Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bootleg Home Brew Tubeless Tire Sealant

No, this post isn't about homemade apple cider. After a recent escapade in Moab without enough air in my tires, I found myself in need of a new rim on my bike. But replacing my rim meant redoing my Stan's Tubeless setup. I spent a while procrastinating, wondering if I should just throw down on some more Stan's tape and sealant, or if I should try some of the "ghetto" methods I've heard about. After Pinkbike ran an article on using Gorilla tape to seal a rim, I decided to give the ghetto method a try. I'm always down for a "man craft" anyway. 

Between the pink antifreeze and the bright green slime, my peek-a-boo joy juice looked almost good enough to taste.

Taping the rim was easy. Walmart sells Gorilla tape in 1" wide rolls, perfect for an average rim. Be warned, Gorilla tape can leave a residue. But it costs much less than the Stan's stuff ($3). I've heard you can get strapping tape online, just like Stan's, for cheap as well. 

The "home brew" sealant was only a little more complicated. There are a lot of recipes out there, and everyone swears by their secret sauce. In any case, homemade stuff promised to be cheaper and last longer than Stan's. After reading a lot of theories on MTBR, here's what I went with:
  • Luiquid Latex Mold Builder (available at Michael's and other craft stores, find it by the glues, take a coupon because it's normally around $18 for a bottle. ($11 with coupon).
  • RV/marine antifreeze apparently this stuff is a little different chemically than the normal antifreeze. It makes the latex runny and doesn't dry up as fast as water. $3 at Walmart.
  • Slime tire sealant From all I could read, this stuff isn't mandatory for sealing the bead, but it will help seal punctures later on. $10 at Walmart.
The ratios:
  • 1 part Latex
  • 1 part Slime
  • 2 parts antifreeze
I mixed 4 ounces of latex, 4 ounces of Slime, and 8 ounces of antifreeze and it all fit just right in a small mason jar. My tire sealed up much faster than it did the first time with Stan's. I'm not sure if that's because of the sealant, or what. So far it's holding up fine but I've only ridden on it once.

Tips:
  • The latex will start to dry up on whatever it hits, so move fast. Don't let it hang out on the bottle or in your measuring cup. The antifreeze will keep it from drying up, so put the antifreeze in your container first. 
  • I've heard the latex lasts longer in the mix than in its original container. 
  • Some dudes are throwing glitter or other particulates in their sealant for larger punctures. I rarely have large punctures, so I didn't worry about it.
  • I recommend a syringe or squeeze bottle to get sealant out of your container and into the wheel, especially if you can go through the valve.
I wager I could make another 70 ounces or so with the latex I have left. That's 80-100 ounces for $24 bucks. Stan's retails at $24 for 32 ounces, so you're getting about triple the sealant for the cost. If you leave out the slime, it's even cheaper. If it really lasts longer (especially here in the desert heat) then it will be worth it. Plus it was kinda fun to mess with. Cheers to the genius chemists who came before. Give it a go!




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