Tubeless tape.

6 07 2015

Forgive me for diving straight back into minutiae.

How often have you been frustrated trying to set up mtb tyres tubeless? Admittedly, recent improvements in tyre and rim interfaces have made a tremendous difference: nowadays, it is not an act of black magic to ditch your tube and have a reliable, burp free system.

One thing I have messed around with over the years has been tape. This is as important as good tyre beads, imporous sidewalls and a good bead shelf design. The usual tubeless manufacturers and indeed many rim manufacturers make rim tape of varying quality and utility.

I don’t like the Stan’s style tapes, generally. Stan’s is plasticy feeling with little stretch and I often find the adhesiveness lacking. For the most part, I have used Gorilla tape. I should qualify that, because they now make a clear ‘repair’ tape as well. I use the woven, black, duct-tape-type stuff.

Mostly, this is due to having early success with the provided Gorilla tape for Enve rims. I use Continental Revo sealant exclusively primarily due to a suspicion that ammonia based sealants are likely to be problematic, eventually, for aluminium nipples. It seems many mechanics complain of Gorilla tape failing in short order, I think likely due to the sealant type. Recently, I have found wheels ‘drying out’ as the sealant presumably cures over time, as the solvent is lost due to the porous, gorilla tape. Certainly the adhesive layers of the Gorilla tape seem to end up sponge-like and are a world of pain to remove cleanly.

The deep internal channels on some of the carbon rims I have used, or the singlewall HED rims with exposed nipple heads, have proven a challenge for non-elastic tape.

After doing a bit of reading about tapes, it turns out that Stan’s and similar tapes are simply packing tapes, available from the likes of 3M. There are various different types of tape and generally 3 types of adhesive: acrylic based, synthetic rubber and rubber.

The surface layer can be one of several, common materials (polyester, polyropylene, vinyl etc) with various conformation properties and elongation. Then there are unusual tapes such as Tyvek tape. It seems acrylic is typically a stronger adhesive.

If you poke around, you can find alternatives to branded tape, such as Tesa 4288 and 4289, which are incredibly similar to Stan’s. These are polyproylene with a rubber adhesive, the difference is how thick they are.

3m 8898 is used in some cases. It is also polypropylene with a synthetic rubber resin adhesive. Some report that it lacks adhesiveness. Clear gorilla tape is extremely sticky, as is Tyvek tape and both have been used to good effect. My concern is getting it off again if needed.

3m 471 is mentioned on some forums: it is vinyl, conformable, elastic but thin. It uses a rubber adhesive.

This made me look at other vinyl tape. I felt 471 would be a good choice but it is very expensive (£28 a roll, though admittedly this is 33m long).

In the end, I decided to purchase some 3M 764(1) which is the more basic vinyl tape with a rubber adhesive. Because I am not using an ammonia based sealant I’m guessing it will stay stuck. I have used it for the HED rims, where it is currently set up with tubes and 2 layers seems to be resisting nipple ‘poke through’. When it comes time to go tubeless, I will peel back one of the layers. It is very easy to work with and the greater elasticity is a boon. Oddly, when I deflated the tubes to inspect the tape, the tyres sucked in as if in a vacuum. I have never experienced this previously and I take it as a good sign that the tape is airtight. I have also just set up a Nextie 50mm wide 650b rim with a WTB Trailblazer, once I picked and cleaned all the Gorilla residue off. It is holding air without sealant currently.

Of course, this would not be quite as complete a preliminary report without some discussion of weight. I know, I know, it’s not much relatively, mud weighs more etc etc, but if I can save 50g at the edge of the wheel, for the price of some tape, that is nothing but a good thing.

The Nextie wheel weighed 1333g complete, as was, with Gorilla tape. Tapeless, it weighed 1278g and with the single layer of 764, it weighs 1295g. Not a huge saving, but the other benefits are likely to make it worthwhile

While we are on about tapes, 3m 8671 seems to be the ‘copter tape of choice. It is available in bike friendly widths and lengths. It is acrylic adhesive, polyurethane tape, 0.36mm thick, puncture and abrasion resistant. Good stuff.

Resources:tesa 4289Tesa.
Viking Tapes.
3M 764 vinyl tape characteristics.
Properties of 3M 741.
Properties of 3M 764.
Exploring adhesives.
MTBR tubeless tape thread.



3 responses

14 12 2015
Bontrager Chupacabra. | drj0nswanderings

[…] I apply a new layer of 3M 764 vinyl tape. I spent a bit of time recently researching tape characteristics and this stuff is stretchy, sticky and it comes off cleanly should this be required. It is also […]

15 01 2016

Very good blog

17 01 2016

thanks, manu!

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