Extra Tire Protection?

I’ve been lucky lately – no flats in the last two months, after a whole raft of them earlier this summer.  But a friend of mine has been plagued by the flat monster.  it seems every time we talk biking, he’s had another flat.

From the Mr. Tuffy website.

He thinks he might have his problem solved, however.  He bought some tire liners for his tires.  He thinks the extra layer will give him the protection he needs from the tiny shards of glass and bits of metal shavings that seem to cause most of his flats.

If that doesn’t work, he says he’s got his eye on some Slime inner tubes.  They come coated with a thin layer of Slime to prevent flats.

I’ve heard two different sides of the tire liner story.  On the one hand, testimonials I’ve read say they work.  Others say the extra protection comes at a price – and the price is poorer ride quality than you would get without the liners.  “You lose some of the suppleness of the tire,” said one forum commenter.  Another chimed in, ‘You lose some of the suppleness of the tire, and after a year or so, the ends of the tire liners eventually slice the tube wide open.”

But if you install the Mr. Tuffies, “problem solved,” said another.

I told my friend tire liners might work, but wouldn’t he be better off just spending a little more on good tires?  Or even shopping around a little to get good tires, but at a good sale price?

I have no experience with either tire liners or the Slime tubes.  My Gatorskins are holding up pretty well (They’ve taken a lot of abuse from being ridden on some crummy roads around here), so I’m not going to dash out and spend money on preventive measures when I don’t feel it’s necessary.

Have you had experience with either tire liners or the Slime tubes? Any recommendations about which way to go?

Mr. Tuffy: http://mrtuffy.com/index.php

Slime: http://www.slime.com/index.php


  1. Janice in GA says

    The Slime tube can still fail. I have a vintage Schwinn that killed two of them.

    They’re messy to clean up too. The green slime comes out. I bought them because I wasn’t paying close attention to the tubes I bought. I’ll never buy any others.

    OTOH, I’ve been riding my old Trek with Panaracer Urban Max tires for over 1000 miles so far this year. So far, so good. ::knocks on wood::

  2. says

    I’ve had 7 flats in five months (approx 1,200 miles) and I’m ready to throw my bike off a cliff. I’ve purchased the Slime tire liners and are about to install them. I would LOVE it if my tires would stay inflated for a year before the liner finally cut through them!

  3. Howard says

    I think good tires are the answer. I’ve been riding on Continental Attack/Force tires for the last 5,000 miles without a flat caused by something penetrating the tire. (I’ve had some valve stems come unscrewed.) As an experiment, I switched to some thinner, lighter tires a while back and had 3 flats in about 100 miles of riding all due to glass and metal penetration. A set of the Continentals runs about $120 and lasts for 1,500-2,000 miles.

  4. says

    How are the Gatorskins working out for you? I think their extra protection comes at a cost of ride quality. I still think they have a “mushy” road feel.

    After the outdoor season ends here, they will become beater tires for the trainer. I want my old GP4000s back.

    • says

      Al, I haven’t tried the GP 4000s, but have friends who swear by them, and say the flat protection is just as good as the Gatorskins. Maybe I’ll try them when it’s time to replace what I have.

      On ride quality, I guess I’m not a very discerning guy. The Gatorskins feel fine to me.

    • says

      My gatorskins are great — I have had zero flats on that bike since I got them.

      I’ve tried Slime in the past, and it seems to work well with lower pressure tires — mountain bike tires — but with road bike tires it can’t stop the leaks.

  5. Matt says

    I think the solution is to not use racerboy tires for things that are not races!

    My commuter bike tires (brand currently escaping me) have somewhere in excess of 1000 miles, flat-free. Or at least, they did until I typed that!

  6. Austin Morgan says

    I had a similar problem after I started commuting I had 7 flats in 3 months. I purchased the Armadillo brand by Specialized and I have not had a flat in almost a year (over 1,000 miles). I ride on glass and metal every day so I would say that the tires can make a huge difference.

  7. Spencer says

    I use the pre-slimed presta tubes for commuting. When I tried to use them for road riding, I noticed I get a bit of a wobble at speeds over 30 mph. I know it’s not a rim problem, because after I changed out the slime tubes to regular tubes, the problem went away.

    I tend to think that slime works great for commuting and riding around the neighborhood, but is not the best approach to protection for road/race/amateur weekend warrioring.

  8. says

    Most people I know, myself included, bought slime tubes once and went back to regular tubes thereafter. Heavy, wobbly, messy when they do puncture and hard to patch when all that gunk is spewing out of them. I’d rather pay the weight penalty on good tires or liners, at least.

  9. says

    I was plagued by flats until I switched to Specialized Armadillos on my old bike. I ride on roads often littered with broken glass, nails, and star thistle stickers. They were not very expensive either – about $25/30 each. Can’t remember the price – it has been awhile. Still need to make the switch over to them on my new bike though.

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