Tech Tuesday - Three Ways to Save A Leaky Tubeless Tire

Apr 9, 2012 at 4:21
by Richard Cunningham  
Fix torn sidewalls, large punctures and little nagging leaks that can ruin your day - and your walletFix torn sidewalls, large punctures and little nagging leaks that can ruin your day - and your wallet
Tubeless tires users who run liquid sealant can often run a tire until the tread is nearly burned off the carcass without suffering a flat. When something large enough to defeat the sealant slashes into the tire, however, the usual option is inserting a tube for the remainder of the crippled tire's life. The thought of slugging around with a tube in my tubeless is almost worse than throwing away a nearly new, 60-dollar tire just because it has a sidewall rip. Luckily, there are ways to successfully repair fairly large holes and tears in tubeless tires. Armed with this week's Tech Tuesday and a little sleuthing at an auto parts store, you should be able to repair substantial damage to your tires and return them to service.

What you ll need
What We Used in This Experiment:
-Disc Brake Cleaner fluid
-Slime radial tire patch kit
-Genuine Innovations tubeless patch kit
-Clean shop towels
-Nitrile gloves
-Spring clamp or similar
-Pot scrubber
-Standard patch kit
-Hutchinson Rep' Air tubeless patch kit
-Abrasive cloth

Oh Gosh, There is a Nail in My Tire

Should you discover a smaller item like a nail in your tire...
Small objects like nails rarely cause persistent leaks if a good sealant is present, but sometimes one will leak down when stressed. Genuine Innovations' automotive-style plug kit is well suited for such punctures.

Thread one of the plugs through the eye of the tool and coat it with a dab of rubber cement.
Make sure your hands are clean. Peel a plug from the card and thread it into the eye of the tool and then add a dab of rubber cement.

Shove the plug into the puncture until about a half-inch sticks out from the tire.
Leave the offending item in place, or use a clean nail to plug the hole, so you can inflate the tire to offer some resistance to the tool. Shove the plug into the tire until only a half-inch (13mm) is sticking out of the tire.

Clip the plug close to the tread.
Pull the tool straight out of the tire and the plug will remain. Clip the exposed plug close to the tire and you are good to go.

I Hate it When This Happens

Darn I hate it when this happens.
Larger punctures, like this spike, most often require an internal patch. The method is exactly the same as patching a tube, but the tire casing must be cleaned and prepared more thoroughly to remove the mold-release chemicals used in its manufacture.

Locate the puncture and scrub off any encrusted tire sealant with your moms pot cleaner.
Turn the tire inside-out and locate the hole. Scrub any petrified Stan's fluid from the repair area.

Spray some brake cleaning fluid on a towel and clean the tire thoroughly.
Don your nitrile gloves and some eye protection and spray some disc brake cleaning fluid onto a towel. Scrub the repair area clean.

Sand the area to be patched and then add a thin coat of glue.
Sand a larger area than you will be patching to prepare the surface. Apply a thin coat of glue to the tire and work it into the carcass. Do not apply the patch if there is any liquid glue present or you'll fail right here.

Press the patch onto the glue and work the edges flat. Leave the plastic on.
Peel the foil of the patch without touching the working face. When the glue is dry to the touch, press the patch in place, taking extra care to seat the edges. LEAVE THE CLEAR PLASTIC IN PLACE. Peeling the thin plastic patch cover usually lifts the edges of the patch - fail number two. Replace the tire and ride.

Should You Accidentally Poke Your Tire With a Knife...

Oh Gosh I sliced the tread.
Hutchinson's Rep 'Air tubeless patch kit contains a specially formulated 'Super-Glue' type adhesive that remains flexible enough to heal gashes in the tread area where there is enough rubber to offer up a sturdy bond. I was skeptical the first time I used it, but it held up.

scrub the sealant from the tire and then clean it with brake cleaner fluid
Invert the tire and scrub it clean from any sealant. Use brake cleaner on both sides to ensure a good bond.

Pinch the gash open and apply Hutchinson glue from both sides of the tire.
Pinch the gash open and apply glue liberally into the puncture. Repeat this on both sides. The glue sets up in about ten minutes, so you have time to work without sticking to the tire.

