This article is from the Bicycles FAQ, by Mike Iglesias with numerous contributions by others.
From: Ron Larson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is a summary of the experience of riders on the net regarding
various rim tapes, both commercial and improvized. Any additional
comments and inputs are welcome.
Rim tape or rim strips are the material that is placed inside a
clincher rim to protect the tube from sharp edges of the nipple holes
and possibly exposed ends of spokes extending beyond the nipples. Many
materials have been used to produce rim tapes: plastic, rubber, tapes
consisting of a multi-directional fiber weave, duct tape and fiberglass
A few factors influence how well a rim tape works. Some of the tapes
are available in more than one width. It is important to choose the
width that provides the best fit to cover the entire "floor" of the rim
as opposed to a tape that is barely wide enough to cover the nipple
holes. Another factor is how well the rim tape withstands the stress of
being stretched over the nipple holes with a high preassure inner tube
applying preassure to it. The main form of failure of the plastic tapes
is for the tape to split lengthwise (in the direction the tube lies in
the rim) under high preassure forming a sharp edge that the tube
squeezes through and then rubs against. Thus the splitting tape causes
the flat that it was supposed to be protecting against.
REVIEW OF RIM TAPES BY TYPE
Easy to install and remove. No sticky side is involved.
Although there are exceptions, they are prone to splitting under
Michelin Good Experiences: 0 Bad Experiences: 6
Cool Tape Good Experiences: 2 Bad Experiences: 0
Cool Tape is thicker than other plastic tapes and does not exhibit
the splitting failure noted above.
Hutchinson Good Experiences: 0 Bad Experiences: 2
Specialized Good Experiences: 1 Bad Experiences: 4
Easy to install and remove. Good if the nipples are even with the rim
floor and there are no exposed spoke ends.
Stretch too easily and allow exposed nipple ends to rub through the
tape and then through the tape.
Rubber strips Good Experiences: 0 Bad Experiences: 2
Cloth tapes woven of multi-directional fibers:
Easy to install. Do not fail under preassure.
They are a sticky tape and care must be taken not to pick up dirt if
they need to be removed and re-installed.
Velox Good Experiences:11 Bad Experiences: 0
Velox rim tape comes in three different widths. Be sure to get the
widest tape that covers the floor of the rim without extending up the
walls of the rim. The stem hole may need to be enlarged to allow the
stem to seat properly. Otherwise the stem may push back into the tube
under preassure and cause a puncture at the base of the stem.
Non-commercial rim tapes
Fiberglass packing tape (1 or 2 layers)
Cheap. Readily available. Easy to install.
Impossible to remove. If access to the nipples is required, the tape
must be split and then either removed and replaced or taped over.
Fiberglass packing tape Good Experiences: 1 Bad Experiences: 1
Duct tape (hey, someone tried it!!)
CHEAP. Readily available.
Useless. Becomes a gooey mess that is impossible to remove.
Duct tape Good Experiences: 0 Bad Experiences: 1
While plastic tapes are easy to work with, they often fail. The clear
winner in this survey is the Velox woven cloth tape. A quick review of
mail order catalogs confirms the experiences of the net. Velox was
available in 5 out of 5 catalogs checked. It was the only rim tape
available in 3 of the catalogs. The other 2 had one or two plastic
tapes available. (None sold duct tape...)
One good suggestion was a preassure rating for rim tapes much like the
preassure rating of tires.