Find the hole, roughen up the rubber, spread the adhesive and apply the patch. Now wait. Thanks to tubeless tires this ritual belongs to the past. But what happens when even your tubeless tire gives up? We tested five tubeless repair kits which will get you back on track in no time.
What should a good repair-kit include?
A tire-plug kit has one primary function: helping you to mend a flat tire as quickly and easily as possible. Ideally, it should include a variety of different sized plugs to fix bigger and more complicated holes. Apart from that, it should be straight-forward to use and easy to store. Details such as a knife are welcome add-ons.
What sort of damage can you repair with an emergency kit?
Most of the time the tubeless sealant inside your tubeless tires should seal the small holes caused by thorns and broken glass. Repair kits come in handy when the sealant alone is not enough. And that’s normally the case with holes that are larger than 2 mm; plugs are also great for snake-bites. The size of the plugs is also crucial for a successful repair. Whilst the better kits in our test will allow you to get away with only using one plug, the smaller kits will require a second or even a third plug to guarantee a successful repair. But if you managed to tear out a whole chunk of rubber or damaged the sidewall of your tire, not even a tubeless repair kit will help you.
How did we test the kits?
There are many ways to damage a tire, but there are two major rubber-killers. To replicate these we tortured our test tire (a Schwalbe Fat Albert) either by poking it with a nail or by rolling it through broken glass. Our repair kits had to fix both the small simple holes and big asymmetrical ones.
The models in overview
|21 x 2.5
|Tubless Tackle Kit
|7.14 x 2.22
|10 x 0.35
|5.7 x 2.2
The best tubeless repair kit: Sahmurai – S.W.O.R.D.
Multiple personalities – not only is the Sahmurai S.W.O.R.D. a great repair kit but also a stylish bar-end with a unique logo. The insertion tool and the cleaning file can be inserted into all handlebar-ends with an inner diameter of 17 to 21 mm and the kit includes 5 mm-thick repair plugs.
No time wasted searching or fiddling around: with two simple steps, you will have both tools ready to get started with your repair. Unfortunately, it’s not as straight-forward with the actual plugs. If you stuff them into the bar-end one by one, there is a good chance you’ll never see them again! As far as functionality goes, there’s not much we can complain about. The insertion- and cleaning-tool handles are easy to grasp and offer good amounts of grip. Flattened beforehand the repair plugs are easy to insert into the tool and can efficiently seal even the bigger, more difficult holes. The plugs are easy to mould and can be individually shaped. Because of their length, the plugs protrude far beyond the patched hole – the money-conscious amongst us will halve the plugs and effectively get 10 plugs instead of 5 out of a single kit… if you’re not too bothered about the pennies you can use a small pocket-knife to trim the plugs to the right length. The supplied file doesn’t work as it should, it’s too blunt to properly work the tire. Please check your grips first! Many modern grips come with integrated bar ends and are therefore not compatible with the Sahmurai S.W.O.R.D. bar-end system.
+ cleverly integrated
+ wide plugs
+ the plugs are easy to shape
– The cleaning tool isn’t great but not necessary in most cases
– Removable bar ends are required for installation
Price: € 29.90
Weight: 48 g
Genuine Innovation – Tubeless Tackle Kit
Bomb-proof: The Tubeless Tackle Kit comes with a sturdy aluminium case which can take a good beating. Unfortunately, the sturdiness also reflects onto the weight; despite the compact packaging, the Tackle Kit is the heaviest repair-kit in our test. The insertion tool is space-savingly integrated into the lid and features a comfortable and practical ribbed handle; the bottom also holds a practical valve wrench. Five repair-plugs and 2 Presta-valve cores are included in the set and stored in a small 7,14 x 2,22 cm case.
The repair is super-fast. Nail out, plug in, done! The Tackle Kit makes the repair quick and easy. The plugs are easily placed into the insertion tool (this one is open on the bottom side) and can be shaped with very little effort. But this is also partially due to their size; the plugs are relatively thin and therefore not suitable for larger or asymmetrical cuts. Beware! The sticky plugs are not well separated and tend to stick together if you’re not careful when closing the box. The insertion tool gets messy.
