Bad Rim Tape Caused a Flat on the Trail? Here’s a Quick Fix

Lately I’ve been plagued with bad rim tape flats – three in two weeks in fact. My rims have an unusual pattern of holes over the spoke ends that makes traditional rim tape useless. The standard 16MM cloth rim tape that most people can use slips aside, revealing the metal holes over the spoke ends. I first tried duct-tape but the soft nature of that tape doesn’t respond well to heat, and it eventually slipped too. (NOTE: Electrical tape would probably work better.) But today, while on the trail I had no tape of any sort so I had to devise a quick solution to get off the mountain without another flat.

bad rim tape exposes spoke holes

Here’s what I did:

  • Cut a section of the punctured tube long enough to cover the holes.
  • Slice the section of tube up the middle (like filleting a fish).
  • Inflate the new tube slightly to make it easier to insert and wrap.
  • While inserting the new tube, wrap the extra tube around the new tube with the extra tube on the rim side of the new tube.
  • While inflating, make sure there are no sections of tube under the tire bead.

wrap a tube with another tube

Wondering if it worked? YES!

Of course, I wouldn’t recommend this as a long term solution. But it will get you off the mountain in a pinch (no pun intended).

My long term solution was to purchase a roll of Stans No Tubes 9.14m x 25mm (10yd x 1in.) Rim Tape. It completely covers the inside of the rim, edge to edge. (It would have to; it’s designed to make a rim air tight.) And it’s more durable than standard rim tape. At $13.00 a roll, you might think that’s more expensive than standard rim tape, but actually it’s not because you can wrap 4 or 5 rims with one roll which actually makes it cheaper than standard rim tape.

How would I know that the rim spoke holes are the problem? Well, that’s simple…

Before taking out the bad tube (leave the tire in place), make a mental note of it’s position on the rim. Take it out, pump it up and find the hole. Now match that up to the tire / rim position. If the hole is on the inside of the tube, it’s a rim tape problem. If the whole is on the side of the tube, you either had a “pinch flat” (you installed the tube incorrectly and it got caught under the tire bead) or you may have a sidewall puncture or tear (both of which probably means: buy a new tire). If the hole is on the top of the tube, then you probably got a thorn.

Happy No-Flat Riding!