TIRE LINERS – DO THEY WORK?

Mr. Tuffy & RhinoDillos

Tire liners … do they work? Well …………………………….. yes and no. Once more it all depends. I used to use them and as far as helping prevent externally caused flats, yes they work. However, I and a couple of friends who also used them found that they caused flats internally. Also the service dept. manager of a local bike shop has told me that he agrees that they do indeed cause internal flats and thus won’t use them or recommend them. Now there are things which can be done to help prevent this from happening. Unfortunately we did not do any of it so we got occasional flats as a result. I would think that there should not have to be any thing done extra such as this for the tire liners to work properly and not cause internal flats. Now that I use the best tire money can buy I no longer use tire liners as I don’t need them. That being said when I first switched to the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires I installed the tire liners initially as I already had them and had been using them for a few years on all the various tires I had tried previously. I thought it would be a good idea to have the extra measure of protection. Big mistake! I got about three flats over a period of a few years. All were internally caused flats. When I replaced the inner tubes I removed the tire liners. I have not had any flats since.

So my advice is if you are going to use a regular tire prone to getting flats the tire liners are a good thing. If you are going to use them either sand the end of the tire liner where it overlaps itself to remove any sharpness or use duct tape to help protect the inner tube from any sharpness on the end. Personally I would do both … sand the end and use the duct tape.

rounded end

And be sure the end is rounded as this will help with the edge the inner tube comes in contact with.

Lastly with or without tire liners I highly recommend using a generous amount of talcum (corn starch baby) powder inside the entire surface of tire and on the entire surface of the inner tube to reduce rubbing and abrasion which cause ‘internal’ flats. Put the talcum powder inside of the tire after the tire liner is in place.

Definitely there is “abrasion” which occurs when tire liners are used. Take a look at this picture.

inner tube tire liner abrasion

You can plainly see the outline of the tire liner on the inner tube. Notice the sharp line of the end of the tire liner where it overlaps itself. Again, using duct tape on the end will greatly reduce this. As to the use of duct tape some say to put it over the end which overlaps. Some say put it on both ends. I see no reason to put it on both ends as it is only that which is in contact with the inner tube which is a concern. I would only put it on the overlap area. Here is one way to do it … wrap it around the top and bottom of the tire liner and then trim the duct tape to the rounded end shape.

duct tape drawing

I wonder if it would not work better to just place a piece of duct tape over the overlap once the tire liner is in place inside of the tire. That way there would be less thickness at the overlap so that the overlap would not protrude out as far into the inner tube. I see no advantage to having tape on the bottom side of the tire liner since it is not in contact with the inner tube. Also the tape on the overlap would help hold the tire liner in position inside of the tire. The end which overlaps tends to want to drop away from the rest of the tire liner once it is up inside of the tire so I think it would be very helpful to place duct tape over the overlap.

tire liner toughness 2

To the best of my knowledge there isn’t all that much difference in quality and protection offered between the various brands of tire liners. I have read that the Kevlar liners should not be used as they don’t work very well. Stick with the plastic type such as Mr. Tuffy, Rhino Dillos, Stop Flats 2, Zefal, and Slime. As you can see in the picture above they are pretty tough.

I think that with the exception of Rhino Dillos all of the tire liners come packaged all rolled up tightly in a small coil/roll. In doing so the inside end is all curled up and presents  problems when trying to work with it to install it. So because of this I recommend buying the Rhino Dillos as they are packaged so that this doesn’t happen. They are rolled up in a larger diameter. If you buy one of the other brands it is best to take it out of the packaging and hang it up by the small inside curled end (if it is one rolled from the end) so that it can straighten out for a day or two before installing it.

tire liner rolled up

If it is one rolled from the middle like pictured below then, of course, you should hang it from the end (either end).

curled up end of tire liner

Again, my thinking is the worst way of packaging these tire liners is to fold them in half and then roll them up like the red one pictured above. If I were buying any I would steer clear of any packaged like that.

I myself have only used Mr. Tuffy tire liners, which is the originator of tire liners. They are made of made of durable, lightweight polyurethane. They also have what they say is a lighter weight product for those who are weight conscious/concerned. They claim that their liners will not cause tire or tube damage. I take issue with that as I consider causing internal flats as “damage”. Whether the hole is the result of a puncture from the outside or abrasion on the inside it is still damage and has the same consequences … a flat and a destroyed inner tube.

