Tubeless tires are an increasingly popular option for every major cycling discipline – MTB, road, and gravel. These are tires with a similar appearance and cross-section as clincher tires, however, as the name suggests they are designed to work without inner tubes.

The advantage to this is that tubeless tires can be ridden at lower pressures, increasing the comfort and grip in every situation. They are also in general much more resistant to flat tires, and the tire will stay safely attached to the rim in case of a puncture.

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Of course, there are also some downsides to riding tubules, namely the higher price of this type of tires, the potential mess that can be fitting them, and the regular maintenance required.

Tubeless Valve Stem Leaking

The special ingredient in the tubeless tires’ recipe for success is the tubeless sealant, a thick liquid that sits inside the tire and blocks small holes that might open on the casing.

It proves drastically effective against flat tires, as it will stop the air leaking in a matter of seconds after the tire is punctured. In most cases, the tire will still be rideable and it will require just a bit of pumping to get back to the desired pressure.

There are two main types of tubeless sealants in the market – latex-based and latex-free sealants.

The former uses the natural chemistry of the latex to solidify and create a barrier that prevents the air from leaking. The inherent problem of the latex is the rapid decline of its sealing properties resulting in a reduced lifespan of the tire.

Latex-free sealants, don’t rely on any chemical reaction but rather on the mere viscosity of the liquid peppered with tiny sealing particles that can “physically” plug the holes on the casing. They are slightly less effective in sealing punctures but they last significantly longer.

Let’s explore some of the best tubeless sealants in the market in 2021.

Top 7 Tubeless Sealants

1. Orange Seal Tubeless Sealant

Source: competitivecyclist.com

Type: Latex-based

Maximum hole size: 6 mm

Volume: 118/237 ml

Lifespan: 6 weeks

We’ll start with one of the most expensive options out there but that certainly delivers quality. Only a few can equal the effectiveness of the Orange Seal Endurance tubeless sealant when it comes to plugging large holes, even bigger than the claimed 6 mm.

This latex-based sealant it’s amazingly quick as well, sealing effectively in seconds without much of a pressure loss. This makes it optimal for use on road and gravel tires. The main issue with this product would be its quick degradation, with a claimed lifespan standing at a mere 45 days.

A massive plus of the Orange Seal tubeless sealants is that it comes with an injector or “Twist Lock Applicator” that prevents you from making a mess when setting up your new pair of tubeless tires (and we’ve all been there!).

Pros

  • Very effective
  • Ease of use

Cons

  • High price

2. Effetto Mariposa Caffelatex Sealant

Type: Latex-based

Maximum hole size: 3-5 mm

Volume: 60/250/1000 ml

Lifespan: –

Probably the best of this rank when it comes to road bike tires, the Effetto Mariposa Caffelatex Sealant plugs any puncture up to 5 mm incredibly quickly, and with a minimal pressure loss.

Its viscosity is lower than most latex-based mixtures and it makes it significantly more lightweight too, hence this is especially a great product for road cycling.

But the differences don’t stop here. Instead of coagulating, Effetto Mariposa latex mixture foams and expands, clogging holes securely and rapidly, and keeping the pressure higher than many other sealants.

On the downside, don’t expect this tubeless sealant to plug any hole bigger than 5 mm. Effetto Mariposa sells a separate additive to cope with bigger punctures though.

Overall, the best tubeless sealant for road bike use out there and reasonably priced too when purchasing the 1000 ml bottle.

Pros

  • Great at high pressures

Cons

  • Not great with large holes

3. Stan’s No Tubes Race Sealant

Source: competitivecyclist.com

Type: Latex-based

Maximum hole size: 6.5 mm

Volume: 946 ml

Lifespan: 6 months

Stan’s No Tubes is a pioneer brand in the small world of tubeless tire sealants and they’ve got a great deal of experience in this arena. The “Race” mixture it’s their ultimate product evolution that promises huge hole size plugging and an enhanced lifespan.

This latex-based formula incorporates bigger crystals that help the liquid coagulate around a bigger area and plug holes up to 8mm! That makes it ideal for hardcore off-road riding.

It is not only effective against bigger punctures but also damn fast, losing only 5psi when plugging a hole of 5 mm.

A bottle of Stan’s No Tubes doesn’t come cheap though, but its enhanced lifespan of up to 6 months makes it worthwhile for riders that tend to get a lot of punctures or for a whole racing season.

Pros

  • Blocks large holes

Cons

  • Terrible smell

4. Muc-Off No Puncture Hassle

Type: Latex-based

Maximum hole size: 6 mm

Volume: 140 ml

Lifespan: 6 months

Muc-Off has gone the extra mile when researching for their newly released tubeless tire sealant. It took them several years of experimenting with all the tire brands that they could find, testing them all at different temperatures and conditions.

The result is quite worthwhile – a product that works in virtually every scenario and ride style: it’s fast enough to maintain high pressures in road tires while still being able to plug large holes on MTB tires’ sidewalls.

Muc-Off No Puncture Hassle’s distinctive pink color has a hidden surprise. It’s formulated with a dye that will highlight any cut or puncture when exposed to a UV light source (it includes a UV torch too!).

