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I know what you’re thinking, “why in the world would someone review a patch kit?” The fact of the matter is that, while there are more and more tubeless tires on the market every day, it seems that the idea of repairing a tubeless tire is still fairly foreign to most. I found myself happily riding tubeless tires until a catastrophic flat occurred (in my case landing directly on a jagged rock off of a jump), and with no way to properly restore the tires tubeless ability, it would be thrown away or gifted to someone riding tubes.
I got to the point that I was fed up with not having a solid way to repair my tubeless tires, so I set out to find a tubeless repair kit that actually worked. After using a few “plug” style kits without consistent success, I tried the Hutchinson Rep’air kit.
How did it work?
Find out after the break!
My first thought upon opening the Rep’air kit, was “super glue? This must be a joke.” Inside the box you will simply find 4 tubeless patches, and 1 tube of glue, no more, no less, although with it retailing at $15.99 the possibility of saving up to 4 tires you can’t expect much more. It looked like tube-type patches and a tube of Hutchinson branded super glue, not exactly what I was expecting. However, after doing some research it turns out that Hutchinson claims that it is a special type of super glue that remains flexible and won’t dry out the rubber. This makes sense, as I have tried to repair tires with super glue before and it basically made the rubber brittle and didn’t really work. So I forged ahead, and tried to fix two different tires, each with large gashes through the casing.
Hutchinson gives you two courses of action when determining how to go about fixing your tire, the trail-side emergency tire-on method, and the more permanent tireoff method. The cool thing about the tire-on method, is that it can be done obviously without taking off your tire meaning that you don’t have to unseat the bead. This of course means that once the tire is fixed a hand pump will bring it up to pressure, because the bead is already seated. Pretty neat huh?
To use the tire-on method, simply clean out the cut as best as you can and then squeeze the tire so that it opens up the cut. Once the cut is open and exposed, apply a good amount of glue to the inside and outside of the cut, let go, and allow to dry. Then inflate your tire and you’re off. While I used this method once and had success, although I would still only use this as an emergency way to get home and then I would remove the tire and install a patch.
To start the permanent, tire-off patch method, remove the tire and this time clean both the inside and outside area of the cut as well as possible. I chose to use Finishline Speed Clean to remove the dried up Stan’s from the inside of the tire and in the cut itself, but you can use whatever works – just make sure it is as clean as possible.
Applying glue to the inside of the tire in an area slightly bigger than the patch.
Once the tire is clean, start by applying glue from the outside of the tire while squeezing the tire (as shown above earlier). Apply plenty of glue, and then switch to the inside of the tire and continue to apply glue. You want to be sure that the glue on the inside of the tire mixes with the glue in the cut so that once it dries, it pulls everything together. Apply a spot of glue on the inside of the tire slightly larger than the surface area of the patch (shown directly above).
Once the glue is in place, immediately peel the foil off of the patch, and apply and hold until it’s fixed. This is the most frustrating part of the repair as it’s fairly messy, and it takes awhile for the patch to affix to the tire. I would recommend a pair of Nitrile gloves such as Park Tool’s mechanic gloves, so that your hands won’t be covered in glue, trust me, it will happen. Also, I find that you will want to pull of the plastic protective film on the patch as soon as possible, so that it doesn’t get glued to the tire. Make sure all the edges of the patch are glued down, and once the glue is dry you are ready to ride!
So far I have patched two tubeless tires with the Hutchinson kit, one was a Kenda UST and the other was a Schwalbe tubeless ready tire. After the repair I have had zero issues, and the tires performed like there was never an issue. The UST tire even held air without sealant, while obviously the tubeless ready tire with sealant didn’t leak at all as well. Ride quality didn’t suffer either, as it was impossible to tell a tire had been repaired while riding.
What I really like about the Hutchinson kit is that once the patch is installed, it is strong enough to keep the tire from bulging out at the cut. Most of the plug style kits will still allow the tire casing to bulge slightly, although this is probably more cosmetic than functional. The largest cut I repaired was just over a centimeter, although you could probably fix up to a 15mm tear with the round patches.
Bottom line, this is the best option I have found to repair a tubeless tire, regardless of type. Rep’air offers a one of the few consistent methods of reliably patching a tire. While I used the MTB kit, Hutchinson now offers a road tubeless repair kit as well, which means even fewer reasons not to try road tubeless. Hopefully you never have to use it, but it’s nice to know it’s there.
I haven’t had a tubeless flat that I haven’t been able to fix with the Rep’air kit yet, and it’s saved me some serious $$ on tires, which I why I am awarding it 5 thumbs up.
Zach Overholt is the Editor in Chief of Bikerumor. He has been writing about what’s new in the bicycle world for 12+ years. Prior to that, Zach spent many years in the back of a bicycle shop building and repairing nearly every type of bike, while figuring out how to (occasionally) ride them.
Based in Ohio, Zach is now slowly introducing a new generation to cycling and still trying to figure out how to fit the most rides into a busy schedule as a new dad.
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