake afterward.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The veneration of Winston Churchill, a figure who deserves to be far more controversial than he is.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I have.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The Five Pound Note weighs next to nothing, stops the tube bulging out of your tyre after you've picked up a tyre gash, and can be used afterwards for its alternative purpose as a means of exchange. It's perfect!
About the tester
I usually ride: Scapin Style My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.