Rim tape alternatives | Good and bad alternatives Explained

in this article, you will find some of the most reputable brands of rim tapes and their alternatives.

The reason I wanted to do this was a lot of people looking for a precise answer: if the available alternatives are good enough for the brand’s rim tapes and if they do the job they are supposed to do.

So I wanted to kind of write this article based on actual values comparing what the brands offer and what the alternatives offer and take that data to conclude a very specific answer and that is which alternatives are the best to use and which would be the bad ones and how those values compare with what the actually brands have to offer.

Here’s a complete database for you to look at for different rim tapes and alternatives and if you are in a pinch or you forgot to buy yourself a rim tape here’s everything you would ever need to know about rim tape alternatives.

Rim tapes and alternatives for aluminum rims :

If you did know or you didn’t aluminum and carbon rims rim tapes are different.

On a side note, rim tapes that work on aluminum will work on steel and titanium rims, but the rim tapes that work on metals may not work on carbon rims and I have addressed that below as well if you are looking for that.

Stan’s rim tape :

tape type rubber or cloth: rubber

how many layers: 1 layer for tire pressures under 45 psi over 45 psi 2 wraps if still, you feel it’s not working well do 3 wraps

stickiness to metal: it sticks to metals well but has been reported not sticking to carbon rims very well

thickness: 0.14 mm

renewal/lasting time: 1 year on average

heat resistance: good

Note : by thickness i dont mean width its just to give you an idea for the comparison of thickness

Velox rim tape :

type rubber or cloth: Heavy Cloth Tape

how many layers: 1

stickiness to metal: good

thickness: 0.5mm

heat resistance: good

lasting time: 1-3 years on average

Schwalbe rim tape :

type rubber or cloth: Cloth type (high-quality polyester)

how many layers: 1 is enough

stickiness to metal: good (but too many adhesives)

thickness: 0.25 mm

lasting time: 4-6 months maybe ( for this one i will leave your imagination run wild) overall not a very good experience

ENVE rim tape :

type rubber or cloth: rubber

how many layers: 1 round

stickiness to carbon rims: yes

thickness: N/A

lasting time: N/A

Enve makes his own carbon rims and if you land on here looking for ENVE rim tape alternatives I would advise against it because even says to use their own rim tape and nothing else because it can cause problems otherwise.

there have been too many incidents to ignore so it’s best that you stick with what they are asking, they did use to send gorilla tape in the past but I don’t know if they are now sending the fancier version of that or using something else so beware that you use what they recommend.

Kapton tape :

type rubber or cloth: rubber

how many layers: 2 rounds must

stickiness: good

thickness: 0.0635 mm

lasting time: 4-5 months in summer 

Kapton tape is extremely adhesive and you might get an adhesive mess when removing it.

Gorilla tape (white) :

tape type rubber or cloth: cloth and rubber mixed

how many layers: 1

stickiness: it’s very sticky

thickness: 0.5 mm

lasting time: 1-3 years

Gorilla tape is I deal as a rim tape with the only problem of leaving adhesives when removed like most tapes

Duct Tape :

type rubber or cloth :

how many layers: 2

stickiness: it’s as sticky as gorilla tape you can say it’s a mini version of gorilla tape with a difference in thickness

thickness: 0.25 mm

lasting time: 1 year – 3 years

Duc tape works the same as the gorilla tape and it will also leave some residue after some months

Electrical tape :

type rubber or cloth: rubber

how many layers: 1

stickiness: average ( it expands as you pull it so if it expands it would become less and less sticky)

thickness: 1-3 mm

lasting time: 4 – 8 months

A better alternative for electric tape would be an electric tape with a cloth base it would work much much better and it won’t slip around or stretch too much.

Hockey tape :

type rubber or cloth: cloth bases

how many layers: 1

stickiness: quite good

thickness: 1-2 mm

lasting time: 1 year or more

Hockey tape won’t be I deal with tubes its thicker and grippier the hard surfaces could be problematic sometimes, on the other hand, I have seen people use it without any issue just a caution tho I wouldn’t recommend it as a very well substitute for tube tires would work fine for tubeless tires.

