No Mavic behind you?

In Praise of Sealant

by / / 45 posts

This was not going to be the Race of Truth. My wife and I were descending different routes to our vehicle. I was on the route with the tooth jarring pavement and tight corners, she was not. BAM! Oh scheiße, I’ve got flat rear! The tire exhaled air and water vapor in one great blast. This race was going to be either riding back to meet my wife on a completely flat tubular tire or racing to tear off a blown tire, fitting on the spare and pumping it up. The blown tire, a Veloflex Arenberg 25mm tubular, had been reborn three times and it’s center tread was worn off. I had already been thinking about replacing it so it was without too much remorse I rode it, flat as flat can be, to our rendezvous.

The next day I peeled the tire off the rim and performed an autopsy. The casing was quickly incised and the innards were laid out on the workbench. The pathology was interesting; riding a completely flat tubular tire does not shred the latex inner tube. Nowhere was the innertube stuck to itself. Looking at the tire in cross-section, there were still many miles of rubber left. I found seven discolored places on the inner casing and corresponding spots on the inner tube. I assumed these were all punctures that had been sealed. I eviscerated further and found only four actual penetrations of the latex tube. Each seal looked like a tiny stalagmite on the inside of the inner tube, who knew? The pathology report might say the patient died too young. Had the owner bothered to keep fresh sealant in the tube, it might still be glued on the rim.

I prepped for Keepers Tour 2012 by fitting some 28mm clincher tires with removable core butyl inner tubes and sealant. I did not get a flat on the Roubaix secteurs. I was probably running the tires at higher pressure than I should have so I don’t know if the sealant ever had a chance fix a pinch flat, but I was ready for it.

I was an advocate of tubeless tires before I had ever used them (?!). Then I spent too much time cleaning dried Caffé latex spew off my frame and gruppo. A puncture would seal but only after spraying latex down to 50 psi. I was not impressed until I switched to Orange Seal, which has solid bits in it, and never have I been so happy to get a puncture on a wet road and watch it seal itself in a few revolutions. There is something deeply thrilling about seeing a puncture seal while riding. There is no stopping, no sweating on the side of the road, no man handling of tires, tubes and pumps. When it works, it’s brilliant.

I switched back to tubular tires so I could ride bitchin’ carbon wheels but I didn’t use any preemptive sealant. After noticing a slow leak one morning and I added 30 mls of Orange Seal and it was fixed, tire saved. Sealant and tubular tires are a good match. If one decides to go down this road, removable core inner tubes are a must and a nice core remover will be useful. @Mauibike treats his tubulars like tubeless; preventative sealant and ride like crazy. This same argument could be made for clincher tires, especially if a person feels like they are spending too much time on the side of the road, sweating, switching out tubes and inflating. Is it a puncture panacea? No, but these new sealants work, especially when actually in the tires.

// Musings from the V-Bunker

  1. I’m about to start testing the Wickens & Soderstrom No.8 sealant. Designed for MTB, but I’m running 28C at 65psi max so it’s been OK’d. Speaking with the founder, I have very high expectations.




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  2. When you performed the pneu-topsy did you smoke cigarettes and speak into a recording microphone like Quincey then run all angry-like and yell at your clueless administrator?




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  3. The image of @Gianni hunkering over the dismembered and disemboweled remnants of his tubular, the scene both illuminated and shadowed by the barely shrouded 60W incandescent that hangs over the table just in front of his forehead…




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  4. “No, but these new sealants work, especially when actually in the tires.”

    That’s the key, innit?




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  5. @DeKerr

    The image of @Gianni hunkering over the dismembered and disemboweled remnants of his tubular, the scene both illuminated and shadowed by the barely shrouded 60W incandescent that hangs over the table just in front of his forehead…

    It’s Franken-SHTEEN!




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  6. Mate of mine used an old tub to make a video for his bike shop feed on tub field-fixes using Vittoria Pit Stop (CO2 and latex in a can for those who haven’t come across it). Tub inflated, two holes pierced, can of Pit Stop on… Two curly latex extrusions and no seal. Disappointing and a little worrying as VPS is my get-me-home card on tub rides. Looks like I might have to find a better backup.

