2

The title is a little provocative, but how often are they actually useful?

Only once in 4 tyre failures would a boot have helped, when I nicked the sidewall on a cattle grid with a rough weld, making a hole just big enough for a tube to bulge through. That time we improvised with a tyre patch and duct tape, well enough to finish the ride. All my other tyre failures have blown the sidewall out at the bead, leaving a gap too close to the edge to boot, and longer than the boots I carry. Once I had a few km to walk, once I had a spare folding tyre, and on Saturday, having forgotten to pack my spare tyre, I used a boot plus duct tape, inflated very little, and just about managed to ride to a cafe 4km away (there was also a bike shop so I could have bought a tyre but we bailed anyway as we couldn't warm up). The boot did less good than the duct tape, as it didn't really stick to the tyre.

Bead blown off sidewall

The anecdata I've collected fits with my own experience - when you need them, they don't normally help much.

So if I'm going far from home, I tend to carry a tyre. Boots are supposed to be get-you-home repairs, and that can be a long way: it's not unknown for me to be 150km from home riding through the night with the shops shut. Given that, about the only good thing to be said for boots is that they're small and cheap.

Am I missing something? Are they perhaps more useful on weaker tyres where a cut in the tread could be more severe? Or on MTB tyres (for those few of us who still run tubes in our MTBs)?

11
  • 1
    Anecdata: I've used a boot myself a couple of times (once I had an actual stick-on patch, the other time I improvised) and have helped a couple of other riders. The problem mostly (3/4) was something had cut partly through the sidewall, severing a few of the threads and causing the sidewall to bulge. A boot helped spread the pressure out, reducing the bulge and preventing a concentration of pressure that might cause the sidewall to unzip. The tyres were all immediately replaced, but the boots got us home.
    – DavidW
    Nov 29 '21 at 22:34
  • I can only recall using a boot one time. I ran over a piece of steel strapping that punched through the tire and tube. But the damage was more of a line than a hole. I'm sure the tube would have bulged out of the tire so I added a boot. It held until I got it home which was 10 miles or so. As small and light as they are, I can't see any reason not to carry one just in case.
    – jwh20
    Nov 29 '21 at 23:01
  • As far as I know, punctures large enough to need a boot would defeat any tubeless sealant. So, maybe the answer is that you need some sort of tire boot in general, but that can be duct tape. However, I was under the impression that the tube should hold the boot in place, at least at road and gravel pressures. NB: I've never got into a situation where I needed one, so I'm speaking from what I've heard.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Nov 29 '21 at 23:06
  • Anecdote: the rear tire on my hardtail is held together with Flex tape. There’s a nice hole on the side that’s too big to seal. Possibly, a stronger adhesive than what’s currently available is necessary.
    – MaplePanda
    Nov 30 '21 at 0:27
  • 1
    @Criggie IIRC the rim is 19mm and the tyres (this and the other one that went the same way on the same rim) 32. So that should be fine by Sheldon's chart. If I've muddled my rims then these could be 21mm which would be a little wide for the tyres. When I fitted a new tyre I had a slightly rough spot but probably caused by stopping cautiously with a totally flat tyre, and I don't know if it was near the failure. 600 grit wet/dry paper buffed that out in a few seconds.
    – Chris H
    Dec 1 '21 at 9:03
3

Boots are a pre-made item that can be plausibly sold, which is reason for them to be made and sold.

Whether they're useful or not is a separate matter, and I don't think they are.

The times I've had a cut tyre such that the tube was visible and hearniating through, I have used a plastic bag from the toolkit, or once a gel wrapper as an extra liner. I also understand that countries with polymer banknotes can use those, whereas paper money will not survive.

Your example of a separated bead is pretty severe, and I doubt any boot can cope with long rips. The best fix there is a spare tyre, but if I didn't have that I'd probably wrap that part of the tube in duct tape to restrain it. If the bike is disk braked, I might even wrap loops around the outside of the tyre/rim and let it wear off, as a get-home fix.

A small roll of duct tape is a good on-the-bike item.


Note if you ever use a gel pouch for a boot/liner, cut it open and clean out as much of the content as possible, or roll and seal the end. Otherwise your tyre, tube and rim bed will become slightly tacky much of the way around, and that's not good. Lick the opened pouch clean if you have to.

9
  • 3
    "A small roll of duct tape is a good on-the-bike item." Too heavy and bulky. But you can wrap a meter or so around a piece of credit card and put it in your saddle bag.
    – Michael
    Nov 30 '21 at 7:30
  • 2
    I can't tell if you're an economist or as cynical as I am. I did consider taping right round the tyre (yes, discs), but as home was minimum 50km away I doubt it would have lasted, though 4km to the bike shop maybe. It was also slippery conditions without adding something smooth on the outside. BTW (@Michael) my duct tape is wrapped round a pencil - Audax/randonneuring can need a pencil so I keep a spare stub of one in my tool kit. I also have electrical tape wrapped round a tiny Sharpie
    – Chris H
    Nov 30 '21 at 9:08
  • 1
    @DWGKNZ the clear PVC repair tape is another useful thing to have. I carry only a tiny knife (mini pliers multitool) but it would be enough for that). I need to find another round thing to wrap it round - maybe my 3rd tyre lever
    – Chris H
    Nov 30 '21 at 15:34
  • 1
    @chrisH I've wrapped tape around a small pill bottle (or an eye dropper bottle) that I store lube and extra links in.
    – DWGKNZ
    Nov 30 '21 at 15:42
  • 1
    @DWGKNZ I end to use little resealable bags for those things. Th bags don't last for ever but I always seem to have spare of the tiny sizes and they're easier to pack in my tool bottle
    – Chris H
    Nov 30 '21 at 15:52
4

What's the point of a tyre boots?

