When you get a small puncture or sidewall slice on your favorite trail you want an easy, fast tubeless tire fix! I’ve got two simple fixes that you can prepare for and a few things that could help even if you aren’t prepared.
Mountain biking often takes place in remote areas so I recommend being prepared has it is cheap, will save you a lot of time and STRESS on the trail and just might keep you from walking out a few miles. Depending on where you live that starts with tires. In Moab we have a saying, “friends don’t let friends ride single-ply tires”. So, if you live in an area with sharp, square edged rocks, I highly recommend “enduro” or “trail” tires, these tires have sidewalls about halfway in between flimsy, light weight cross country tires and strong but heavy downhill tires. Yes, they weigh more than xc/single-ply tires but they allow you to run less air pressure for a smoother, more in control ride and resist all forms of flatting much better than single-ply tires. Carrying a CO2 cartridge inflator is a great way to not only speed up fixing a flat but to re-bead the tire in case you have to de-bead it.
The coolest things for fixing tubeless tires are plugs. I’ve used them for years but was always frustrated by how small the mtb plugs are (and their crazy cost!, $8.00 for 5 tiny plugs). Well, the other day I flatted why riding with my friend Lance and he whipped out some motorcycle plugs that are perfect for bigger sidewall tears and even a slice on the bead of a tire! They are 3-4 times bigger (diameter) than mtb plugs and three times as long so you cut each package into sets of three! They are cheaper too, $6.00 for 10 big plugs that when cut into thirds equal 30 plugs! I now carry both the little mtb plugs for small punctures and the motorcycle plugs for bigger holes, tears and slices in my tires. (I have a photo of both size plugs (see “featured image” above) and of my recently plugged sidewall slice on the bead but the new version of wordpress won’t let me “add media”. If anyone knows how to fix this please email me!)
The final piece to carry for tubeless tire fixes is a piece of Gorilla Tape. My flat was the result of a broken spoke that shot through my rim strip! It blew a 3-4 mm wide hole that all the air escaped out of. We had to de-bead the tire, pull out the broken spoke and patch the rim strip with Lance’s Gorilla tape. It can also be used to “boot” a big slice in the tire. Sadly, I had my CO2 head but no cartridge. We did get the tire’s bead to reset though, it only took about 200 pumps as hard and fast as we could do them with the little trail pump!
I did have a spare tube (which you should always carry) but Lance was determined to get it to work tubeless. Thanks Lance!
Later that day a friend at bike shop said he used a rubber band to plug a tire. Basically, anything that will plug the hole will work, once in Sedona Jordan used a cut piece of cactus to plug a hole. So, if you aren’t prepared you can McGiver it with about anything that will plug the hole!
Never hurts to have an ounce or two of sealant in your pack too!
Any other cool tubeless repairs you have used or seen? Let us know!