I’ve been a convert to tubeless tyres for over 5 years now. Originally a sceptic I now stress if I’m riding a bike that doesn’t have the security of being set up with tubeless wheels, tyres, valves and an effective sealant. There are always debates on social media about tubes V tubeless and at one time I was the guy saying “but tubes are so easy to change and there’s no hassle or mess setting them up” but, once you’ve had to change or repair an inner tube on a fat bike 3 times in one ride you soon see that the initial work that goes into tubeless is well worth the piece of mind of knowing you are not going to have to stop and change tubes, inevitably at the worst times, usually in torrential rain on a wheel covered in mud in sub zero temperatures.
So, fair enough I hear you say, on a fat bike with large volume tyres that take an age to reinflate or get seated on the rim properly I can see his point, but on a gravel bike? I can see what you are saying, but think of it this way, most gravel bikes are being used to explore places you’ve either never ridden before or seldom do and you’re mostly going a lot further away from home when you do it. That bridleway you spot as you wend your way down that back lane could be the passage to riding nirvana….or it could be that just around the corner the local farmer might have cut the hedge and a million thorns are waiting to rip into your tyres and make life a misery, so better not risk it hey? Well on a tubeless tyre you can ride that bridleway secure in the knowledge your tubeless tyres and sealant will shrug off those thorns and let you get on with exploring and not missing possibly the best riding you’ll ever do!
I recently changed tyres and found 5 thorns in the rear and two in the front tyre I knew nothing about, the sealant had just sealed around the hole and I’d not even noticed any pressure drop. So potentially that was 5 instances of having to stop and change a tube!
So, we’ve stablished that tubeless is a good idea, but what tyre sealant to use? I’ve used Orange seal, Muc-off, Stan’s, Joe’s no tubes and Bontrager to name but a few and i know what I like so it’s always with a little trepidation that i swap to a new brand. However, having used Squirt Lube for the past few years and found that to be simply the best chain lube I’ve tried so far I asked the guys at Squirt Products to send me some of their sealant to try out.
When you get the Squirt Seal it comes with a pot of Bead block particles, these help to seal bigger holes in the tyre that the “glitter” in many of the other sealants on the market contain. Squirt tested these in South Africa where they get considerably bigger thorns etc than we get in the UK so it should be spot on for every where!
Squirt Sealant differs slightly from other sealants as they recommend you pop off a small section of tyre from the rim to apply the granules rather than go via the valve stem as they might not go through without clogging. This is especially true if the valve is still damp with a previous sealant. I tried it and they are correct. You only need to pop a very small section of tyre off the rim though so reseating afterwards shouldn’t (and wasn’t) too much of a problem.
Once up to pressure I left the wheels 24 hours to see if they lost any air but they were fine so I fitted them to a bike and spent the next 4 WEEKS without any sign of a puncture. Was this because of the superior quality of the Squirt seal or had it silently got on with it’s job and saved my ride numerous times without me noticing (this is what tubeless set ups do)? I’d put the sealant into 650×2.1 tyres on the Fearless Warlock I’ve got in to test and I’ve ridden it on unknown trails, familar puncture black spots, down a lane where hedge cutting had strewn black thorn all over the tarmac, the frankly shockingly bad surfaced roads near here, to work and back road etc but even with the big surface area of the tyres to gather debris I still didn’t notice a pressure drop the entire time.
How do you effectively test a tubeless sealant when you don’t get a puncture? time for drastic measures!
See how Tested the effectiveness of Squirt Seal Tubeless Tyre Sealant with Beadblock
Squirt claim the sealant hs minimal to zero bioaccumulation in the environment and it’s also ammonia free so doesn’t stink or sting your eyes like other sealants on the market
So I’d definitely recommend trying tubeless on your gravel bike and for that extra piece of mind look at Squirt Sealant as your tubeless fluid, it survives multiple stabbings!
As with all my tests, this is a real world review. I’m not sponsored and I’m just an average rider like most of you reading this. companies sometimes send me things to test but i always let them know it will be an honest review good or bad