The best tubeless sealant will keep the air in your tyre for longer and actually fix punctures while you ride. No more inner tubes or patches!
Ditching your inner tubes and converting to tubeless is one of the most transformative upgrades in mountain biking. And since modern rims and tyres are usually ‘tubeless ready’, most new bikes already have all the pieces of the puzzle in the box. In fact, the only things you’ll have to buy are a couple of tubeless valves and a bottle of sealant. And that’s where this guide comes in, as we run down the best tubeless sealants on sale.
It almost goes without saying that to make your tubeless setting up a whole lot easier, it’s a very good idea to get yourself one of the best tubeless tyre inflators. And to help prevent punctures in the first place, you could check out our buyer’s guide to the best mountain bike tyres.
If you want the best out there, this is it
Reasons to buy: Simply the best.
Reasons to avoid: Not the cheapest.
Muc Off’s oddly named No Puncture Hassle sealant is brand new and, regardless of the size you buy, is one of the most expensive sealants out there. We tested the 140ml sachet, which easily filled our 29×2.4in test tyre but it has a thin nozzle that fits directly in a Presta valve stem reducing mess and waste. Despite being one of the thickest sealants on test, NPH distributes evenly around the inside of the tyre.
When we first squirted the full 140ml there didn’t seem like much left in the bottom of the tyre, but we needn’t have worried because this luminous pink gunk sealed the 2.75mm puncture in barely a revolution. It also sealed the larger 5mm almost instantly and, while most sealants on test only sealed the sidewall cut temporarily, NPH sealed it permanently and we even managed to re-inflate the tyre after about an hour.
The original and still one of the best
Reasons to buy: Seals more than most.
Reasons to avoid: Premium price.
Stan’s Race Sealant is definitely worth the small premium over the standard blend. Our heaviest-hitting test riders swear by this stuff – a potent magic formula that heals cuts and makes holes vanish. Stan’s No Tubes Race Sealant is expensive, but contains twice as many sealing crystals and uses bigger particles that can make larger holes air tight. Latex-based and natural, Stan’s is one of the first and best-known tyre sealants. Its popular original formula is proven to work without the familiar issues of drying out prematurely or simply not being able to plug small holes and rips in damaged tyres.
Race formula is only available in bigger tubs (just under a litre for just over thirty quid), but the extra price over No Tubes standard sealant is worth it since it’s worked extremely well for us on multiple occasions; plugging big holes fast before we’ve lost all air, which is something that rarely happens out on the trail with other sealants.
Really effective at sealing small and medium sized punctures
Reasons to buy: Stays liquid longer than most.
Reasons to avoid: Struggles with larger cuts.
Orange Seal claims its Endurance sealant can last up to 120 days before it dries out, which is about four times as long as its regular stuff and you only pay an extra £1 across all the sizes for this increased durability. At £7 per wheel, only Muc Off’s sealant is more expensive but Orange Seal Endurance remained totally fluid in cold temperatures and easily sealed the 2.75mm and 5mm holes in our test tyre. The company claims it will seal slits up to 19mm and, while it did plug our 8mm cut, it was only temporary, when we added a bit of weight the tyre split open again.
Like a lot of sealants, we reckon you’re just going to have to work it into the cut repeatedly and let it partially dry out if you’re trying to get going out on the trail.
Everything you need to go tubeless in one kit
Reasons to buy: Valves are excellent.
Reasons to avoid: Expensive. There’s better rim tape out there.
This Conversion Kit from Milkit makes going tubeless simple process because everything you need is included in the box. A cool feature of the syringe is you can store all the accessories in the handle, even the valves. And talking of which – it’s much easier to clean off any dried-on sealant on this than a regular valve. In fact, the valves are the best thing about this kit, and I’d recommend them as an upgrade, but for some reason Milkit isn’t selling them separately.
The Milkit Tubeless Conversion Kit is expensive, but it eliminates two of the big drawbacks with tubeless – messy set-up and fiddly maintenance. Yes you’ll still need to check the sealant levels on a regular basis, but this kit is easy to use and clean.
Excellent if you just want pinch protection
Reasons to buy: Seals tyres fast when setting up.
Reasons to avoid: Doesn’t seal cuts very well.
Pit Stop TNT is a thin sealant and it retained this viscosity when chilled, however we noticed a skin had formed over the sealant when it was heated.
In our torture chamber the Pit Stop TNT sealed the 2.75mm puncture after barely one revolution and did the same for the 5mm hole initially but it eventually when we put weight on the tyre. It didn’t seal the sidewall cut either we played around with positioning the slash rotating it to the bottom where it could submerge in sealant but it didn’t help.