Clamp a steel washer or similar to both sides of the repaired area.
Clamp the puncture area between two flat objects that won't stick well to the glue with a spring clamp or similar and let sit for a half hour. When finished, it may be hard to pick out the gash below the glue residue, and the fix will take a considerable beating. If the gash is larger than a 3/8 inch (10mm), or the tire is thin, you should add a conventional patch (or one from the Hutchinson kit) beneath the repair for good measure.

Sidewall Slashes, They're the Worst

Oh darn I sliced my sidewall
Significant sidewall damage usually means a trip to the LBS to purchase a new tire, but wait - large-sized patches designed for radial auto tires can seal the rip and double as a boot to reinforce the sidewall.

Turn the tire inside out and clean the slice area.
Invert the tire and locate the slash. If it is close to the bead, your chances of a repair are nil - throw it out. If the rip is a half inch or more above the bead you have a good shot at a successful patch. Clean the tire as in the previous steps and then scrub the working area with brake cleaning fluid and a clean towel.

Sand the area well outside the width of the patch
Sand the repair area well, but ensure that you don't burn through the casing fabric. Now apply a thin coat of patch cement in a larger area than the patch requires. Be careful to work the glue into the rough surface. Allow the glue to set up before applying the patch.

Press on the patch and then clamp it to the workbench.
Peel the foil off the patch and press the face firmly onto the tire carcass. Put the carcass on a workbench and work the patch edges firmly to ensure that they are glued to the tire. Clamp the patch between a cone wrench and the work bench while the patch is setting up.

The finished patch is strong enough to keep the sidewall from bulging
The finished patch is quite substantial, but it must be to brace against the tire's internal air pressure where the carcass was compromised. At 32psi, the sidewall shows minimal bulging. Sweet!

Past Tech Tuesdays:
TT #1 - How to change a tube.
TT #2 - How to set up your SRAM rear derailleur
TT #3 - How to remove and install pedals
T #4 - How To Bleed Your Avid Elixir Brakes
TT #5 - How To Check And Adjust Your Headset
TT #6 - How To Fix A Broken Chain
TT #7 - Tubeless Conversion
TT #8 - Chain Wear
TT #9 - SRAM Shift Cable Replacement
TT #10 - Removing And Installing a Headset
TT #11 - Chain Lube Explained
TT #12 - RockShox Totem and Lyric Mission Control Damper Mod
TT #13 - Shimano XT Crank and Bottom Bracket Installation
TT #14 - Straightening Your Derailleur Hanger
TT #15 - Setting Up Your Front Derailleur
TT #16 - Setting Up Your Cockpit
TT #17 - Suspension Basics
TT #18 - Adjusting The Fox DHX 5.0
TT #19 - Adjusting The RockShox BoXXer World Cup
TT #20 - Servicing Your Fox Float Shock
TT #21 - Wheel Truing Basics
TT #22 - Shimano Brake Pad Replacement
TT #23 - Shimano brake bleed
TT #24 - Fox Lower Leg Removal And Service
TT #25 - RockShox Motion Control Service
TT #26 - Avid BB7 Cable Disk Brake Setup
TT #27 - Manitou Dorado Fork Rebuild
TT #28 - Manitou Circus Fork Rebuild
TT #29 - MRP G2 SL Chain Guide Install
TT #30 - Cane Creek Angleset Installation
TT #31 - RockShox Maxle Lite DH
TT #32 - Find Your Tire Pressure Sweet Spot
TT #33 - Three Minute Bike Preflight Check
TT #34 - MRP XCG Install
TT #35 - Stem Choice and Cockpit Setup
TT #36 - Handlebars - How Wide Affects Your Ride
TT #37 - Repairing A Torn Tire
TT #38 - Coil spring swap
TT #39 - Trailside help: Broken Shift Cable
TT #40 - Installing a Fox Float Air-Volume Spacer
TT #41 - Replace the Seals on Your 2011 RockShox Boxxer World Cup Fork
TT #42 - Clean and Lubricate Your Fox F32 Dust Wiper Seals
TT #43 - Thread Locker Basics
TT #44 - Install a SRAM X.0 Two-By-Ten Crankset
TT #45 - VPP Suspension Bearing Service
TT #46 - Rotor Straightening
TeT #47 - Finding and fixing that creak
TT #48 - Bleed and Service Magura Marta Disc Brakes
TT #49 - Cup and Cone Hub Basics
TT #50 - Install and Adjust Pedal Cleats
TT #51 - Cup and Cone Hub Rebuild
TT #52 - Converting Mavic Crossmax SX Axles
TT #53 - Cassette Removal and Installation
TT #54 - Cane Creek AngleSet Installation
TT #55 - American Classic Tubeless Conversion
TT #56 - Wider Rims Are Better and Why Tubeless Tires Burp Air
TT #57 - Pedal Pin Retrofit
TT #58 - Bleed RockShox Reverb Remote Lines
TT #59 - Cutting Carbon
TT #60 - Silence That Squeaky Disc Brake
TT #61 - Five Minute Wheel True
TT #62 - Removing Bike Rack Rattle
TT #63 - Inside Shimano's Shadow Plus Mech and How To Adjust It
TT #64 - Steerer tube length
TT #65 - Marzocchi 44 Rebuild
TT #66 - RockShox BoXXer TLC
TT #67 - Ghetto Tubeless Tire Inflator
TT # 68 - RockShox BoXXer Seal Replacement
TT #69 - Ghetto Dropper Post
TT #70 - FSA Orbit Option Install
TT #71 - How to Bleed Formula Disc Brakes
TT #72 - Crankbrothers Kronolog Cable Replacement

