Ever since the wide acceptance of the tubeless tire, the conundrum has been "how to best fix a tubeless flat." Sure, there are a ton of advantages to riding tubeless but a hole in the tread of your tire or sidewall can quickly deflate the fun of a ride and render an $80 tire trash.
Sealants can do a good job closing up smaller punctures and tire plugs have become increasingly popular for larger wounds. Most tire plugs consist of a metal barb and a rubber strip designed to fill in and plug a hole or cut, similar to the plugs that have been used in car tires for years and while these work well in many situations but they do have their shortcomings.
Stan's NoTubes have long been a popular sealant and rim brand, They've decided to jump into the business of tire plugs with an innovative take on the tire plug for those larger holes that sealant won't seal by itself.
The Dart (Dual Action Repair for Tubeless) is designed to work as a plug in situations when sealant alone won't do the trick. It is unique in that it works in two different ways, mechanically - like a standard tire plug, and chemically.
Mechanically, it's a plastic barbed tip with a special material, developed by Stan's, that sits on a carbon post. The tip is pressed into the tire, as a plug, anchoring it into the tire. According to Stan's, the material is coated with a safe chemical that reacts with any latex sealant to further help seal the hole in the tire.
Stan's Dart Details
• Mechanical tire plug with sealant enhancing chemical
• Small size
• Two heads on tool
• Valve core remover
• Weight: 15 grams (complete tool, two Darts)
• Price: $25 USD, 5-pack of refills ($20 USD)
• Available: Late October
• More information: www.notubes.com
The Dart's ability to react with the sealant, theoretically makes it more effective than a traditional tire plug, according to Stan's. The plug itself also avoids some of the shortcomings of traditional tire plug tools, mostly by avoiding sharp metal tips that can damage rim strips or users. The barbed tip of the Stan's Dart is designed to stay in place during riding and will not back out. Stan's claim that the Dart is best used on cuts 5mm and larger, with sealant typically sealing those smaller cuts.
The material of the plug on the Dart is laser cut, flexible, and more easily contours to the shapes of various punctures than a strip of rubber. It also has an increased surface area for the sealant to react with. The Dart material is supple enough that riders won't feel it when riding and it can even be used with road bike tires.
Using the Dart is a straightforward process. Riders simply press the Dart into a puncture, just as they would a standard plug, until the head of the Dart tool contacts the tire. The length of the carbon post that the barb sits on is the correct length so that when the tool bottoms out, the Dart is properly inserted to the proper depth. The head is dual-sided and can be flipped around so riders with larger cuts can quickly insert a second Dart.
The tool is compact and, at 15 grams, lightweight. The plastic body of the tool holds the dual-headed Dart apparatus and there are plastic covers that keep the pointed tips of the device safely covered.Performance
So, does it work? Yes. I went through two packs of refills making various cuts in tires and was able to successfully seal most any puncture on the mountain bike tires I tested, minus the time I accidentally made a three-inch gash in the sidewall with a knife...whoops. The Dart is beyond simple to use and easy to throw in your pocket. Coming from having to separate rubber plugs that have melted together off a plastic backing, then attempting to get them through a tool, and finally finagling them into the tire on the side of the trail with sealant all over my hands and gear, the Dart is a HUGE upgrade.
Ease of use alone, the Dart outperforms any traditional tire plug tool. Reloading it is painless and the Darts do their job in sealing most punctures in mountain bike tires in my testing. I was surprised to see the Dart seal up several cuts I didn't expect it to, in tires with minimal sealant.
Stan's made some excellent instructional videos for the Dart as well, check them out below:Development:Install:Refill: