It was time to do something I’ve been putting off for months. Reinstalling the tubeless tires on my mountain bike. Not only is the task time consuming compared to a simple inner tube installation, but you also need an air compressor, a piece of equipment I don’t have. So as is customary, I picked up some quality beer, and headed over to my friend’s house to get this project done.
The good people over at Soma Fabrications sent me a couple bottles of Blue Seal Tire Sealant to demo. Previously I’ve used sealant from Stan’s NoTubes, so I was interested to see how Blue Seal compared. Here’s a little info about Blue Seal from the manufacturer:
- Environmentally friendly
- Can be used for BOTH Tubes and Tubeless Tires
- Does not include latex which is an allergen
- Does not contain ammonia which can break down rubber
- Does not contain propylene glycol which is poisonous and can be absorbed through the skin
- Comes in 240ml (about 8oz) bottles.
- Made in Australia
“Finally and environmentally-sound, non toxic inner tube flat preventive. ALSO works with tubeless tires. It forms a seal using natural nano-fibers which harden up to form a plug when exposed to air. Doesn’t leave an oily or sticky mess like other sealant…you know what we mean if you’ve ever had to change a tube or tire that experience punctures with sealants. Applicator tube includes valve core removal tool.”
For this installation I used Sun Ringle Black Flag Pro tubeless-ready wheels, and WTB Bronson tires that I’ve already used previously (not new). These tires are just regular knobbies, not specifically designed for tubeless use. I divided one of the bottles into two portions, using 4 ounces of sealant for each tire. I installed the tire on the rim, leaving just a few inches of sidewall off the rim on one side to allow me to pour the sealant into the tire. Tires were then fully installed, wheels rotated once to disperse the sealant, hung on a work stand, and finally inflated with an air compressor.
The first tire instantly sealed up on the rim, but we heard a hissing noise coming from somewhere on the tire. We found a pin-prick sized hole on the sidewall that was letting air escape rapidly. I rotated the wheel so that the sealant would find the hole, and it instantly sealed up! It’s been holding air ever since. It was cool to get a live demo “in the lab”, instead of waiting for a thorn on the trail.
As is the case with tubeless tire installation, you seldom get off easy. The second tire didn’t seal up so quickly, and took a lot more work. It wasn’t the sealant’s fault, just the amount of air you need to set the tire beads into the rim. The beer came in handy at this point to ward off any frustration. Some sealant was spilled during multiple inflation attempts on the second wheel, but not enough to worry about. This is why it’s good to error on the side of too much sealant instead of not enough. Eventually we got the tire to seal up, and it has been holding air ever since.
According to the sales rep from Soma Fabrications, the one issue that you might encounter with Blue Seal is that it can freeze at very low temperatures, because it doesn’t have anti-freeze in it. Anti-freeze breaks down rubber apparently, in addition to being toxic. Once the bike is rolling though, the friction of the tire rolling and compressing should break it up quickly.
Although I didn’t need it for my tubeless tire installation, the Blue Seal bottle also comes with an applicator tube and valve core tool for Schrader style valves if you want to treat your inner tubes. For those wanting to treat tubes with Presta style valves, you’ll have to find a brand with a removable core.
While the product seemed to do its job just fine sealing up my tires, there could be some improvement with the packaging and instructions. The bottle doesn’t specify the volume of its contents, so a measuring cup was required. Although pretty extensive for installation in an inner tube, there isn’t much in the way of what to do for tubeless tires. I just went with what I’ve done in the past and what looked right. Next I’ll have to test the longevity of Blue Seal, and see how long it lasts. This is definitely an area that can be improved upon in other similar products I’ve tried.
- Product Sheet (pdf document)
- Buy this product from Soma Fabrications
- Tubes versus Tubeless – A comparison on BikeCarson.com
Disclaimer: This product was given to BikeCarson.com at no charge for test and review. We were not paid or bribed to do this review, and will provide our honest and personal views throughout the entire process.