Updated on August 17, 2023
Bike rim tape is among the essential accessories a biker should have to keep their bike in good shape. Many bikers already have the idea about the bike rim tape but many don’t even know this product exists. So if you are among the category of people who don’t know much about bike rim tape then this article is for you.
Usually, people don’t pay much attention to buying such bike accessories thinking it is not important but the truth is that it is a very useful product. You will find it out yourself very soon. You must be feeling very curious to find out what bike rim tape is, right? So with any further due let’s get started.
What Is Bike Rim Tape
Before I explain the purpose of a bike rim tape I would like to explain its design and material. A bike rim tape is a flexible band that is installed near the circumference of the wheel before the installation of the inner tube. We can say it fully covers your bike rim. Usually, manufacturers prefer using a rubber or stretchable material to make bike rim tapes.
There is no material restriction to manufacturing these tapes but they should be flexible enough that easily stretch along the rim of your bike. Generally, the material of the tape can be fabric, PVC, rubber or nylon, etc. The bike rim tape can be looped or in a form of a roll. Looped tape is stretched to make it fit along the bike rim while the tape roll can be cut according to the required length.
Purpose of Bike Rim Tape
It protects the inner tubes of the bike wheel by acting as a shield around the inner tube and rim of your bike. Sometimes due to thin-walled rims, spokes get inside it and might puncture the inner tube. To avoid such incidents bike rim tapes were invented to serve as a protective layer between the bike rim, spoke holes, and inner tube.
Types of Bike Rim Tape
Generally, bike rim tapes depend upon the bike type. For single-wall bike rims, a thick rubber bike rim tape is preferred. However, for a double-walled rim, a thin rim tape is best that covers the space between the bike’s inner tube, rim, and spokes. For a tubeless tire, a special tape called tubeless tape should be used. Moreover, tubeless tape has great adhesive properties and is also resistant to some chemical agents.
Rubber Rim Tapes
These tapes are manufactured from the same material as that of inner tubes. Rubber rim tapes or strips are the most common type of bike rim tapes that are used by people. You will never have to worry about flat tires if your rubber rim tape is installed correctly. However, they are more towards thinner side rim tapes because of which their durability is often questioned.
Plastic Rim Tapes
These require proper rim size measurement of your bike rim to fully protect the wheel against any punctures or flat tires. Furthermore, they are a little tricky to install because if you overstretch them they will break. This usually happens when the rim tape is of incorrect size or the person installing it is inexperienced.
Tubeless Rim Tape
If you prefer using tubeless tires for your bike then you should choose these rim tapes as they are particularly for a tubeless tire. This tape will help in leaving absolutely no space between the rim and tube. It covers all the gaps and holes through which air can escape so the tire does not turn into a flat tire with time.
Adhesive Cloth Rim Tapes
These are the best among all the options. The main advantage is that there one side is adhesive. But the cheap adhesive cloth rim tapes can slip off their place so you should better not think about buying a cheap one as it would be of no use. So if you want to protect your inner tube from getting punctured by spokes then search for a good quality adhesive cloth rim tape or ask your mechanic for recommendations.
Velox Rim Tape
It is a type of cloth rim tape manufactured in France. If your mechanic has no idea which adhesive cloth rim tape will be perfect for your bike then you can go with our recommendation. It is easily available, lightweight, and extremely durable. The Velox Rim Tape comes in three different wheel sizes of 16mm, 19mm, and 22mm so every biker can enjoy the benefits of this tape.
Keeping in mind that the bike tires have different sizes you can choose the tape that fits well to your bike rim. Generally, a 16mm wheel size is a perfect fit for a road bike while for mountain bikes or fat tire bikes you should buy a 22mm Velox rim tape.
Installing a Bike Rim Tape
As I have mentioned earlier the bike rim tapes protect the tire from getting punctured by spoke holes or inner sharp edges of the rim bed. Therefore, it is important to build a wall between the innertube and the spokes so it does not puncture it from time to time. Installing a bike rim tape is not difficult, you just need a rim tape of the accurate wheel size of your bike and a screwdriver. To install a rim tape on your bike just follow these simple steps
Looped Bike Rim Tape
- Analyze which rim tape will go with your bike wheel size.
- Clean the rim and align the drilled holes in the rim with the holes in the bike rim tape. The drilled holes in the rim are to hold the spoke nipples.
- Start fitting the tapes in the rim loop. It can slip out of its place during the process if you fail to lock it perfectly. For this purpose, you can use a screwdriver to hold the rim tape firmly with the rim so it does not move from its place.
- Keep in mind to create some tension in the rim tape while you are installing it in the rim bed. This way it will sit well in the rim bed. Moreover, the tightness will not allow the tape to move or slip out of its place.
- In the final step snap the tape to the rim to make it stick to the rim. Now you can remove the screwdriver you used to lock the tape to the rim.
Cloth/Fabric Bike Rim Tape
Installing a bike rim tape is very easy because of its adhesive backing. The only crucial step is finding the tape that is perfect for your wheel size width. It comes in the form of a roll so you have to grab the right width tape from the market. You can start by fixing it from any one of the spoke holes and roll it around the rim. No need to lock it with a screwdriver as it will stick around on its own. Remember to maintain tension while you stick it to the rim.
These tapes won’t have any valve holes so it’s up to you if you want to make one yourself. You can start without any valve holes too as it doesn’t make any difference in the case of tubeless tire rim tape. Mind that it should fit tightly to the rim bed to provide an airtight seal. Trim the edges if needed.
Things You Should Know About Bike Rim Tape
- They are available in different widths
- Buy a bike rim tape that is according to your wheel size
- Proper installation is important
- If the tape is not installed correctly it can cause more flat tires incidents
- If you are unsure about the tire width and the tape then take help from your regular bike mechanic
Is bicycle rim tape necessary?
A bicycle rim tape is necessary to protect the bike tires from punctures that are caused by sharp edges of the rim itself or its spoke holes.
What happens if you don’t use rim tape?
The most common problem that bikers face because of no bike rim tape is getting flat tires often because of the sharp edges in the rim bed. These edges or pointed ends of spokes will rupture the tire if no bike rim tape is present between the inner tube and the bike rim.
Can I use normal tape as rim tape?
Yes, you can in case of emergency only if you run out of bike rim tape at the moment. Any tape will do the job as any tape covering around the rim is better than no tape. You can change it later with a particular bike rim tape.
If you often encounter flat tires and are sick of changing the tire again and again. The easiest way to escape this problem is to get a bike rim tape around your bike rim. Because the reason your bike tire is getting punctured is the sharp edges of your rim bed and not the terrain you are cycling on. Therefore, you should consider buying a bike rim tape for the following reasons
- It protects the inner tube
- No more flat tires
- No punctures from the sharp edges of the spoke holes
Apparently bike rim tape is not given much importance and most of the bikers don’t even know about it. I am sure this is not the case now and you find our article helpful. If you are a biker I hope after reading our article you have complete knowledge of what is bike rim tape, its uses, and its installation procedure. Thank you for your time.
Austin Jacobs is a passionate cycling enthusiast who has over five years of experience in bike repair and maintenance. He is an avid mountain biker and loves tinkering with bikes for hours on end to make sure they are running at their optimum performance level. Leland’s blog, which focuses on bike repairs and tips to keep them in good running order, was created out of a desire to share his knowledge and help fellow cyclists stay safe while enjoying the outdoors. He covers topics such as preventive maintenance, troubleshooting common issues, basic tools and supplies needed for repairs, and more.