Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hey Don't Slime Me Bro!!

Unless you are a cyclist from another planetary system, you have undoubtedly heard of "slime" bike tube sealant. The stuff comes in many sizes, including 16 ounce bottles. Keep this in mind as you proceed with this post as the quantity of the packaging will be important. Some cyclists use this stuff - I don't know who or where they are, but since it is still on the shelves I must assume somebody buys it.

What is slime good for, you ask? Fixing flats? Well, in my own humble opinion - not much and really not for fixing flats. Maybe if you ran out of embalming fluid to preserve that cat of yours that just passed away "slime" will do in a pinch. But for tires? At best it is a temp fix for a flat but most of the time it is just a sloshy mess in your tube and adds weight and hassle. It is used in tubes to PREVENT flats as well. It also might be good for filling your buddies tubes with as a (mean) practical joke and then watching as he wonders what the heck happened to his average speeds on the climbs.

In examining my wife's recently (fourth home) acquired Greenspeed GT3 trike (pure awesome) I decided to remove the tires while diagnosing an issue where the trike would wobble fiercely at speed - primarily during braking. Right now the front wheels are getting trued and tested for spoke tension by Epic Wheelworks in Portland, as they really needed it. But it is when I began the process of removing the tires and tubes when I made this garish discovery. When I pushed the valve in to deflate the tire I was sprayed in the face. I felt just like Wikus Van De Merwe in District 9.

When you deflate your tire and it pees green, it's not good.

First, it took me forever to get the tires and tubes off. My first clue was when trying to deflate the tire after busting out the goggles - I could not get it to "go flat" like a normal tire. It had a "kinda solid" feel. Hmm. The material had solidified enough that it would not come out through the stem - even with the core removed. After a lot of prying, broken tire levers, four letter words, and a beer break, I finally got one off. I was stunned at the feel of the tube. I had to compare it to a new one. Lets take a look, shall we?

New out of the box tube: 2.75 ounces

The new tube: light. The tube I took out of the tire and had in hand felt more like a yoke for a small mammal than a bike tube. I decided to plop it onto the same scale. Note that I could not fold up the tube as I could not get all the "air" out of it.


Yes, you are not seeing things, the tube weighs 1 POUND and 2.75 ounces. This is a 16" tube, here. That means just about a full pound of "slime" was sloshing around inside the tube. Yikes. A few sections of the tube felt almost solid. I have to imagine that this is - in part - causing the pulsing feeling of the wheels, as a full pound of slime gets stuck in one particular part of the tube. This trike had not been ridden at higher speeds for a long time, and the slime was not put in by the previous owner, so it has been fermenting in there for a while like a clogged artery from too many ubercheeseburgers.

Being curious, I decided to do a bit of a "tube autopsy." If you are a lover of bicycle wheels, or currently enjoying your biscuits and gravy at Village Inn, this is not for the faint of heart:

They see me rollin.. (with dumpling soup in my tires) they be hatin...

Thats one 16" tube - full of dirty fluid and whitish remains - of the slime. The other tubes had about the same amount of goo in them. After clearing this out and doing the same for the other two wheels/tires the trike will lose around 3 pounds of weight. That is a lot, even for a trike. So, the next time you have a flat, and you or someone offering to fix it for you pulls out the one pound bottle of slime, just yell, "Don't slime me bro!!"

1 comment:

  1. I had one of these blow up in my face before a ride. It was a messy, and traumatic experience.