Bicycle Rim Tape Failure

Go check your rim tapes and throw out those nasty old cloth dinosaurs before they detonate your tubes and throw you sky high .......

In Brisbane we've had a couple of wet summers. In dry weather cloth rim tapes have never been a problem when riding in Birsbane. In the summer of 2010 - 2011 we had the Brisbane floods. Roads around the popular "river" loop were temporarily covered by the foul stinking mud that also invaded homes. Anyone who helped a mate or was directly affected, will never forget the smell of the Brisbane river mud at flood time. Cyclists eager to get back onto Brisbane's favourite ride encountered two problems once the roads were opened up for daily use. First there were crashes, it took months for the slippery mud to wash out of the crevices in the bitumen surface. When wet, corners might as well have been coated in oil. A group of us witnessed a crash victim riding home moments after he'd lost it at low speed, helmet splintered and hanging lop sided from his bleeding head, a seasoned campaigner he said "she'll be right mate" and kept on his way.

Cloth rim tapes were made redundant in wet humid conditions, with the putrid mud seeping into the cloth causing them to rot and sag in only a few days. No matter how many times your bike was washed the mud was there day in day out, pure drudgery. The problem, cloth rim tapes rot, the first sign is slow leaks, then the old favourite, you go to get your bike out of the shed for an early morning ride and there's a flat tire, text your mates, I'll be five minutes late just fixing another puncture. The rim tapes just sag into the rim spoke hole, allowing the bulge in the tube to rub against the textured cloth, wearing the tube down with every revolution of the wheel, then the tube just explodes. 

About twelve weeks ago I had my bike in for a service had new cloth rim tapes fitted, in normal dry conditions they would have been fine. The mistake - in that short period of time they failed, almost immediately I started to get those slow leak punctures. This morning there was a flat tire waiting, I changed the tube quickly in the dark and was in a rush to meet the Saturday bunch ride. I hadn't noticed the hole in the rim tape right through a rim spoke hole. Fifteen k's later the tube exploded simulating a giant fish tail wave effect with the rear wheel stepping out along the road.

If it's been constantly wet where you live and you've had a run of unexplained punctures, go check your rim tapes and throw out those nasty old cloth dinosaurs before they detonate your tubes and blow you sky high. Not to mention the slow burning hole in your wallet. Don't get me wrong cloth tapes have their place, just in these extreme conditions they simply rotted away from the putrid Brisbane River, flood mud that had seeped in.

A pair of Bike Ribbon "High Pressure Resistent " rim tapes solved the problem.  Featuring a reinforced valve hole and Polyesther Fabric together with a PVC film. This new generation of durable rim tapes are heat resistant under braking. Best of all they won't rot and can cope with high pressures. Will definitely not sag into rim spoke holes and allow your tube to explode, a bonus safety feature built into an item that can easily be overlooked.

Marcel's solution - 'Velo Plugs' by Velocity are the go for a totally bomb proof solution. Marcel added - Better still, tubeless rims and tyres :-) For all you weight weenies Velo Plugs weigh in at 5 grams for 32 plugs whereas a rim tape will weigh approximately 20 grams.

Claimed benefits of Velo Plugs:

  • Reduce inertia and revolving mass - maximising rider output, not lost in hauling heavier loads up to speed, yes it all adds up.
  • Maximise the benefits of light tyres.
  • Rated to withstand pressure of 400 psi.
  • Contoured to fit all rim arcs.
  • This one's invaluable - vastly reduce the effort in changing tires.
  • No more blowouts, tyres will fail before Velo Plugs.
  • Veloplugs are reusable.
  • No more dimpled rim tapes or blow outs.
  • Changing spokes is a breeze, snap out the Velo Plug - replace the spoke and snap the Velo Plug back in place.
 Bike Ribbon rim tape

Bike Ribbon rim tape

 Blown out bike tubes after pentrating the rim bed as a result of sagging cloth rim tapes

Blown out bike tubes after pentrating the rim bed as a result of sagging cloth rim tapes

 Sagging cloth rim tape

Sagging cloth rim tape

 Cloth rim tapes sag and rot in the extreme putrid muddy streets of Brisbane after the 2011 floods

Cloth rim tapes sag and rot in the extreme putrid muddy streets of Brisbane after the 2011 floods

 View of the underside of a sagging cloth rim tape which will rot in Brisbane's rancid flood mud and cause your tubes to detonate.

View of the underside of a sagging cloth rim tape which will rot in Brisbane's rancid flood mud and cause your tubes to detonate.

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