    I was going to try Caffe Latex in my MTB, although the comment above puts me off a bit. I had a front puncture seal in a race recently using Stans, but only once it got to 8psi, so the rest of the lap was a bit sketchy.

    Still considering road tubeless although I’m liking the look of the new Schwalbe One Pros – lighter than a tubed setup and should be faaaast…




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  7. But doesn’t having 30ml of goop rummaging around your 320tpi tubular detract something from the ride quality?

    Doesn’t the stuff squirt all over the bike until low enough pressure is reached – as with the tubeless?

    Why not just apply if a flat occurs?




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  8. @Fausto

    Still considering road tubeless although I’m liking the look of the new Schwalbe One Pros – lighter than a tubed setup and should be faaaast…

    If your MTB tyres end up too low pressure, when they start at what, 30psi, how are road tubeless with their massive bead locks going to be any better at 100psi?

    Just carry a spare tub, enjoy everyone thinking how hard core you are running tubulars, and ride on. Save the latex for use in the garage where its effectiveness to seal that particular hole can be determined easily, cleanly, and at your leisure and comfort?




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  9. @Puffy

    I commend your tubs philosphy and agree that sealant is useful for ensuring repairs stay repaired – but ‘m with GIanni; in tubs, clinchers or tubeless, theres not much to be lost and lots to be gained by running with sealant all the time. I can’t feel the difference (even in Corsa EVO CXs) and have seen it work. Mostly without the need for more air. Not uncommon for me to discover a (sealed) puncture at the end of my ride while cleaning the bike down – and sadly, there is a lot of glass on the road around my ‘hood so punctures are a regular occurance.

    In my humble view, if you’re going fast enough to worry about the effects of the sealant on your tyres’ performance then you probably have a Mavic/Vittoria Service Course following you anyway.




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  10. Latex sealant is a mess. No ands, ifs, buts or doubts about that. I put up with it on my mtn bike but the experiment didn’t last long on my road bike. And I won’t even bother with the CX set up. A better use for latex:

    Cheers all




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  11. @Ccos

    @DeKerr

    You two should be thankful I didn’t include a photo album with this post. And yes, always a fake cigarette hanging from the lip. A few ashes fall into the incision but it’s ok, it’s a dead tire.




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  12. @Fausto

    Mate of mine used an old tub to make a video for his bike shop feed on tub field-fixes using Vittoria Pit Stop (CO2 and latex in a can for those who haven’t come across it). Tub inflated, two holes pierced, can of Pit Stop on… Two curly latex extrusions and no seal. Disappointing and a little worrying as VPS is my get-me-home card on tub rides. Looks like I might have to find a better backup.

    I was going to try Caffe Latex in my MTB, although the comment above puts me off a bit. I had a front puncture seal in a race recently using Stans, but only once it got to 8psi, so the rest of the lap was a bit sketchy.

    Still considering road tubeless although I’m liking the look of the new Schwalbe One Pros – lighter than a tubed setup and should be faaaast…

    I’ll send you my big bottle of Caffe Latex. It sucks. Road tubeless with sealant that seals is pretty cool set up. The sealant needs some chunks in it to jam up the leak then the latex can fill the voids. A friend here puts glitter in his sealant! I asked him where the fuck do you get your glitter? From stippers? This new stuff already has the glitter in it. Forget the Caffee Latex.




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  13. @Puffy

    But doesn’t having 30ml of goop rummaging around your 320tpi tubular detract something from the ride quality?

    Doesn’t the stuff squirt all over the bike until low enough pressure is reached – as with the tubeless?

    Why not just apply if a flat occurs?

    The crap sealant does spray around endlessly but the new and better sealant seals before you know it and you don’t need to reinflate.

    Why not just apply if a flat occurs?

    That works too but they you have to screw around with cores and injecting and pumping. But it will work and you only need a little bit of sealant to fix the puncture. I have been doing that with my tubulars but I think I’ll just treat them like tubeless and always have some sealant in there.