I liked reading this week's Tubeless Tech Tuesday because...


  • 123 0
 if anyone accidentally stabs their tire with a knife they’ve got bigger problems than a flat.
  • 29 4
 And someone who hammers a nail in the tyre doesn't?
  • 7 5
 Not entirely true in real world practice. I haven't replaced sealant in my Minion EXO for 9 months. Just the other day, i hit a large sharp rock causing a 1/4" gash through the tread. To my surprise, Stans sealed it up within 30 secs and has held with no air loss since!
  • 4 0
 @chirswells: it all depends on where you live. Out in the desert (AZ, NV), especially during the summer, Stan's sealant does dry up in two or three months. I've seen buddies discover this on the trail the hard way. As long as the Stan's is there, it works amazingly well. I typically find 20 or so massive cactus needs in my tire when I change my tires or refesh the sealant and had no idea I they where there.
  • 1 1
 if you run tubeless can some one help i need advice i got a wheel set with tyres and its tubeless i have never run it before need advice
  • 3 0
 This is finally one of the better tech Tuesdays. I could see this being a good thing for a general consensus.
  • 1 0
 The first technique they tried was first used in Moto Trials riding, at competitions you buy 'dog shite' to plug your tyres with...
  • 39 1
 I run 6-ply tires with DH tubes, I will never have to deal with this Smile
  • 5 0
 lol. I used to work at a tire shop (auto). This is bringing back too many memories
  • 10 1
 Cue someone saying, "oh that sounds heavy, think of the weight you could save...can you help me lift my bike into the car, I did a pressup last week and I'm tired"
  • 7 1
 i've run thick DH tires with dh tubes a long time, and tubeless for a whole season last season. maybe bad luck. but i had way more issue with internal tube. only problem with tube less is that most people can't pop them properly (like me) so i ask a qualified friend of mine to do it. After one year they almost didn't lost a bit of air. If a nail go pop your iner tube, you are screwded.with tube less, most of the time bubbles will seal the hole in less than one minute and you are ready to go!
  • 2 0
 The only punctures I ever get are pinch flats, and you can just put two tubes in. It's probably good there aren't many nails lying around on trails I ride
  • 3 2
 i can hear the rim hit rocks and no pinch flat. tubeless ftw :p
  • 9 1
 I feel sad for your rims.
  • 2 2
 the difference is that with a tube i would have a flat tire. dented rims are allright.. you can't really get away with them.
  • 5 0
 Dented rims are bad...
  • 1 0
 @GabrielDugas: I pinched flatted my tire last weekend. All the Stan's came out and I had to walk home. Classic snakebite. No rim damage somehow!
Friends don't let friends buy EVO/ casings. I shoulda bought Maxxis Frown
  • 3 0
 @enki: Way to resurrect an 8 year old comment thread!
  • 1 0
 @redrook: even Jesus would be impressed with this hiatus
  • 30 0
 Doesn't duck tape fix anything? RC should try that.
  • 1 0
 i actually used ducktape to fix a puncture in a tube this weekend! It works nicely provided you never let the tire down again, and the tire always stays dry
  • 2 0
 I fixed a 2 inch sidewall gash with a piece of plastic from an empty laundry detergent container and a strip of duct tape, and put the tire. It outlasted the tread.
  • 8 0
 they should do a TT on all the repairs u can do with ducktape!!!
  • 15 0
  • 1 0
 *put the tire on the back in case the repair failed. oops
  • 16 0
 This would've been funnier in a video form.

