I recently got a new bike with a set of tubeless compatible rims. The stock tires are clinchers with tubes. I'm thinking about putting tubeless on there, but I don't have any experience with them. We have some trees here that drop huge thorns, like nails. They're big enough to go through any tire. When I get the eventual flat, how do I fix the tire? Are there patches? Can you just stick a tube in there?

4 Answers 4


When putting tubeless tyres on I would definitely recommend that you use a sealant such as Stan's if riding somewhere with thorns. This would be your first level of defence. The sealant would seal up a thorn (or other) hole quickly and painlessly.

You can repair a tubeless tyre with a vulcanizing repair kit, but reseating a tubeless on the trail is very difficult. It is virtually impossible to do without 'shop air' (I haven't tried CO2) so carrying a tube is important for any major leaks.

You can simply run a tubless tyre with a tube until you get somewhere to properly fix the tyre.

Like everything else in the mtb world there are two schools of thought on whether you leave the thorn in or remove it, I would remove it. If you leave it in it plugs the hole but then if you ever do need to put a tube in you risk puncturing that also.

  • I've found seating USTs easy enough with a floor pump, but you can work up a sweat if it's not slippery enough. That's the hardest part about doing it while out and about, you need something slippery for the bead. I just carry a tube and some stick on patches in my jersey pockets so I don't have to worry.
    – alex
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 4:27
  • I've never had much luck with a floor pump even with USTs. Problem with stick on patches and tyre boots is that without the pressure of having a tube in they tend to come off. Old type vulcanizing patches and glue work best but more to carry and longer to fix.
    – DWGKNZ
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 4:50
  • I keep the stick ons for the tube. They cost a dollar a pack, are small and light and will get you home. A roadside tubeless fix is too much hassle. I might give CO2 a try and report back next time I get a flat.
    – alex
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 5:39
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    There is an old car mechanic's trick that might work for bike tubless: Get a belt or rope long enough to fit around the circumference of the tire, mount the tire, then tighten the belt around the tire. If you're lucky this causes the tire to spread out and seal. And use some sort of lube (at least water) on the bead/rim to assist in sealing. (But I've never even wanted to try tubeless bike tires.) Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 10:57

There are tubeless tire boots available that you can use to patch a puncture that sealant won't seal. Really, you can use the standard vulcanizing tube patch kit as well and it's cheaper. Just don't use the glueless type- they barely fix a tube, let alone a tire.

Fixing a tubeless puncture that won't seal is an at home operation, though. You have to clean all the sealant off of the area, let it dry, apply glue, apply the patch, add sealant back and reseat the tire. Reseating the tire without a compressor is a crapshoot- you may get it with a floor pump, you may not.

If you're running tubeless you still need to carry a tube with you for that reason. There's basically no good way to fix a tubeless tire trailside.


In addition to the other answer they also make plug kits similar to what are used on car tires. If it's a large thorn you can pull it and stick a plug in it, usually without having to re-seat the bead, depending on air loss.

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I personally like to live dangerously, i ride Mavic UST wheels with UST Maxxis tires and no sealant, no tubes, but i do carry a spare tube in my pack. So far i have yet to flat and I've been riding like that for over a year, 99% all packed trail miles though. So not a big thorn factor on the hard pack.

  • Lucky - when I started riding, I was getting a puncture a fortnight. All depends on where and how you ride, and what you're riding on.
    – Criggie
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 22:13
  • That's interesting. If one can run without sealant tubeless becomes much more interesting. Having to deal with that sealant stuff every time swapping road and off-road tires out. The possibility of roadside repairs with a tube also sounds good, I suppose that's a no-can-do with sealant.
    – gschenk
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 16:27
  • @Criggie did you find out why? I considered the whole puncture resistance matter not so important as I had a puncture flat only once so far. That's in about 15 years of light riding, maybe 15 Mm total. (I wasn't far from home, about 12 km, and walked.)
    – gschenk
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 16:34
  • 1
    @gschenk it definitely helps to have a true UST tire and rim rather than a Tubeless compatible variety in my opinion, the seal between the bead and the rim is legit. It also helps that 99 percent of my riding is on hard pack, or hard pack with large rocks. Although when i used to do more urban riding on a tubed wheel i got flats every couple of rides.
    – Nate W
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 19:19
  • Is using these plugs a permanent fix?
    – nh43de
    Commented Jan 6, 2019 at 20:19

None of these work. All are BS. If you have a punctured tubeless tire. The only fix is a new tire.


  • 2
    Hello, and welcome to bicycles.SE! This site doesn't work like a conventional forum-style site; we recommend that all new users take the tour, and read the help article on how to answer. As things stand, your answer is likely to be deleted in a little while for being low-quality. But in the meantime you can fix the problem by editing your answer. How about some specifics: what have you tried, and what were the exact results? Again, welcome.
    – rclocher3
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 19:55
  • Three other highly reputable members have explained what works for them. Your answer can be helpful to others if it explains what you have tried and in what why it didn't work. Unsupported pinions are just unsupported opinions.
    – andy256
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 1:21

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