homepage banner3d
Punctures and some possible solutions

Now updated (yellow text) if you want to read about the BEST anti-puncture system on the market forget all the history of no-tubes and go straight here

I've tried several Anti-punture methods, on different bikes with various tyres.

No-tubes system

There are tubeless tyres, and there's running any tyre you want without the use of an inner tube.
What? I hear some of you say.
Well most of you will have heard of slime, the green goo that goes inside inner tubes, this works on the same principle of sealing any holes. But if you can seal the rim up, why bother with an inner tube after all, works fine for cars after all.
Basically the 'stan's system' consists of first sealing a normal rim up, earlier versions used tape and a bolt on valve stem. The new USA version uses a custom rubber rim seal, which is much easier to install.

The tyre; any tyre, is then mounted on one bead and a small amount of sealant is added before pulling on the other rim, tyre mounting is easier without an inner tube to get in the way. The tyre is then pumped up, requiring a rush of air initially from a compressor or gas canister to provide the initial seating force, and then magically (if a bit messy) the sealant seals all the holes to inflate the tyre. Basically it's latex, which reacts in air, as it is reduced to a fine area, i.e. as it is forced through a hole.
I've tried it on several tyres; some seal almost instantly, notably most normal kevlar beaded tyres. Steel beaded ones depend on the state of the bead and how it's been stored, but they can all be made to seal with patience.

Here are some sealing examples.
1.   3 yr. old Specialized master front, Kevlar bead, used with tubes over this period, so had seen some thorn punctures in its time. Used with taped rims and sealed almost instantly, evident where old punctures have been as you watch them seal. Lost air overnight and had to be re-done but then no problems. "
2.   Brand new Mythos XC pair used with new rim strips sealed very quickly even though using tyres straight from being tied up in packaging. Evidence that the sidewalls are porous as you see small damp patches appear, this pair have now been on for 2 months and run as low as 30 PSI without problems, the suppleness of the ride is superb.

This system requires patience to get to work initially, and would probably really suit you if the same tyres stay on the bike for long periods. Latex is commercially available in bulk, so there is no real reason not to change tyres often if you want too, a home air compressor makes it a whole lot more convenient though.
If you get a puncture on the trail, from an intruding object that stays put, mostly thorns in my area, the chances are you won't know about it untill you look around the tyre. Checking every so often, you can pull out the thorn, air will escape as normal, the tyre is then rotated so the hole is near the bottom and the remaining liquid in the tyre quickly seals the hole for good.
If the object does not remain in the tyre and the hole is thorn sized, it will again seal with some loss of air without you knowing.

Larger holes will probably cause you to hear the hiss. Dismount and rotate the tyre again so the hole is at the bottom to ensure rapid sealing before the pressure drops too low. If the pressure drops low enough, the tyre will fall off the rim, out in the field a gas canister will re-inflate, or just put a tube in as normal.
The use of UST (tubeless rims) and tubeless tyres with some of the latex inside has to be the ultimate method of puncture proofing, with no need to fix the tyres, unless a big rip/tear occurs. I've had a tyre with a 4mm cut in it seal with only a 10 psi drop in pressure. On pulling at the now sealed area it was possible to cause small leaks to re-appear, but after doing this a few times it was ridden on, and remained on. Even completing a rocky descent from 900 metres in the lakes in this state.

" Puncture resistance whilst some liquid remains in the tyre
" Reduction in rolling weight, approx. 100 grams per tyre, reduces steering gyroscopic forces, tyres feel more plush!
" No more pinch punctures, I've run 30 psi at times for great grip with great effect.
" It freaks people out
" Messy and needs patience and a compressed air source to set up initially
" Expensive due to only available as an import from the states. Beware, for the latest kit including all packaging and UK import duty, which the P.office then charge you to collect, you are looking at £50.
" Some tyres will refuse to mount.
" When flying, a source of compressed air will be needed at your destination, after letting tyres down for the flight.

still interested then try here Stans for the suppliers and details, even a video of the system.
NOW AVAILABLE IN THE UK from CYCLESURGERY selling for @ £55 for 2 wheels

Or there's a new better European version available from JRA Tell Jon numplumz sent you. See the update below here

Tyre liners

I've used a kevlar protection strip between tyre and tube in the past with some success, but they are heavy, and are not totally puncture proof, some thorns just get through anyway.
Another variation on this available at present is a sponge foam hoop that goes in the same place from KAIRFREE. The theory is that 99% of punctures occur from foreign objects that just penetrate the tyre by a couple of mm.

Think of all the times your tyre goes down and you stop to change it as it gets soft, they will be the times that this device will have saved you. And how many tubes do you have with really slow punctures that even a bowl of water wont find, again caused by a 'just penetrated object'
The liner when you receive it is a donut of foam, size specific for tyre width and diameter; it looks almost half the size of a blown up tyre. After the first inflation its compressed inside the tyre, and the one occasion I have seen mine since, shows they compress to about 3 mm thick and remain so, short term.
Yes that's right, these have been fitted to my hardtail for 3 months now, with a pair of very worn tyres and I've only had one puncture. That was a beauty of a thorn an inch long that went in from a side tread angle.
I've ridden a lot in an area where friends have complained of a getting a puncture every ride , and had no problems. At times on investigation at home, many small thorns have been pulled out of the tyre, with no punctures; they just can't get deep enough.