    This need might stem from riding 23mm clinchers for decades and fixing endless pinch flats on the side of the road. Seeing that tubeless tire seal itself as one is whipping along, it’s too good. No stopping, no pumping, it changes a person.




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  14. @Mike Stead

    Wickens & Soderstrom No.8 sealant

    This sounds like it should have the stamp that says “used by the queen” on it.




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  15. @Gianni

    I rarely get punctures, but I am tempted to give this new glitter infused stuff a go if for no other reason than to say I gave it a go. One question remains however, how long does the latex last before it goes off and won’t seal a puncture? Eg; I typically get 12 months out of my race wheels before the tubs needs replacement will it still work 12 months on? My commuter get a few years out of a set of tyres…

    The other thing is once you use this stuff…. you can no longer repair it right?




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  16. So, here’s a sealant thing that happened to me and I still don’t understand.

    I’m running Vittoria Open Corsas, so a tub made into a clincher. And it gives a lovely ride with latex tubes, just like a tub would. So far so good.

    i decided one day, probably after a spate of punctures, to experiment with sealant in the latex tube as a preventive measure. Removed core, inserted correct amount, commenced pumping and BLAM – exploded tube, sealant everywhere.

    Ever the optimist I thought maybe the tube had been punched or herniated out so I repeated the procedure. BLAM. Exploding tubes are really loud.

    Ok that’s weird but third time lucky right? Again, BLAM. And not at 140psi either, we’re talking 80-100 range.

    After that, anxious to retain my hearing into old age, I quit but I still can’t understand it. And whenever I touch the pump my cat runs to the furthest corner he can find.




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  17. I’m almost tempted to try again if these new sealants are better. First time round I had too many punctures that would not seal and tubeless tyres are a right bitch to get off/on.

    @puffy I heard you should replace after 3 months. Certainly I found that after that sort of period when I tried tubeless first time round the solid bits were setting into “coral growths” after a year you just have a solid band of latex around the tube.




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  18. @ChrisO

    Doesn’t make any sense to me. My first thought was maybe it reacted badly to the latex tube but en the high end tubs have a latex tube…

    @Teocalli

    I’m almost tempted to try again if these new sealants are better. First time round I had too many punctures that would not seal and tubeless tyres are a right bitch to get off/on.

    @puffy I heard you should replace after 3 months. Certainly I found that after that sort of period when I tried tubeless first time round the solid bits were setting into “coral growths” after a year you just have a solid band of latex around the tube.

    Well that’s me out. Adding sealant seems like a pain as it is, let alone draining and reapplying every three months. I can’t see how this stuff doesn’t detract from the ride quality of a high end tubular especially as it ages and clumps etc.

    In the end, are you really in that much of a rush to take 5min to swap for the spare? If you are, maybe you need to leave home 5min earlier and chill a bit.




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  19. @Fausto

    Still considering road tubeless although I’m liking the look of the new Schwalbe One Pros – lighter than a tubed setup and should be faaaast…

    I was using these but gave up after too many sealant fails. Absolutely loved the ride of the One Pro but per previous and absolute bitch if the sealant fails and they appeared not quite as durable puncture resistance wise as Schwalbe would claim. I’m having far fewer punctures running Open Corsa with latex tubes. Looks like you can’t get Orange Seal in the UK at the moment.




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  20. @Puffy

    Well that’s me out. Adding sealant seems like a pain as it is, let alone draining and reapplying every three months. I can’t see how this stuff doesn’t detract from the ride quality of a high end tubular especially as it ages and clumps etc.

    In the end, are you really in that much of a rush to take 5min to swap for the spare? If you are, maybe you need to leave home 5min earlier and chill a bit.

    Though watching the Orange seal video it seems to work differently to the previous stuff I have tried and is claimed to “last as long as the tyre”. The newer Continental stuff is also claimed to last longer. I have tried Schwalbe and Bontrager sealant previously and been disappointed. Given that I have the tyres I may well try again.




