Hutchinson Protect'Air Max achieves a great seal for your tubeless tyre setup with minimal messy turmoil. The small, manageable bottle of sealant with a one-way valve cap allows for easy application and little reapplication due to drying. There's nothing special about the price, though, in this size bottle anyway.
With tubeless tyres drifting ever more towards the road scene, having been tried and tested in cyclo-cross and mountain biking, there's never been a better time to try it for yourself while you put in those gritty winter miles. The benefits of not having to worry about punctures and being able to run the tyre pressure that you actually want, as opposed to protecting yourself again pinch flats, should make you at least curious to the idea.
If you're already doing so, the Hutchinson Protect'Air Max makes for a good choice of latex sealant to combine with your tubeless-ready tyres and wheels. Having tested it on both a pair of road and cyclo-cross tyres, the sealant can 't be faulted for performance. The used pair of 'cross tyres sealed despite cuts and holes dotted around the casing, including an untreated old nail wound.
Both pairs of tyres were subjected to a full range of pressure from rim-bouncing low to bullet-proof hard with minimal issues. Naturally, a little air escaped between rides, but rarely have I had a tubeless seal where that doesn't occur, especially when kept at high pressure. The peace of mind of not getting punctures remained true throughout the test period with the sealant doing its job well on dirty roads and in thorn strewn woods.
Drying of sealant can be a major issue, but with only a month's testing it's not really possible to comment on its long-term ability. Having said that, I didn't have to top up the tyres with fluid in the month that I've used them, which is promising. Hutchinson makes no comment on its long-term performance, annoyingly.
The initial setup is made surprisingly clean thanks to the simple squeeze cap with a one-way valve. Anyone who has experienced the wonders of setting up tubeless tyres without using the valve has likely ended up in a sticky mess and a puddle of sealant on the floor. The Hutchinson solution allows application directly to the tyre without any spilling from the bottle. The downside is that the narrow flow from the cap means multiple squeezes are needed. This might seem petty, but it made it tricky attempting to balance the wheel, tyre and sealant without making a mess.
The small 120ml tube does prove a slight annoyance too. The recommended volume on any sealant brand is rarely enough, especially if you make a mess of it, resulting in sealant everywhere but inside your tyre. Hutchinson suggests using 30ml per road tyre and 60ml per mountain bike tyre, but in both cases it needs more to seal successfully. So if you do, like me, make a mess of it on a pair of fat road or 'cross tyres, you're likely to need more than one bottle. Most of the competition, such as Orange Seal or Stans No Tubes, have significantly larger volumes of sealant for their smallest bottles.
Thankfully, Hutchinson also sells Protect'Air Max in 1L and whopping 5L volumes, which could prove useful for refills when running tubeless across several wheelsets. But there is no volume in between, requiring a more significant investment and potentially putting off those wanting to try it out. Product team at Hutchinson, if you're listening over in France, a 250ml tube would do the trick perfectly!
As always, these larger volumes prove more cost effective and match the competition such as Stans No Tubes when comparing 1L volumes, but these small 120ml tubes are expensive. They might look cheap at first glance, but realistically you are likely to need two, especially once you need to top up every few months. Suddenly, £6 for 120ml doesn't seem so inviting.
Works well and should be considered strongly when you see the light and switch to tubeless
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Hutchinson ProtectAir Max
Size tested: 120ml
Tell us what the product is for
Hutchinson Protect'Air Max is tubeless sealant designed for use with both road and mountain bike tubeless-ready tyres.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
It is a pH neutral latex based sealant supplied in a 120ml tube, but can also be purchased in 1L and 5L volumes. Hutchinson claims it will 'repair small (1-2mm) punctures that perforate the casing of the tire'. Recommended use is 30ml per road tyre and 60ml per mountain bike tyre. In reality, it will often require more, especially if fitting used tyres that may already have holes that require sealing.
The sealant itself does its job well, and the 120ml tube was well made with no leaking thanks to the valve in the nozzle. If being petty, the sticker label was coming off due to poor positioning.
The sealant does the job really well. Protected the tyres against new punctures with none gained during the test, and sealed off holes already present in the used tyres tested, including one caused by a big nail! The recommended volumes of sealant to use were a little wayward, but then that's often the case.
No noticeable drying out of the sealant during the test period. A little air lost between rides, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Hutchinson Protect'Air Max is in a similar price range to Stans No Tubes if bought in larger volumes, but these small 120ml tubes prove expensive, especially when you're likely to need more of them. However, the 'value' that comes from the peace of mind of being unlikely to get any flats makes the Hutchinson Protect'Air Max well worth the money.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It did exactly as it should: sealed the tyre nicely, didn't dry out in the time of the test and allowed me to run a full range of tyre pressures with no problems.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The one-way valve in the cap made for clean application without pouring it everywhere.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The 120ml tube is only really enough to seal two road tyres; anything larger like a pair of cyclo-cross tyres required more sealant. Looking at competitors, their smallest product volumes are significantly larger.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, but in a larger volume.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It does exactly what it should. The only thing restricting the score is the tube volume and the price for that small volume compared with the competition.
About the tester
I usually ride: Giant TCX My best bike is: Scott CR1 Pro
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives