The dark art of tubeless mountain bike setup can be made a whole lot clearer by using a good sealant, keeping it fresh, and carrying a tubeless repair kit that you know how to use and can access easily. Effetto Mariposa have been in the tubeless game for quite some time, with their Caffélatex sealant, tubeless tape, sealant applicators and more.

What sets Caffélatex apart is a foaming quality. So instead of just sloshing around on the outside of your wheel as you ride, it foams up and spreads more evenly, including towards the sidewalls. I used Caffélatex way back in 2011 and I never actually had a ride ending puncture with it. I did like the tubeless tape they made, but I didn't reach for the sealant again. I was travelling a lot that year and mostly used what I could source easily.

Fast forward to 2020, and my experience was a bit similar, although I was equipped with the Caffélatex and Effetto's Tappabuco plug kit. The plug kit is your fairly generic repair plug/bacon strip design, with a fork prong to push it into the hole. The plug can sit inside the end of your handlebar or inside your crank, as shown. Plug kits of any type work best when used immediately, so being able to access yours quickly is essential. Of all the tools to have mounted in places like handlebars or steerers, these make the most sense as a plug kit needs to be used as fast as possible.

Effetto recommend 60mL of sealant inside a mountain bike tyre – but that is for a 2.2” tyre and I put 80mL into the Maxxis Minion 2.4” and 2.5” tyres I loaded up. This is still less than many competitors would suggest, but Effetto claim that the foaming action means the sealant can spread more readily. The synthetic sealant evaporates quickly when exposed to rushing air out of a hole, and the polymers are tiny and pile up quickly. It's claimed that the sealant will close a 5mm hole.

I didn't tear a Minion during testing, so I took a Park Tool 3mm spike and stabbed the tyre on a slight angle near a transition knob. I had the wheel spinning beforehand to replicate riding, and so the sealant would foam up. It sealed within 12 seconds with a tiny bit of seepage. Doing the same on the sidewall wasn't as fast, but it still did seal.

Now, what about the Tappabuco plug? Well the applicator is big, this one is for 3.5mm holes, while the smaller one for 1.5mm holes is likely best suited to road tubeless or a gravel bike tubeless tyre. That leaves you making a decision on when to use it. On my workshop test, trying to push one of the strips into a hole made with my spikey Park Tool made things worse! Now if I used a flat blad screwdriver with a 4mm head to create a test hole – the Tappabuco plug could fit in, very firmly, and it helped seal the tyre up. A larger hole is more likely to open up again under riding pressure when sealed with sealant alone, hence why plugs can be so useful, as they fill that gap.

As much as stabbing a good condition Maxxis Minion did bring a tear to my eye, it's actually worth playing with any tubeless plug kit you have, to know how to use it, and when it's not ideal.

I really like the sealant, it's thin and gets around inside your tyre easily, and while it sounds silly, it has been designed so you can use less than others – so it is lighter. I would happily reach for this as a marathon or cross-country racer. That said, it worked great on my trail bike as well! As with any sealant, don't forget to replace it regularly. Effetto stated it can last up to 6 months in a UST tyre, but probably more like 1-4 months in a tubeless ready one that tends to be a little more porous. Throw in hot conditions in Australia and I'd be checking it every 6-8 weeks so you know the sealant will work as it should.

Regarding the plug kit I'm on the fence. I really like the storage option to keep it close, but I do find that the Stan's DART tool is easier to stab in, and a Dynaplug can offer more sizes for different holes, within one tool. That said, the size of what you hold on the Tappabuco is easier to use than a Dynaplug, especially with gloves on. And at $24.95 it is screamingly good value as well, you just need to know what size hole it's worth using it for, and when to let your sealant do the work instead.


RRP: Sealant 250mL $26.96 | Tubeless repair: $24.95

From: echelonsports.com.au


Hits:

Great value and well thought out

A sealant that is light!

Very handy tubeless repair

 

Misses:

Tubeless repair tool not suited to all holes