Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
Since flat tires are the most common bicycle repair, we’re following up today with a look at some more tubeless tire repair kits. A couple were recommended by you in the comments to our last Tech Talk, which you can read here: Product Review: Dynaplug’s Impressive Carbon Racer & Road Air Tubeless Tire Repair Kits. And there was an interesting question about tubular tires and plugs, which we’ll start with.
Can You Use Tubeless Plugs on Tubular Tires?
Even though they’re still popular in professional racing, you don’t see tubular tires that much anymore on everyday riders, mainly because they’re more difficult to install and repair. These tires are also called “sew-up” tires because they are usually sewn together around the tube inside.
Tubular tires aren’t called tubular because a Valley Girl named them, but because they have completely round profiles. And because of this, they are only compatible with tubular rims that feature concave flat surfaces (rather than the clincher rim’s U shape). Since there are no rim walls and tire beads to hold the tubular in place, putting one on requires glue or double-sided adhesive tape.
It all gets a bit confusing, so here’s a photo showing the rim surface (gold) and a cutaway showing the tubular tire’s casing and the tube inside. The tire in the photo is not glued onto the rim yet.
Plugging a Tubular Would Save A Lot of Work
With a good glue job, tubular tires are really stuck on the rim and can be difficult to remove. Also, to permanently patch a puncture, you cut open the tire’s sewn together casing and then stitch it back up. So you can understand how the Dynaplugs would be an attractive option for flat repair.
A reader named Nate agrees. He wrote, “I would like to see a demo and review for this kit when used with tubular tires. I race with tubular tires and for long rides I have to carry Effetto Mariposa Espresso in case of flats. I’d switch to this if I knew it worked.”
Nate mentions the Espresso, which is a small, easy-to-carry flat fixer that injects sealant into the tire and simultaneously inflates it: https://amzn.to/2Cs4M6s. These work great as long as the hole can be repaired by the sealant. Otherwise they don’t work. So, having plugs that can fix most holes offers even more flat insurance.
Plugs Won’t Work on Most Tubular Tires
However, most tubular tires are unlike tubeless tires. As, I explained to Nate, “The thing about tubular tires is that they have tubes inside. So, they are not like tubeless tires, which have nothing inside.
I haven’t tested a plug on a tubular tire, but I believe the plug would make it through the tire fine and then it would push the tube out of the way instead of patching the hole in the tube.”
The Exception to the Rule
After answering Nate, I heard from a viewer of my youtube video who told me that he had successfully fixed holes on his tubulars with the Dynaplug. Surprised, I wrote back asking what brand and model of tubular tire he rides. And he told me Tufo tires.
I’m familiar with Tufos and as far as I know they are the only tubular tire that does not use inner tubes. Which explains why the Dynaplug worked.
More importantly, it means that if you ride tubulars or want to try them, by choosing Tufo tires, you can enjoy the same easy plug flat repairs as you can with tubeless tires. Several of my race bikes roll on tubulars and I may switch to Tufos since I’ve seen how well the Dynaplugs work.
Your Tubeless Repair Kit Recommendations
Readers “Big Ring Bob,” “SteveP” and “John offered tips and advice on other tubeless tire repair kits.
Genuine Innovations Kits
Bob said, “I have been using a repair kit from a company called Genuine Innovations on my tubeless tires for about three years. They are a smaller version of plugs that are used on automobile tires. They are relatively inexpensive, about $6 to $10 and work reasonably well. However, I have noted that if I inflate my tires to 80+ PSI, they tend to work their way back out of the tire and they do not bond with the rubber of the tire.”
To which, Steve commented, “I previously had the Genuine Innovations set, which worked OK when fresh. Unbeknownst to me, through some combination of age, heat or pressure, the structure of the plugs deteriorated over time, making them all but useless when I later needed them. The Dynaplug system protects the plugs and is a much better solution in my opinion.
Here’s a link to one of Genuine Innovations kits.
Stan’s No Tubes DART Kits
John added, “Recently I sent for Stan’s DART kit which is mechanically very similar to the Dynaplug system. DART stands for Dual Action Repair for Tubeless. The plugs, however, are quite different than Dynaplug’s. Stan’s claims that the DART plug will chemically react with their sealant to form an occlusive seal at the puncture.”
Thanks, John. I visited the DART product page and it looks like an interesting design. They explain their DART system in this video.
A friend I ride with recommended I check out Lezyne’s kits, too. They’re known for their high quality pumps and accessories so it stands to reason they might make tire plug kits. Here’s a link: https://ride.lezyne.com/products/1-pk-tbls-v104.
In my video I mention that I was never able to fix car tires with the auto shop plug kits because I couldn’t push the driver through the tire.
Lezyne’s video shows my mistake with my car tires. Their tool has a built-in reamer that enlarges the hole in the tire to ensure that the plug can make it through (you ream it and then push the plug in). It must be that car tire pluggers have this, too, but I wasn’t aware of it until now.
In closing, I also searched Amazon for tubeless bicycle tire plugs and found that there are many to choose from – some at low, low prices. If you go that way, I recommend reading the reviews and making sure that the one you’re thinking of purchasing is suited to road tires and pressures.
Thanks for the helpful and interesting comments and please keep them coming so that we all have what we need to fix flats fast.
Ride total: 9,702
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Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.