Words and photos: Mike Blewitt
 
Setting your mountain bike tyres and wheels up with a tubeless system can be one of the best upgrades to your bike. Most bikes will come just about ready to go, and a good bikeshop will ensure your bike is setup tubeless when you roll out the door.
 
A tubeless setup isn't a safety net for all punctures, and like most parts on your bike regular maintenance goes a long way for ensuring proper function. If you make sure the system is working correctly, then the chances that your tubeless setup will repair a puncture while you ride is much greater.

 

There are a few speed bumps in good tubeless performance. Having a good seal with the tape, valve and tyre, strong sidewalls, and the age and quality of your sealant. The Ride Mechanic Sealant Exchange Kit has been developed to optimise the performance of your sealant, without impacting the quality of the seal that your rim tape and tyre have. Anyone who has opened up their tubeless system after riding for a few months will know that the sealant you put in has either dried out, separated, or is now a ball or layer of latex – or all of the above. Sealant becomes less effective over time for a range of reasons, including temperature, and even if you hear liquid sloshing inside your tyre, it doesn't mean it's the right latex mix – it could just be fluid with most of the latex all balled up and rolling around.

 

While removing a bead and topping up the sealant is an easy fix, you still don't have good sealant. You then have some new sealant mixed in with the leftovers of the old stuff. It would be crazy to expect it to seal a hole properly.
 
The sealant exchange kit is designed to remove old sealant via the valve stem, and put in fresh sealant, without disrupting the bead of the tyre. It's also really useful for setting up a system dry to check that it holds, before adding sealant in and reinflating.

 

The kit has a syringe, a tube that attaches, a very soft bottle that fits inside the valve stem, and a valve core remover. Ride Mechanic also make alloy valve stems with a 3.5mm internal diameter, which is the optimal size for the syringe to work. The process is simple, deflate your tyre, remove the valve core, and with the valve at the bottom, suck out any left over sealant. Rinse the syringe and tube right away, as even old sealant can set pretty quickly.
 
Then, put the valve  at the 8 or 4 o'clock position. Fill the bottle with your sealant of choice, and fit the bottle over the valve and slowly squeeze it in. Use a cotton bud to clean out the valve stem, refit the valve core and inflate the tyre. Then wash the bottle out!

 

The concept is simple, and seems fussy from the outside. But I like the cleaner setup as a way to get sealant in after dry testing a tyre and rim combination. It also removes the chance of damaging rim tape when taking a bead off. And best of all, it means you have fresh sealant for repairing small cuts, or reacting to the plugs in a StandardMys DART tubeless repair kit, as shown in the Workshop section in this issue.


 
I found this kit easy to use, and given the hot conditions in my shed it's useful to use to swap out sealant when it's gone off quickly. This probably isn't a kit for everyone, but if you want to make sure your bike and the components on it are running properly, this is the best way I have seen for keeping your tubeless system in check, and that drastically reduces your chances of getting a flat out on the trail. Just never forget to wash it all out!
 
RRP: $29.95
From: kwtimports.com.au, RideMechanic.com
 
Hits:
-      Relatively simple to use
-      Cheap investment for the gains
-      Compatible with any tubeless system
 
Misses:
-      Washing ASAP is mandatory