Ditch Your Rim Strip with Rickers?
If you’re running tubes, your rim strip plays a pretty important task in keeping your rims from causing a flat, but it is an often overlooked place of improvement on a lot of bikes. Typically, rim strips come in three flavors – cheap rubber, cloth tape, or plasic/reinforced nylon. The three varieties have different attributes and some function better than others, but what if there was a cheap way to save up to an ounce per wheel? That’s what Ryan Melnyck is asking with rICKERS? kit from his company, lbs. bikes. In his time with Tioga, Ryan says he came up with the idea for their Psycho Genius line of tires along with other products, but is now setting off on his own with simple, yet functional products.
rICKERS? are indeed lighter than just about any rim strip, but are they worth it?
If you haven’t figured it out by now, rICKERS? are essentially stickers that are made out of 3M’s Scotch Guard protective film. I have used the stuff for years to protect the paint on a number of bikes, but the process of cutting and applying the pieces is extremely time consuming. rICKERS? are a pre-cut, peel and stick affair with colored dots in the middle of each sticker to use as a spoke hold placement guide. Similar in concept to Velocity’s Veloplugs, rICKERS? replace a one piece rim strip with individual pieces for each spoke hole. This cuts down on total weight from the unneeded sections between each valve hole, and theoretically allows for easier wheel repair since you only have to remove one sticker instead of the whole rim strip. Pictured above are the rICKERS? standard (red) and reinforcement (yellow) stickers – the standard are used on mountain bike wheels at pressures up to 60 psi, if you need higher pressures you will need the reinforcement kit which is place directly over the red sticker.
Installation is pretty straight forward, but time consuming. To start you need to sand each spoke hole with the included squares of sand paper to ensure that there are not sharp edges which will cut through the rICKERS?. After thoroughly cleaning the rim with the included alcohol swabs, you can begin installing each of the rICKERS?. Since all of my mountain bike wheels have dedicated tubeless systems, I decided to try out the rICKERS? on the front wheel of my gravel bike which has a 24mm wide rim – so not far off from many 29ers. Due to the construction of the rim with a very deep center groove and high sidewalls, installation of the rICKERS? was fairly difficult and I ended up having to replace 3 or 4 due to them not being centered over the hole. It’s important to note that your hands should be extremely clean and dry or you risk ruining the adhesive if you touch it.
While we haven’t set them up yet, rICKERS? can be used to convert rims to tubeless as well though it requires and extra step for installation. Using a spray bottle and soapy water, you would spray down the rim which will allow you to push all of the air bubbles from underneath each sticker for an airtight fit.
As mentioned, for higher pressures the reinforcement kit is needed and since I typically run around 60 psi for this bike on the road, I went ahead an installed it. On the left is the rim with the standard rICKERS? kit, then the reinforcement kit in the center. On the far right I used an additional sticker on the valve hole since I didn’t like the idea of there being no protection at the base of the valve.
Time to weigh in – from left to right we have the front wheel with the standard nylon rim strip (1,020g), no rim strip at all (1,000g), and then the rICKERS? kit + reinforcement kit installed (1,010g). So rICKERS? only saved 10g per wheel, was it worth it? Well, there are few things to consider – since this is a 32h wheel, more rICKERS? are needed than with a lower spoked wheel which would increase the weight savings. Also, this wheel required the reinforcement kit which roughly doubled the weight of the rICKERS?. Performance of the rICKERS? while riding has been perfect, with no issues caused by failed stickers even after some aggressive riding.
Ultimately rICKERS? boils down to how much time you have and how determined you are to decrease rotating weight by any means necessary. rICKERS? definitely work, and at $12.49-$13.95 a set, it’s an interesting way to go tubeless or lose a few grams. If the individual stickers are too much work for you, Ryan mentioned he will have a one piece strip available as well – much like a lot of the tubeless tapes on the market today.
- Tubeless compatible
- Makes it easier to install tight tires
- Saves weight
- Fairly inexpensive
- Time consuming to install
- Not reusable
- Doesn’t save that much weight
In addition to the rICKERS?, Ryan has a few other products like rOAM? which is a lightweight tire sealant “enhancement.” Supposedly adding rOAM? to your tire sealant will allow it to seal larger holes, and seal them faster – a claim we will be testing once the trails around here dry out.