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Product Review - Specialized Rim Strips

Several weeks ago, while out on a group ride, I had 3 flats within the space of less than 2 hours and 25 miles. I only had one tube on me, but was fortunate enough to be riding with some very generous people that not only shared tubes with me, but also helped me put them in. One of these individuals took a look at my wheels and theorized that my flats were likely being caused by tube to rim contact, as opposed to road debris or pinch flats. 

When I got home, I took off the wheels, removed the tires and tubes and took a good hard look at the rim strips. Sure enough, the Velox strips were a bit narrow, and in places, just barely covered the spoke holes. 

I knew that I had to find a solution. I was tired of buying new tubes every couple of weeks. After some research on the internet, I came across these Specialized brand rim strips. I made some phone calls to local bike shops to see if anyone carried them, with no luck. I ended up ordering them directly from Specialized. 

When they arrived, I jumped at the first chance I had to get them on my wheels. The first impression that I had of them was that the material of which they were made was a little thinner than Velox, but was quite strong nylon. They seemed to be a little lighter than the cloth tape as well. The strips themselves were wider than the old cloth ones. 

The Specialized strips come as a big loop that has to be stretched onto the rim. This proved to be a challenge. I had to use small woodworking clamps to hold the strips on for the last foot or so of the rim as I had to really work to get them on. After I got the first one on, it was twisted a little bit, so I had to use a small screwdriver to get under it and straighten it out. Installation on the second wheel went much easier.

Once they were on, I felt that they would do a much better job than the old strips. The width covered the inside base of the rim better and there were no indentations over the spoke holes. My only reservation was that the hole where the valve stem goes through was elongated due to stretching the strip to get it on the wheel. Since I had had a couple of punctures/tube failures right around the stem, I felt it necessary to add a little insurance in that area, so I sandwiched some of the old tape with a old tube, made a small cutout for the valve stem in it, and slid it under the Specialized strip. 

It seemed that the tires and tubes went back on more easily with the new rim strips. I pumped the tires up to 95 PSI (which is higher than I usually run) and went out for my usual Monday night ride. No flats this time! Time will tell how these perform compared to the cloth strips, but at this point, I feel confident that I will be seeing fewer flats. 

As a closing point, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that the Specialized rim strips cost no more ($3.50) than the widely popular cloth strips. Ask your local bike shop to start stocking them. If you can't get your hands on Specialized's strips, FSA and Ritchey seem to have similar products.  

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