This article is from the Bicycles FAQ, by Mike Iglesias with numerous contributions by others.
From: Jobst Brandt <email@example.com>
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 1997 15:02:23 PDT
Riders occasionally tell about a tube that blew out with a loud bang
INSIDE their tire, leaving the tube with a long slash. The tube blew
out, but not as described. If there was a bang, the tube was outside
the tire. That is, the tire lifted off the rim and fell back in place
after the tube burst.
Tubes do not burst inside tire casings, although they may leak, the
most they can do is give off an audible hiss, assuming it is otherwise
quiet enough. An un-socketed double walled rim can make a dull pop if
the tube is exposed to the inner rim volume. The concept that a tube
can explode inside a tire is dangerous, because it leads people to
believe that tubes can mysteriously fail without apparent cause INSIDE
a tire. With few exceptions, the cause is an improperly mounted tire.
Without understanding the cause, a rider may continue to risk a
blowout, without realizing that tire lift-off can be caused by the
tube lying between the rim and the tire bead. In this position, the
tube prevents the tire from seating properly in the hook of the rim, a
condition that, under the right circumstances, will cause a blowout.
This cannot occur inside the tire casing. To prevent blow-off, the
tire seat must be inspected by pushing the tire away from the rim,
upon which the tube should not exposed at any point around the tire.
Valve stem separation is another common failure, but it is less
dangerous because it usually occurs while inflating the tire. If it
occurs while riding it causes a slow leak, as the vulcanized brass
stem separates from the tube. When this occurs, the stem can be
pulled out entirely to leave a small hole into which a valve stem from
a latex tube of a tubular tire will fit. Stems from tubulars have a
mushroom end, a clamp washer, and a locknut, that fit ideally. Such a
used stem should be part of a tire patch kit.