Horse tape :

not a very ideal rim tape alternative because it’s too thick and has a rough surface tubeless could get away with it but tube tires won’t, still not a very good ideal alternative.

Rim strips :

the rim strip is one powerful and good rim tape I wouldn’t consider them an alternative but most bikes do tend to use thin rim tapes for a lot of various reasons like the width of tires is not enough and bead setting problems and other problems that they can pose but as a rim tape I would highly rate it because they are fairly good.

The best alternative for the rim tape :

Depending on all the data that you see above and from my personal experience here’s my ranking on what are the best alternatives based on the price, and all the different metrics I mentioned above.

  1. Velox rim tape (cheaper and better performing than other rim tapes)
  2. Stan’s tape
  3. duct tape
  4. hockey tape
  5. Gorilla tape (White)
  6. electric tape
  7. Kapton tape
  8. Schwalbe rim tape

These numbers are rankings are based on my own personal experience and on the basis of different sources that I collected data from so nothing is a given some might be better than others and vice versa.

Some people may argue why gorilla tape is not number 1 and why electric tape is number 6 the reason for that is performance, Velox is more expensive than gorilla tape but it performs even better than gorilla tape and leaves even less of a mess than gorilla tapes.

Gorilla tape and duct tape are fairly good but the residue they leave behind is a pain to remove.

I did a whole article on Quick and Easy Ways To Remove Residue Left From Rim tapes

Pro tip : White gorilla tape leaves less residue than black gorilla tape

And as for electric tape, it is an option and somewhat of an alternative for the rim tape but I was not so convinced it slipping sometimes makes it sometimes harder to set the bead on tubeless and the other factor would be it peels off from time to time that not very good as well.

Best rim tapes for the carbon rims :

These tapes are rated based on the same factors I used above.

Rim tapes used on carbon rims can be used on aluminum rims but rim tapes for aluminum won’t necessarily work on carbon rims.

  1. Gorilla tape
  2. Scotch Strapping Tape 8898 (3M)
  3. Stan’s tape
  4. ENVE rim tape for ENVE rims

For example, stan’s tape has a bad reputation for not sticking very well on the carbon rims.

Problems you may encounter with Rim tape Alternatives:

Gorilla tape, duct tape, and other alternatives for rim tapes often leave behind residue, or once they are applied they leave behind quite a lot of residue which is removable and washable but sometimes they can be a bit of a pain.

Rim tapes peeling off carbon layer :

Sometimes if you apply the rim tape on the carbon wheels the tape might peel off a layer of the carbon.
Is it dangerous: No, it’s common for the carbon wheels to leave a layer behind its usually not the carbon that peels off it’s just a layer of adhesives previously applied by the manufacturers that peel off with the rim tape, and in most cases, it’s not structural damage to the rims.

That being said I repeatedly used the words “usually” and “in most cases”, just to emphasize that it’s common but just to be sure you should always check with the manufacturer and ask them if it’s happening in the normal way.

Carbon products including rims are structural Meaning they are built layers over layers, unlike metals which are bonded together so if it’s losing one or two layers just because of the rim tape every time you take it off, it would be best if you gave your manufacturers a quick call and ask them about it.

Does sealant seal holes in rim tape as well? :

no, sealant will not seal the holes in the rim tape because it is too thin to even have that much sealant so increase you do not tightly tape the rim the sealant will leak and if the rim tape gets a hole in it due to higher air pressure it will leak from the spokes so make sure you tightly tape the rim.

Should rim tape be wider than rim :

No rim tape should be the same size as the width of your rim tape is mainly for sitting in the center so that it prevents air and sealant leakage from the spokes, the better way of doing it is to have rim tape on the side walls as well I have explained it below.

Should rim tape be applied on the side walls of the rim as well :

Yes and no, for some rims it’s required to apply the rim tape bead to bead meaning on the sidewalls, and in other cases, it’s not required to apply the rim tape on side walls, if your manufacturer or your LBS or the dealer didn’t tell you if you need to apply it on side wall then you probably don’t need to but if you feel air leakage might as well apply it no harm in that.

But be careful with the carbon wheels and ask for instructions if those were not given and ask for specified rim tapes as well.

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