+ Small packaging
+ Can be installed with little effort
– Heaviest kit in test
– The plugs are too thin for big holes
Price: € 15.69
Weight: 60 g
Dynaplug Micro Pro
Surprise eggs – Dynaplug packed their Micro Pro repair kit into a high-quality aluminium egg. This includes two insertion tubes, a micro knife, an air stopper and a pipe cleaner. The insertion tool and lid are also combined into one component.
The repair-procedure of the Micro Pro is noticeably different from the competition: The repair plug is ready to be used, it has a metal tip and is inserted at the end of the insertion tube. All you have to do is press it into the hole. Excess material can easily be cut off with the supplied knife. However, the size of the plugs proved too small for some of the bigger holes. The air stopper, on the other hand, makes sense. If you notice any air loss in time, you can quickly act and prevent the air from coming out, keeping the pressure at a decent level. This makes it easier to insert the plugs and minimizes the possibilities of damaging the rim tape. But be careful, the tips of the plugs are pretty sharp, you don’t want to hurt yourself. It’s a shame that insertion tubes and plugs are only supplied in one size. The price in another drawback. With a retail price of $ 54,99 the Dynaplug kit is pretty much as expensive as a good, brand new tubeless tire.
+ Small and light
+ Easy to use
+ Versatile content
– plugs are too small
Price: € 49.90
Weight: 45 g
MaXalami – Basic Tube
Rebelling against the trend – the MaXalami Basic Tube doesn’t care about integration and delivers “proper” tools at a great price. This is the true minimalist in our test field and includes three 10 cm-long and 3.5 mm-wide repair plugs as well as an insertion tool with a traditional screwdriver handle. It’s all safely packed into a small plastic tube. The 31g kit is all ready to go. Particularly the handle of the insertion tool convinced us. It is by far the most comfortable in our test as it’s the only one you can actually grasp with your whole hand; this reduces both the effort and the risk of injury. The wide plugs seal really well but are rather difficult to shape and thread into the insertion tool.
Same as with the Sahmurai S.W.O.R.D. a small knife would come in handy to shorten the plugs or adapt them to smaller hole diameters. With a price of 12,90 € the Basic Tube is the cheapest set in our test.
+ super handling
– only 3 plugs in the package
– Plugs are hard to shape
Price: € 12.90
Weight: 31 g
Out of competition: Dynaplug Air
Pit-stop, Formula 1 style. We didn’t include it in our evaluation, but the Dynaplug Air is definitely worth a mention. It is both repair kit and cartridge pump all squeezed into one system and allows you to fix a puncture in less than a minute. Insert the plug in the hole, screw the cartridge into the thread, wait, pull it out – done! Unfortunately, also the price reminds us of the Formula 1: this magic-trick costs you $ 74, 99, which is way too much even for such a great system. The package includes two CO2 cartridges, 4 plugs (one size only) and the Air Tool.
All repair kits have one simple task: fixing punctures. They all do this to a different degree of success and the size of the plugs is decisive. Despite the smart design, the Dynaplug Micro Pro comes with a few drawbacks, one of which is the price. And also the Genuine Innovation kit failed when used on larger holes. The back-pack carrying minimalists amongst us will find the MaXalami to be a great kit with a very reasonable price. The Sahmurai S.W.O.R.D. is the best tubeless repair kit you can buy. It’s cleverly integrated in the handlebars and succeeded by sealing all the holes in our test with a superior sealing quality. With a price of 29,90 € it is also relatively cheap – top!
One last tip to finish with: It is worth taking a look at the manufacturer’s web pages. Many repair kits are easy to upgrade, as most manufacturers also offer different sizes of plugs in their product range. These can be purchased separately and used to complete an existing repair kit.
Eventually every tire reaches the end of its lifetime, if that’s the case, don’t miss our enduro tire group test with 8 popular options in comparison.
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Words: Photos: Valentin Rühl, Christoph Bayer