The pro peloton is a hotbed of futuristic technological advancement; the cutting edge of our sport with the fastest bikes, the lightest components and the most expensive accessories, all created by some of the brightest engineering minds in our sport.
Rare, then, is it that you see a rider dive into the history books and adopt a generations-old hack for puncture protection, but that’s exactly what Oscar Sevilla (Medellín-EPM) did at the Vuelta a San Juan.
In a video posted to the team’s Instagram ahead of the final stage, 46-year-old Sevilla proudly shows off his “trick”, in which he’s wrapped a few inches of electrical tape – at a cost of just a few cents – around the seat stays and fork legs of his $14,000 S-Works Tarmac SL7 race bike. The tape is positioned so precisely that it very nearly touches each tyre with the intention of ‘sweeping’ away any pieces of debris that are picked up from the road.
“This is a trick I learned here in Argentina,” Sevilla explains. “Nowadays you get a lot of thistles, little bits and pieces, and people walking around carry them on their shoes. And they cause a lot of punctures. So this nicks them off, cleans it.”
Sevilla’s hack is a makeshift replica of a small add-on accessory found on bikes from as far back as the 1940s, possibly further. Known as flint catchers, tyre sweepers, tyre wipers, and perhaps optimistically, even tyre savers, they were mounted to the brake mounting bolt and featured a small D-shaped wire that would wrap around the surface of the tyre.
Like Sevilla’s piece of tape, their purpose was to dislodge any larger pieces of debris that had attached themselves to the tyre before they could make their way around again and be pushed further into the tyre, where they would likely cause a puncture. While they went out of fashion long ago, it is still possible to buy them, with retro-connoisseurs Reneherse offering a pair for $18.00 (opens in new tab).
Interestingly, Sevilla’s bike is equipped with Roval Rapide CLX II aero wheels – as confirmed by this separate Instagram post – which are tubeless compatible. Despite this, and his apparent concerns surrounding punctures, Sevilla’s wheels are wrapped in the not-tubeless Specialized Turbo Cotton clincher tyres, which are well revered for their low rolling resistance, but not so well known for durability or puncture protection.
Specialized does make a number of tubeless-ready tyres,…
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