Ask me anything: road tubeless sealant

Since the video I shot today (lacing a wheel) came out not quite ready for prime time, we'll do a quick ask me anything. Today's question:

"I'd really love to hear about your experiences and thoughts about different tubeless sealants for road bike tires. I've only tried a couple, and what I've noticed is the one that didn't dry out quickly also didn't seal very well. And the one that sealed really well dried out fast and get sticky and hard to remove. I'm wondering where the happy medium is. Especially since it can be really hard to remove road bike tubeless tires to get the goo off before adding more sealant."

As we've said before, we're not the world's foremost advocates of road tubeless. It's okay, and it's gotten better than it was, but it's still not a layup decision. I have actually just made the decision to re-try it, after an atypically tortured decision paralysis about my next tires (going with Schwalbe One 28s - the tan wall sealed the deal). But typically my take has been if the tire has knobs, I go tubeless. If the tire uses more than about 55 psi or somewhere in there, I go tubes. Why?

When I replace a mountain bike tire, I typically find a whole whole bunch of "stanimals" in there, the little coagulated booger asteroids that let you know that you had a flat that you never knew about. Same more or less with cross/gravel tires, but less so. With road tires, I've known when I've gotten almost all of the flats I've had. Because road tires are so low volume, any air loss gets noticed. Because what air volume in there is relatively high pressure, when you get a puncture that air wants to get OUT. Even effective sealants have a hard time up against that. But, in the immortal words of W, fool me once and shame on you, fool me twice and... you can't get fooled again. So I'm going to try again. 

We've used all of the shown sealants (and a few more) and they all work to some degree and they all fail to some degree. We have not ever gone to "November length" testing on this. I'm going to start with Orange Seal on the new tires. The knock against Orange Seal is that it goes stale quickly (6 months +/-) in tires. Well I can live with that, if the payback is effectiveness. I use the Continental goop in mountain/gravel tires lately, and quite like it. Stan's is the old standby.

The one I can tell you that has universally disappointed everyone I've heard from is Finish Line. Haven't used it personally, and not likely to based on reputation. 

One thing I will recommend is reading the Slowtwitch articles on tubeless sealants. They do a nice job looking at them. Here is their latest update, but within that they link to earlier stabs at it, and they are worth a read.

Any time you say the word "tubeless" is like kicking a hornet's nest, so I will hit "post" with some trepidation here...


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  • Dan V on

    Just want to say that I don’t disagree with anything the article or the comments say. A lot of the content mimics the way I feel and my experiences with tubeless. I just want to point out how great the 60m shop rolls of November tubeless tape are! Totally worth the money. Only thing better would be more wider sizes!

  • Rob G. on

    I’ve been running tubeless full time for 2 gravel winter’s and 2ish road seasons.

    First partial road season. Schwalbe Pro One 28 with Orange Seal Endurance. The Orange Seal was okay, sometimes slow to plug leaks. I had to use one plug and several co2 to get home and if it spills, well it’s pretty much orange paint.

    First gravel winter. 700c Schwalbe G-One 38 and 650b Schwalbe Thunder Burt 2.1 with Orange Seal Endurance, experience was pretty much as above.

    Second road season. Conti GP5000 TL 28 with Stan’s Race. A flawless experience! I didn’t experience any ride slowing ‘flats’ in close to 10000km and infact I never even noticed that I had a puncture while on the road, just needed to top up the sealant every couple of months.

    Second gravel winter, Conti Terra Speed 40, the most underrated gravel tire of the year, with Stan’s Race, also a flawless experience, seems like magic.

    Currently early days with Conti GP5000 TL 32 and for me it’s Stan’s Race 100%

    I still carry a tube, co2, plug kit, originally Dynaplug Race, now Stan’s. I always add a bit more sealant than the minimum recommended and I crack the bead to pour it in as Stan’s recommends.

    Riding friends have experienced sidewall cuts and tread punctures wouldn’t seal and required a tube, but I haven’t used one since I switched over to tubeless.

    I had planned on trying Specialized’s new road sealant but my Stan’s Race experience has been so good that I haven’t bothered.

    Cheers,
    Rob

  • Joe C on

    I had Schwalbe Pro Ones on some HED Belgians, and I could never get them to work. Had them retaped by 2 different shops (laced and taped originally by November), would go flat in a day. Finally gave up, just wasn’t worth the effort. I run Conti 4000 IIs on both road bikes, and I’ve had 1 flat in roughly 4 years. Been exclusive with tubeless on my MTB and cross bikes for about 10 years. Too many things with stickers here in west Texas to even think about tubes. And I’d love to get 6 months out of sealant.

    On another front, what is the fascination with tan wall tires? I don’t use an IBM desktop 8088 computer any more, and I can’t see any reason to have the same tires that came on my 1971 Schwinn Continental.

  • North Krimsly on

    Since I weigh 143 lbs and use 30mm or 32mm road tires, I think I can get away with road pressures around 55 PSI or maybe just a smidge more. HED actually recommends 52 PSI for my weight with 32mm tires. I usually run 58 PSI on my tubed tires with no flats and good handling, so I’m going to try running tubeless at 50 PSI and see how it goes! Let us know how it goes with the Orange Seal.

  • Jim Norman on

    I’m running Schwalbe Pro Ones, 30mm, tubeless on my RCG 36 wheels. I weigh about 200# and I’ve settled on about 63/77 psi F/R for me. Regular Orange Seal works great. I have Stans in my gravel wheels with 38mm G-One All Arounds, so I started out with Stans in the Pro Ones at first. What I’ve found is that Stans is great up to about 40 psi, above this Orange Seal does a better/quicker job. Stans would seal once the pressure dropped, but more often would start leaking again once I pumped back up.

    I find the 30mm have enough air volume that with most punctures I just keep going. Once I did stop to add air, I could have made it home without doing so but it was pretty bouncy. I do carry DynaPlugs as well, have used them a couple times. Just one rider’s experience.



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