This is a story about a product that I had never heard of before using it. Yes, you can believe it.
In February, I went on a mountain biking road trip to the Big Bend parks in a remote corner of Texas. Before leaving I went to my local bike shop to replenish the Stan’s No Tubes Sealant in my tires. This harsh, remote desert locale is notorious for torturing tires and I wanted to be prepared.
Texas Cycle Werks was out of Stan’s and suggested something called “Orange Seal” instead. Steve Villegas, master wrench at TCW, told me it was newer technology and worked better than Stan’s. I was skeptical as Stan’s had performed well for me over many years, but the attractive squirt-type bottle, lower price and the fact that TCW did not have any Stan’s convinced me to try it. That it is made in my newly adopted home town of Austin was also a factor, as local pride is foremost in the Lone Star State.
On the first ride of the Chiuahuanan Desert Dirt Festival on Thursday, a rock sliced my rear side wall near the rim. Stopping quickly I could see an ample cut exuding a fine orange mist. The Orange Seal seemed to be trying to seal the slice. The leaking stopped after about 15 - 20 seconds, during which time several of the other riders offered up tubes. I didn’t want to put a tube in the tire, just yet, I wanted to see if Orange Seal’s “nanotechnology” was for real.
After adding air with my bike in the upright position, it immediately started leaking out. Then I put the wheel down on its side so the Orange Seal would flood the damaged sidewall area. The leak stopped. Pumping again I got the tire up to 30 psi on the gauge on my mini-pump. Unlike a small pin hole which seals immediately, with a rip the product apparently needs time to bind up. That had been my experience with Stan’s.
We finally saddled up and took off, but I didn’t get far. Air was leaking out when the tire rotated to the bottom where the slice was located. I could feel the tire deflating. I could also feel the other riders thinking, “Why didn’t he just put in a tube?” I stopped and refilled the tire. On the remaining few miles to the trail mid-point I stopped once more to add air.
After an extended stop at the summit I pumped it back up to 30 psi. On the almost 10 mile ride back to the Maverick Ranch RV and Camping Park I added air once more. Things were getting better. When I arrived at my tent it was at 16 lbs psi. Using my more accurate floor pump gauge I filled it to 28 psi (my usual ride pressure) and forgot about it until the next morning, thinking I could always put a tube in.
After a night of torrential wind and rains, Friday dawned clear and cool. A wet seat and muddy bike awaited me, but with a remarkable 26 psi still in the rear tire. I decided to add a couple of psi and go for it, not even thinking about putting in a tube now.
As the sun warmed us and dried the muddy trails my tire performed perfectly. After 22 miles of hard riding on the Lajitas Trails the sidewall leak was a history. The Orange Seal worked, and I was pleasantly surprised.
Saturday’s weather also looked a little dubious, as we awakened to another damp and chilly day. It had poured again during the night. The good news was that I still had a rear tire full or air! Orange Seal was proving extremely effective. After waiting a couple of hours for the trails to dry I headed out for another ride in Big Bend Ranch State Park.
I hooked up with some folks who wanted to do the Dome Trail but didn’t know the way, so I joined them as “guide.” On the last climb to the mid-way point something punctured my rear tire. “Oh no, not again,” I thought to myself. This time a huge thorn stabbed the tire and broke off in the center of the tread. I had to use my knife to remove broken thorn bits, leaving a ragged hole.
Again, the Orange Seal went to work, but did not seem able to stop it completely. I let it sit awhile and pumped the tire up to 30 psi. As I rode along on the 9 mile return ride with some serious downhill speeds the tire performed well, but obviously air was slowly leaking out. There was about 20 psi in the tire when I got back to the campsite.
The wind, rain and mud had soured me on the whole camping thing. Deciding to leave that night, I loaded up the car with a dirty tent, dirty bike and dirty (but always cute) dog, determined to sleep in a clean bed at the closest motel. I missed the big closing nite party, but had clean sheets, dry clothes and slept indoors! Arriving back inAustinon Sunday I checked the rear tire. It had the same 20 psi from 24 hours ago, meaning the second leak was also sealed.
It's 2 months since the dessert fest and I am still riding the same rear tire – 2 to 3 times per week! I don’t even think about the two punctures anymore. Initially there were occasional oozes of orange “juice,” but that’s stopped. The tire holds air. A slight drop in pressure over a week’s time is comparable to tube use.
Orange Seal seals, just like its name. It has performed beyond my expectations. The new technology works. Just remember, while technology is great it’s not perfect. That’s why I still always carry a tube.
Another upside of Orange Seal I found is that it does not seem to clog the valve. It is always easy to put in air. With Stan’s I was frequently cleaning the latex blobs blocking the valve. It also smells a heck of lot better, too.
So, for those skeptics out there who haven’t converted to tubeless riding and may have been unsure of what product to use, this one delivers on its promise. With products like Orange Seal, tubeless riding is a "no brainer." I’ve been convinced of tubeless technology for a long time. To everyone else I would say, “Yes, you can believe in tubeless tires.”
PS - I met up with a slew of the Orange Seal people recently at the Mellow Johnny’s Classic. They attribute the minor oozing to the fact that I already had the Stan’s product in my tire and cross-contaminatization prevented their product from acting perfectly. And, yes, they were sure thrilled to hear my story!