Bicycle Tire Plugs

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Got back late last night.  The drive from Denver to Topeka seemed to take a long time for some reason, even though it was just the same old 7 + hours.  We left kind of late because Vicent and I rode a 3 hour MTB ride serpentining Golden.

We were both a little out of sync.  Me climbing, Vincent descending .  His bike is messed up.  But Vincent out of sync descending is just about perfect speed for me to follow him.

Anyway, about half way down from the top of Lookout Mtn. I felt latex spraying on my legs.  I stopped and saw a white spot on the very top of my tire.  I put the cut down, trying to get the hole clogged up with glitter and latex.  But, it kept oozing.

I remembered I had a plug in my seat bag.  We’d just used it on Saturday before the Growler in Gunnison on Vincent’s tire.  It worked great.  So I got out a plug and put it into the hole.

Vincent had some left over Co2 and it was just enough to get the tire limping home pressure.

Anyway, the plug isn’t a permanent fix, but they seem to be good enough .  I was talking to Brian Jensen on the way home and told him he should carry some on Saturday in the Dirty Kanza, 200 mile gravel race.  The Flint Hills in Central Kansas have sharp rocks and once you flat and put in a tube, the day gets long.  Tubes and the Flint Hills don’t get along very well.

I always have a piece of Gorilla tape available too, for catastrophic sidewall cuts.  That and a couple pieces of Tyvek, which is just an old race number.  Sometimes the Gorilla tape won’t stick if you can’t get all the sealant off the rubber, then I use the race number with a tube for the boot.

Anyway, if you don’t have a plug kit, I suggest you get one.  It weighs nothing and will really help you out in a bind.   It is such a hassle putting in a tube with all the sealant.  The plug will most likely help you avoid that.

The whole kit.

The whole kit.

VIcent up on the top of Lookout.

VIcent up on the top of Lookout.

Trudi playing with Nikola, with Tucker and Jack hanging out.

Trudi playing with Nikola, with Tucker and Jack hanging out.


18 thoughts on “Bicycle Tire Plugs

  1. Fsonicsmith

    Hmmm, the USACycling Disorganization once again shows it’s incompetence in putting on Masters Nats and the best topical topic you could come up with for today is bicycle plugs? I mean, I will read about bicycle plugs from time to time if I have nothing better to do, but a lot of good people trained hard, drove or flew great distances, and ended up at the hospital needlessly with significant injuries. Some crashes are inevitable and some are not, no? I would rather hear your thoughts as to whether USACycling really cares about the subset of membership that don’t aspire to the various Olympic teams-however small a subset of overall membership they might be :-)- and whether as an organization, USACycling views Masters Nats as an opportunity or as an ordeal to overcome. Needless to say, in my view they think that Masters Nats is mostly a bunch of egotistical old men over-zealously hungry for bragging rights. As a result, making the customers happy and putting on a safe race, in USACycling’s view, is not a priority or even a concern.

  2. SM

    I couldn’t care less about the Nats, I find the tire plug write up quite beneficial. I may just grab a setup to carry on long rides/races.

    Thanks for the tip Steve.

  3. Charlie

    Thanks for the tire plug info. I’ve tried to plan for every possible breakdown at DK this week, and that’s one thing I hadn’t thought of. Even if I end up not needing it, I’m pretty sure I’ll come across somebody who does.

  4. Joe

    . . . USACycling views Masters Nats as an opportunity. Masters Nats is mostly a bunch of egotistical old men over-zealously hungry for bragging rights*. [M]aking the customers happy and putting on a safe race, in USACycling’s view, is not a priority or even a concern . . .

    *not that there’s anything wrong with that

  5. AKBen

    I would rather read about the tire repair than what Steve’s take might be on an event he wasn’t even at. Go start your own blog if you want to have a bitch session. I’m sure you’ll have lots of followers.

  6. Barb

    The sealant/tubless thing comes across as more of a hassle than just using a tube, since in reading race reports, sealant users seem to flat just as much as tube users. I carry two tubes on my bikes, and a patch kit. For a sidewall cut, I can patch the inside of the tire with the patch kit, put a new tube in, and am on my way. I guess I’m proverbially old school on something, even though “everyone uses tubeless now” I just haven’t been able to wrap my mind around going that route, having to rely on a bike shop for a compressor to get the tire seated and the mess of having to put a tube in anyway when the slime doesn’t work; even though the advantage is supposed to be able to run lower pressure in the MTB, and the slime allegedly seals small punctures so you don’t have to stop and change the tube. I can see an advantage is you’re riding in cactus country (microscopic thorns that don’t make very big holes) but most of us can change the tube and find whatever is stuck in the tire in less than 6-7 min (faster on the front) but I guess when you’re racing, those few minutes can mean the difference between the podium and not placing. Ever since Lance flatted at Leadville and had to ride the last seven miles on a flat rear tire, my inner voice has just been telling me “no, no no.” I mean, he had the best bike out there, the best mechanic, the best tires, blah blah blah, and slime failed him.

