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Schwalbe's glueless patches are useful for field repairs, as long as you allow for the things they can't do.
In the words of Clint Eastwood as Harry Callaghan, a man's gotta know his limitations. That applies to these glueless patches from Schwalbe too: they work well, as long as you respect their limitations.
I used the Schwalbe glueless patches to fix five butyl inner tubes. Three had pinprick holes, obviously caused by thorns or tiny glass shards, one had a classic snakebite puncture in the form of two larger holes a rim's-width apart, and one had a large hole caused by a badly fitted tyre blowing off.
Following Schwalbe's instructions I roughened the tube around the hole, applied a patch and pressed it firmly into place. I'd normally give conventional patches a few hours to cure, but the whole point of glueless patches is that they're a quick fix when you're out on the road, so I put the tube straight into a tyre and inflated it.
The three tubes with pinhole punctures held up just fine, as did the tube with the snakebite. The patch blew off the big hole when inflated. I tried a second time and to give it the best possible chance I left the tube clamped between two pieces of wood for an hour, but it still failed when I put it in a tyre.
That's pretty much in line with my experiences with other glueless patches: they work reasonably well on small holes, but just don't have enough sticking power to pull a really large hole together. Those holes need vulcanising glue, big patches and plenty of curing time.
All repairs of butyl tubes also need a well-roughened surface and the Schwalbe glueless patch kit comes up a bit short there. You get a small piece of sandpaper to roughen the tube, and mine was falling apart before I'd finished the second tube. I switched to emery cloth for the rest of the test.
A day later, the four successful repairs were still fully inflated, so at the very least they'd have gotten me home.
At six quid for six patches, this is an expensive kit, though it can be found for a far more reasonable £4 – follow the 'Buy now' link at the start of the review. Park Tool's GP-2 comes in at £5 for six patches, Decathlon's kit is £3.29 for eight, a Lezyne Smart kit runs £4 for six patches and a tyre boot, Weldtite Red Devils are £2.99 for six, and Wiggle's Lifeline own-brand a mere £2.49 for 10. User reviews strongly suggest the Park Tool GP-2 is the best of those.
Schwalbe glueless patches work well as long as you're not trying to fix a gaping chasm with them. They're easy to use and far less messy than conventional patches.
I see any patch kit as a belt-and-braces back-up. I carry two inner tubes at all times, partly because I'm paranoid and partly so that I can give a tube to a ride companion and still have one for myself. I wouldn't rely on any patch kit as my first-line puncture fix. I will, however, happily carry a Schwalbe kit as my last resort. For anything but big holes, it'll get you home, and I'd recommend carrying them with that use case in mind.
Effective mess-free patches for fixing smaller holes
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Schwalbe Glueless Patches
Size tested: One Size
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Schwalbe says: "With the self-adhesive patches from Schwalbe you can repair a flat tube fast and without any difficulty."
They're for fast flat fixes in the field, then. You get six in a pack, so at a quid each they're much cheaper than a new tube.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Schwalbe also says that these patches are especially suitable for its Aerothan thermoplastic polyurethane inner tubes, and looking at them you can see how that'd work. They're very thin and clear – obviously not made from any sort of conventional rubber.
The patches are tidily cut, but the included sandpaper is a bit rubbish.
They'll fix smaller holes and even snakebites, but fail with very large holes.
At 9g for the pack, they're really not going to slow you down!
At RRP, these are spendy patches.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well on small holes and snakebites, not so well on big holes.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Ease of use and lack of mess.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Failure on big holes.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At six quid for six patches, this is an expensive kit, though it can be found for a far more reasonable £4. Park Tool's GP-2 comes in at £5 for six patches, Decathlon's kit is £3.29 for eight, a Lezyne Smart kit runs £4 for six patches and a tyre boot, Weldtite Red Devils are £2.99 for six, and Wiggle's Lifeline own-brand a mere £2.49 for 10. User reviews strongly suggest the Park Tool GP-2 is the best of those.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes. I mean, insofar as anyone enjoys fixing punctures!
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Effective patches for smaller holes, but the price is a steep.
About the tester
I usually ride: Scapin Style My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb,
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.