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  21. @puffy

    This is an interesting review – though on mtb tyres – and has some interesting comments about other sealants. http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/mtb/reviewed-orange-seal-tire-sealant_348235

    @chriso

    There is an interesting throwaway comment in the middle around latex tubes. Most of these seem to have latex in a solvent of some sort. So sticking latex solvent in a latex tube may not be a great recipe?




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  22. @ChrisO

    Strange. I ran Corsa Evo CX, latex tubes (both Vittoria and Vredestein) with sealant (Stan’s, and their local rip-off, Joe’s) and can happily report two puncture-free years of riding. Eventually, after winter storage, the latex tube disintegrated and tore upon re-inflation.

    These days I don’t run sealant because I’ve had enough of the valve-heads clogging and the mess involved – and my suspicion that the sealant caused the tube to foul, since the sealant-less tubes from the same batch are still in a great state.




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  23. @Teocalli

    @Fausto

    Still considering road tubeless although I’m liking the look of the new Schwalbe One Pros – lighter than a tubed setup and should be faaaast…

    I was using these but gave up after too many sealant fails. Absolutely loved the ride of the One Pro but per previous and absolute bitch if the sealant fails and they appeared not quite as durable puncture resistance wise as Schwalbe would claim. I’m having far fewer punctures running Open Corsa with latex tubes. Looks like you can’t get Orange Seal in the UK at the moment.

    That’s because Schwalbe claim puncture resistance only for their tyre+sealant combo: All Schwalbe tubeless tyres have no puncture-protection layer whatsoever – they claim it’s unnecessary with sealant – which makes them the only tubeless tyres with decent rolling resistance, yet also very fragile.




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  24. Some test results of different types here – debunks what I said about latext solvent……

    http://www.slowtwitch.com/Products/Things_that_Roll/Tires/Sealant_Test_-_Part_2_4155.html




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  25. @Fausto

    Mate of mine used an old tub to make a video for his bike shop feed on tub field-fixes using Vittoria Pit Stop (CO2 and latex in a can for those who haven’t come across it). Tub inflated, two holes pierced, can of Pit Stop on… Two curly latex extrusions and no seal. Disappointing and a little worrying as VPS is my get-me-home card on tub rides. Looks like I might have to find a better backup.

    I was going to try Caffe Latex in my MTB, although the comment above puts me off a bit. I had a front puncture seal in a race recently using Stans, but only once it got to 8psi, so the rest of the lap was a bit sketchy.

    Still considering road tubeless although I’m liking the look of the new Schwalbe One Pros – lighter than a tubed setup and should be faaaast…

    I have not had reliable success with Vittoria pitstop, and have not yet deployed this stuff in my tubs, but I’m going to.




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  26. @Teocalli

    @puffy

    This is an interesting review – though on mtb tyres – and has some interesting comments about other sealants. http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/mtb/reviewed-orange-seal-tire-sealant_348235

    @chriso

    There is an interesting throwaway comment in the middle around latex tubes. Most of these seem to have latex in a solvent of some sort. So sticking latex solvent in a latex tube may not be a great recipe?

    That makes sense. The solvent evaporates and the holes is plugged. Given my tubs have latex tubes, I am even less inclined to use it.




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  27. @frank

    I have not had reliable success with Vittoria pitstop, and have not yet deployed this stuff in my tubs, but I’m going to.

    Well, it’s the right colour!




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  28. @Teocalli

    Some test results of different types here – debunks what I said about latext solvent……

    http://www.slowtwitch.com/Products/Things_that_Roll/Tires/Sealant_Test_-_Part_2_4155.html

    I don’t think it does at least in the sense that they contain latex solvents. Having the sealant seal better in latex suggests that the homogenous sealant/tube is working in its favour and possibly the solvent dissolving the tube at the hole allows for a better “weld” between the sealant and the tube where the sealant and tube melt/mix/become one. Might simply be that due to the flexibility of the latex, a 2mm nail leaves a much smaller hole compared to a butyl tube.

    One failing of this test and any other demo video I have seen is we don’t typically ride over nails and have them enter and exit the tyre cleanly. The punctures are more often than not elongated, aggravated, a line like split which are harder to seal. Nor does it address the longevity of the seal but he admits those limitations at the start.