Tire liners come in different widths since tires come in different widths so be sure you get the correct width for the tires you are using. They also come in “XL” for FAT tires.

FAT tire liner

As to installing tire liners you will find different methods and suggestions ‘out there’.

tire liner installed

Some say to remove the tire and inner tube completely off of the rim so you can install the tire liner inside of the tire off of the rim. That is the way I have always done it. Some say to leave the tire and inner tube on the rim and just remove one side of the tire off of the rim so you insert the tire liner between the tire and inner tube. Some say to remove one side of the tire off of the rim and remove the inner tube. Certainly it can be accomplished in any of these ways. It is important, of course, to ensure that there is nothing sharp inside of the tire or rim before installing the tire liner. That is best and easiest accomplished by removing both tire and inner tube off of the rim. It is also important to be sure the tire liner is centered inside of the tire and that the inner tube is installed correctly with no twists or other abnormalities.

Here is what Mr. Tuffy shows as to how to install the tire liners:

installation instructions

I found it interesting that their instructions say to remove any debris found inside of the tire casing before the inner tube is removed. How in the world are you supposed to check inside the tire casing without first removing the inner tube? DUH!

I personally much prefer to take the tires completely off of the rims to install tire liners. Doing them while still on the rim one can not nearly as easily tell where the tire liner is positioned as far as getting it centered in the tire. Of course, no matter how one goes about it there is always the chance that the tire liner will move out of position during final assembly and re-inflating the inner tube.

Another good reason for removing the tire completely off of the rim is one can much more easily and thoroughly examine the casing of the tire and do anything needed to ensure the tire is fit and ready to use.

stop flats 2 round end

The side of the tire liner that has the extra layer of material bonded to it (it is usually darker color like shown above in the picture) goes outward toward the tire.

I watched several videos on installing tire liners and quite frankly I was not very impressed by any of them. I settled for this one to use here.

Well, like ol’ Forest Gump … that’s all I have to say about that. Tire liners? … Use them if you need them. As for me, I am going to just continue to use the best tire money can buy and not concern myself with flats. My Mr. Tuffy tire liners are hanging up on the garage wall. I will probably never use them again. It is a real joy to just be able to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

and not be concerned about flats. And it is great to get such phenomenal mileage out of the tires as well.

FREE GIFT awaits you!

Author: Steve Newbauer

I have a few current blogs (tadpolerider1, navysight, truthtoponder and stevesmixedbag) so I am keeping busy. I hope you the reader will find these blogs interesting and enjoy your time here. Feel free to email me at tadpolerider2 at gmail dot com (@gmail.com)

6 thoughts on “TIRE LINERS – DO THEY WORK?”

  1. I have been using the Mr Tuffy liners for about 10 yrs and in my experience the advantages have outweighed the disadvantages, but they have not been without their problems.

    I wanted to use my old (early 90’s) Raleigh Dyna-tech mountain bike with 26 inch wheels for commuting, so built some lighter wheels and fitted some lighter, narrower tyres. In the winter I have been using Gatorskins and these have been very good and I have not used the liners in these tyres. Gatorskins have proved to be very puncture resistant commuting tyres, but feel very dead and slippery on metalwork in my experience, so wanted something nicer feeling for the summer. I used a few different tyres, the nicest feeling were Hutchinson Top Slick Gold folding, that are about 1 1/4 wide and are very nice supple tyres but cut easily and were prone to punctures in the wet.

    Over the years since fitting the Tuffy liners I have experienced a flat in the front that appeared to be caused by some kind of abrasion along the long edge of the liner that rendered the tube in a condition that I did not feel confident in repairing 100% and more recently a back tyre flat that on closer inspection showed that the liner had split about 6 inches from the end causing the tube to push through the gap and split and burst. Again the tube was beyond repair. I am not sure what caused the liner to split as it does not appear to have gone brittle in any way, but is pretty old now, but remains a mystery.

