Running your wheels tubeless is the future. Or more accurately, it was the future about a decade ago. I started running my wheels tubeless in 2005 after a then-team Mmnager decided we were all flatting too much on our recce ride. Since then, tubes have only had a place in my wheels when repairing a serious flat. Most people would be aware that although running a UST rim and tyre offer the “official” tubeless system, there are plenty of cheaper, lighter and reliable options out there.
Effetto Mariposa’s CaffeLatex system is just one of many aftermarket tubeless systems, and I had some of the sealant and their unique injector to test. They do have more points of difference than just an injector though, mostly to do with their sealant mix.
Firstly, CaffeLatex uses a trademarked foaming agent, called Actifoam. It’s easy to see the action of this either in the injector, or a half-filled bottle. Just give it a shake and watch it foam up and expand. With the ability to froth, like the top third of a good caffe latte, the sealant coats the sidewalls of your tyre whilst in motion. Most sealants get flung to the rubber beneath the tread due to centrifugal forces. Typically, this makes it harder for them to seal up a puncture on the sidewall – which is a pretty common place for punctures. I have become accustomed to stopping if I get a flat, if only to let the sealant get to the hole without being sloshed around the tyre again.
CaffeLatex doesn’t use ammonia in the sealant. The advantage of their use of synthetic latex is that it is non-corrosive, so doesn’t effect your rims or tyres. If you read the fine print on the labels from some rim and tyre manufacturers, you will note that they don’t always back-up a product that has been used with tyre sealants.
I injected CaffeLatex by their novel injector three weeks ago, a few days prior to NSW’s Highland Fling. They were fine there, I had no problems with flats, or tyre burping, despite running reasonably low pressures. After another two weeks of training on the tyres, I was beginning to think I may need to start poking my tyres with sharp objects to verify their ability to seal punctures.
Thankfully, the Wannaride Spring Fat Tyre Festival at Awaba, NSW, Australia on Sunday 28th November gave me another opportunity to test the sealant under race conditions. While I wasn’t aiming to get a flat during the 8.25 hour solo Enduro event, the feeling of some fluid flicking out of the back tyre signaled my time had come. With a course mostly comprising singletrack, I kept rolling and pedaling, waiting to see a spot to pull over and check out the hole. But there was no need, the tyre was sealed and ready to go. Even the pressure was still ok. Plenty of times I thought that maybe I should top it up, but it held fast for the remaining six hours.
Despite claims to be able to carry on riding on other prominent tubeless systems, I have never been able to. Every flat is different, but this was a pleasant surprise from the CaffeLatex sealant. It seems like the Actifoam really played its part.
This test has obviously only taken place over a few weeks. Effetto Mariposa claim that their sealant will last for up to 12 months. To be honest, I’ll wear my tyres out and change them within that timeframe, so I can’t verify this.
The injector was novel, as it allowed easy to read measurements for using the right amount of sealant, and let you top op the sealant without breaking the bead. Although I am yet to do it, I’ll probably use some of the CaffeLatex in some new ‘cross tubs, just as a safety measure.
All up I have been very impressed by the CaffeLatex system. If you’re not happy with what you’re using, or find you normally get sidewall punctures, or need to top up sealant often – maybe you should pick up a bottle. I will certainly be using it again.