The other day, while idly wondering about when I would finally switch to road tubeless, I came across an article on road.cc about the MilKit Valve and Refill kit. It was soon clear that it offered some interesting benefits for both road and MTB tubeless needs.
Tubeless technology in my view is wonderful, one of the game changing technologies for bikes, after disc brakes and quality suspension of course. It’s another of those technologies that imbues confidence on your riding self, giving a reasonable expectation of being able to enjoy your ride without the frustration of punctures.
Many of us – for a variety of reasons, possibly age-related – probably can’t remember riding without tubeless tyres. Young whippersnappers aside (I’d hate to suggest our senior riders have memory problems!), there was a time when most rides were delayed or downright ruined by the puncture fairy. Early on, I remember DaveC experiencing fairy power(!) when a sequence of weekend rides of a decidedly simple XC nature were punctuated by Dave’s bike ripping the valves out of his inner tubes. The inherent comedy of this faded after something like the fifth week in a row this happened.
For myself, I was once stranded at the top of a Yew Trees climb when I’d ventured out solo for a night ride and didn’t realise I had ridden past a recently trimmed hawthorn hedge. I had something like ten thorns in each tyre and no way of repairing the inner tubes so had to walk back three miles through the woods on my own. Spooky!
So tubeless, by avoiding that hassle, is a winner for me.
Where does the MilKit kit come in?
I know you’re wondering. What is the point of this ramble? Well, tubeless, if it has a drawback, suffers over time with the latex drying out. Just ask Barrie! Unfortunately, short of taking the tyre off and cleaning out the dried up latex fur-balls and topping up with fluid there’s no way to fix this is there?
The idea behind the Swiss-developed MilKit tubeless solution is to use custom valves with a rubber flap seal at the base of the valve to keep the valve sealed when the core is removed. This is designed to allow a thin tube to be passed through into the interior of the tyre, from which the latex can be drawn off via a syringe and inspected, replaced or just topped up. The rest of the system is just taps and a large syringe to facilitate the execution of this idea.
The benefits are:
- It’s clean as the latex stays in the syringe and can be easily disposed of from there.
- It is quick as the tyre stays on the rim, keeping the bead seal intact.
- The latex can be inspected more regularly without trouble, so is more likely to be in optimum condition for puncture protection
These seem like strong a set of benefits to me. At £36 this isn’t a particularly cheap option but additional pairs of valves are cheaper at £19. I’m quite interested in the idea as my bikes tend to go long periods without any checks on the condition of latex levels and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.
A YouTube vid explains the system quite well:
I was also surprised to see this has actually had some press in April last year – from Bikeradar, MBR and BikeRumor for example, although at the time the system was only recently out of its’ crowdfunded state on IndieGogo. A year on and I think it’s worth a shot, particularly when I’m considering road tubeless as well.