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photo: Patrick Goral

Since the advent of tubeless tire technology, latex based sealants have been the most common option. While they are great at sealing punctures, they tend to dry up over time which requires periodic cleaning and re-filling. Recently, there have been several new options popping up making claims that their sealant will never dry. The current liquid, latex-based standards are fantastic, but if the new sealants require less maintenance, it could be a game changer. I decided that I wanted to test out some of the new competition against the trusty standards to see how they hold up over time.

In this test, we were sent shop size samples from four different sealant companies. I used a different sealant in four different tires, each ridden between 50 to 100 miles per week. The test was done over a period of four months to see how well each sealed punctures, but also to see how they hold up to their marketing claims. I set up each tire using the instructions provided by the manufacturer. I also unseated each tire once a month to check sealant levels. In the end, I never faced any massive punctures or cuts, but each tire did see many small punctures during the test.

Stan’s No Tubes Sealant

photo: Patrick Goral

Stan’s No Tubes has been the longtime standard for tubeless sealants. Back in 2001, Stan’s brought tubeless technology to the cycling market for the first time. Using a liquid, latex-based formula, Stan’s does a tremendous job of sealing punctures quickly. The only downside is that over time it dries up, which requires cleaning and re-filling. Most mountain bikers overlook this minor chore because of how dependable Stan’s is.

I used Stan’s Sealant in a 29 x 2.2 Maxxis Ikon tire. To keep the test as accurate as possible, I installed the recommended 3 oz, rather than just eyeballing it. Once the tire was seated, I heard air escaping from a few spots in the sidewall. I spun the wheel a few times to allow the sealant to coat the whole tire, and the sound stopped.

After my first month of riding, Stan’s held up exactly as it always has. I had a few small punctures that had been filled, and the tire was reliably holding air day in and day out. When I popped the bead, I measured 2.2 ounces of liquid still in the tire. The rest of the sealant had thoroughly coated the inside of the tire, and there were no signs of “Stanimals” yet. I actually found the exact same results when I popped the bead after two months as well.

The biggest surprise I ran into was after 3 months. When I popped the bead, I noticed that there was only about one ounce of liquid remaining and the inside of the tire had become even more coated than before. The tire was still holding air with no problem, and I hadn’t had any issues with punctures, even when riding sketchy urban trails riddled with broken glass.

After 4 months, there was still around one ounce of Stan’s Sealant left in the tire. photo: Patrick Goral

Once I hit the four month mark, I was very eager to see what was left inside the tire. After removing the tire completely, I found that there was still about one ounce of liquid sealant in the tire. In the four months of regular riding, there had been a few small punctures, but never any large gashes or cuts for the sealant to deal with. That being said, I have used Stan’s for years, and have seen it close up many impressive cuts. The sealant did its job, and was reliable for the whole test.

Peaty’s Tubeless Sealant

Peaty’s Sealant has my favorite packaging in the test! photo: Patrick Goral

Peaty’s Tubeless Sealant is a new product from pro downhiller Steve Peat. This non-toxic, biodegradable sealant is non-latex based, and claims to never dry out or ball up. The sealant has blue “nano-platelets” that are designed to coagulate and fill punctures. With a downhill pedigree, Peaty’s is designed to hold up to the toughest punctures.

I installed this sealant in a 29 x 2.2 Maxxis Ikon as well. Peaty’s recommends about 3.5 oz for a 29er. The first thing I noticed when installing the sealant was the viscosity. It looks and feels a lot like Elmer’s glue. Once I got the tire seated I noticed that some of the “nano-platelets” had gotten on the rim, and combined with the sealant were fairly difficult to clean off. There were a few hissing spots in the sidewall, but they quickly sealed up upon spinning the wheel.

Dried up mess on one of my cyclocross wheels. photo: Patrick Goral

After less than a week of riding, I noticed the tire had lost a significant amount of air. I attached my gauge and it read 8 PSI. I had never experienced a tubeless tire lose that much pressure in only a few days. I checked the tape and valve and everything looked ok. I re-inflated the tire to 30 PSI to see if the added pressure would help keep everything sealed. The next morning the tire was back down below 10 PSI. I also noticed significant “weeping”of sealant on the sidewalls.

The sealant coated the inside of the tire like glue, but had no liquid remaining. photo: Patrick Goral

For the remainder of the test, I constantly had to reinflate the tire to keep it at pressure. When I popped the bead after the first month, I noticed that there was no liquid sealant at all. It wasn’t dried up in the same way that latex-based sealants do, It covered the inside of the tire evenly, but was dry and plastic feeling.

