When it comes to tubeless sealant, we’re pretty limited by choices at the moment although new offerings are coming to the table all the time. Although have they got what it takes to make it when they’re this late to the party? I’ve taken it upon myself to go out and thrash some bikes around and see how well some tubeless offerings fair in the real world. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it!
I’ve tested all of these products over the period of a couple of months, I bought between 200ml and 460ml of each and used every last drop in the bottle before changing over – this was to give me an idea of how long you can expect a medium bottle to last for. I used the Maxxis Minion and HR2 set up on my Superstar Tech4 wheels throughout these reviews to maintain consistency. The products I tested were (in order of testing):
- Effetto Cafeelatex Tubeless fluid
- Joe’s No Flats Eco Sealant
- Orange Seal Sealant
- Bontrager TLR Tire Sealant
- Stans No Tubes Tyre Sealant
- Uberbike Tyre Matrix Sealant
And here’s the complete group test which will put them all head to head.
Tubeless Sealant Grouptest
Super important, because what’s the point in sealant that doesn’t seal? Expectantly, every sealant on this list did a good job at sealing punctures within the first couple of rides – some of them, like Effetto made a big display of this with lots of bubbles, while others like Stans let out a spurt of white fluid and that was that. After just a couple of rides, however, the sealants started to fail. Orange Seal, which is the most useless thing on a bike other than Peaty’s Pushons, gave up the ghost after just three rides – what’s more, the hole it couldn’t fix was a thorn that was directly in the tread pattern! Effectto Cafeelatex was the next one to disappoint me, drying up into a very strange looking ball and making a really strange noise on the inside of my tyres. Uberbike Tyre Matrix matched these last two on disappointment, failing to seal tyres with small holes in the treadpattern and instead oozing blue juice everywhere.
As you can see from the picture, there’s nothing left to seal any holes so predictably it didn’t. Joe’s, Bontrager and Stans all did an excellent job of sealing punctures and didn’t require lots of maintenance and topping up – I did find that my tyre pressure dropped more with Joe’s than the other two, but not so much that it was an issue every time I got the bike out.
Longevity of the sealant
One of the biggest perks of going tubeless is that you don’t have to worry about having to change tubes so much – this goes out the window if your sealant requires constant maintenance or to be replaced frequently. Interestingly, one of the biggest selling points for Orange Seal is its longevity but considering that I used an entire 8oz bottle in the space of two weeks just to keep air in my tyres doesn’t give me any confidence in this. Orange Seal was bad and there is no way that I could ever recommend it, but it wasn’t the worst – Caffetto was the worst, by far! Not only did it dry up like the picture above, the second time it happened it dried up OVERNIGHT less than 24 hours after I put the liquid in the tyre it turned into a solid lump of bouncy latex – fun for playing with, rubbish for sealing tyres.
Bontrager’s offering lasted for about a month and a half before I found my bike one morning with a very flat tyre that refused to go up. Took it off the rim and all the sealant was gone, better than the others but still not good enough for me.
Joe’s would come a solid second – lasting four months in my tyres with frequent use and plenty of punctures before I needed to top off the fluid. Uberbike Tyre Matrix would probably last forever as it doesn’t seem to dry up even when it’s supposed to.
The king of longevity? Stans sealant. Not only did I not have to touch it for four months, when I checked on it there was still a lovely little dirty off-white puddle of it in the bottom of my tyre.
The Best Tubeless Sealant
- Stans No Tubes Sealant – for longevity, puncture resistance and availability you really can’t beat Stans. If you want it to be even more hardcore you can always add some glitter to the mix, that will help it seal even faster and really helps with the big holes. Plus, it makes your bike look like a unicorn next time you go to change your tyre.
- Joe’s No Flats Eco Sealant – good for the environment, good for your bike and great at fixing punctures. This would be my go-to alternative to Stans and it was head and shoulders above everything else that I tested.
- Bontrager TLR Sealant – not bad, but not great. Worked well at sealing holes, but the longevity just wasn’t good enough to make it a real contender.
- Orange Seal – about as useful at sealing a tyre as a seal would be peeling an orange.
- UberBike Tyre Matrix – I’d call this a draw with Orange Seal, it doesn’t dry up like Caffelatex but it’s definitely not fit for purpose.
- Effetto Caffelatex – you’re better off using a condom filled with coffee as an inner tube than using this as a sealant.