By Brian Nystrom
Cost: MSRP $2.95 – $24.95, depending on the quantity
How Obtained: Purchased
Available: Company website, bike shops and online retailers
RBR Sponsor: No
Time tested: Six years
No More “Nuisance Flats” in Tubeless, Tubulars or Clinchers
In 2007, I bought a mountain bike with tubeless wheels and tires, which introduced me to something that would ultimately impact all of my riding, including on the road — Stan’s sealant. It worked so well on the thorny trails of Cape Cod with the tubeless MTB tires, I decided to give it a shot on my road tubulars as well.
At the time, I suffered occasional “nuisance” flats on my road tubulars, typically due to pieces of wire from car tires or the odd tack or thorn. After pulling a piece of wire out of a tire that was only a week old and contemplating the agony of tearing it off the rim, patching it, gluing the base tape back on and re-gluing it on the rim again, I decided that I had nothing to lose by giving Stan’s a try in tubulars, too.
The leak sealed and the tire stayed on the bike — flat-free – until the tread wore through. Needless to say, Stan’s became standard equipment on my road bikes.I haven’t had a single flat on the road since.
Works in Clinchers, Too
In 2010, I picked up a used ‘cross bike from fellow New Hampshire boy Ted King – though sadly I didn’t get his legs or lungs with it. It came equipped with clinchers and they immediately got the Stan’s treatment. The now-predictable result is that I’ve never had a flat on that bike.
Over the past couple of seasons, I’ve converted my road bikes from tubulars to clinchers — which, I know, is what most roadies run. Stan’s works equally well in clinchers. No flats so far.
Stan’s is not magic, though. It obviously is not going to seal severe cuts or prevent blowouts. It may or may not work on pinch flats, depending on their severity. However, it does eliminate the majority of common flats, in any type of tire.
A Few Caveats
Before deciding whether Stan’s or a similar sealant is right for you, keep in mind a few things:
- Installation can be tricky in tubulars and tubes that do not have removable valve cores.
- Stan’s is not compatible with latex tubes.
- The sealant adds a small amount of weight to the tires.
- You need to add sealant every few months, as it will dry up over time. I typically make it through an entire summer on one application, but “your mileage may vary.”
Stan’s contains solids that help to plug holes. However, they can also plug the valve when you try to inject it. For this reason, I always use tubes with removable valve cores, which eliminates the issue. I use a common irrigation or glue syringe to inject the sealant, typically adding 10cc of it in road tires up to 25c in size. You can find these syringes at pharmacies, hardware and similar stores. The following photos show the steps for tubes with removable valve cores.
With non-removable cores, it’s best to install the sealant before putting the tube into the tire. Here’s how:
- Remove the valve nut, which typically means filing the flared end of the stem slightly, then backing the nut off.
- Inject the sealant. Make sure to pinch the tube (or tubular) at the base of the valve first; this prevents the valve core from falling free. (If the valve core does fall free, don’t panic. Simply work the valve core back into the valve stem. This is actually much easier than it sounds.)
- Reinstall the valve nut and lightly peen the end of the stem so the nut will not come off accidently.
Although it may sound like a pain, this process takes all of 5 minutes, which is less time than it takes most riders to fix a flat. The following photos show the steps for tubes with non-removable valve cores:
Obviously, I’m a “Stan’s fan” and, frankly, I don’t understand why more people don’t use it. I have tried one other brand of sealant that claims to be compatible with latex tubes, and it failed to seal even minor pinholes. So, if you’ve had a similar negative experience with another product, don’t write off all sealants as useless. Give Stan’s a try and I think you’ll be favorably impressed.
Brian Nystrom is a long-time resident of Nashua, New Hampshire. An avid cyclist since 1974, he worked in the industry as a shop manager/mechanic from 1974-1982 and raced on the road from 1976-1980. When not working, he can usually be found on two wheels, either in southern New Hampshire or on Cape Cod.