Despite being quite pricey, it’s an excellent all-rounder option with a magnificent lifespan, and smells beautifully good as well!

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Fast
  • UV sensitive

Cons

  • High price tag

5. Ethirteen Components Tire Plasma

Source: competitivecyclist.com

Type: Latex-based

Maximum hole size: 6 mm

Volume: 100/1000 ml

Lifespan: 6 months

Ethirteen Components’ Tire Plasma is one of the cheapest products you can use as a sealant for your tubular setup, and in most cases, it has a similar performance to much more expensive products like Orange Seal.

It is relatively fast plugging small holes without losing much pressure but it struggles to clog the bigger ones, sometimes leaving them partially sealed and leaking air at a slow rate.

Another inconvenience of the Tire Plasma is that it must be strongly shaken in every application to distribute the particles evenly on the mix.

However, if you are after a cheap product that gets the job done with the smaller punctures, this might be a good option for you.

Pros

  • Low price

Cons

  • Not effective against big holes

6. Finish Line Tubeless Tire Sealant

Type: Latex-free

Maximum hole size: 6 mm

Volume: 240/1000 ml

Lifespan: Tire lifespan

And finally, we get to the first non-latex-based tubeless sealant of this list, in this case, made out of a Kevlar mixture by the brand Finish Line. The absolute best about its latex-free composition is that it won’t degrade over time guaranteeing the same lifespan that of the tire it is set up.

As great as this sounds, it’s not all advantages with Finish Line’s atypical tubeless sealant. For starters, it is much denser than other latex-based products which means a harder installation process and also a slower time plugging holes, which translates into a higher pressure loss. So this is not a good option for road tires.

Cleaning is another aspect in which this Kevlar-based mixture is a game-changer. Instead of spending hours ripping dried latex off the inner tire, Finish Line’s sealant will come off just by rinsing it with water!

Worth a try for gravel and MTB bikes where high pressures are not needed. Will cost you a few more dollars than the average product but will save you precious time avoiding multiple applications and cleaning the tires.

Pros

  • Great lifespan

Cons

  • Hard to apply
  • Slow

7. Squirt Tire Sealant

Type: Latex-based

Maximum hole size: 6 mm

Volume: 150/1000 ml

Lifespan: –

Squirt’s tire sealant has been tested by multiple professional mountain bikers under harsh race conditions and it’s been proven very effective at plugging holes fast.

This great speed makes it also widely suitable for other applications such as gravel and road bikes. Squirt’s tire sealant is not only designed for tubeless but it also works plugging punctures on tubed tires!

Its eco-friendly formula contains latex mixed with fibers and granules but it’s free from ammonia. Squirt claims that it’s also easier to clean and lasts longer than other latex-based products.

If you are new to tubeless tires or just want to try how a sealant works on your other pairs of tubed wheels, Squirt provides an option to do so without making a different kind of hole (in your pocket!).

Pros

  • Great lifespan
  • Fairly priced

Cons

  • Doesn’t work with CO2 cartridges

Buying Tips

With such an abundance of tubeless sealant brands, different formulas, and specifications it is easy to get frustrated when trying to find the product that will suit your needs better. Fortunately, we can look into some key variables to make this process quick and painless.

I’d start with the most important ones, your ride style, and your tires. The pressure demands of road, gravel, and MTB tires are indeed quite different, so it’s the type of sealant you’re gonna want to be using.

For instance, the Effetto Mariposa Caffelatex foam sealant acts faster than the average product resulting in a minimal pressure loss, and this makes it an ideal option for use with road bike tires. On the other hand, the aforementioned can only cope with punctures of around 3 mm.

Since you are likely to get bigger holes when riding off-road on your gravel bike or MTB, you’ll fare better with other products such as Stan’s No Tubes Race sealant.

If you can test the sealants at a shop, another important factor is the viscosity of the mixture. The more liquid the sealant is the faster it will reach the hole resulting in less air/pressure loss. However, a less viscous liquid also probably contains smaller particles or “additives”. The smaller these particles are the smaller the hole size the sealant will be able to plug.

In relation to this, an important tip when installing sealant on a tire is to shake it vigorously for a few seconds. If you fail to do so you won’t get the intended mix of particles on the liquid you apply to your tires, resulting in lower performance.

As with any other cycling product, price is always a variable to take into consideration. If you are more cash conscious, I’d suggest going for Ethirteen Components Tire Plasma or Squirt’s tire sealant.

On the other hand, if the price is not a concern it might be worth trying Finish Line latex-free mixture or the classic Stan’s No Tubes.

In general tubeless sealant products are not cheap and you might be tempted to add less quantity than you should. The general rule of thumb is to add twice the ml of sealant than the mm of tire width (for instance 50 ml to a 25 mm tire), this way you’ll guarantee to coat the whole tire and leave a few extra ml to plug holes.

Also, remember that you are already replacing an inner tube that weighs between 100 and 250 grams, so it’s not worth it to cut a few ml of sealant to save minimal weight at the expense of much less puncture protection.

If the whole tubeless tire sounds a bit complex to you, why not try a tire sealant on your tubed tires first? Mixtures such as Squirt’s work well in this type of tire and can give you a hint of the advantages of tubeless tires before you jump straight into them.

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