Josh Poertner has done a superb job in taking over Silca, and in doing so, is raising new awareness of the importance of tyre inflation for cyclists. While some may question the need for a very expensive pump with an accurate pressure gauge, Josh has been publishing plenty of data on Silca’s website demonstrating that relatively small changes in tyre pressure can have a profound effect on the comfort, rolling resistance, and aerodynamics of the wheels.
Now Silca has turned its attention to tubeless, expanding its current catalogue to include rim tape and tubeless valves. According to the company, by using a stronger starting material, their Platinum tubeless rim tape is 25% thinner so that it is better able to conform to the rim bed. At the same time, the adhesive layer is 15% thicker so as to improve adhesion and sealing, especially for carbon rims.
Silca’s tubeless valves are alloy rather than brass, so they are around half the weight. Josh’s attention to detail is obvious here, since the stems are made from a cold-drawn rod of aluminium alloy that offers more strength than an extruded tube. The stems are paired with CNC-machined valve cores that Silca promises are more robust and reliable than cheaper versions.
Every tubeless valve stem and extension is supplied with Silca’s Speed Shield, a silicone attachment that provides a seat for the valve stem nut, protects the rim from scratches, and improves sealing of the stem. It also provides a small saving in aerodynamic drag (0.2-0.3W per wheel at 30mph/48kmh).
Platinum rim tape is available in two sizes (21 and 25mm) where one roll will provide enough tape for two road wheels. The valve stems come in four sizes (44, 60, 80, and 100mm) while there is one size for the valve extensions (44mm). All valve stems come with a pair of rubber Speed Shields, locknuts, and a tool for installing the stems and valve cores.
As a tubeless convert, I’ve never had trouble setting up a low profile wheelset, but I’ve always been stuck when it comes to taller rims because it’s hard to find longer valves. In this regard, Silca’s new tubeless valves are a very welcome addition, and should appeal immediately to gravel or CX riders using tall carbon tubeless rims.
There’s no easy way to verify Silca’s claims that their tape is extra sticky for carbon and alloy rims, but for the alloy wheel that I tested, it sealed perfectly the first time I tried. The tape is semi-opaque so it’s possible to see through it to find the valve hole, which makes installing the stem a little easier.
Likewise, Silca’s tubeless valve stems were an easy install. In the past, I’ve had to torque the locknut of brass tubeless valve stems with a set of pliers to get them to seat and seal properly. Not so with Silca’s offering, which seated and sealed with much less effort and there was no need to reach for a set of pliers.
I was a little concerned that the Speed Shield would add too much weight and unbalance the wheel but when combined with Silca’s alloy valve stem, it was actually lighter than the brass stem that I had been using (Stan’s 44mm brass stem with locknut, 8g; Silca 44mm alloy stem with locknut, 4g; Speed Shield, 2-3g). I found the Speed Shield was a little unsightly but its effectiveness ultimately outweighed my concern about its aesthetics.
Thus, Silca’s Platinum rim tape and tubeless valve stems are easy products to recommend for road tubeless riders. Each costs a little more than the competition but they work beautifully.
Price: Platinum tape, 21mm x 9m, US$16/AUD$30; 25mm x 9mm, US$18/AUD$35. Tubeless valves, 44mm US$26/AUD$50; 60mm, US$28/AUD$54; 80mm, US$30/AUD$58; 100mm, US$34/AUD$TBA. Valve extension, 40mm US$26/AUD$TBA.