Self Sealing Tubes
For my Northwest Tour this year I installed self sealing tubes to prevent flats from thorns. Riding with self sealing tubes taught me a few lessons.
1. They really work. Normal daily pressure loss was significantly reduced. This can be a big plus on extended tours.
2. Thorns are not really a problem in the Spring and Summer when they are still soft. Later when they become hard they will puncture your tires. We had thorns everywhere on us in July in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho but they were not hard yet.
3. Self sealing tubes are really heavy. They significantly changed the way my bike felt. Acceleration was slower; they gave the bike a heavy feel. I immediatly removed them after returning from the trip.
4. I am not sure that the heavy feel is significant when you are fully loaded. The loading effect on the wheels has to still be there but it is masked by the additional weight on the bike when fully loaded.
Finding self sealing narrow 20″ and 26″ tubes is not easy. Don’t expect to find any self sealing tubes narrower than 1 1/2″.
The best prices I found were at an eBay Store, Performance Downhill. They sell InLine Self Sealing Tubes in the sizes recumbents use for about $5 each. Order early if you are planning a trip, they are not always the fastest.
If you are having a flat problem self sealing tubes really work. But you pay a significant price in bike feel unless you are riding fully loaded.