The brand new Stan's NoTubes Race Sealant seals bigger punctures much more quickly than the regular Stan's sealant. The improved performance does come with a high price tag, but I think it's a price worth paying for the reduced risk of flatting.
Tubeless tyres, commonplace in the mountain bike world, are becoming increasingly popular on road bikes, with many manufacturers now speccing new bikes with tubeless rims, and often tubeless tyres, as standard.
The beauty of a tubeless system is fewer punctures. In place of an inner tube, a liquid sealant is used which seals small holes, the sort caused by flint or shards of glass, so you can spend more time riding and less in the gutter getting your hands dirty changing the inner tube.
There are many sealants available, but without a doubt the most popular is Stan's NoTubes Sealant. This year, to mark its 15th anniversary, the company has released this new Race Sealant. It has actually been in development and in use by some mountain bike race teams for the past couple of seasons, and it's now available to us mere mortals.
The new Race Sealant uses the same latex formula as the regular NoTubes sealant, but more crystals are added to the mix along with larger crystals. It's designed to be able to seal larger punctures and to seal them faster – the regular sealant works well on small holes but struggles with bigger gashes.
Installing the new Race Sealant is a bit more troublesome because the company advises against piping it through the valve stem because it will clog. Even if you have removable inner tube cores, the lack of a pointy cap on the bottle means the only way to add the sealant to the tyre is to do it directly to the tyre before final mounting of the bead onto the rim.
For the first part of the test, I added the sealant to my current tubeless setup using a pair of Schwalbe One Tubeless tyres that I'm still using on my winter/training bike (after first removing the old sealant of course), and just riding the bike for several weeks in all weathers and over all sorts of roads.
What are the chances of getting a puncture when you want one, for testing purposes? I gave up, and instead installed an old pair of Schwalbe Ultremo Tubeless tyres onto some spare tubeless rims, added some sealant, and left them for a day to ensure a thorough seal.
The first thing I noticed was that the tyre was easier to seal up, with less air leaking from the beads that can sometimes occur when installing tubeless tyres.
Next, I inflated the tyres to 80psi, then took a sharp pointy device and stabbed the tyre, before spinning the wheel to see how well the sealant would cope. There was some air loss, but the sealant did appear to deal with the bigger holes and sealed them up very rapidly. I repeated the process a couple of times and, sure enough, the tyre sealed extremely quickly. Afterwards, I measured the tyre pressure and the drop was less than 10psi, perfectly acceptable, and the sort of amount that wouldn't prevent you comfortably carrying on with your ride.
Having witnessed tubeless tyres with big holes or slices to the carcass struggling to seal, and sealant escaping at a rapid rate, I was impressed with the Race Sealant's performance.
This isn't the most scientific test in the world, I'll admit. There are many variables when it comes to punctures, and although tubeless setups are great at dealing with many causes of flat tyres, I know from personal experience that they're not 100 per cent impervious to all punctures. The new Race Sealant is an improvement on the regular sealant, with less leakage during installation, and it is better able to quickly deal with a range of holes, up to and larger than those the regular sealant can deal with.
Another benefit of the new Race Sealant is that you can use less of it, and so save a bit of weight.
The downside is that at £32 for a 946ml bottle, it's £8 more expensive than the regular sealant. For its benefits and superior performance, though, I won't be going back to the regular sealant in a hurry.
Seals bigger holes faster
road.cc test report
Make and model: Stan's NoTubes Race Sealant
Size tested: Quart
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Stan's NoTubes says:
"For nearly fifteen years Stan has been quietly formulating a special racing version of our legendary sealant for many of cycling's most successful teams. Working with athletes who push themselves and their tubeless systems to the absolute limit, we've developed a proprietary sealant formula with close to twice the amount of our standard sealing crystals plus our special "XL" crystals capable of sealing even larger punctures. Stan's Race Sealant's combination of large and smaller sealing crystals interlock to form a lattice work that not only seals but strengthens and reinforces the area of the puncture, allowing for an entirely new level of sealing performance.
"This is the next level in sealing power from the people who invented tubeless conversions and made tubeless readily available to the masses. The quantity and size of crystals in this special formula means that Stan's Race Sealant can only be installed directly into the tire. As a result of its immense sealing capabilities, the Race Sealant will clog injectors and smaller bottles almost immediately."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Ride the widest range of conditions and temperatures - Premium low-viscosity latex coats the tire's sidewalls for quicker sealing
* Faster and better sealing capabilities to keep you rolling - Twice the sealing crystals compared to the standard sealant
* Seals larger punctures to get you home or to the finish line - 'XL' crystals and standard crystals combine to seal larger punctures
* Safe for the environment - Comprised of natural materials
Seals bigger holes more quickly than the regular Stan's sealant.
The punctured test tyre is still holding air...
You can use less sealant and therefore save a bit of weight.
It's more expensive than the regular sealant, but the performance is improved.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Seals those bigger holes that the regular sealant struggles with, and seals much more quickly so air loss is dramatically reduced.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It's more expensive and installation isn't recommended through the valve because it will clog.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
If you're using tubeless then the new Race Sealant offers improved puncture protection, and greater peace of mind.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.