After my experience with the sealant, I suspect that it might just be Elmer’s glue with blue glitter added. I never had a chance to get any punctures because after using the recommended amount, it was entirely dry after one month.  It was no longer holding air long enough for me to trust it out on the trail.

Orange Seal Endurance Tubeless Sealant

photo: Patrick Goral

Orange Seal is another latex-based tubeless tire sealant that many people swear by. With a claimed life of 60-120 days, the new Endurance sealant is designed to hold up longer than the original. The Endurance sealant sacrifices some of the sealing power of original Orange Seal, in exchange for longer times between refilling. Orange Seal requires the same maintenance as Stan’s, but is also known for having the same reliability.

I used Orange Seal in a Maxxis Rekon 27.5×2.8″ tire. Being a plus tire, I had to use a bit more sealant than usual. Per their suggestion, I installed 4 ounces of sealant and setup was a breeze. I had no hissing from the sidewalls, and the tire held air without any spinning. Orange Seal claims that their endurance sealant will last more than twice as long as their regular sealant, but will not seal punctures quite as well.

After one month of riding I measured 3 ounces of sealant in the tire. The inside of the tire had been coated in sealant, and was holding air extremely well. There were several times where I would go for more than a week before pumping the tire at all. When inspecting the tire, I noticed several punctures that had been sealed, that I hadn’t even noticed while riding.

After two months of regular riding, I popped the bead and found about 2 ounces of sealant inside. I also noticed that compared to the other sealants, I had barely been losing any air each week. I was fairly lucky, and didn’t have any serious punctures during the first few months of testing. At this point, Orange Seal seemed to be an even match for Stan’s when it comes to reliability. Even after three months, I measured 2 ounces of sealant in the tire.

After four months, Orange Seal is just starting to show signs of drying. photo: Patrick Goral

At the four month mark, I unseated the tire and found about half an ounce of sealant remaining. In my test I had no issues with Orange Seal whatsoever. It had successfully sealed many small punctures, and had kept the tires at pressure without issue.

Finish Line Tubeless Tire Sealant

photo: Patrick Goral

Longtime chain lube brand Finish Line recently announced their ambitious new sealant. Finish Line claims that their sealant will never dry and lasts the life of the tire. In partnership with Dupont, they developed FiberLink™, a kevlar-based fiber designed to fill the most stubborn of punctures. The sealant is non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and cleans up easily with water.

I used a Maxxis Ikon 27.5×2.8 for the Finish Line sealant. I installed the recommended 4 ounces, and seated the bead. The first thing I noticed when working with this sealant was how watery it felt. The consistency makes it very easy to install through a valve. I didn’t notice any hissing coming from the tire, but I did experience a condensation-like effect on the sidewalls.

The day after setting up my tire using the Finish Line sealant, it had lost nearly all pressure. I went through the usual troubleshooting steps, and found no issues with my setup. I re-inflated the tire, and left it alone for a few hours. Upon returning, it had lost most of its pressure again. I thought that riding it would allow the sealant to get more evenly distributed. After riding for an hour, I had to inflate my tire again. I popped the bead when I got home and noticed that the sealant had not coated the tire at all. It was still liquid, but unless I had a tire that was not porous at all, it would continue to leak air.

After one month, Finish Line’s sealant had turned into a blue oily mess. photo: Patrick Goral

After one month, I gave up on the Finish Line sealant. Not only was my tire going flat overnight, but once I popped the bead I noticed that it didn’t coat the tire at all. It had become a strange blue oily film on the inside of my tire. Even though there was plenty of sealant in my tire, it still would not hold air for longer than 24 hours.

Conclusion

After my four-month test, my results were pretty close to what I expected. Stan’s and Orange Seal won out by a massive margin. They are the classics, because they work consistently. The liquid latex sealants do a great job of sealing punctures, but also handling porosity in different tires.

The new school of sealants that “never dry” lack the ability to seal small imperfections in the tire, and thus never quite get the job done. Both Finish Line and Peaty’s came onto the market with very strong claims of being far superior to the current standard, and both failed to stand up to the basic task of even holding air.

After the four months were up; I pulled all of my tires, cleaned them, and refilled them. I put Stan’s in one set of tires, and Orange Seal in the other. Both are still the gold standard, and I will gladly use them each on any bike I ride.

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# Comments

  • Jeff Barber

    Sounds like Peaty’s sealant wasn’t a winner, but hey, he’s joining the MTB Hall of Fame this year so that’s good news!