    For me, I don’t want to use it prophylactically for a number of reasons. That means I either carry sealant or a spare. A spare will work every time, sealant will work some of the time. Easy – carry spare and if the hole is small, try sealant when you get home. Even then, once used a manual repair is not possible so maybe a won’t bother even then.




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  29. @Puffy

    Only once have I had a ‘bent’ nail thru the sidewall and top of a tubular tyre — called it a ‘harpoon’. Happened during a training race, so riding flat to the car was the option.




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  30. @Gianni – I also have ridden road tubeless for the last 3 years with glitter. Add 1tsp of glitter before seating the bead, then pump up and add your sealant. I first read about someone on CX doing that, and it’s worked for me ever since.




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  31. Sorry to be an idiot, but some of you are using sealant in your latex tubes with clinchers? I’m on Vittoria Corsa and Veloflex Master clinchers with Vredestein latex tubes. Not many punctures, but interested in learning more about this.

    I use Stan’s latex with Vittoria XM tires on Kysrium rims for my cross race bike. Very good luck with that setup, many many park loops and gravel rides and not many punctures.

    ChrisO – goddamn, yes. Tubes blasting during inflation can scare the hell out of you. One of the Velopups knocked over my Park Tool stand once. Now whenever I drag it out, she goes running. It’s as scary as thunder for her.




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  32. @Puffy

    @Teocalli

    @puffy

    This is an interesting review – though on mtb tyres – and has some interesting comments about other sealants. http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/mtb/reviewed-orange-seal-tire-sealant_348235

    @chriso

    There is an interesting throwaway comment in the middle around latex tubes. Most of these seem to have latex in a solvent of some sort. So sticking latex solvent in a latex tube may not be a great recipe?

    That makes sense. The solvent evaporates and the holes is plugged. Given my tubs have latex tubes, I am even less inclined to use it.

    From my autopsy I saw no evidence of the latex tube being attacked from the sealant. I think the Orange Seal is water based, maybe with a little something added to slow evaporation. And that’s what happens after four months, the liquid evaporates and leaves a thin film of latex throughout the tube, unless it has been sitting all that time, (like @tessar mentioned, storing them with sealant might not work as well).




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  33. If one uses the Orange Seal, be sure to shake it up before injecting as all the good bits settle out in the bottom of the bottle.

    @ChrisO

    Weirdness. I can think of no good reason for that. In my younger days I had a tubular tire blow up in the middle of the night. The old Peugeot was downstairs in the front hall. It sounded like a shotgun blast. My younger brother was not amused when I met him outside his bedroom door.




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  34. @wilburrox Guess you have never used sealant in a tubular , no muss no fuss .




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  35. @steelhead

    @wilburrox Guess you have never used sealant in a tubular , no muss no fuss .

    You are right! I do not use tubulars. I know that cleaning the messy stuff off my wheels and tire beads of my mtn bike is annoying. Cheers




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  36. I’ve never committed myself to sealant in tubs for all the reasons mentioned above, and I dont get too many punctures anyway. But I foolishly bought a GP4000S a while ago, not realising that it is not possible to repair them because the base tape / casing is permanently sealed. For those (and Tufos, which dont have an inner tube) I can see the point of dropping some sealant in. I punctured the GP4000 so its no loss if it goes gungy – its either dead (like now) or a zombie if I can bring it back with sealant.

    For tubs that are reparable, I dont want to use sealant but change them during the ride and then get the very best ride quality I can. Life is too short not to ride 320tpi tubs.




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  37. I have been running dura ace tubeless for a year, best thing ever.

    love being able to run lower pressure

    I have been running Bontrager sealant, not the best but it works

    The orange sealant looks good




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  38. @Gianni

    @Puffy

    @Teocalli

    @puffy

    This is an interesting review – though on mtb tyres – and has some interesting comments about other sealants. http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/10/mtb/reviewed-orange-seal-tire-sealant_348235

    @chriso

    There is an interesting throwaway comment in the middle around latex tubes. Most of these seem to have latex in a solvent of some sort. So sticking latex solvent in a latex tube may not be a great recipe?

