SEVEN DAY CYCLIST
CYCLING, BUT NOT USUALLY RACING
LATEST UPDATE: MARCH 18th
MUC-OFF PUNCTURE PLUG REPAIR KIT
32g (complete kit) £12.99
The Muc-Off Puncture Plug Repair Kit aims to repair tubeless tyre systems when the hole is too large for the sealant to cope. Needless to say, you hope never to have to use it, but out in the wilds it could prove to be a life-saver or, at least, a walk-saver. Having been force to insert a tube after making an ad hoc tyre boot and fit it, I can see the appeal.
Pros: Effective, and possibly long-term solution to big punctures in tubeless systems..
Cons: Won’t deal with very large rips.
Open the box and you’ll find a rugged fabric pouch, a stainless steel and plastic bradawl-like tool – its sharp end covered with a sleeve, and two sets of five repair plugs – one lot thick and the other thin. Watch out, the end of the tool is sharp, so try not to lose the sleeve or the pouch. If you do, find something to replace them.
Reading the blurb, you will note that Muc-Off do not claim that the kit will end all split-tubeless-tyre-woes. Gargantuan fractures cannot be mended, and these plugs are designed to deal with damage
Method and function 3./5
On the face of it this is dead easy and, even better, Muc-Off have a YouTube tutorial. Well-worth downloading to your mobile, as you may not use this tool very often, unless you are very unlucky. Note the different methods for large and low-profile tyres!
Muc-Off tell us that the repair should last a long time, even for the useful lifetime of the tyre. They add, that MTB or gravel tyres are more likely to accommodate the plug ends amongst the knobbles, Whilst slicker road tyres won’t. What this means in reality is that they feel road-riders are more likely to use this as a temporary fix.
Important detail: even plugs such as these won’t save every ride from a deep slash. Muc-Off tell us that the larger plugs are able to fill a hole between 6-7mm max. Combining a large and a small plug may enable you to go larger, but success would depend upon the shape of the hole, angle, etc.
Ease of Use 4/5
In practice things are not much trickier. Remove the offending article from the tyre. Ream out the whole carefully using the file – fundamentally to clean it and create stronger purchase for the repair strip. Needless to say, make sure you don’t thrust recklessly and damage you rim tape, if you have a tubeless conversion set-up. In these circumstances, follow the guidance and insert the tool no further than the start of the reaming section, and do so at an angle.
Select the appropriately sized strip and insert, twisting clockwise and keeping the ends out of the tyre. Gently slip the plug-ends loose of the tool.
Cut the strip down to size as directed. That knife or saw blade on your multi-tool will come in handy, or maybe that manicure kit someone in your party bizarrely insists on carrying. Actually, it is entirely possible to ride without trimming the length, but, especially on road, you notice a difference and may want to take extra care on corners or when braking.
Finally, pump the tyre up, and away you go.
Needless to say, on the trail repairs are never going to be as cleanly as those in a pristine professional workshop. Sealant mixing with trail detritus is no many people’s idea of skin care, but, when needs must you may just have to get down and dirty. OK, be honest, how many of us always carry mechanics gloves? On that front, I cleaned things up for the sake of clearer images.
Schwalbe G-One All Round Tubeless tyres were my guinea pigs. A friend kindly sought out some holes in his road tyres, too.
With practice the process of fixing a puncture becomes quicker. That’s been an artificial experience for me, because I’ve deliberately made large holes in tyres to fix. My real-life experience is that I’d have used this twice in the last twenty years! Mind you, I’ve never been a fierce single-tracker and great gravel tyres have served me well on recent gravel ventures. Rough-stuff touring has required building tyre boots on a couple of occasions. These were simply intended to get me to the next bike shop.
By contrast, I’ve managed some two hundred miles with the plugs in place and no sign of any deterioration. However, I’d agree with Muc-Off, and for slick tyres, in particular, replace the tyre as soon as possible. Any vagary in control can be mitigated by running at lower pressure – one of the benefits of tubeless. On that front, I have been told, by a generally reliable source, that pumping up to very high pressures on road tyres has blown the plug out of the hole, so erring on the side of caution may be the best policy in any case.
In fairness it is too soon to fairly assess durability, but I’ve no reason not to be optimistic.
Storage is easy. 10x9x2.5cms fits in most wedge-packs, such as this bijoux Zefal Ironpack 2 M-DS. Protect things by keeping the sleeve over the point and keeping the plugs in the pouch help keep things safe and orderly.
Well, I’ll admit to being impressed by the quality of other Muc-Off products. On the other hand, LifeLine offer a similar kit, working on a similar method – with additional tube of rubber
solution – for half the price. On the other hand, the Pro Bike Tool version is rather more expensive, but comes in a CNC aluminium capsule. Lezyne, amongst others, offer similar kits. Muc-Offs Puncture Plug sits in the middle, price-wise. As ever. Shop around and you may find discounts. In addition, some kits are more expensive, but include CO2 cartridges or other additional items.
Definitely of more interest to MTB and Gravel riders, especially enduro competitors or those heading into remote areas: you may never use this tool. If you need it, it could be vital. Road riders may also appreciate the rapid repair in some situations. Less rapid riders may still find this a useful, easily portable, bit of gear, but are probably less likely to suffer major tyre damage than speedier cyclists. On the other hand, in common with other kits, it will not fix really big problems, so don’t necessarily ditch the spare tube and tyre boots for a belt and braces approach on backwoods ventures.
Verdict 3.75/5 Effective, possibly crucial, and at a moderate price.
PUBLISHED AUGUST 2020
BUILDER OF STEEL CYCLE FRAMES
Ryton On Dunsmore
Coventry CV8 3FH