Pit Stop TNT plugs holes quickly but lacks the larger particulate to seal bigger cuts and sidewall tears. You could easily add some home-made additive to boost its clogging power but there are cheaper alternatives where you could do the exact same thing.
Recommended tubeless accessories
Converting to tubeless is one of the best upgrades you can do to your bike and since most modern rims and tyres are ‘tubeless ready’ you have everything you need to cross over.Sometimes the only things you’ll have to buy are a couple of tubeless valves and a bottle of sealant. Yet there are a few extra things that either make life easier, or help to make your currently-troublesome set-up actually work reliably.
Not sealant, but worth having
Although this guide is about tubeless sealant, if you’re having general niggling issues with your tubeless set-up then it is well worth investing in some new, modern-era tubeless valves. And for our money, the latest valves from Peaty’s are the best around. The humble tubeless valve has come a long way since the inner tube-alike versions from a few years ago. New valves like these Peaty’s ones address several tubeless-specific needs.
Injector, hose, two valve stems and neat storage
The tubeless valves in the Milkit Compact 35 system are seemingly like many other premium valves, apart from one small feature: a small rubber one-way cover the exit end. This not only prevents sealant backwash-ing into the valve and bunging everything up, it also means you can use the special dipstick to check the tyre’s current sealant level without any air loss.
The lesson you’ll learn from this system is that you really should be checking the level (and state) of your tyres’ sealant fairly frequently. All in all, this is a mess-free system that experienced mountain bikers will not regret adding to their armory.
Top up your sealant without removing your tyre
A simple gadget that lets you squirt fresh sealant into your tyre when it’s dried out to keep punctures at bay. Because you don’t need to unseat the tyre, there’s less mess and no red faces at the pump. And it lets you buy sealant in bulk, which is cheaper and kinder to the planet.
Read our full review of the Stan’s No Tubes The Injector
How we test
To test the sealants’ operating temperatures, we put each of them in a freezer set to -18°C and an oven set at 50°C. Not exactly a real-world simulation, but it gave us an idea how the sealants would behave in warmer or colder climates.
Eventually sealant will solidify in your tyre. How long it stays liquid is affected by use, temperature, volume and the make-up of the sealant itself. Manufacturers recommend anything from two weeks to four months. Our advice is to check it regularly and top up as necessary.
To test the sealants’ ability to heal punctures, we filled a 29×2.4in tyre with 120ml of each of the sealants and then pierced it with a 2.75mm bradawl, a 5mm screwdriver and cut the sidewall with a 6mm scalpel. While it’s true that sidewall cuts are often way bigger than 6mm, or an irregular shape, very few manufacturers say their sealant will plug tears bigger than this so it’s a valid cut-off point. For us, plugging the two holes was a minimum, sealing the tear was a bonus.
What you need to know about tyre sealant
Tyre sealant is a little like blood, in that sealing particles are suspended in a solution inside the tyre and get carried to any hole and congeal there to seal the opening. “The solution pushes the nano-platelets into the hole, which builds up in layers, so it plugs holes that are over 3mm wide”, explains Tom Makin from Peaty’s.
The trigger for the solidification is the mechanical force of the spray, says Mark Weir from WTB. “The spray is strong enough to break the latex droplets allowing isoprene molecules to link to each other forming a solid plug.”
Does tyre sealant last forever?
No. All sealants work slightly differently but most are suspended in ammonia, which evaporates over time because the rubber tyre leaches air. We’d recommend periodically checking your tyres to see how much sealant is still liquid. Every year at a minimum, but ideally every six months, especially during a hot summer. Even small things, such as leaving your bike exposed to the direct sunlight, can make a difference.
Any tips for setting up my tyres tubeless?
The most important thing is to shake it up properly, to get the proper distribution of sealant agent to solution. With the sealant in the tyre and the tyre mounted on the rim, spin the wheel to coat the inside of the wheel evenly. If you’re struggling to get the tyre to seal, then try spraying around the rim/tyre interface with soapy water. This helps the bead slide against the rim. If the tyre is too baggy, and air escapes from the whole circumference, you may need to add another layer of tubeless rim tape.
How much sealant do I need in a mountain bike tyre?
This totally depends on the volume of your tyre, so diameter and width plays a part. As a rough guide, we would say 75-90ml for 27.5in tyres (2.1in to 2.6in) and 75-95ml for 29in tyres (2.1in to 2.6in). Don’t be tempted to run too much sealant as this a) wastes money, b) adds weight, and c) will unbalance your wheel, which can be felt as vertical oscillation when jumping.