If you’ve been looking around EbikeSchool.com for long, you’ll see that I’ve written a lot about flat tires. Flats are the easiest way to ruin your day on an electric bicycle, so I’m all about trying to minimize my chance for flat tires. I’ve written before about tips for avoiding flat tires, one of which includes using a tire sealant. I’ve also reviewed three different tire and tube sealants. Today though I’m going to take it one step further and show you how to add tire sealant to your bicycle tires.
My favorite sealant is Joe’s Super Sealant, though these steps will all work for any sealant you want to use. To add tire sealant to your inner tubes you’re going to a few things prepared in advance:
- Your tire sealant of choice
- A Schrader valve removal tool
- Easy access to your valve (I like to remove the tube)
- A rag for cleanup (things can get messy quickly)
- Bicycle tire levers (optional – only if you want to remove the tube)
Step one: Access your valve
I prefer to pop the tire off one side of the rim and pull the tube out enough to get at the valve. This just makes it easier for me to manipulate the valve and end up spilling less of the sealant. This is especially helpful when you are working on a small wheel, 20″ or smaller, because the short, crowded spokes don’t give you a lot of wiggle room.
Removing the tube isn’t always necessary though. You can leave your tire on if you’d like. It’s really just a matter of personal preference. Some tire sealants come with a flexible straw or rubber hose that you can use instead of putting the hard plastic spout directly into the valve. Green Slime is one of those sealants that usually has a tube included. For those sealants I leave the tire on since the plastic tube gives me all the flexibility I need.
Step two: remove the valve core
To remove the valve core you’ll need a schrader valve tool like mine above. Green Slime kits usually have the tool molded into the black cap on the tube. For most other sealants you’re on your own to provide the tool. Remove the dust cap from the valve and insert the valve tool into the end of the valve. Slowly turn the tool until you feel the teeth slip into the recesses in the valve core. Now turn the tool counter-clockwise until the valve core slides free of the internal threads in the valve stem.
Step three: add tire sealant
This part is pretty straightforward. Now you simply squeeze your tire sealant into the empty valve stem. A few tricks I’ve learned along the years have made this process easier and less messy:
- Removing the tube from the tire, or doing this step before you install a new tube, means you can hold the valve in your hand and ensure a good seal during filling. This keeps any tire sealant from leaking out the sides.
- If you do this step while the tube is in a wheel and installed in a bicycle, rotate the wheel so the valve isn’t on the very bottom. Even just rotating the wheel so the valve is a few inches to the right or left of the bottom can help. The issue is that the weight of the bike can compress the tube and cause a blockage. Worst case scenario with a blockage: the tire sealant shoots back out and covers you in gluey mess.
- Save the rubber hose from a tire sealant such as Green Slime to use in the future with any other sealant. In my set of tools I keep a piece of rubber hose just large enough to slip over the end of the valve stem.
- Once you get the tire sealant flowing, don’t stop until you’re done. Glue-type sealants such as Joe’s and Stan’s can actually seal while still in the nozzle on occasion. This can make for an annoying stop-and-go filling experience as you keep pausing to open up the hole again. Avoid this by keep filling once you’ve got the flow going.
- Keep a rag around and don’t do this indoors unless you’ve laid down a towel or newspaper first. Things can get messy…
Step four: close everything back up
Once you’ve got all your tire sealant in the tube, go ahead and wipe up any spills and replace the valve core. Just slide the valve core back inside the valve stem and then tighten it with the valve tool by turning clockwise. You don’t need to go all muscle-man on it, just a nice snug fit will do.
And that’s it! Adding tire sealant is a really simple way to give yourself the best chance of avoiding a flat tire. It only takes a couple of minutes to install the sealant and the hours on the side of the road it will save you are definitely worth it!