    I really wanted these new-style sealants to work because I get tired of having to add sealant, but I guess I’ll be sticking to the tried-and-true.

  • mongwolf

    Wow, sounds like surprisingly terrible performances out of the Peaty’s and Finish Line. Crazy. If your experience is similar to others, I can’t understand how anyone would have put their company name on such products. About a year ago, Jeff put up an article about The Flat Stopper long lasting sealant. No one seem to have any experience with it. I wonder if anyone does now? It sure would be nice to find sealant that would work effectively and last the lifetime of a tire.

    Old reliable Stans saved me over Labor Day weekend. Unknowingly, I got a puncture in between a couple of lugs, and Stans filled it, creating a LARGE patch on the tread (more than an inch wide). I pealed the patch off at end the first day, and Stans immediately went to work and created another smaller patch. The patch held for the weekend, and then once home I decided I should put a new tire on. Hard to beat zero riding time loss on the trail.

  • Plusbike Nerd

    I tried Finish Line and it just didn’t work. The tires didn’t hold air well and had to be pumped up before every ride. When punctures occured they would not seal up. When I switched back to Stan’s, the tires held air fine and the punctures sealed. The word “sealant” shouldn’t be on their label. Finish Line is just ripping off anyone who buys their product. I’m sure they did some testing and knew that it didn’t work. This product should be pulled from store shelves. Finish Line has shown us their lack of integrity and I will not be buying any Finish Line products from now on.

  • PHRANQUY

    Interesting results as I’ve had great luck with the Finish Line sealant. This is in a Maxxis Ardent Race 29×2.35, and I’ve definitely had a few punctures along the way. Also haven’t had any major leak-down of pressure overnight. In fact, I checked on my bike the other night and it was only down to 20 psi after sitting the last 2 months from the 27 psi I left it at the end of June.

  • Silentfoe

    Great comparison test. Now do another one with the other players.

    • Patrick Goral

      What other players do you want to see?

  • abegold

    No review of the new Slime Sealant? Bought it in April. Live and ride the tough, pointy Sonoran Desert. No leaks, no problems after 5 months.

    • Patrick Goral

      I’ve used it in the past. It was super messy and caused the tire to stick together when trying to remove it. I was pretty unimpressed.

    • stevefroth

      Slime has several versions of their sealant and have made some improvements/added new versions, so it gets confusing. I’ve had good luck with what I think is their latest. It’s labeled “Premium” tubeless tire sealant, and it’s the trademark green slime color. I’ve used it in tubeless road and mtn bike tires with success. that said, I’ve had decent success with most other sealants, including Orange Seal and Stan’s. Since I’ve gone tubeless I’ve really only had one disappointment, which was when Effetto Cafelatex just did nothing to cure a relatively small sidewall tear on a gravel tire. The stuff just poured out like milk.

    • Jeff Barber

      Sidewall tears are tough.

  • CaboJennings

    I had the same experience with Finish Line also after a recommendation from shop. The tire would not hold air at all and stays very liquidy. Waste of money. We MTBers like to try new things, but in this one stick with Stan and you can’t go wrong.

  • bsnake888

    Finish Line doesn’t last either. I had one dry tire and about an ounce in the other since May, and I have to add air about once per week with Specialized Grid tires. I really wanted it to work because I always forget to check / refresh sealant every few months. It sealed a few punctures and two pinch flats but I had to use bacon strips

  • rmap01

    Appreciate the article Patrick. I use Stan’s or Orange and my experiences have been very similar. Always looking to hear how other sealants compare. As far as other brands Jeff did an article on the Flat Stopper last year which claims it lasts one year. That would be good to test for the next go around.

    • Patrick Goral

      I’m super interested in Flat Stopper and Joe’s No Flats

  • Gary S

    I appreciate the effort, but these tests are apples to oranges. You used different wheels and tires for each test. You clearly had issues with the bead sealing on some if not all the tests where the tire lost pressure quickly, and that isn’t usually the fault of the sealant. Sorry, I just wasn’t able to glean much usable information from these reviews.

    • Patrick Goral

      Unfortunately I didn’t have four of the same wheel and tire, but I did use all Maxxis tires with the same casing. I never had any issues with the bead setting on any of them, the issue I found with the non latex sealants were their inability to seal any sidewall porosity. I didn’t include the fact that I also tried them in several of my other bikes. Whether it was a cyclocross, gravel, etc tire, they didn’t seal any of them. Once I replaced the sealants with Stan’s or Orange Seal, all of my problems went away.

