If you are a Weight Weenie who enjoys patching flat tires then you can skip this product review. However, if you would rather spend your free time actually riding instead of waiting for the glue on a tire patch to dry, then you need to pick up a pair of Slime Lite Self Healing Bicycle Inner Tubes.
Slime Lite Self Healing Tubes are lightweight butyl inner tubes that have been pre-filled with Slime tube sealant. The company claims that this product will instantly seal most punctures up to 1/8″ (3mm), and in my experience the product works well. However, they warn that sidewall punctures and pinch flats might not seal.
If you travel much in Third World Countries you will see a lot of glass and litter on the roads. Well, I live in the far-north suburbs of Chicago in the People’s Republic of Illinois and we are pretty much a Third World Country! The main bike trail in my area has so many broken bottles on it that the locals call it the “Glass Highway.” A few years ago it was common for me to get flat tire on one of my bikes at least once a week. However, once I started using Slime in my inner tubes my problems with flats disappeared.
Sometimes we have to make compromises while cycling. We want the lightest bike and components possible and we don’t want to add any unnecessary weight to the bike, especially rotating weight (like on your tires). A 700c x 19-25mm Slime Lite tube weights 158 grams (about 5.5 ounces). While this is three times higher than the weight of a Bontrager Race XXX Lite tube, I would rather put up with a bit of extra weight on my tires than have to stop to change a tube in a high-crime area on the “Glass Highway” (I know of several cyclists who’ve been robbed on this wonderful trail).
While I have nothing but good things to say about Slime, I noticed that many of the customer reviews on Amazon.com were negative. The only thing I can tell you is that my experience with Slime has been excellent. The only time Slime has ever failed me was the first time I got a puncture with it installed. I had a small sliver of metal stuck in my tire, so I stopped to pull it out (I should have kept riding). Since I had not taken the time to read the directions, I pulled the sliver out while it was facing up—which means all the Slime was on the bottom of the tube! If you get a puncture while riding with Slime in your tubes the best thing to do is to pull the debris out while it is facing the ground—this will let some Slime and air out, but the puncture will seal. Then, put some air back in the tube, get back on your bike and ride. The rotation of the tires will spread the Slime out and you should be “good to go.”
The Slime Lite tubes retail for $12 and you should be able to find them at your local bike shop. These tubes are available in a variety of sizes for both 26-inch and 700c tires, and for both Presta and Schrader valves. In case you were wondering, Slime sealants are made with environmentally safe, non-toxic, non-hazardous and non-flammable ingredients—if you spill any of it on you all you need is soap and water to clean it up.