Here's what you need to know about bicycle rim tapes
A rim tape is a tape that runs around your bicycle rim to protect your inner tube from being punctured by the spokes, nipples or spoke holes that are in the wheel rim.
ARE YOUR RIM TAPES HURTING YOU?
If you are getting recurring punctures, inspite of changing your tube and checking your tyre, chances are your faulty rim tape is guilty. Additionally, rim tape that’s too wide or thick can make tires more challenging to mount properly. If you have ever broken tire levers while mounting your tyre onto a bicycle wheel, you know what we’re talking about!
RIM TAPE SIZES
There are two most common standard widths. Narrow 15 mm rim tapes, and wide 19 mm.
When it comes to length, bike rim tapes come in two variants - self adhesive rolls (like duct tape), that can be cut to the desired rim circumference. This is usually used by bike service centres, or pre cut length and glued to a certain rim size standard, with a pre-drilled valve hole.
eg: An MTB wheel will use a rim tape cut for 559 mm diameter rims (MTB standard) and 19 mm wide; while a road bike with narrow rims and tyres will use a rim tape for 622 mm circumference rims and 15 mm wide .
RIM TYPE MATERIAL
Rim tapes come in different materials - nylon, cloth, rubber, tough plastic, PVC. Entry level bikes and older bikes come with rubber rim strips that stretch around your rim like a big rubber band. These are poor in quality. Good quality tapes usually have “high pressure” printed on them.
TUBELESS RIM TAPE
For Tubeless ready rims, you will need special tubeless rim tapes. Tubeless rims are a better bet here as they already come with the tape. Along with tubeless rim tape you will need some sealant and tubeless ready valves to complete the setup.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR
Bicycle rim tape should be the correct type and size to fit the rim snugly so it doesn’t slip when replacing a tube or mounting a tyre. Or, it could cause flats.
If you are getting continuous flats inspite of changing your tube and checking your tyre, then your rim tape will need to be replaced.