SILCA Platinum Rim Tape is the finest Tubeless Conversion (or traditional rim tape replacement) tape on the market featuring a special Adhesive optimized for Carbon and Rough surfaces, resulting in improved sealing on both Aluminum AND Carbon Rims.
The last few years have brought about some amazing changes in tubeless tire technology. I like to say that we've advanced 10 years in the last 3! Over the last 2 years, we've found the entire crew at SILCA and many of our frame building and industry partners converting most all of our wheel sets to tubeless and that's when we got a bit frustrated. It quickly became clear to us that the current state of tubeless valves and tapes had grown out of 2 distinct movements: Mountain bikes and aluminum rims.
For a little backstory, I spent 15 years developing carbon wheels and rims, including development of the layups, resin systems, tooling, molding methodologies and even the mold release systems which allow the carbon rims to be removed from the tooling. So as I converted and worked with the products on the market I decided that what was needed was a new approach, one that started with the rim surface and worked outward. The challenge with carbon rims is twofold: 1. the rim surfaces are covered in a microscopic layer of mold-release, generally silicone based, from their manufacturing. This is a requirement as otherwise the carbon surface would permanently bond itself to the tooling during manufacturing. However, trace amounts of this mold-release go with the rim when it is demolded and are nearly impossible to remove. 2. Molded carbon surfaces contain microscopic pores and airflow lines as a result of the manufacturing. When molding carbon, pressure on one side of the carbon laminate pushes out any trapped air to compact the laminate. All of this escaping air moves out along the interface between tooling and carbon/epoxy surface, so the rim bed naturally contains millions of tiny micro-channels left behind by escaping air, so sealing this surface requires a thicker and more flowable adhesive layer to fill in all of those nooks and crannies.
There are only 2 companies that make these types of tape currently, all of the tapes on the market come from one of the two, so to start, we went to both of them. We were able to quickly baseline the state of things and ask two simple questions: 1. What is the BEST substrate (tape material) you make? 2. Can we optimize the adhesive system to better fill in the carbon surface imperfections while using a system that wants to bond to the mold release?
The result of 2 years in the lab, is the finest 'Platinum Grade' substrate currently produced, which is both stronger than other tapes AND has higher elongation at failure (it stretches more before breaking). This rare combination (typically stronger things are more brittle) allowed us to make the tape 25% thinner while keeping the same strength. The thinner, more compliant tape is immediately noticeable on installation as it more easily conforms to even the most complex tire well geometries. Secondly, we apply our Fully Synthetic, Carbon Optimized adhesive 15% thicker than standard tapes which is just enough to allow the adhesive to flow into the deeper crevices on carbon rim surfaces for improved sealing. Best of all, this full-synthetic adhesive is also stronger on both raw and anodized aluminum surfaces.
The final result is a product that exceeds all prior products in every aspect except cost. Unfortunately, the finest tape backing material does cost more than the others, and full synthetic adhesives are more expensive than natural rubber based adhesives, but as the test manager from a major carbon Mtn. Wheel manufacturer recently told us after testing the product, 'This is easily the best tape we've ever used. How many samples can you send us, everybody in the lab would like to 'test' it some more for you.'
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