So there’s a lot of sentiment out there that might tell you that glueless patch kits are merely for temporary flat repair–good for a few miles, but ready to go flat again at any moment. Don’t believe the haters. These little super stickers can serve as a permanent patch on your next flat–you just need to know a few secrets.
Why Go Glueless?
These kits are generally awesome because they’re super lightweight and thin. Plus, they don’t use harsh glues that can cause lousy side effects. I like the Lezyne Smart Patch Kit, which sells for just $3.99 and is as thin as a credit card (shown at right with added alloy case). It fits fantastically in a small jersey pocket pouch, wallet, or saddlebag. Lezyne even offers the kit inside some cool aluminum cases (some even with snap-on tire levers) that are still fairly compact, but will likely have a few weight weenies clucking their tongues at the extra grams.
Brand Makes A Difference
Make sure you’ve bought a good brand of glueless patch kit. You’ll certainly want to steer clear of anything you can find in a box store like Target or Wal-Mart. In my experience, certain brands like Bell or off-brand kits just don’t work no matter what your method.
Two of the best glueless patches that I’ve used are the aforementioned Lezyne Smart Patch Kit and the Park Tools Super Patch Kit. Generally, you also want to avoid the “puffy” style patch that can catch on the inside of the tire or rim and peel off as you’re rolling the tire back on. The ultra-thin patches are definitely the way to go here.
Get That Puncture Fixed! Here’s How
It’s essential that you keep both the tube and the patch free of dirt or debris from the road. Give your hands a good wipe before you start–you might even want to add a few of those alcohol wipes to your kit in order to get a really good clean on the tube (I haven’t actually done this, but I have a friend who swears by it). You can get these wipes at your local drug store or some place similar for pretty cheap–just make sure to give the alcohol time to dry before you stick on the patch.
Step 2: Put a little air in the tube to give it shape, but not enough to be too stretched out. If your puncture is large, hold your finger over the hole (another reason why your hands should be clean) to prevent too much air from escaping. What’s my reasoning here? You’ve got to allow the patch to assume the shape it will reach when you’ve inflated the tube to 100psi (give or take ten psi). If you don’t, the patch will stretch too much and likely sputter and spit all your precious air back out in a matter of miles–or seconds.
Step 3: Press the patch on firmly for at least 30 seconds. I like to start from the center and then roll my thumbs away from each other to press on the sides. Do this a couple of times to ensure you’ve got a really strong stick. And when I say firmly, I mean really squeeze it tight between your thumb and fingers. This step is crucial! You want to get a nice tight seal, so be sure to give it enough time to set up.
Now you can let out a bit of air and reinstall your tube and tire. Like that, your tube should have a very permanent patch. I’ve used these glue less patches almost exclusively for two years, and they hold air like beauties–not to mention I don’t have to inhale glue fumes, deal with stuck fingers or, more likely, encounter an empty glue tube when I’m desperate for a patch.
Final Step: Feel Good About Yourself
As with anything, being prepared is key! Make sure you ride with at least one extra tube in your kit.