There have been a few Facebook posts over the last few weeks about multiple punctures sustained whilst riding off-road. It is always the same this time of year.
For me, punctures are doubly inconvenient as I commute cross-country from Lewes to Seaford and in winter this means riding there and back in the dark. When I’m cold, wet and muddy it’s no fun fixing a puncture; so I thought I’d share my solution to this problem.
You probably already know that ‘tubeless’ tyres are generally the best way to avoid flat tyres as they self-seal (most of the time). However, getting a tyre to create an airtight seal on the rim has driven many a sane individual crazy. Tubeless setups can be messy if you have to take the tyre off as the sealant has a tendency to get everywhere (see picture below).
You can buy self-sealing tubes ‘off the shelf’ or make your own. I do the latter because it’s simple, cheaper and the self-sealant I use (‘Stans No Tubes’) seems to work better than fluid used in the commercial versions. All you need is a tube with a removable core (or valve) and a bottle of sealant. With the tube in the tyre and the wheel back on the bike you simply remove the core and pour in the required amount of self-sealing fluid. Once the tube’s core is replaced inflate the tyre as normal. Simple!
So what are the pros and cons?
- significantly reduces the likelihood of a puncture
- no requirement to use tubeless ready tyres (which in a tubeless setup can be difficult to fit without an air compressor)
- reduced mess in the event that the new inner tube is required
- cheaper than buying a commercially available equivalent, which in my experience don’t work as well. I would suggest buying a bigger bottle of sealant which is significantly cheaper
- slightly heavier than using just a tube (or running tubeless)
- the self-sealing fluid needs topping up roughly every six months and the life of the tube reduces to about a year (after which the self-sealing fluid starts to create large rubber lumps within the tube)
One other thing to remember if using this setup (or a tubeless setup) is that in the event you have to remove a tyre because the sealant hasn’t prevented a flat, you need to check for more than one thorn, etc. because the sealant may have already sealed previous punctures and the thorns might still be there.