Monday, April 28, 2008

to tube or not to tube

After witnessing John's partial innertube blowout, we started talking about making the conversion to tubeless. Reliable sources on cycling technology, such as The Internet, have been singing the praises of tubeless systems for some time now; however, I've been reluctant to switch over because (1) I am cheap and don't want to buy special wheels or some $50 vat of goo when I still have perfectly good tubes, (2) I am lazy, (3) I am not convinced that they will work that well. When tubed tires are working, they work. When they flat, they don't work, but fixing them is a simple operation. My concern about tubeless systems is those stories I've heard about the tires coming unsealed and then you gotta mess around with a burpy tire until you finally give up and install a regular tube. At the end of the day, my take on the situation is, like other finicky tires (see "tubular tires") , if they're installed correctly, they probably work well.

But how does one set up tubeless tires correctly? For starters, what vat of goo does one purchase? The answer, according to John, according to The Internet, is: (e) none of the above. Instead, somewhere there exists a magical elixir, a special blend that is supposedly superior to any name-brand tire sealant. But what, then is the correct recipe? For example, there's this, suggesting that the best blend is:
1/5 stuff designed for tubeless tires
1/5 stuff designed for for making rubber masks
1/5 stuff designed to go in your car (but not a wheel-related part of your car)
2/5 stuff designed to go in your body
plus stuff designed to go on your 2nd grade craft project
and a dash of pepper. Heaven forbid this stuff escapes from your tires when out on the trail. You'll be flooding the trail with:
1/5 stuff that is poisonous
2/5 stuff that is probably poisonous
2/5 stuff that will evaporate
plus glitter. The glitter is arguably the best thing to dump into the forest because it is (probably) non-toxic and may be used for scientific studies.

Instead, over the summer mountain bike race season, I will be testing out the following homebrew tubeless sealants:

1) 3M Fast Tack: it works to glue fabric tubular tires to metal rims. Who's to say it won't work for tubeless?

2) Elmer's Glue: This was John's idea, but it makes sense: the logo is a cow and we are the Bull City. It's like a match made in heaven. Plus, I think that it's made of some part of a bovine.

3) My magic Big Gulp mixture:
3/8 Coke Classic
1/5 Mountain Dew
1/25 Dr. Pepper
9/22 Sprite
3/100 Blue Slurpee
1/10 Caffeine-free Diet Coke
2/8 Jolt Cola
1/2 Old Crow

4) Stan's No-Tubes with Mariah's Glitter (2001)

5) Foam. Seriously, why won't this work?

6) Marshmallow Peeps. Hear me out on this one: they'd work just like Tire Balls but they're cheaper and come in more colors. Plus, they're not called Tire Balls. Plus, they are delicious and could be eaten in case you run out of gel.

I welcome other suggestions.

1 comment:

DukePirate said...

I think you're on to something with the Peeps. You could just stuff a ton of those things in your tires and roll off into the sunset. And they'd be cheap right now, since they're all on sale after Easter. Much better than the Tire Balls guy (that sounds so naughty), who was trying to sell those things at $150 a tire. The performance level would have to be pretty damn high to beat a $5 tube. Or Peeps.