Question: What’s the scoop on using talcum powder when installing a new tube? Is it necessary? — Lorri L.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Powder applied to a tube or the inside of a tire makes a slippery interface. They won’t stick to each other. This makes it easier to mount and seat the tire, with less chance of the tube catching under the edge.
Once the tire is mounted and inflated, the slipperiness of the powder reduces internal friction. There’s less danger of the tube being abraded and springing a leak. Later, when you have a puncture, the tube will pull out of the tire easier.
Powder isn’t essential. Plenty of riders don’t use it. But its benefits are quick and easy to obtain. I use a container of baby powder that has lasted for years.
Tip! Toss the box and pack your spare tube in a freezer-weight zip-lock baggie with a dash of powder. This helps prevent friction from rubbing a hole in the tube while it’s in your seat bag. Then the slippery powder aids installation.
David L. says
I take a spare tube and dust it all over with talc powder then wrap in a food wrap such as Glad Cling Wrap. It protects the tube it in the saddle bag and when it is needed it’s already dusted and makes changing tube easier.
In the hot weather it also keeps the rolled-up rubber from adhering to itself. Once that happens the odds of tearing the tube go way up. I learned the hard way. I think it was RBR that pointed me to the powdered tube in zip bag. So what if your shorts have a coating of powder as you bring it out of the bag? You have an intact tube.
Oro Vally Dragonman says
I actually carry a small supply of baby powder in a small baggie, similar to the tip in the article, but that way, I have a supply for multiple uses. First and foremost is the obvious reason for the the powder: I have some handy for chafing situations. I carry a pair of gloves with me, to keep hands clean if I have a mechanical, and will powder my hands before gloving up, so they come off easier. It is one of those things that if you have it with you, you will find more uses for it. Feel free to substitute corn starch if you have reason to avoid talcum powder.Works just as effectively.
Phillip Farber says
And then there is this countervailing opinion regarding the “myth” of using talc from Jobst Brandt, RIP. https://www.sheldonbrown.com/brandt/talcum.html
andrew thomas says
talc or corn starch?
No Corn Starch, just use light dusting of talc but within a few plastic shopping bags, that way you really limit exposure to the toxic dust. Then mount tires to get pinch free flats and (My theory) reduced rolling friction and no tube stick. And enhanced tire suppleness For more truth in talc you can see where it originates from, the same places that mine asbestos, so, use it carefully , and I guess we’ll all be fine.
Fred Ross says
Supposedly from what I’ve read but don’t have any proof to substantiate it since I can’t find the article on the internet now, is that using talc powder on a butyl tube will reduce the rolling resistance of the tube due to it being able unable to stick to the tube. I don’t know if that’s true or not but I’ve used talc on my butyl tubes only because it prevented the tube from stick to the tire and it made it easier to install a tube and tire onto a rim. I also have a freezer bag with talc in it, and when I open a new tube I toss the tube into the bag and shake it a bunch of times then pull the tube out and install, seal up the bag to be used for the next tube.
John Schubert says
The late Jobst Brandt was rarely wrong, but I believe this was one of those times. My experience has been that a powdered tube installs more easily, and, years later, after a flat or the need for a new tire, is removed more easily.
Regarding talc versus cornstarch: Cornstarch is regarded as far superior for babies’ butts. A quick Google search will reveal some worry about talc being a carcinogen.
The carcinogen effect was only due to women using it regularly in the genital area, it also can increase the risk of lung cancer but only if breathed in all day for years. So this all about the talc coming in contact to internal areas of the body and only after regular use for many years. There has been no links to cancer if the talc is on the skin like your hands.
Lee Dribin says
Specialized’s tubes come lathered in powder and in a plastic zip lock bag.
I have used talc for many years using a freezer bag with some powder and a quick shake does the job. Never a problem with stuck tubes. Reminds me of fond memories as a father with 6 baby butts.
Mark Barrilleaux says
Talc good – Cornstarch bad. Cornstarch will absorb moisture and glue.your tube into your tire, or to itself in your seatpack. Besides, talc gives your tube a nice fresh scent.
I like to do the following over the bathroom sink (where the baby powder is):
Open new tube box, unravel new tube, powder new tube over sink, re-roll new tube in better way to protect valve stem, then I wrap the new tube in Saran wrap to compress the tube, and then I put the new tube in a half-size sandwich bag. Lengthy description, but quick process. It’s the Saran wrap step that saves so much space and the powder does its job.
Kerry Irons says
Michelin tubes come covered in talc (or something like it) and they have talc inside as well. When you patch a tube, if you don’t talc the patch and the part of the tube with glue on it, they will almost certainly stick to the inside of the tire. When I mount a new tire, I talk the inside as well as the bead. The tube won’t stick to the tire and the talc on the bead makes mounting easier.
I don’t use talc except on latex tubes. I don’t think it’s necessary. Brandt says a talced tube leaks faster when punctured and I think that talc interferes with the glue bond between patch and tube. Sanding the tube doesn’t remove it.
Fritz Mueller says
I have put talc on my inner tubes for over 40 years., When I patch a tube I always clean the area around the puncture with alcohol to remove any talc. I have never experienced any problem with my talc tubes leaking any faster; just a couple of weeks ago I rode home on a tire with a slow leak. I don’t think that I could get a tube installed in a Michelin tire and mount it on a Shimano rim without talc.