Tip of the Week 6: Tire Sealant Isn’t Just For Kids

This week’s tip is a neat trick that has given me peace and happiness on both my road and mountain bike. I might sound arrogant when I brag that I haven’t had a flat tire on my road or mountain bike in years. Many of you are lucky to get just one flat a week! I’ve added a latex-based tire sealant to my tires and tubes.

On my Cannondale Scalpel mountain bike (and the Rizes and Rush before that) I am running Maxxis UST Tubeless tires, so there is no tube to puncture. As a word of caution, if you use a sealant with tubeless tires, virtually all tire manufacturers will void the tire’s warranty so proceed at your own risk! I’ve used Stan’s No Tubes sealant without a single flat on the trail or pulling the kids around in our Chariot trailer around Herriman and Daybreak where thorns and other flattening devices are cleverly placed by Mother Nature.

Sure, it works great on a mountain bike. But on the road? Yes!

I’ve been running Continental Gatorskin tubular tires on my Zipp tubular wheels for the last year without a flat either. I’ve used the CaffeLatex sealant. The difference between the CaffeLatex and the Stan’s No Tubes is that the CaffeLatex foams up when it is agitated. I don’t know what difference it really makes as far as effectiveness in fixing punctures, but I’ve had perfect luck with it. CaffeLatex doesn’t have the “granules” or chunks as we call them like the No Tubes does. That is beneficial on the mountain side for bigger holes and tougher UST tire casings. So that’s tubulars.

Prior to my tubulars, I had standard Zipp clinchers with high-performance, short-life, puncture-prone racing tires. Using standard butyl (as opposed to lighter-weight latex) tubes filled with CaffeLatex, I didn’t have a single flat there too.

Even before that I ran Hutchinson road tubeless tires on my Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels (not officially recommended, use at your own risk, but it worked and I loved it!) with No Tubes sealant there. When my tire was about at the end of it’s useful life, I only had one problem when I ran over a sharp wire in the road and it cut the tire right across and sealant started spraying everywhere! I was about 1/2 mile from home, and the hole sealed up quickly without losing too much air. A little cleanup but no walking!

The bottom line is that I’m convinced. I don’t personally race cyclocross, but ask any of our team guys and they all swear by some sort of sealant whether tubular, tubes, or improvised (read: ghetto) tubeless. That’s the difference between finishing the race, and watching the finish.

The green Slime or our favorite Flat Attack works great on kids bikes, BMX, and cruisers, but the higher quality sealant is appropriate for higher performance applications.

You can buy just the sealant and install it yourself, or we’d can to install it into your tires or tubes. Especially on the road side, when spring comes and the roads are all nasty, this is one tip that will help a lot!

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