Rim tapes usually last long in fact in some cases tapes last longer than the rim itself while in other cases not that long there are many factors that can affect it like the tape quality and other things.
But just to answer your question quickly.
Tubeless rim tape can last anywhere from 3 months to 3 years depending on different factors like quality, and quantity in some cases weather conditions also affect them, and it doesn’t happen overnight rim tape shows early signs that it needs changing if not it can do serious damage to the tires or the tubes.
Before we get into how often you need to change it or the signs that it needs changing let me first quickly go over what is rim tape and what it’s purpose the people who are new to cycling might get confused about what a rim tape is and what are its advantages.
What is a rim tape & (brief history) :
A rim tape as its name suggests is a tape made for the rim, it’s applied on the inner side of the rim it has many advantages as it lowers air leakage and saves the rim from chewing the tire or the tube.
in the past, people used to cut old tubes and they would wrap the new tubes within those old tubes and use them as a kind of rim tape but that method was faulty because if the rim had a sharp end somewhere it would rip both tubes.
But it originally originated when the tubeless tires were introduced for the bikes you couldn’t place old tubes as we used to in older days that would beat the whole purpose of tubeless so people came up with the idea of wrapping their rim with a rim tape and it showed much better results than the previously used methods.
Advantages of rim tape :
there are many advantages of rim tape and some of the biggest advantages it has are.
- rim tape saves you from flats
- It increases your tires life span
- it prevents air leaks
- it prevents sealants leaks
And there are many more to that there are points that I mentioned rim some times have some sharp edges in the even if they don’t metal some times digs into the tires or tubes that can really lave big holes in it well the damage is repairable to some extent but frequent flats can render the tires useless that’s why we use rim tapes.
before getting into how often you need to change it there are certain signs that you can notice along the way and you know where the problem is coming from.
When should you change your rim tape :
While it is fairly dependent on the different factors but if things are going okay and you are not facing any problems then you should change it after 6-12 months based on the tape condition.
The reason that I say that is the longer it stays on there the more it will be harder to take off in the future sometimes things work another way around but usually it’s how things go for a lot of people including me.
Signs that your rim tape needs replacement :
There are a few signs that can help you determine if your rim tape is deteriorating or it has peeled off or something has happened to it.
Here are the signs that your rim tape might have peeled off at some point or it’s ripped from somewhere.
- tires leaking air constantly with no sign of puncture or anything
- rims making different sounds than usual
- sealant leaking from spokes
- getting flats for no apparent reasons
All of these things may be a sign telling you that your rim tape is off am not saying there can’t be other problems like one of your spoke has loosened there can be that as well.
But generally, it’s not something complicated you might have thought I would be it’s just your rim tape has peeled off or ripped from somewhere now there can be a lot of reasons for that, and here are some of them as a reference.
Reasons that rim tape can get peeled off or get ripped at any point :
- extreme heat
- peeled off during a tire replacement
- rim tape starting to deteriorate
- rim eating the tape (sharp end of a spoke or a little pointed metal ripping it slowly)
- cheap rim tape
- not properly applied when applying
Now these can be the reasons that your tape is always getting off or getting off at some point, what I would advise you to do is to do these things
How to avoid rim tape peeling off or ripping :
now there can be a lot of reasons it got off in the first place which I don’t know any way knowing that but what you can do and what I can tell you is to do a 10-minute check it doesn’t take long and it’s easy.
Deflate your tires and see why the tape is peeling off see if the tape has enough adhesive properties that it will keep leaching onto the rim or not a quick way to do it would be to touch it.
If it got ripped off at some point inside the tire then slowly run your hand under that area to see if you can feel something scratching your hand if there is something then you know what caused it.
A quick solution for that would be sandpaper and use it to the level of that part so that it wouldn’t scratch your hand if it doesn’t it will most probably not damage the tape as well.
If you are still having the problem then see if the tape is peeled off or not properly sitting inside the rim that could cause it to peel off and when you put your tire on you might not notice that it peeled off definitely check it out quickly.
And even after that if you are still having problems with it then i did a recent article on why tubeless tires lose the air you can find everything here from normal air leaking to abnormal air leakage new tires problems and much more.
Moving on with our topic surely by now you know why rim tape is important and how you can troubleshoot or fix your problems.
Rim tape types :
There are usually 2 types of rim tapes.
- rubber-based rim tape
- and cloth-based rim tape
are the most popular ones and you might see them on your new tires or on the market.
The debate over which one is better is endless and I am not going to get into all that stuff a brief overlook is that both of these tapes are fairly good they provide the protection you need and do their job very well.
advantages of cloth-based rim tape :
But it’s based on personal preference what you like to use in my opinion cloth based type works well for me because it lasts longer than the rubber-based it is easy to use and it is re-useable in case I had ever needed to peel it off and check the condition of the rim.
as far cons I would say it lasts longer than the rubber-based tape and can be a bit messy when it expires because all the threads just start appearing and can just be all over the place but still I love how easy to use it is when its new and I like to change it fairly often.
Again in the end its personal preference
advantages of rubber-based rim tape :
But rubber based has its advantages as well it’s fairly good it serves the purpose usually it’s thicker than the cloth-based tape the only difference is that it might not come off that easily or be useable but they are usually cheaper so it is is cut off that aspect of things.
Tips and Tricks to apply rim tape :
I don’t usually apply rim tape myself I ask someone to do it for me, I am just terrible at it I mess up the whole thing or it usually doesn’t go the way I want it to so if you are like me you probably have a hard time doing it I can imagine, so here are some tips and tricks that I got from the people who are usually kind to me and help me do it (mechanics or friends)
- If you just can’t do it yourself don’t do it yourself (it’s important)
- Always apply double layers(single layer has terrible results mostly)
- don’t leave any bubbles or bubble lines when applying rim tape it is bad.
- Don’t open the whole roll keep opening it when you are applying it (it will be much easier)
- use isopropyl alcohol or a hair dryer (it becomes much easier)
Here are some tips that I gathered hopefully they will work out for you and you will be able to do it by yourself (unlike me).
It doesn’t take long to do a check-up on your bike rims or your bike as a whole consider it as a transaction if you put your time into it, it will reward you the same rule applies to your life and what you do for yourself treat something with care and give it your time whether it be a minute or an hour all of it will serve you in the end and it will serve you better.