Keepers: WTB Sealant – by Grannygear
When the WTB tubeless tire sealant came out I received a sample but was recovering from some injuries that kept me off the bike for a bit. I sent my samples to Guitar Ted so he could use them and that was that.
Along with the bad timing for my riding schedule, I also was not really excited about mixing bikes up with two brands of sealant. You see, I have been using Orange Seal for many years and was quite pleased with how it sealed small cuts and holes when needed. With 6 bikes all running tubeless, Orange Seal had kept me going during a ride on more than one occasion.
And I had learned the hard way about mixing sealants in the same tire when two different brands had cause the casing to fail on the tire and so vulcanized the inner walls together when I tried to remove it that I had to cut the tire off the rim.
But WTB dropped off yet another box…a bigger box…of sealant to me quite unexpectedly. And the timing was very good as there was something about Orange Seal that was making my life difficult. It sealed alright. Small holes, thorns, small cuts, etc. It also sealed valve stems and valve cores like there was no tomorrow.
I lost count of the times that my wife would say that she went to ride and could not get any air into her road bike tires. Clogged stem. Most of the time I could actually remove the core and no air would come out. Nice. So I would get in there with a zip tie or wheel spoke and Roto-rooter the darn stem, replace the clogged core (I bought a baggie of them), and then air up the tire, only to repeat this again and again.
So I thought, “here is the box of new sealant and here I am all frustrated”. Time for a change? I asked the WTB rep, Clayton Wangbichler, whether their new sealant would do this. He said that it reacted differently and would not ‘skin over’ (my words) everything as it dried. Good to hear, but would it seal cuts as well?
I dove in to the task of swapping to the WTB brand by moving two bikes over, in this case it was both road bikes. I am happy to report that the Presta clogging has completely vanished. But what about sealing things?
I have no idea how many times any sealant has fixed a potential air leak as I blissfully rode along. I only know about the ones that I see and have to deal with at some level or another. Since swapping over I know of three times I have had a leak and the wife has had one time.
The first one was a hit to a rim that bent the rim bead enough to let air out as well as cutting the sidewalk of the tire. No sealant will fix that. Tube time. The second was a leak on the gravel bike that seemed to be a small cut in the tread from glass. I was really struggling to get this to seal. It would clot up and then let go again as I brought the tire pressure up. Not impressive, to say the least.
I asked WTB about that failure to seal and he said that they have found that since the sealant relies on the gritty particles suspended in the liquid to seal the leak in the tire, it requires that the solution in the bottle be shaken very, very well before you dispense it. Otherwise there might not be enough particles in the solution to do the job.
Curious about this, I removed the tire to replace it until I could (maybe) repair the tire and I did find that the liquid in there was not very gritty to the touch. Lesson learned.
The next two leaks were the typical situations. One was an obvious spot that I know resulted in a plugged leak in the tread and the other was a leak my wife heard on her road bike while it was in the car. She was able to spin the wheel while it was stored until the air sounds stopped and that was that. No issues since then with that tire.
By now I have moved pretty much all the bikes over to the WTB goop. I have noticed that it dries out just like any other does and where Orange Seal had the latex pool up and skin over everything on the inside of the tire as it dried out, this WTB stuff does that to a much smaller degree. However I did notice that the WTB sealant tends to lose the grit out of the solution as it dries. I have to think that is reducing the effectiveness of the stuff, but by how much is hard to say.
So far I am super happy with how the valve clogging issues have completely gone away. And the ability to repair a leak seems to be very good. Time will tell if this changes or not, but for now I am winning.
NOTE: WTB sent over this product in the review for no charge to Riding Gravel for testing and review. We are not being paid, nor bribed, for this review and we will always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.