    • Jeff Barber

      Correct me if I’m wrong Patrick, but I believe the Stan’s and Peaty’s were used with the same wheel/tire combo, while the Finish Line and Orange Seal were placed in a different wheel/tire pair. So Stan’s and Peaty’s are apples-to-apples, and Orange Seal and Finish Line are oranges-to-oranges. 🙂

      I agree that a test like this can always be improved, but the comments seem to back up Patrick’s Finish Line results, and I don’t think there’s any dispute about the performance of this batch of Peaty’s either.

    • Gary S

      Patrick, I thought you mentioned air hissing from the sidewalls, which lead me to think that it was the bead, as I’ve never had air hissing from weeping sidewalls. Any air I’ve lost from that has been pretty minimal. My point is that every tire is different, even from the same manufacturer and same casing. Your sample size is so small that any issues could easily be explained by having a dud tire, and a random person doing the same kind of test could haven’t very different results.

      Not saying that the Finish Line or Peaty’s are any good, but I’ve seen a lot of tires weep with both Stan’s and Orange Seal that still held air reasonably well.

      Also, I really don’t understand sidewall porosity, or any porosity really. I get that they are thinner than car tires, but I used to run true UST which didn’t require constant filling and needed no sealant. I literally went months without having to add air. With almost the same weight (after 3-4oz of sealant per tire), it seems like we lost something by going to weaker, leaky tires that require sealant and topping off between rides. The only downside to UST was difficulty mounting them, which I guess could be an issue if you’re constantly wanting to swap tires.

    • Guyon Bíke

      @Gary S – Patrick is right, the rubber commonly used in tires is indeed porous, so air leaking through the sidewall upon first installing a tire is not abnormal by any means. There are many differences between true UST tires and Tubeless Ready tires, but the main one is that you MUST use a liquid sealant for them to hold air. A true UST tire has a layer of butyl (or similar) rubber inside the casing which makes the tire airtight. You CAN add sealant to a UST tire to seal punctures but it’s not necessary to make the tire airtight initially. Tubeless Ready tires, on the other hand, don’t have that layer and therefore need the sealant for two purposes: 1) to make the tire hold air, and 2) to seal punctures.

      Some brands are more porous than others (ahem, Schwalbe) and you’re right that even the same spec tire from the same manufacturer can vary in how well they seal. All that to say, no test is perfect, but Patrick’s experiences are realistic and reflect my own experiences as well as feedback from other riders.

  • Plusbike Nerd

    If you want to see more bad reviews of Finish Line go to BikeRumor.com. They just reviewed Finish Line and had the same terrible experience. In the following comments, many riders also told of their bad experiences with Finish Line. Don’t waste your time and money on Finish Line.

    • ironhead700

      I have been using FinishLine sealant for about the past 9 months on both 29×3 tires and 26×3.8 tires. (both sets on carbon fibre rims 50 mm & 80mm) The sealant has been fine on my setup – no air loss. What I have noticed is that it takes the FinishLine sealant a lot longer to seal punctures compared to Stan’s or OrangeSeal – but it does eventually seal. (not good if you ride trails that are prone to tire punctures. NOT the case with the trails I ride) I like the fact that this sealant doesn’t dry out and need replacement. I recently broke a spoke on the rear wheel with the 26×3.8 tire. When the tire was removed for the repair the FinishLine sealant was still oozy and had completely coated the inside of the tire.

  • Entrenador

    With equally porous tires, does it make sense that the thinner, less viscous sealants would be less likely to seal the sidewalls – since the thinner stuff flows through the holes faster (assuming equal psi)?

    Additionally, I’d expect to see some correlating success rates between higher viscosity sealants and higher tire pressures; perhaps the Finish Line works best (or only?) if the ridden pressure is <15psi, while Stan's works well up to 30psi because it's thicker, passing through punctures relatively slowly, and seals (and dries) faster. Ironhead700's successes with FinishLine supports this, no? Though with such big tires, perhaps he'd be nearly as successful without any sealant sealant (big tires, low psi and all). I mounted my Rekon+ with tape but without sealant while first building my bike, and the tire held most of it's air over a 24hr period (on the stand only). Perhaps the sealant has less work to do in some cases.

  • shanemor

    You can spend the money on these sealers. Or for half the cost you can use straight liquid latex. Yes, it does eventually dry up, but it’s easy to remove once it does. That being said, even when it has dried, I’ve had punctures and they sealed instantly. I’ve been using it for 5 years without any problems. A pint bottle of liquid latex will only run you about $8 for a pint which is way cheaper over the long haul. Just my
    2 cents.

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