Pssshhh-shhht-shhht-shhht. That’s the sound every cyclist dreads — a puncture, and your tire rapidly losing air. Fortunately, in the age of tubeless tires, flats have become far less common. Run good sealant and tire inserts, and your chances of experiencing a ride-ruining flat are even lower. But even with modern tire tech, there are some punctures that refuse to seal. That’s why every rider should carry one final line of defense: tire plugs.
Plugging a tubeless tire is super easy and there are plenty of plug options on the market. If you’re riding tubeless tires, there’s literally no reason not to carry one. But which tire plug is the best? My answer might surprise you.
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The best tubeless tire plug is...
I started riding tubeless tires in 2015 and never looked back. In fact, since I went tubeless and added tire inserts to all of my bikes (yes, even my road bike!), I no longer carry spare tubes on my daily rides. I can repair any unsealable puncture with a tire plug 99.9% of the time.
At this point, I’ve used pretty much every tire plug on the market. They all promise exceptional sealing power, speed, and convenience. And when I tested them, they pretty much all delivered. As a tech-obsessed rider always willing to spend big bucks on the best gear, this led to a surprising conclusion — riders should save their money and just buy the cheapest tire plug kit possible.
The tire plug kit I now recommend to most riders is the humble Genuine Innovations Tire Repair Kit.
For less than $10, you get a small, lightweight plug tool, and a “Side of Bacon” — a sheet of five tire plugs. That’s all you need.
Here’s why I think this Genuine Innovations Tire Repair Kit is the best kit:
- Cheap - There are very few bike accessories under $10 that are actually worth buying. This is worth every cent and more. It’s easily the most useful tool you’ll add to your flat kit.
- Cheap - It’s worth saying again. It’s less than half of the cost of its competitors. The Stan’s Dart is $25. The ultra-popular and ultra-refined Dynaplug Racer is $48. Most other kits fall somewhere in between.
- Lightweight - The tool itself barely registers on my desk scale. For the weight weenies, it’s easily the lightest plug kit available.
- Really effective plugs - I’m actually a big fan of the kit’s “Side of Bacon” plugs because they’re thin and easy to manipulate. They fit into small punctures that are too little for some thick plugs. And it’s easy to stack multiple plugs so they can handle much larger punctures. I’ve also had a lot of luck using them to seal sidewall tears and cuts at the tire bead. The kit comes with five plugs, which means you have five opportunities to plug any puncture. Oh, and go ahead and buy a lot of extra plugs too because, guess what? They’re cheap (20 for $10).
- Fast plugging - Racers like to have instant access to plugs. That is why quick-draw tools like the Stan’s Dart and Dynaplug Racer are popular. But with the Genuine Innovations plug tool you can simply pre-thread a plug before a race and it’s just as quick. Want super quick-draw action? Tape the tool and plug to a cable or the back of your number plate. It’s so light you can get away with tricks like that.
- Easy plugging - With most fork-style tire plug tools, you’re usually supposed to thread the plug through the fork to insert the plug. With the Genuine Innovations kit, I’ve found I can just stick the center of a plug right over a puncture, then jam it in with the tool. Super fast and easy. I can quick-fire three plugs into one puncture this way. No fancy plastic barbs or brass tips needed.
- Cheap - Just trust me.
The Genuine Innovations Side of Bacon tire plugs have never let me down, even with the worst punctures. Not sealing? Just add more!
The only exception is my gravel bike. I use this bike for commuting as well as racing. As a result, it sees a lot of rain, snow, and mud. This bike gets the slightly fancier Genuine Innovations Tubeless Tackle kit. It’s a bit heavier, and more expensive, but you get a waterproof aluminum case that keeps your plugs nice and dry. It has a plug tool and a valve core tool built into it, plus, you also get a couple of extra valve cores. I can also fit a spare quick link in the case, which is a nice bonus.
Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with more expensive plug kits. Riders who enjoy the finer things might prefer the thoughtful design and refined packaging of a Dynaplug Racer and its brass-tipped plugs. We even offer an awesome Radavist version of the Dynaplug Racer Pro. It comes with four plugs, and replacements are slightly more expensive (five for $13), but I can’t deny that it works really well and looks great.
No matter what tire plug you choose, make sure you know how to use it. Familiarize yourself with the technique, and if you have a big race or event coming up, it might be worth it to sacrifice an old tire to practice plugging a few punctures. In fact, that’s how I came to love the Genuine Innovations kit. Because extra plugs were so affordable, I used it to teach my wife, step-brother, cousin, and a few others how to plug tires. It proved so effective, that I ultimately saw no need to use anything else. So save a few bucks when you’re putting together your flat kit, and spend it on something more fun — like snacks!
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