    Another strange problem was that the front wheel started to make a rustling noise on each revolution after a while. This was occurring on the join and I tried turning the wheel around but this had no effect and to cure the problem I cut the liner so there was only a short overlap of a couple of inches and I did the same to the back when it split.

    I rounded and sanded both edges after cutting and used some tape to keep in position whilst being inflated and all has been fine since. They do not recommend the you cut the liner, but I felt that I had no option as the noise was driving me mad and felt it must have been caused by movement of the liner in some way and I had no option but to remove the split section in the back liner.

    I feel that over the years I would have had more problems in terms of flats compared to the problems encountered by using the liners so they have been a success in my mind.

    The great difficulty I think is fitting them correctly and possibly my inability to do this has caused at least part of the problems I have encountered and I am thinking of replacing the liners with some new ones in case they have degraded over the years (causing the split) and experiment with some small strips of double sided tape to hold them centrally and ensure they are fitted properly in the tyre.

    Would I recommenced them? Yes, they have got me home from work late at night reliably with only a couple of problems and has enabled me to use some nice light tyres without ruining the experience.

    Just remember that nothing is 100% reliable!

  2. I recently had a local shop swap out my bike’s disintegrating tubes and tires and I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t even sell liners. Their solution to avoiding flats is to use slime (or some other sealant) but it makes more sense to me to protect the tube to begin with.

    Based on this article, it sounds like a liner is a perfectly reasonable approach, especially if one wants to save some money and not replace their perfectly good existing tire. Thanks for the writeup – I found it very informative.

  3. It all depends on who we ask.. A while back a group of my friends and I was discussing this very issue… And as we were discussing this issue or question, we take no notice to the two kids in the room with us and continue to discuss the issue … The following day or so the kids came to us as we were sitting out in my shop and showed us a design that they had come up with on their own.. They went to the local scrap dump and picked up a Venetian blind and by rolling it’s edges and some duck tape they demonstrated how well they work by doing the same exact methods we have seen in our previous post on tires, with the glass and tacks and all as they in the video had demonstrated, and I’ll be dammed if it didn’t work…! So we all know that it is possible, yet the question is who makes the best product.. Well I’m not sure because I was to lazy to even attempt to add any to my ride’s tires, but I would think that there are questions as to tire size and what material is being used to be answered first… But bottom line is trial and error….! A great topic, and now you have me thinking again about some thing I hate doing breaking down tires to make changes…! LoL…! But Thanks Steve….!
    Armadillo Zack

  4. It’s unfortunate Steve that you had such bad luck with your tire liners but from your description I am sure what you were using were the original hard plastic tire liners. These are still on the market as the Slime Liners & I think the Z liners are similar. These original versions are probably what caused you problems.Since the introduction of tire liners like everything else, products evolve & improve. Mr. Tuffy’s & Stop Flats 2 now have polished edges along with a profile shape to better conform to the inside of your tire casing. They also come with rounded ends so sanding is not required. When installing the tire liners there are a few things to keep in mind – 1. Pre-roll your liners tightly in the opposite direction than they are packaged. (Tape them to stop unravelling) This makes the liners lay flat if left over night. 2. when installing your liners make sure you do not end up with several layers from the overlap behind your valve opening (rotate your liner/tire so the overlap is on the opposite side of your valve. Having the overlap behind your valve stem will cause extra pressure on your tube with each wheel revolution 3.Install the liner so the overlap rolls “off the curb” & not into it. Installing the liner so each revolution pounds the liner into the tube can cause the indentation & eventual failure of the tube. It means you have the overlap backwards. As for adding talcum powder, In my mind this would add some degree of movement to the tube when inside the tire which may account for the friction burns on the tube. I have never used talcum powder & never had any problem with liners but I know early days of installing tubes this was common practice to help the tube seat properly in the rim.
    Since Amazon has several hundreds of sales of these liners & they have a 4.5 star rating, by far the majority of buyers get satisfactory results. The few that don’t probably made some of the mistakes I have outlined above. One other thing to consider. Should you get a flat in bad weather or on a bad road during rush hour, trying to repair/change your tube & pump up your tire could put you in a very vulnerable position. Having that extra measure of flat protection & getting you out of a bad situation just once is enough to make you glad you took the time to install your liners.

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