With a number of commercially-available tire sealant products on the market and a whole host of “home brew” solutions on the internet, it can be a daunting task to find what works and what doesn’t when it comes to tubeless tires. One such home brew solution gained such a cult following that the creators decided to take it commercial as Orange Seal.
Many “tubeless ready” or “TCS” rims can be converted to tubeless by simply adding special rim tape that covers and seals the spoke holes while building up the bead ridge just enough for a tire bead to interface with it. Orange Seal has, well, orange tape that comes in several widths to accommodate different wheel styles.
I had previously used Stan’s yellow tape, and I like Orange Seal’s a lot better. It has a little bit of stretch to it, which makes it super easy to align in the bed of the rim, and it sticks with no wrinkles. Stan’s tape is more like packing tape and I have had to be really careful with it to avoid wrinkles when applying it.
The valves were my least favorite part of this kit. When I first explored tubeless, I tried a ghetto method that involved cutting valves out of an old tube. These valves look exactly like that, but with o-rings added for an airtight seal. Don’t get me wrong, they worked ok once I tightened them down with pliers and purchased a slip chuck for my Lezyne floor pump. (The stock screw-on chuck would screw the valve back into the wheel) These valves could easily be made yourself from old tubes and o-rings purchased at the hardware store, and I have also used several other commercially-available valves that I liked better. If you’re buying the components separately, I would skip the valves. If you’re buying the complete kit, give them a go, but just know they are a bit finicky. On the bright side, they do include removable cores and the little tool to remove them, which is a nice touch.
The sealant is definitely the star of the Orange Seal show. It is a latex-based solution with a solvent to keep it in liquid form until it is needed to seal a puncture. Orange also mentions that it includes “nanites” for increased clotting action when a puncture occurs. I have observed that these “nanites” are in fact.. glitter. 😀 The addition of a material like glitter essentially gives the sealant something to bond to when sealing a puncture, and so far it has worked for sealing the beads, valves, and several goathead punctures. I have (fortunately) not had a 1/4″ hole in my tire yet, but Orange Seal claims that is the max it can handle. I’m not sure I want to test this one out… but Orange Seal already has. Check out this video:
As I already alluded to, the installation of the Orange Seal kit is fairly straightforward. Start by making sure your wheel is thoroughly clean and dry, and then mount the bare wheel on a bike that is either in a work stand or flipped upside down. This will allow the wheel to spin freely and stay straight as you work your way around it with the tape.
The included instructions say to use one layer of tape, but John at Orange Seal told me to use two layers on the Loaded Precision wheels I was converting. It wouldn’t hurt to call or email them with your wheel specifics before you start, just to make sure. There is plenty of tape included on the roll for multiple layers.
With the tape in place, work your way back around to push all the air bubbles into the spoke holes, and make sure the edges are nicely adhered. Use an awl or small knife to puncture it at the valve hole, and insert the included valve with one o-ring inside and the other outside. Hold the rubber part of the valve securely with your thumb and screw down the standard lockring. I needed to use a pair of pliers to gently, but firmly, get it tight enough to not work loose later and/or have issues when using a pump. I’m not sure if this is the recommended procedure, but it worked for me.
At this point you are ready to mount up a tire, add some sealant, and inflate it! Orange recommends 4 fluid ounces of sealant for a 29er tire, but I used 100ml (about 3 1/2 fluid ounces) per tire with no issues in a pair of 2.25in Michelin Wild Race’rs that have a really large volume. The sealant injector I use happens to be marked in ml and holds 50ml at a time, and the Orange Seal bottle has no measurement markings on it. Two fills of the injector per tire is easy to remember, so I just went with that.
The Final Verdict
Here’s a little story. Recently I wanted to shift around my wheel/tire setup specifically for a Kenosha Pass to Georgia Pass ride. In the process, I dismounted a tire with Stan’s, one with Caffelatex, and another with Orange Seal. The Stan’s had been in the tire for about a month, and was completely dried out. The Caffelatex had been in for about three weeks and had dried into a thin latex skin around the entire inner surface of the tire. The Orange Seal was installed into its tire a little over two months prior, and it was still in liquid form and ready for sealing duties. I live and ride in a high elevation, semi-arid climate, so sealant drying out is a big issue here. All else aside, this one thing makes me an Orange Seal fan for life, and in fact I went to the LBS and picked up a refill bottle this past weekend.
The complete Orange Seal kit is available at their online store for $49.99 + shipping and includes everything needed to go tubeless. Even though I was underwhelmed by the included valves, the kit does work as advertised, and I have no problem recommending it for your tubeless ready or TCS wheel conversion needs. If you have UST wheels or have already converted, you can order just the sealant in an 8oz refill bottle for a cool $12.99, which is the same price I paid at my LBS.
A big thanks to Orange Seal for sending over the MTB tubeless conversion kit for review!