    That makes sense. The solvent evaporates and the holes is plugged. Given my tubs have latex tubes, I am even less inclined to use it.

    From my autopsy I saw no evidence of the latex tube being attacked from the sealant. I think the Orange Seal is water based, maybe with a little something added to slow evaporation. And that’s what happens after four months, the liquid evaporates and leaves a thin film of latex throughout the tube, unless it has been sitting all that time, (like @tessar mentioned, storing them with sealant might not work as well).

    Wait, so what you are saying, is the sealant (Orange seal) goes off within 4 months? What then, you have to replace the tub? You have to refresh the sealant? Ugh, such newb queries.

    I’m asking because in a blaze of glory I blew my bike budget and idiocy quotent in one go by purchasing a steel frame which, sight unseen, happens to have some nice Weinneman tub box sections on it. I never, ever, ever saw myself using tubs, and now here I am!

    So I’m hawking the interwebs for recommendations on:
    1-reliable tubs for a sunny sunday bike, that may see some gravel

    2-which glue to use

    3-sealant or no sealant




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  39. @Beers

    So I’m hawking the interwebs for recommendations on:
    1-reliable tubs for a sunny sunday bike, that may see some gravel

    2-which glue to use

    3-sealant or no sealant

    To those questions, answers will be a wide and varied as the number of respondents. Possibly just maybe the only consensus you will find is on glue – vittoria mastic one. #1 depends heavily on your budget, #3 see conversation above.




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  40. @Puffy

    @Beers

    So I’m hawking the interwebs for recommendations on:
    1-reliable tubs for a sunny sunday bike, that may see some gravel

    2-which glue to use

    3-sealant or no sealant

    To those questions, answers will be a wide and varied as the number of respondents. Possibly just maybe the only consensus you will find is on glue – vittoria mastic one. #1 depends heavily on your budget, #3 see conversation above.

    I use Continental glue, Veloflex Roubaix (gum walls effect for vintage steel), no sealant (I carry a small bottle of sealant to inject or a can of pitstop). I have tried Vittoria Rally but they didn’t last 5 mins. My Roubaix have done over 1500 KM including 2 x Eroica Brit with Strade Bianchi equivalent (rubble and chippings bridlepaths and converted railtracks (gravel)) with no problems (that’s torn that now).




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  41. I happened across this research today. It’s short, and easily read so don’t be afraid. It’s research on the best glue/glue techniques for tubulars. Well worth the read for the DIY tubular gluer.




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  42. Newsflash : sealed up the GP4000 with some liquid sealant. Worked like a charm. I am now musing on the sense or foolishness of carrying a spare tub that already has sealant in it. Will it be OK for an extended period with no air in it?




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  43. After I switched my mountain bike to tubeless many years ago I switched to tubulars with sealant on the road for everyday riding. I used to use stans, and now orange seal. It’s fantastic. Thankfully I’ve only had 2 known punctures on the tubies but the satisfaction off hearing it seal and riding home is matched by very little in this world.




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  44. @Beers

    1. Conti sprinters or clement LGG – both wear reasonably well and have removeable valve cores.

    2. Mastik one or Tufo tape. Blasphemous but oh so ez.

    3. With sealant. Peace of mind. And easy to put in if the valve core comes out.




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  45. Ran some Schwalbe One tubeless for a while, using Cafee Latex sealant. Setup was fairly simple, but the comment above regarding fragility of the tires is spot-on. Got a slice in a sidewall that was too big for the Latex to seal and had to clean up goop from bike and wheels after it sprayed everywhere. Shoved a tube in there and had a terrible time getting the tire to seat on Pacenti SL23 rims using a mini-pump. A friend had a CO2 cartridge and he blasted the tire so it seated well enough to ride, but it wasn’t seated completely straight and I rode it home like that.

    Having some wheels built with Pacenti SL23 (v2) rims and will try the Orange sealant and the new Schwalbe tires to see if things are better.




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