Repair Kit Buyer's Guide

There you are with a flat and nothing you can do about it.

There you are with a flat and nothing you can do about it. Unless, of course, you packed a flat kit. More suppliers offer full kits these days, and the kits have some similarities. Most will include a way to fix the hole in the tire--usually a tapered plug (with a special strip of ready-to-vulcanize rubber) or rope-style plugs. Stop & Go is unique in having a portable system using mushroom-shaped plugs; it produces both lightweight versions for the road and an installer gun that works equally well in the shop.

Most of these kits use disposable CO2 cartridges to inflate the tire once you've repaired the puncture. How much do you need? According to our tests, it takes six 12-gram canisters to inflate a 180/55-17 rear tire to 20 psi, while a similar number of 16-gram charges will get it to 23 psi. A single 68-gram cartridge will inflate that tire to 22 psi. These pressures are lower than normal in part because CO2 cools dramatically when it's released. In any event, riding on the tire will increase pressure enough to make it safely to a better source of compressed air.

Pay attention to the kind of adaptors in the kits. Most adaptors will accept threaded and unthreaded bottles, but the can must fit properly into the handle for the head to work with the unthreaded types. That is, if you buy a kit with 12-gram bottles and refill the tire with 16-gram items, the adaptors must have threaded necks because the larger body won't fit into the handle made for the 12-gram cartridge. Similarly, 12-gram cartridges are too small for kits that use 16-gram bottles. Smaller bottles use the same thread size on the necks.

Genuine Innovations Tire Repair & Inflation Kit
MSRP: $29.99

This basic kit includes rope plugs and tube patches in addition to the basic tools needed for the job. It comes with three 16-gram CO2 cartridges and an adaptor that can use any of the smaller threaded canisters. Nylon carry bag included.

Genuine Innovations Tire Repair & Inflation Kit Deluxe
MSRP: $34.99

The Deluxe kit contains three 16-gram unthreaded CO2 cartridges and a trigger-operated nozzle/adaptor that accepts threaded 12- and 16-gram cartridges as well as unthreaded 16-gram cartridges. It also includes string plugs for tubeless tires, patches for tubes, an installation tool, a reamer and glue. All contents fit into a roomy nylon pouch.Genuine Innovations Tire Repair & Inflation Kit PreMiumMSRP: $49.99

GI's best kit includes two 45-gram threaded cartridges, a right-angle nozzle/adaptor, patches for tubes and string plugs for tubeless tires. It also includes a reamer and an installation tool. All items fit into a nylon pouch that has a bit of extra room for additional cartridges.

Genuine Innovations Tire Repair & Inflation Kit Premium
MSRP: $49.99

Gi's best kit includes two 45-gram threaded cartridges, a right-angle nozzle/adaptor, patches for the tubes and string plugs for tubeless tires. It also includes a reamer and an installation tool. All items fit into a nylon pouch that has a bit extra room for additional cartrides.

Progressive Suspension TRC-2/TRCL-2
MSRP: $29.95/$34.95

Progressive's simplified repair kit includes two 12-gram threaded-head cartridges and a simple hose adaptor that does not have the valve assembly offered in the TRK-2 and TRK-5 kits. (This means you must refill the tire with threaded cartridges and use care to avoid losing precious CO2 pressure.) The TRC-2 kit is for tube-type applications, the TRCL-2 for tubeless.

Progressive Suspension TRK-2
MSRP: $49.95

Progressive's TRK-2 is the basic kit that includes a nozzle/adaptor for threaded or unthreaded CO2 cartridges, three 12-gram cartridges, glue and plugs for tubeless tires and patches for tube-type tires. The three cartridges are adequate for most streetbike front tires, but marginal for larger rears. The TRK-4 kit has the same components but comes in a leather (in place of nylon) pouch for $54.95.

Progressive Suspension TRK-5
MSRP: $65.95

Designed to use large 68-gram cartridges, the TRK-5 has most of the components of the TRK-4 kit plus a different nozzle/adaptor with a flexible fitting. The kit includes a nylon pouch that will accommodate a second cartridge, but only just. Extra large-capacity cartridges from Progressive run $30.70 a pair.

Stop & Go Fix-n-Flate Repair Kit
MSRP: $25.95

The Engine-Air Pump allows engine compression to work in place of disposable CO2 cartridges. A collection of adaptors is provided; one will fit into an open spark-plug hole. Then you connect the adaptor hose, crank up the engine and let the compression stroke do all the work. Obviously, this kit is best suited to bikes whose spark plugs are easily accessible and won't, naturally, work on a single-cylinder engine. The kit also contains rope-type plugs, tube patches, glue and tools.

Stop & Go Motorcycle & ATV Repair Kit
MSRP: $30.95

Perhaps Stop & Go's most conventional kit, this one includes rope-style plugs, standard tube patches, glue, installation tools and a CO2 cartridge nozzle/adaptor. The kit comes with four 16-gram cartridges, but the nylon pouch will hold a few more. What's more, this kit includes a valve-stem remover and a spare valve stem as well as a premoistened hand-cleaning towel.

Stop & Go Deluxe Tube & Tubeless Repair Kit
MSRP: $43.95

This amazingly complete kit includes the Engine-Air Pump, compact tire irons and an array of patches and plugs. There are conventional rope plugs for repairs made from the outside of the tire as well as permanent plugs to be installed from the inside. All other necessary tools are included, as well as a package of hand cleaner. Now that's a sweet chunk of thoughtfulness.

Stop & Go Pocket Tire Plugger with CO2 Inflation
MSRP: $47.95

The pocket tire plugger is a more portable version of Stop & Go's plug-type repair system, which uses mushroom-shaped plugs that fill a puncture from the outside. (Stop & Go also makes permanent plug kits that are installed from inside the tire.) This kit includes 15 repair plugs, installation tools (including a sheathed razor blade to cut off the excess...a nice touch!), four 16-gram CO2 canisters and a nozzle/adaptor.