Rim Strips and Bike Rim Tape  | A Complete Guide 

People who often use a bicycle will surely be familiar with bike rim tape. But what does it mean to an amateur who is setting off to use a bike for the first time? This article will briefly educate readers regarding the kinds of rim tape, their uses, their significance, etc. By the end of this article, the role and function of bike rim tape will be very clear to the readers. 

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What are rim tape?

A bike rim tape is a protective cloth, nylon, or PVC tape which is wound around the bike rim to protect the inner tube from getting damaged by spokes of the bicycle or spoke holes. It is a simple yet essential tool for a bike.  Most bikes come with rubber rim strips that stretch around the bicycle’s rim like a big rubber band. These rubber strips can tear or dry out and break because of regular use, therefore leaving the wheels unprotected from below. 


Types of rim tape

The bike rim tapes are in two standard widths (most common, but there are other widths as well).

Narrow ones are 15 mm, and wide ones are 19 mm. They are also commonly found in two length variants, ones that are pre-cut and glued to a certain rim size with a pre-drilled valve hole. Another is self-adhesive rolls, similar to duct tapes. They can be cut to the desired length and applied to the rim. Rim tapes can be made of rubber, which is very easy to stretch and can even fit bigger rims than they are made for (in case of emergencies).



Then there are rim tapes made up of strong fabric, hard rubber, or durable plastic. They usually have ‘high pressure’ printed on them. All of the rim tapes, irrespective of the material, serve the same purpose. 


How to apply tubeless Bike rim tape?

When setting your tubeless-ready rims up to go tube-free, you need first to line your rim bed with some tubeless rim tape. The tape covers your spoke holes and any gaps in the rim that could allow air to leak over time, letting your tubeless setup go flat in a short period of time.

tubeless rim tape
tubeless rim tape

In addition to tubeless rim tape, you will need some sealant and tubeless-ready valves to complete the setup. An air compressor or large canister of compressed air also aids in a big way during inflation. A hand pump can be inconvenient to use here. 

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How to change a cloth rim tape?

Cloth tape usually comes on a roll and has adhesive on one side. It sticks to the rim, which removes the risk of it being pushed aside later. It offers a more trustworthy level of protection for the bicycle tubes.

The first step is to measure the rim of your bicycle accurately. You must measure it from the inside of one rim wall to the other. The rim tape that you purchase will have to be of the same width as your rim. It can be a few millimetres wider but cannot be narrower. Since it is a self-adhesive cloth rim tape, it will come in a roll. On opening the tape, you will find that at the beginning of the tape, there is a small hole in it. The hole is for the valve. This needs to be positioned above the valve hole on the rim.

cloth rim tape
cloth rim tape

Then you have to press down the tape for it to stick firmly. With the help of a screwdriver, shove the tape into the valve hole. This will ensure that after winding the tape around the rim, the hole in the tape still lines with the valve hole on the rim. This line is essential to maintain. After positioning the tape over the valve hole, gradually peel the tape off and press it securely on the rim. One should be careful to ensure that the tape is pressed evenly onto the rim recess and not allowed to go above or below the rim wall. After fixing this firmly, now all that’s left to do is replace the rubber tube and the tire. 

This process can be time-consuming, and you need to be particular while doing it. But this way you will successfully have replaced the bike rim tape yourself, instead of giving it to a repair shop. A pat on the back is what you deserve after this!

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Bike rim tapes come in multiple widths. Make sure that you have the right width. Proper installation of rim tape is very important. Improperly installed tape may lead to more flats as well as increased difficulty installing your tire on the rim.

If you’re not sure about being on the right width or how to go about installation, your local bike shop can help you.

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