"Now, we all hate getting flats *grabs the knife, stabs the tire* Like so!" Hahahaha
  • 8 0
 For rips stitching with dental floss and sealing with a dab of silicone tent sealant works fine, with no bulge and no extra weight. If you're going to cheap out, spending only pennies might be better than dollars on patches that could go towards a new tire.
  • 10 0
 what about when you chainsaw your tyre right off the rim...Hmmmmm?
  • 5 0
 duct tape..
  • 3 0
 never rode over any 3mm diameter nails on any trails, but while going around town have found pins and tacks in my tubeless tyres, pulled them out and let my Stans Selant do its job ( it takes seconds to reseal then you can just forget it ever happened ) have had 5 in the rear tyre alone and it still keeps going ( on the same dose of sealant that has been in there 13 months ) In my country the temperature is mainly 0-15°C but can be between -10°C to 30°C at the high/low ends of the scale. My 90ml of sealant never dries out and if i can ever leave a tyre a rim long enough i,m betting i could get up to 2 years hussle free. My set up has always been proper UST tyres on tubless kit converted wheels MTX 34,s and would recommend this or a similar set up to any one whos sick of pinich flats and trail side repairs. run as low as 20-25psi hussle free, its called progress people Smile
  • 5 0
 ripped the sidewall on my tubeless yesterday. great timing thanks RC
  • 1 0
 I once had a piece of fence wire puncture up through the tread and out through my sidewall next to the bead. It even dinged my rim just to be a real d-bag. If it hadn't been my FIRST ride on the tire, I would have tossed it. A few patches and a bunch of rubber cement later, the tire has been great. Remember, it doesn't have to seal perfectly, just well enough to give the tire structure and let the sealant do the rest.
  • 1 0
 Awesome tips for the cheap asses, and most of us are. Most of these fixes will work for tubed tires also, if you use a patch on the inside. I've also heard someone putting the patch on without the film (difficult), and using a layer of shoe goo over it to make sure it stays in place.
  • 2 0
 I have a small tear resulting in a slow leak, very near to the bead. Haven't ever applied sealant - but did try patching the inside which didn't seal of course. Would a good amount of sealant do the trick?
  • 1 0
 You can get special all in one plug patches aka mushrooms which you install by removing the tyre and pulling the mushroom through the hole and using vulcanising solution I keep one in my pack in case Rema Tip Top Minicombi is the type I have but others are available Schrader PRP Wired Plug
  • 1 0
 Thanks RC!! I have a highroller that has a 5mm gash in it.. a normal conventional patch blew out last week after 4 months of being repaired.. This is very well timed.. I thought I was going to have to give it to someone that runs tubes.. (Sorry Tamas! i'm fixing it!)

