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tubeless tire plugs

Back when I was first debating the pros and cons of switching to tubeless tires on my mountain bike, one big concern was dealing with punctures. I knew that the Stan’s NoTubes sealant would take care of little leaks and thorn holes, but what if I had a big nail hole or something?

Normally I’d just replace the tube and things would be fine, but that’s not an option with tubeless. With a tubeless system, you have to make sure the tire is perfect or else it won’t hold air very well.

So you have a few basic options. Option #1 is to just replace the tire. That can be pretty expensive though, with most tubeless tires costing about $50 each. Option #2 is to go back to running tubes. That’s totally lame, though, and not really a solution. Option #3 is to patch the tire itself, hoping to make the tire usable and air-tight once again. Patching the tire itself is great for normal tube setups, but with tubeless systems, taking everything apart and doing the cleaning necessary takes a lot of effort. (And even then, you’re riding on a compromised tire.)

You don’t really want to get inside a tubeless system do you? With all that sealant in there? You’ll have to take the tire off, clean things up, patch it, then put it back on again. Not fun, especially if you remember how hard it was to set-up in the first place.

tubeless tire plugs

But what if you could patch the tire without even taking it off the rim?

Enter the Genuine Innovations Tubeless Tire Repair Kit.

Boring name aside, this is an interesting product. There is not much to it, just a specialty sewing needle and soft rubber plugs, but it lets you fix a tubeless tire from the outside. No mess!

All you do is wind a rubber strip onto the special needle and stick it into the hole, then pull the needle out, leaving the rubber strip to plug the leak. The process takes only a few seconds.

The problem is, it’s not a miracle cure…

Testing the Tubeless Tire Repair Kit

My tubeless setup consists of regular rims and tires converted to tubeless using the Stan’s NoTubes system (their special rim strips and sealant.) That’s what I’m testing with today…

[Note: Actual UST tires are tougher in the first place and may even be easier to repair, but I like the light weight and low price of regular tires.]

tubeless tire plugs

The test involved me riding over a nail, then shoving the nail into the tire and twisting it around to widen the hole some more. (I had to make the hole big enough that the Stan’s sealant alone couldn’t fix it.)

To fix it, I stuck one rubber strip into the tire and pulled the needle out… and the rubber strip came right back out with it.

On my second try, I picked up the technique and got the strip to stick in the tire. However, it wasn’t even close to being airtight. So I inserted a second strip into the hole, and that seemed to help quite a bit. (Sometimes you might have to use 3-5 strips in one hole, if it’s big enough.)

For this repair, the two strips seemed to plug the leak pretty well, and excess Stan’s sealant helped it hold. That’s pretty impressive. (Make sure you have enough sealant in the tire, because that will help make this repair as airtight as possible.)

But it leaves a funny looking brown lump sticking outside your tire! You can’t really cut it off, since it’s sticky rubber. My big worry was, “will it get snagged and rip out while riding??”

But after riding it a few times, the plug seems to stick fairly well, and it squishes down and starts to blend in. Even with the plug sticking up in the tire tread, it didn’t get ripped out from trail riding!

There was a problem though… the tire lost all its air within 24 hours. I could ride just fine if I pumped up the tire before each ride, but I’d rather not have to do that. Because of this, I’d say these plugs are still a temporary solution.

tubeless tire plugs

On Video: Genuine Innovations Tubeless Tire Repair Kit

Want to watch me screw around with these things for ten minutes before I get them to work? It’s all on video, right here…


My final verdict is…

For XC racing, I don’t think I’d bother carrying this kit. However, if I was going on an epic ride deep into the forest, I’d definitely carry one of these kits. It won’t take up too much space in your pack, and at $4, it’s worth getting the kit for “just in case.”

It doesn’t seem like the best long-term option, as it’s not totally airtight and you’re still riding a compromised tire, but it would be a good temporary solution to get you home. I wouldn’t head out for a serious ride or race on a tire that was plugged with these, though. That’s just a little too risky!

Official website: www.GenuineInnovations.com

Buy online: www.Amazon.com

Product Review Details
Company: Genuine Innovations
Product: Genuine Innovations Tubeless Tire Repair Kit
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 3.0 out of 5
Date last updated: 2008-08-30
Obtained Product: Purchased at retailer.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.

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  1. An “innovation”, right, like they just invented this. These kits can be found in any auto parts shop, and they’ve been available for a looong time already, usually called just “tubeless tire repair kit” (not a super-duper genuine original invention innovation repair kit). The kits I’ve seen include two other important things this kit doesn’t. First there’s another tool that looks like a corkscrew. It is used to give the puncture the proper shape and size (enlarge it to around the size of the plug and make it round). Then there’s the plug cement you put on the plug to make it the plug to the tire. Of course these glueless plugs won’t hold/seal as well. Then there’s also a proper way to use it. For example: http://www.tirerepairkit.com/easyuse.htm

  2. @Gene

    Thanks for the comment and link. Much better instructions there.

    Picking up a tubeless patch kit made for cars or ATVs may indeed work better.

  3. If you’re running stans already, use cotton string instead of the gluey string they provide and turn the tire so that the stans seeps around the cotton string after inserted. This is much more permanent and air tight. The gluey strings are OK if you are out of stans, but they tent to work their way out.

  4. @Mike

    Never thought of that, sounds like a great idea! I assume you’re referring to a roll of cotton twine like this one?

  5. Thanks great review. After plugging the hole rotate the wheel so the repair is lowest, then the sealant will find it.

  6. @Nick M

    Definitely. Use the power of Stan’s (and the forces of gravity) to your advantage!

  7. My thing is if I happen to be out of sealant, Sometimes it has dried up and you don’t realize. I carry this aroung (cause I am not carrying sealant around.)
    If this doesn’t work I always have a tube.
    But with this I can at least try to fix the hole before having to remove the tire to put in a tube.

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