Spoked dirt bike wheels (99.9% of available wheels) require a protective layer between the spoke nipples, which protrude on the inside of the wheel, and the inner tube otherwise you'll risk puncturing the tube.
Riding with or without this protective layer holds little compromise. You need something and many riders use rim strips. Others use the tried and true duct tape.
So what's better?
Both rim strips and duct tape work very well in preventing the spoke nipples from puncturing the tube. The cost is minimal for both as rim strips often last several years or more and duct tape comes in an inexpensive roll and sometimes in two or three pack options. Some riders swear by the rim strips others solely use duct tape.
The Pros for Rim Strips:
- Precut hole for valve tube
- Easy installation
- Seals rim channel to prevent moisture accumulation
- Keeps rim clean
- Lasts for years
The Cons for Rim Strips:
- Can rip or tear
- Tends to slide
The Pros for Duct Tape:
- Quick and easy fix
- Won't rip or break
- Tougher than some rim strips
- Quickly replaces torn rim strip
The Cons for Duct Tape:
- Needs replacing every tire or tube change
- Leaves sticky residue on rims
- No moisture control
- Wears out quicker
If you're fussy about your bike, the duct tape leaves a sticky residue that does not remove easily. For most riders using duct tape it's not much of a problem considering you're placing duct tape over the old residue anyway.
Regular rim strips easily strap on like a rubber band around the outside of the wheel but cheaper versions tend to tear or move during riding more easily. However, Motion Pro Armor Rim Strip Tape takes the best of both worlds with a self-adhesive back and offers precut holes for easy installation. But it's more expensive than regular strips and duct tape.
The short answer when deciding between rim strips and duct tape is either one works fine. Duct tape is a garage staple which explains why it's used so often - because it's there - and it's stronger than some of the flimsy rim strips available. A higher quality rim strip installs easily with a no fuss mess and lasts much longer.
Written By: AndrewT