Or

The title is a little provocative, but how often are they actually useful?

A tire boot is actually useful as often as someone has a cut, scrape or tear in their tire that can be repaired by the boot.

How often something is useful is a question that is often answered with a percentage. For example (making up numbers),
A tire boot is useful in 64% of tire damage instances.
Getting the actual data to assign a percentage of the time a boot is useful is impossible because no one collects that data.

The question in the original post is not answerable with the available data.

My guess is that there are many more times people could have used a boot than there are times when people actually have one.

Based on the information in the post some implied questions might be:

  • Is it worth carrying duct tape rather than a tire boot?
  • Is it worth carrying a tire rather than a tire boot?
  • Do others share my experience that a tire boot is never useful?

These are interesting questions but they require a value based / opinion answer.

For those who are unfamiliar with a tire boot:

enter image description here
According to the Park Tool instructions:

Designed to get you back on the road or trail, the TB-2 Tire Boot quickly and easily installs to patch cuts, scrapes, and tears in any size tire. The thin, reinforced tire boot film adheres to the inside of the tire and prevents the tube from protruding out of the cut or tear.

2
  • 1
    Purely for human interest: Fiona Kolbinger, who won the 2019 Transcontinental Race, carried both a spare Continental GP5000 road tire and a tire boot. And a few other items. It was a 4000km road race. apidura.com/journal/…
    – Weiwen Ng
    Dec 2 '21 at 0:43
  • 1
    @WeiwenNg I also carry a tyre when I'm far from home (it was an oversight that I didn't have it on the day in question). I keep meaning to write up my trip last summer - nowhere near the TransCon of course, but my kit list, while bigger, was similar. BTW there was a very interesting BBC interview with Fiona Kolbinger and Emily Chappell a couple of years ago, still online
    – Chris H
    yesterday
2

So far all three of my tyre failures would have been fixable with a tyre boot. I don’t have tyre boots, instead I just limped home with the tyre slightly bulging outwards and replaced it at home.

Two times it was a cut in the sidewall from sharp gravel. Tyres were Schwalbe Racing Ralph and Conti GP 4000s. I actually fixed the GP4000s with a piece of sidewall from an old tyre and continued riding it.

One time I had a ~6mm long cut straight through the tread, probably from a glass shard (Conti GP4000s again).

I’ve also witnessed a friend getting his tyre cut on a sharp gravel descent.

I think in all these cases a tyre boot would have fixed it or at least helped a lot, especially if you have to continue using the tyre.

I’ve never seen or heard a cut like yours along the bead.

1
  • I know I'm heavy, and rather hard on my kit, but I wonder if this can explain the difference in our luck
    – Chris H
    Nov 30 '21 at 10:01
2

There's a valid reason why tire boots are used.

In order to be able to ride fast on a bicycle, special purpose low rolling resistance road tires are used on bicycles. They have not only very thin tread (so they puncture very easily, thus you need to carry a spare tube and tube repair kit), but also practically nonexistent sidewalls (so the sidewall fails very easily). The latter necessitates carrying tire boots since the other option, carrying spare outer tire, is mainly useful only for very long tours.

My experience is that tire boots genuinely help with sidewall failures. I have had two failed sidewalls, the first was remedied with a homemade tire boot based on Velox cotton high-pressure rim strip on two sides of low-pressure plastic tire strip, and the second was remedied with Park Tool TB-2. In both cases, riding without a boot would not have been an option, and the tire boots helped enough to be able to temporarily use the bike (but since it's not a permanent repair, the outer tire needs to be replaced as soon as you can reach a shop that sells new tires).

I don't know why your tires fail so close to the bead so often. They look like something is wrong with the model of tire you're using, or the model of rim you're using. You offered an explanation for what caused the tire to fail in a manner that tire boots helped (cattle grid with rough weld). You didn't offer any explanation for what caused the three failures very close to the bead. Perhaps you don't have a valid explanation for those failures. Perhaps you should switch either the rim or the model of the tire you're using.

1
  • I doubt there is a common cause: 3 different tyres on 2 different rims have failed that way. The failure that wasn't on this rim was overpressure.. The one that failed at the weekend had done 10000km on that rim, and several weeks since it had last had a puncture. It was even selected for having strong sidewalls, so your point about weak sidewalls would have been more valid for the previous failure (on a Marathon Supreme) which is why I thought I'd try this Gator Hardshell despite the worse rollling. All my tyres are quite punctured-protected BTW
    – Chris H
    Nov 30 '21 at 22:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.