For almost any modern cyclist, the shift to a tubeless tyre set up drastically improves a bike’s ride. However, the sealant you should have sloshing around your tyre won’t fix every hole. Thankfully, there are a variety of kits to plug those pesky punctures mid-ride. Here’s our guide to help you pick the best tubeless tyre repair kit for you.
[Updated 28th December 2021]
Tubeless repair kits - Everything you need to know
Although most tubeless repair kits use the same technique by shoving a sticky slither of rubber into the puncture, as with almost every bit of bike kit out there, tubeless repair kits aren’t all created equal. Some may simply suit your needs better than others.
In the most basic of tubeless repair kits, you'll find tubeless plugs and a plug tool (the stabby bit). Many also come in a neat pouch or case. But as we go up in complexity, and in theory, effectiveness, you'll also find a reamer (or file) that's often built into the plug tool, a knife to cut away excess plug and in some cases an air stopper.
This may go without saying, but the common style of plug is compatible with almost all repair kits on the market, so you’ll be free to pick and choose which plugs you buy according to their price, or your preference. Refill packs can be picked up for £5 and sometimes even less but different brands will give you more or less for your cash.
While inserted tubeless plugs can stay put for a good long time, this kind of repair shouldn't be seen as a permanent fix, rather than a get-me-home solution. The plugs can work their way out under the forces that general riding puts through a tyre. Once you get home, it's safest to resort to a more permanent fix but that's something for another article.
Before we move on, slugs, bacon strips, worms are all terms that refer to the actual sticky plug that seals the hole.
How do you use a tubeless repair kit?
Tubeless repair kits can look a bit intimidating but they're super simple to use. If you're unlucky to pick up a puncture that your sealant can't work its magic on, flip your bike, find the hole, remove any debris and clean the general area.
If your tool has a reamer, shove that into the hole with a pumping motion to rough up the edges of the puncture, then slip an adequately sized plug into the fork of the tool and pop it into the tyre (which may take some force) leaving a bit of the plug poking out and you should be good to go. If not, you'll have to shake the wheel about to get the sealant to fill any small gaps, then you'll be ready to get rolling again.
The easiest and cheapest option out there is a standalone kit. Brands such as Ruzer and Muc-Off offer tubeless repair kits that come in small tubes or cloth pockets but they can pack a mighty punch.
Then there’s something like the Stans DART, which uses a specially concocted kind of plug that reacts chemically with the sealant inside of the tyre and it is claimed to offer an even better seal. The DART plugs also have a plastic tip that’s designed to stop the plug from being pulled out.
Many standalone kits can be picked up for less than £15 and some for as little as £5, so these are a super accessible way into tubeless repair. They’re typically more ergonomic too.
||Another thing to carry with you
|Can be more ergonomic than other kits
Something that’s rather new is that tubeless repair kits are finding their way onto regular multitools. This is a great thing to see because if you’re organized enough you’ll be carrying a multitool with you everywhere. It also means that you no longer have to carry around a tubeless repair kit along with a multitool, keeping your pack or pockets nice and light.
A stand out example is the Topeak Tubi 18 that comes with most of what you’ll find on a normal multitool but it also gets a reamer, an insertion tool, a knife, an air stopper and a little case for those sticky plugs.
|If you always carry a multitool, you'll always carry a tubeless repair kit
||If you've already got a good multitool, it's hard to justify spending the money on another
|You won't need to carry extra tools
||Not as ergonomic as other options
Bar-end kits are my personal favourite. They carry everything you need to sort your puncture and because they sit inside of your handlebar, you’ll never forget one. They're also quick to whip out, saving you from any bag rummaging during those race situations where speed is key.
We liked the Muc-Off Stealth Tubeless Repair Kit as it comes with everything you need for a tubeless tyre repair including a knife and it fits almost any handlebar. It’s also really nicely made with CNCed casings for all of the tools and plugs.
|You'll never forget your kit
|Can add a touch of style to your bike
||Won't fit all handlebars
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