One side effect is a harsher ride, although it does appear that the foam is some protection from pinch flats having done a few unplanned tests recently. Another is a slight feeling of the tyre rolling in fast corners, but this could be the effect of the liner not deforming over irregularities as well as a tube alone. UPDATE: the ride quality for mountainbike tyres is a big disadvantage in this method, meaning I can't recommend their use for serious off-roaders.

I also have had some (different size required per tyre) on my road bike now for 3 months and have suffered no punctures, even having been off-road with them as a test, and regularly riding a cycle lane that you could guarantee a puncture on every trip.
This seems the perfect answer to all those flint and glass type punctures common in a commute ride where you live in the gutter. Numplumz rider Gregg uses them on his daily commute and has yet to suffer one puncture, sounds like cash well spent to me.

UPDATE: Our two road bikes both using these for 6 months have not suffered one puncture, the tyres are looking very worn with a lot of cuts, some obviously would have been punctures. Due to the higher tyre pressures used for the road, you can't tell that you are using liners. BUY SOME FOR THE WINTER - WELL RECOMMENDED. They have also proved to work very well in Cyclo-cross tyres for winter riding.

Eclipse Tubeless system

Our Pals at JustRidingalong are also fans of Stan's Idea, but they too were stung with the import duty to pay, and have taken it a step further. They now import a European version of it called the Eclipse Tubeless system you can buy direct from them.
Full photo strip of how easy it is to install on Jon's site here Installation guide
I'm now using the Eclipse system myself and I have to say, BUY IT. After fitting the rim stip its possible to inflate the tyre immediately with no sealing fluid in it at all. (In the site installation guide it should say try this first, it can warn you of any problems and save you finding out the messy way.) After fitting this in front of the disbelieving local bike shop mechanics, I then had the confidence to stab a brand new tyre, twice, with a screwdriver. Instant hole blocking and no loss of air, impressed the hell out of us.

The Eclipse kit in full The strip and valve fitted in 5 minutes
Oct 2002 I have now lost count of the number of thorns that I have pulled out of tyres to show people just how good this system is. Its getting to the stage where you get annoyed when other people get punctures on rides, my inner tube fixing days are over, Yahoo, its finally converted me to 100% no-tubes.
I've just ordered another 2 kits, this stuff is the best performance aid you could ever buy, a supple ride and no more puncture stops.
Dec 18 2002
So hows it going with the "no-tubes" you ask. Well the Eclipse kit I fitted above was to my Hellbound. An old pair of Mitchelin Wildgrippers were used so I could show how it worked by the stabbing of the tyres. They have been on now for 3 months, as an experiment I only used 1/2 the sealant recommended in the rear tyre. It has just started to lose air regularly, it still never went flat, just soft after a 3 hour ride. Their seemed to be several permanent wet patchs where previous holes had been. I could have just added the rest of the sealant through the handy valve, but as the tyre tread was no useless I decided to scrap it.

The inside of the tyre was a mess, no mistake, the sealant had dried up with time and covered the inside, there were at least 8 thorns still stuck in the tyre and some small flints round inside. The rim and rim tape cleaned up very easily and mounted another tyre as quickly as the first and added the saved 1/2 bottle of sealant. So 6 months out of one kit looks on the cards. The front tyre has a whle bottle of sealant fitted so we will se how that lasts.

As for swapping tyres, thats easy too. On the Preston and the San Andreas I've swapped for various tyres depending on the terrain. Dismount one tyre bead, then with a desert spoon scoop out the sealant and bottle it. The fluid remains as clean and the same milky consistency as when it was first put in. Some old steel beaded tyres have proved a bitch to mount, but they always seal in the end.

The real noticable difference in the garage has been the inner tube mountain, its gone, and my mountain used to be huge at this time of year. No more sitting in front of the TV sanding and gluing patchs on tubes.

For the record, I ride from 150 to 200 miles every week, I commute on a mountainbike, and at least 50 of those miles are off road whatever the weather. Probably explains my chain,and shock bushes mountains too!
Sept 01 2003
OK over a year of use and how's it going I hear you ask, here's an update on tyres used with Eclipse.

Mitchelin Wildgrippers 2.1 wire black Bombproof for general hacking use, but are theonly ones to roll off on roots in use.
Mitchelin Wildgrippers Lite S 2.1 kevlar green I bought 4 of these and now only have 1 left. Easy mount great comfort but the sidewalls spilt too easy. Luckily with Eclipse tyres stay on the rim even when flat.NOT recommended for durability.
IRC Mythos XC 2.1/1.9 kevlar Seal after initial pourus sidewalls seal, then superb no trouble and feel so supple on low pressures. Recommended.
Continental Double fighters 2.1 kevlar Superb after trouble sealing when old. Trouble is you don't want to leave them on that long , one ride then off. Ideal for spare wheel set up for fast races. My favourite semi-slicks and can be gotten cheap.
Specialized Team master kevlar front 2.1 Really supple, at low pressures great grip but can blow off in sideways landings. Suits the SanAn well.
WTB Velocoraptor 2.1 steel rear. Good on SanAn for play days but deformed beads of badly stored tyres make fitting a bastard. Superb once fitted.
Specialized Crossroads 2.1 steel Easy to seal and could go for ever. Very fast and comfortable, surprising offroad ability. Thetford top tyre for enduro's
Panracer Fire XC 1.8 kevlar Seal instantly from new, and never leak. Fast and grippy even though thin. The pressures been down real low where more grip was needed, felt the rim several times with no problems. The tyre of choice at the moment. They wear quite fast so could be a bonus when they get thin.