Stan's Race tire sealant vs. Standard tire sealant - the pros and cons

Stan's NoTubes tire sealant is one of the most popular tire sealant solutions on the market today. It's become so ubiquitous, in fact, that many riders automatically think of the Stan's NoTubes brand when someone says "tire sealant", the way "Xerox" is synonymous with "photocopy."

Some riders are not aware, however, that NoTubes actually makes two different, and distinct tire sealant formulations: The first, "Race" and the second, what might be called the "Standard" version. Depending on your terrain and riding style, one of these two options will likely be a better choice for your bike. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of each formula.

Stan's Race tire sealant - pros and cons

For more than 15 years, Stan's has been creating an "off-label" version for professional cycling teams and elite athletes. That version is what the public can now buy, labeled as "Race" tire sealant. It hasn't been on the market as long as the "standard" version.

The #1 selling point of the Race sealant is it seals larger holes/punctures compared with the Standard version. This is achieved by including a mix of both large and small particles, which interlock to make a lattice shape in the event of a puncture. It's a better choice for race day, when you need to keep rolling at all costs and can't stop to add air or fix a slow leak.

Race sealant comes with a downside - because it's thicker, it can't be injected through the tire valve by removing the valve core. You must break the tire bead to install it, or to top it off. That's less convenient. It also means you can't use it on a tubular (glue/taped on) tire for that same reason.

Race sealant also requires more maintenance. Stan's suggests inspecting the sealant every 2-3 weeks, and removing it completely if you don't plan to ride for a while.

In summary:

  • Race seals larger holes
  • Race cannot be injected through the valve - you must break the bead
  • Only works on tubeless tires; doesn't work on tubular tires, nor in clincher tires with inner tubes
  • Race sealant requires more maintenance

Stan's "Standard" tire sealant - pros and cons

If the container you're looking at simply says "Stan's NoTubes Tire Sealant" on it, you're holding what I call the "standard" formula. If you walk into a bike shop and ask for "Stan's", this is likely the version they'll hand you.

You might also call it their "classic" or "regular" formula tire sealant. Unlike the Race sealant, you can inject the Standard sealant right through removable core Schrader and presta valves. 

Since it doesn't claim to seal holes as large as the Race sealant, with the Standard sealant, you're more likely to have to interrupt your ride to seal and re-inflate your tire for bigger punctures. You can continue to expect small holes, like those from thorns, to seal on the fly with either.

In summary:

  • Standard is a lower-maintenance, fire and forget option
  • It's easier to "top off" (add sealant) with the Standard version compared with Race, since you can inject it through the valve
  • Standard works in more tire types: you can use it in tubeless and tubular tires, even in inner tubes inside traditional clincher tires

What they have in common

Both the Race and Standard sealants will seal most common small punctures, such as those caused by goat head thorns, wire, in road, mountain, gravel, and cyclocross tires.

What about cyclocross tires specifically? 

For cyclocross riders and racers, carefully consider your tire types when choosing a sealant. Both the Standard and Race sealants can be used in tubeless tires.

If you're racing on tubulars, however, note that Stan's Standard sealant is OK for tubulars, but Stan's Race sealant is not. So if you want one bottle that works on your entire fleet of mixed wheels, opt for the Standard sealant in that case.

In a perfect world, we would never puncture an expensive race-day-only tubular tire, but it happens. Once it's punctured, the remove/tape/glue process makes replacement time consuming and complicated.

Making the repair with a sealant instead is a viable option, especially on-site at a race venue.

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