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Do All Bike Wheels Need Rim Tape and why | Things you never knew

Rim tapes do more than just provide protection from air leaks and help prevent flats if the rim had some sharp edges here are some things that you might have not known before.

But first here are all the wheels that may not require rim tape as much as others.

Wheels That Do Not Require Rim Tape:

There are two categories of wheels regarding inner rape, one category needs a wrapping material the reason is that their wheels are not filled with rubber plugs and the inner spoke holes are open.

The other category has small rubber plugs which are within the spoke holes and these wheels do not require rim tape. Rim tape works as insulation for the wheel and prevents heat from transferring to the inner tube and increases its life span.

Wheels with plugs :

In most cases, tubeless tires will have the inner plugs on the rim and tubeless tires are less likely to come in contact with the rim itself whereas tubed tires will come in contact with the rim, and even if the tubed tires have plugs on the spoke holes tube will still come in contact with the rims

and heat will eat away the tubes or stick with the tube so in both cases rim tapes are necessary for tube tires whereas in tubeless tires the problem is not so big and you basically need something to cover the spoke holes to prevent air and sealant leakages.

Racing wheels :

Another exception for not needing any rim tapes would be the custom-made wheels for racing, the inner rims and wheels of these bikes are filled with rubber and glue, and the holes of the spokes and nipples are filled thoroughly in the center of the wheel, these rims do not require rim tape.

rim tape is considered as an extra weight on the wheels of these bikes, these wheels are also rare and do not require wrapping material in the center of the rim. it plays a big role in protecting the inner tube tires from puncturing and flats on harsh and rough terrains.

New Wheels :

New wheels normally do not require any rim tape usually manufacturers will send the wheel trued and they will wrap the rim tape for you so there is no need to apply any more rim tape on the existing layers of the tape.

But just to be sure always check if the tape is applied in the right manner and if it’s not slipping or peeling off from the rim.

How Rim tape plays a part in circulating heat :

Both tubeless and tube tires require rim tape, it does not just cover spoke holes and prevents leakage of air, but it also has other many advantages, when the wheels rotate, heat is transferred within the rim through spokes and this heat starts accumulating within the tire, and mostly for tube tires, this heat is not essential and useful but it will have negative effects on the tube and the width of tube starts spreading and expanding within the tire, as a result, the tube will lose all of its stretches without using rim tape and It will become more mellow and more prone to bursting or pinch flats.

Wheels contain spokes and spoke nipples in the center of the rim, if you are not using the rim tape then the undersurface of the tube sticks with these holes and slowly starts penetrating within these holes

This process increases over time and the tube becomes permanently stuck within the spoke holes you may never be aware of what’s happening inside your wheels.

After 6 months or so the tubes will become useless they will either have big chunks of rubber missing from too many points and will be expanding in the process as well and may even burst at some point.

Those bikes which have disc brakes installed in their wheel start constantly creating heat from the center of the wheel, all of this heat is arising and spreading to the center of the wheel

with the help of spokes, this further heats up the tubes, and the tube will damage because of the disc brakes of the wheel.

Tubes don’t stay just in the center when you are riding your bike tubes are constantly moving left and right or changing directions and of course, rubbing with the heated rim as well, rim tape acts as an insulator and a heat distributor around the wheel so that the heat concentration is not only on 1 point but it’s spreading through the whole wheel.

Making the system much more reliable.

Why Rim Tape is Necessary For Spoke Nipples:

Spoke nipples pop interiorly within the rim and if you are using inner tubes, then there is a chance of puncturing the tube by these spoke nipples and it becomes necessary to wrap rim tape on them.

when the tire runs on the trails the spoke nipples constantly move because of flexible force in them due to which nipples can constantly move inward direction of the rim and make contact with the tubes, that’s why wrapping rim tape is necessary.

How Can you Make Your Own Rim Tape (Explained) :

This is possible only for tube tires and does not apply to tubeless tires. if you want to make your own rim tape then find an old tube, remove the stem valve from it with cutting tools and wrap it on the rim surface fully, after that install the inner tube, this method is useful to provide extra safety to the inner tubes from puncturing and flats.

But this DIY tube rim tape is usually accurately done on those wheels which have deep centerlines, and this tape is not applicable on those rims which are not deeply manufactured.

Is Rim Tape Necessary For Tubeless Ready Rims :

Rim tape is not necessary for tubeless ready rims, because the centerline of these rims does not contain spoke holes from which the air leakage occurs, it simply contains a stem valve that is inserted into the rim and the rim is flat and normal without any holes, due to which you don’t need to wrap any tape in tubeless ready rims. Tubeless-ready rims just need a sealant to avoid air leakage from the tire in case of punctures.

These rims are sealed thoroughly on their interior section and if you want to insert the spokes within the rim, the mechanics of these rims are also rare because these are advanced rims and wheel building is also complex from the normal tubeless rims.

When you receive your new tubeless-ready rim, then there are some brands that have rubber strips installed in the center line of the rim, you have to check and recognize the same strip, if it is present then it is not necessary to install the rim tape but if the rubber line is not present then you should install a single layer of rim tape or any other alternative tape.

Do UST Tubeless Rims Need rim Tape:

UST rims have sealed spoke holes and do not cause air leakage, due to which these rims do not need a wrapping material or rim tape.

but you can wrap rim tape around them if you want to, or if you have frequent flats it can be that rim has a sharp edge inside you can use a tool to level it off and apply rim tape over it but you don’t necessarily have to put on the rim tape on a UST rim.

Is Rim Tape Necessary For NON-UST Rims :

Yes, rim tape is recommended but you can also use other alternatives which include, gorilla tape, stans tape, and other rubber lining strips.

I have a complete article on Rim tape alternatives | Good and bad alternatives Explained

you can use this article if you need further information on rim tapes or general alternatives to rim tapes.

Is Rim Tape Necessary For Drilled Holes On The Rim :

If your wheel does not have spoke holes and has drilled holes on the sides of both rims, then rim tape is not necessary for these small and tiny drilled rim holes, the air won’t leak through these small holes due to which you can avoid rim tape, but you can use it just in case if you had wanted to.

In the end, no harm comes from applying a rim tape and there are many added benefits of rim tapes.

How Rim Tape is Helpful For Tubeless Rim :

Those wheels which do not need rim tape due to lack of spoke holes also work properly with the presence of wrapped rim tape in the center, it gives easy access to tubeless tire to seat properly on the rim bead, rim surfaces are almost rough and after applying rim tape, their surfaces become slippery and makes a smooth way for the tire beads to seat properly, the tire easily moves on its exact location on the rim with the help of rim tape and locks tightly.

Tire beads are stiffer and it needs an air compressor to give a high-pressure jack to these beads to sit properly but to avoid all this, just simply wrap a tape and the bead will sit accurately in its place.

Is It Necessary To apply Rim Tape Above Rim Strip :

Rim Strip is made of plastic and is not better suited for tubeless tires because it is not long-lasting but rim tape is long-lasting and avoids air leakage from the spoke holes.

But to be exact you don’t necessarily need to apply rim tape over the rim strip, rim strip is used for the rough rims where the rim is eating out the tube or constantly pinching holes in the tires but other than that it’s just an added weight and you should be pretty much okay even with rim tape only.