Well timed, thank you.
  • 7 3
 Wouldn't all those patch products cost more than a new tire?
  • 4 0
 I have used small pieces of an old tube before. So far no issues.
  • 3 0
 they are just showing all the different methods out there to fix tire problems
  • 4 0
 if you manage to use an entire can of brake cleaner, or totally wear out your spring clamp on one fix, maybe home mechanics isn't for you...
  • 1 0
 You can seal any hole in the tubeless tire with... a used cigarette filter, you can find them anywhere. Just push some into the hole and let the sealant seal the hole.
  • 1 0
 this was very useful. a mechanic at a local shop let me fix my own car tire thats good practice just thinking about going tubless
  • 1 0
 i dont see any problems with tubeless tyres, i've ran then for 2 years now and have never had a flat tyre. but yet on ym hardtail i run tubes and i get flats once a month
  • 2 0
 crazy glue inside the gash, patch on the inside of the tire, piece of duct tape over it for redundancy. works without issue.
  • 4 2
 ooops this knife has fallen out of my hands into my tyre, shame it wasnt that other persons face =[
  • 1 0
 Just patched a front road tubeless tyre. How safe should i assume the tyre now is considering I'll be hitting 45mph +?? Should i put the patched tyre on the rear?
  • 2 0
 i dont ride tubeless, but this will be handy if i ever do.
  • 25 0
 "I don't usually ride tubeless, but when I do I stab it with a knife."
  • 2 1
 helpful info, don't know why/how you would get a knife stuck in your tire though.
  • 1 0
 Nothing for when the bead rips away from the tire then , I need to save my 2 month old bonti xr4 team issue lol
  • 2 1
 good tips, is it not just easier to carry a spare tube? ithat saves weight and space in the rucsack Smile
  • 6 0
 I don't think RC is suggesting doing this on the trail. This is for when you get home so that you don't have to throw away your barely worn 75$ tubless tire!
  • 1 0
 I am a believer in the tire plugs! The tubeless tire plugs from geniune innovations are far smaller than spare tubes and fix over 95% of tire puncture flats. I have not needed to use my spare tube since I started carrying plugs. I have used them many times for slashes from rocks, pieces of wood stuck in the tire. I have fixed tread holes, sidewall and punctures right next to the rim. They take a minute or less to install and does not involve removing wheel or tire. Just shove them and add a little more air in your tire. They are the easiest, lightest and let you continue riding your bike tubeless.
  • 1 0
 Good info. Had a maxis tire rear at the side wall now i think I can save it.
  • 1 0
 put inner tube to a tubeless tyre you will definitely double the strength=)
  • 2 0
 And lose some of the qualities of tubeless (weight and flexibility)
  • 1 0
 This is pretty much the same method used for fixing a car tire, no? (at least, the plugs in the first step.)
  • 1 0
 Anybody know and alternative to brake clean to clean the inside of the tire
  • 3 2
 Don't worry I stab my tire with a knife all the time
  • 3 0
 Don't feel sorry about yourself, we all do it!
  • 1 0
 the last tire after the " fix " jezus i wouldnt ride on that.....
  • 1 0
 I would glue or patch the outside as well.
  • 1 0
 Just put it on the back wheel, where a sudden failure is less consequential.
  • 2 0
 riding tubeless is awesome.u feel your bike different.i have not had no problwm at all for about 5 months.i totally recomment tubeless.
  • 2 0
 yeah tubeless are cool but in good condition Razz and the bike feels different coz wheels are lighter Razz i had same feeling when i changed my tires from Nokian gazza 2.5 to Highrollers 2,35. But that last pic scared me Razz
  • 2 1
 czarny360> I have tubeless installed but the tired are not tubeless I have **Maxxis Minion DHF 26x2.5**this tire is NOT tubeless but is works SO SO well.this tires is very thick letting me ride with lots confidence.and I don't have a tubeless rim neither.we call here **micky mouse** lol so I dont to spend lot of money to ride ride tubeless.

Anyway,i have tube in my back pack in case of.**you never know amigo**
  • 1 0
 I got some noname tires they f*cking rock Razz and i got tubeless ready rims( mavic ex823^^) maybe ill check minions soon ^^
  • 1 0
 Ride'on amigo.
  • 1 0
 You bet i will ! gl and cheers from Poland ; )
  • 2 1
 Needs more shoe goo!! I fix every thing with that sh*t!!
  • 1 0
 I have a 8mm tear by the bead. Anyoneone know any fixes for that?
  • 1 0
 That tire took a beating.
  • 1 0
 I feel like I just witnessed a tire snuff film.
  • 1 0
 Nah, it just needs more Stans!
  • 2 3
 Why not buying a 5$ tube and don't bother with anything like this ?........
  • 1 0
 Tech rock
  • 1 0
 Thank You
  • 1 0
 Cheers mate
  • 1 2
 Who in the world would hammer a nail and stab their tyres Big Grin haha
  • 3 5
 Looks sketchy. Just get a new tire
  • 2 0
 It depends on how new the tire is.
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