  7. Dave Wilson

    With new floor pumps like the Bontrager Charger are Topeak Booster (the ones with the second chamber that you fill up to use like an air compressor), it’s now much more affordable and convenient to go tubeless. The ride quality on a tire without a tube in so much better, it’s like comparing apples to eggs. Most rims and tires available today are “tubeless ready” making initial setup a breeze. The weight difference can be really good depending on what kind of tubes you ran before and what kind of tires you choose to run tubeless. If you live in the southwest where thorny vegetation dominates, you really don’t have a choice unless you want a really big weight penalty running tubes WITH sealant….which is like wiping then taking a shit.

    Carrying a couple of alcohol wipes and a large patch such as a smaller radial car tire patch will allow you to patch a significant cut in a tire and keep you going tubeless. Carrying the plug kit, some patches, a sample bottle of sealant, and CO2 cartridges is the golden ticket. A tube is just for the paranoid.

  8. Barb

    No need for insults, or your reference to “shit” when no one even mentioned running tubes WITH sealant unless they flat – and Steve has referenced more than once that putting a tube in with sealant is a mess, so I’m not the one suggesting that. You have your opinion, I have mine, one of the characteristics of mature people is they have the capacity to respect others’ differing opinions in other words “discuss the issue, don’t attack the person” (just because they don’t agree with you, call them paranoid?) But just for conjecture sake, look at the list of stuff you have to own and carry to ride tubeless. A special pump (Booster pump $175, Bontrager pump $120) , alcohol wipes, sample bottle of sealant (and how do you put the sealant from that bottle into the tire when you need to, just pour it in and hope it doesn’t slosh out on the trail while you’re trying to seat the tire back on the rim after repair?) a plug kit, CO2 cartridges, some patches, –and people riding tubeless still FLAT is my point. So the only benefit that I see for going through all that BS, is lower tire pressure. Ok, I have ridden mountain bikes running tubeless, it’s not like going from sitting on concrete to sitting on a pillow, which is what you’re intimating.. Not to mention the slime has to be replaced every few months because it dries up? I also used tubeless on my Dura Ace wheels when I first got them, and it was a royal PITA. Just because “everyone is doing it” and “the industry” pushed tubeless on consumers, doesn’t mean everyone is going to buy it, or buy into it. Some of us just prefer tubes. And that’s only my opinion, sorry we’re not simpatico.

  9. shano92107

    wow thats a really nice little rig and a GREAT design. I love seeing the widgets engineering minded folks come up with. Over my price point but i hope the company does well

  10. Dave

    Call me old school…..a Luddite……a curmudgeon…..whatever…….I’ll side with Barb and continue to use tubes sans sealant – as I have for the past 26 years here in North Texas. Just for context’s sake – I also use bar ends and a rigid frame.

  11. Outvi

    Personally I think tubeless is the greatest innovation in MTB for the past 20 years. Maybe disc brakes a close second. Take a couple rubber bands along for clogging bigger holes. They work pretty well. Had a chance to use the Outvi Possm yet? This would be the seat roll you got at Gravelluers Raid.


  12. Jake

    I haven’t had a flat with tubeless MTB tires in over 3 years and I primarily ride MTB.

  13. Dustytires

    Plugs and tubeless rules. I am 52 and have ridden bikes since the early 80’s, some years quite a lot, and have had ample opportunity to try everything. When tubeless / sealant was first available I tried it with terrible results, but after continuing to use/flat/patch tubes I realized I was wasting time and money and came to see the logic of Stan and his tubeless mavens. So, around 2005 I returned to tubeless and sealant, thankfully tires have been improving every and I really don’t see the point of running tubes anymore, unless that is the only option to get home! Now I use sealant on road, CX and mtb, rarely get flats in a land where every roadside has goat heads and there is cactus in the desert. Then last fall I too discovered tire plugs a customer got these online and gifted me. My wife and I both have out MTBs set up with the plug needle/bar end and a few bits of plug. This was developed in a country that is crazy for endurance mountain bike racing and thorns and rocks are a serious hazard. I have used them on multiple tires/bikes/riders on the trail and if one acts fast after feeling the impact and getting a finger on the hole… one can plug the hole and need only a minimal pumping to top tire up.
    The plugs Steve pictured above are much smaller than Sahmurai plugs and I carry them on my gravel bike as the Sahmurai plugs are too big for any hole I have put in a gravel tire. And Yes, I have plugged sidewalls on CX and MTB tires and gone on to wear the tire out with the plug still in, as they hold just fine.

  14. dave

    Hey Steve , those plugs might have worked on that hole in your leg. Could have saved on stitching❕

  15. Craig

    Nonsense …. a tube is just for the paranoid! Drinkin’ the KoolAid! I run tubeless on ALL of my bikes (road, mtb, cross, fat, gravel) and when it works it is very nice. When it doesn’t it is the biggest PITA known to man. Ex. Hit a patch of crushed glass on Sat on the road bike. Sector 28mm on DuraAce rims. 5, count em, 5 chunks of glass ended up penetrating the tire and getting pushed through. I wasted 2 CO2’s on that mess before just tearing it apart and pulling out the glass and putting in a tube. It wouldn’t seal up so I had no choice. Lucky I carry a tube and a pump. Of course I missed a piece and so when I got home my tube was leaking too but at least I could get home.

    Run what you are comfortable with. Tubeless can be great but when it goes sideways it really goes sideways.


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