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Sometimes I fish around in my shed for a repair kit and pull out a pair of patches which have been sat around for a while (a year?) I find the patches are stiff (even though they're still in their foil).

I proceed with the repair but suspect it isn't as sound as it would have been with a freshly purchased malleable patch.

Tonight, while doing a repair, I actually looked at the patch and the kit box to see if there is a Best Before date (there isn't).

But what is the useful shelf life of an unused patch?

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    I generally toss my patch kit every year or two. Sooner if the glue has been opened, later if not. I would guess that an unopened kit is good for 3-5 years, and the main clue it's getting old would be that the glue is too stiff. (I basically don't get punctures since switching to belted tires.) May 11, 2012 at 10:48
  • I buy patches separately from tubes of vulcanising fluid. That seems a better method than buying boxed kits.
    – Criggie
    Mar 24 at 4:26

2 Answers 2

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It depends very much on how the patches are stored. I have a box of strips of patches that lasted about 10 years before the patches became unusable. But that was a whole box, in a plastic bag, in a cold dark place (a box of bike stuff in the garage). On the shop counter that same box would probably age out within 3-12 months depending on how often it got direct sunlight. What matters is heat, how well sealed the container is, and light (probably in that order). I think you're doing the right thing by inspecting the patch and deciding whether to use it.

That's not too useful if you're really asking "how often should I buy a new patch kit". In my experience at least two years, normally more like five. Again, I store my patches in a patch kit (plastic box), in a plastic bag with some tools, in my pannier. It's pretty cold and dark in there too. I find that the glue tube gets really gummy and useless before the patches wear out. But since I wear my tyres pretty much down to the canvas I go through a few patches most years, so that's not normally an issue. (I run the tyres until I get a puncture that seems to be attributable to tyre wear).

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I bought 48 puncture repair patches from aliexpress in 2017. From about a year ago (or 5/6 years after purchase) I have found that I don't seem to be able to repair punctures anymore, whereas I could in the get patches to bond in the past.

At first I thought it might be the vulcanising solution but it seems to be making the rubber of my tyre soft, and I purchased some more recently.

The problem seems to be that the orange rubber inner surface of the patch is not getting soft nor bonding to the tyre. I am now thinking that the patches have become hard or vulcanised. I have another 48 of the same patches on order.

I kept the patches in a drawer with other cycling stuff, open to the air but not light. I may put the new ones in some sorts of sealed container (I have some small patch sized cylindrical plastic containers) this time.

But my guess is that patches last about 5 years.

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    Also be aware those cheap aliexpress patches aren't great even when new. I've found that buying a whole box locally gives me better results, and the box has had a working life of 10 years so far. "cure-c-cure" is the brand, and they're a lot thinner than Orange-edge style.
    – Criggie
    Mar 24 at 4:25
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    The cheap ones, as @Criggie says, aren't great. I bought some a few years ago. They' haven't degraded in that time kept in a toolbox in a cool garage, but they're too stiff for road tubes (smaller would help a bit). These cheap patches with orange edges imitate the look of some much better ones. I buy Tip-Top for road tubes, but I've used some Dunlop ones that must have been 20 years old, with no problems.
    – Chris H
    Mar 25 at 6:38
  • The chunky orange ones can be used up as boots for the inside of a tubed tyre. They don't have to seal, so some simple superglue holds them to the inside of the tyre.
    – Criggie
    Mar 25 at 10:04
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    The aliexpress orange-edge patches worked well for the first 5 years, and they were very cheap, so I heartily recommend them. I agree that they are too big for (old school) road tubes but I cut them down to size a bit. @Criggie Thank you for the "boots" suggestion. Mar 25 at 12:53

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