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Is rim tape necessary?
Hello - a question from a complete maintenance/repair newbie (obviously):

Is rim tape always necessary, and if not, how will I know?

Basically, just ordered a new set of (hopefully) better wheels than what came on the bike. The new ones are Shimano Ultegra 6700s. Does anyone know if these need rim tape? Or more generally, is it always better to put on rim tape, just in case?

Thanks for the help.
My experience is that yes you need rim tape. The end of the spoke nipples are sharp enough to puncture a tube, so you cover them up with the tape to protect the tube. I think after I had one spoke puncture my tube I fixed it then doubled up on rim tape for "extra protection" in my mind.

You should just be able to use the rim tape from the old wheels and it should work.
Like nameused said, they are actually made of a thin rubber material.
Good maintenance to your Bike, can make it like the wheels are, true and smooth!
Rim tape stops the innertube expanding into the spoke holes. Without it you more than likely will get a puncture from the top of a spoke besides the holes having rough edges as well.
Rim tape, as Bill says can come in a rubber (plastic) material as well as a thick cloth.
I have used electricians tape before today but wrapped it round twice.
Some special rims don't require tape as they don't have spoke holes. (The spokes fit differently.)
Ride hard or ride home alone!
(04-13-2011, 07:06 AM)cyclerUK Wrote:  . . . I have used electricians tape before today but wrapped it round twice.
Some special rims don't require tape as they don't have spoke holes. (The spokes fit differently.)

Kewl idea! I bet duct tape works too. Last time I bought rim tape it was pricey. I think it was about $10 for two rolls of the expensive stuff (Schwalbe). But yeah, I remember as a kid I removed the rim tape on my bike and then started having flat tires all the time. Smile

Junkyard Tools rescued from the junkyard!
I guess the answer to the question is NO, its not really necessary.... BUT ..... (Form your own opinion from everyone else's comments.)
HCFR Cycling Team
Ride Safe...Ride Hard...Ride Daily
Many thanks to all the good answers.

Seems like it's not necessary strictly speaking, but generally a very good idea, so I'll defer to the collective wisdom of the experts and experienced riders here and use rim tape. Flats are no fun.

Just a couple of follow-up questions:
- any particularly good / bad brands of rim tape to use / avoid?
- is there any reason NOT to put rim tape (other than marginal additional weight which is not a concern for me)? Any potential problems from putting tape on the rim?

Thanks in advance
I don't know that there is a particular brand that is good or bad. But if you don't want to go out and buy one, an idea is that you can make your own out of an old inner tube that is no longer good for riding use. I would use the inside part of the tube and cut an area about a quarter of an inch to half an inch from inner diameter (with the tube deflated and flattened) and then cut out the valve. Since this is only going to be used keep the spoke ends from puncturing the tube, you can put the cut tube around the wheel and tape the area where the valve went. However, the best thing to do is to buy one and save yourself the aggravation.
HCFR Cycling Team
Ride Safe...Ride Hard...Ride Daily
If the rim tape is too thick it can make fitting tyres more difficult.
The tyre bead won't sit down in the rim well making the last bit of tyre difficult to get in place.
This obviously depends on the design of the rim. Some have deep wells and some don't.
Ride hard or ride home alone!
I have switched to two layers of strapping tape like this:


in expensive, stays in place, no flat problems.
My only issue with any tape is with the heat build up and the adhesive that is used on some tapes, it can sometimes make it a bear to remove if you have to. Someone in my riding group has used the old inner-tube method, but as cheap as they are, I personally, would just go buy one as this isn't an item that is replaced that often.
HCFR Cycling Team
Ride Safe...Ride Hard...Ride Daily
I have thought of many ideas including using thin plastic coated cardboard! The only ideas I would have tried is all the above mentioned. Personally if I was in a tight bind waiting on the glorious shipping time probably the old inner tube trick, or some form of tape. Now I also heard of one using a plastic band used for holding boxes together for shipping. I think they used a glue to keep in place. Not sure but by the time one looks at it probably better to get some and keep an extra or two stocked up for in the future.
Good maintenance to your Bike, can make it like the wheels are, true and smooth!

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