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  1. #1
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    Caution;  Merge;  Workers Ahead! Pinholes in sidewall of brand new Specialized Control - Fast Trak LK

    To Whom It May Concern:

    I recently purchased and installed two of the "Specialized Control - Fast Trak LK" tires for my '08 Gary Fisher Hifi Pro Carbon from my local bike shop (LBS), Higher Ground of Tallahassee, FL.

    The install procedure went as follows:
    1. Cleaned rim bead hook on both rims thoroughly and removed all old sealant.
    2. Used Bontrager Super Juice on tire bead during installation to seat the bead. (This lubricates bead-seating, and glues/seals the bead to the rim hook for a perfect seal.)
    3. Seated the bead by inflating the tires up to 50psi (the maximum stated on sidewall).

    No tire sealant was used in the first tire and it sealed nearly-perfectly; it only dropped 1psi in 24 hours.

    The second tire, however, instantly had numerous pinholes that developed inbetween the aramid fiber weave of the sidewalls. In the following five minutes, more pinholes proceeded to appear. The tire pressure dropped from 50psi to 20psi in a matter of 10-15 minutes. After a tub-test to see where the bubbles were coming from, I confirmed that the valve-stem and both beads were completely sealed, and that an obnoxious amount of tiny bubbles were fleeting from the sidewalls. When the issue was brought to the attention of my LBS, they suggested using Stanís. (Side note: the tech stated that Ďany rim can be made into a tubeless rim by adding Stanís, without any modification to the rimí, which just doesnít seem plausible.)

    After cleaning the bead and hook (again), and shaking the bottle of Stanís for over five minutes straight, I added two scoops of Stanís. (The tech informed me to Ďshake the mess out of ití prior to use, so I shook the bottle the entire drive home even after my arm began to cramp-up.) After airing the problematic tire up to 40psi (per bottle instructions) and then riding the bike around for a few minutes, there was no difference in rate at which the air was escaping, and the Stanís was definitely weeping from the sidewall pinholes. After three attempts of inflating the tire, riding it to sling the sealant, removing the wheel and laying it on itís side, etc. etc. etc., the pinholes are still not sealing. The sidewalls appeared to be sweating sealant from the rims, all the way up to the tread.

    I contacted the LBS and informed the tech of my issue, and he then told me that I Ďshould have put 3 scoops of Stanís into the tireí, instead of 2 scoops (per the instructions). WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU ENGINEER/MANUFACTURE/ADVERTISE/SELL A LIGHTWEIGHT TIRE AND THEN INFORM THE CUSTOMER TO ALMOST MATCH THE WEIGHT OF THE TIRE WITH AN EQUAL WEIGHT OF SEALANT?! When I asked about the inconsistency of the tire with no sealant having no issues vs. the tire with sealant having severe issues, he stated, ďActually, the inconsistent tire is the tire that sealed perfectly the first time. They just donít do that.Ē Now I understand the tech is not a factory trained and authorized information aficionado, so I took his statement with a grain of salt.

    Now Iím at a loss. The LBS is the only one selling Specialized products in my area. They want to have a go at the tire, themselves, but I honestly donít see what they can do differently.

    So I removed, cleaned, and reinstalled the problematic tire today and used 60mL Bontrager Super Juice to seal it, which is equivalent to only one scoop of Stanís. This sealant was MUCH more effective, though 50% of the pinholes still remain. I made it through a one-hour ride starting at 40psi, and ending at just under 20psi. (See attached picture of post-ride re-inflation using Super Juice.)

    At this point, I HAVE SPENT MORE TIME SERVICING A !!!BRAND NEW!!! TIRE THAN THE AMMOUNT OF TIME I HAVE SPENT RIDING ON IT!!! What do you have to offer in the way of bike-shop-bypass on the warranty?

    Best Regards,

    Chip Young
    *Air Force Research Laboratory-RXQF (Tyndall AFB),
    Robotics Research Engineer/Co-op Student
    **Florida State University-High Performance Materials Institute,
    Advanced Composite Materials Research Assistant
    ***Florida State University, Graduate IE Student
    ****BSME 2008, Florida State University

    -----------------------

    Yeah, maybe I didn't need to post my credentials up there for them...but I wanted to reassure them that the 1-pager email wasn't from some 'Johny-jack@$$'.

    See the picture: http://www.eng.fsu.edu/~youngch/tire_issue.JPG

    I forgot to mention in the message to Specialized that most of the pinholes appear to be incident with the inter-lacing within the aramid fibers. It's consistent all the way around the tire.

  2. #2
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    whew, long response! Hope it helps

    Specialized has a great tire return policy and your LBS should take it back for an exchange if you are unhappy with it. If they are resisting you returning it, then that shop person is wrong and maybe escalate it to someone higher up the ladder? I'm surprised that Specialized didn't mention this to you during your communication with them directly.

    Specialized 2Bliss are not intended to be true tubeless without sealant. They are marketed as standard tire casing with a tubeless ready rim bead. So you get the mounting interface of a UST-spec bead with the rim, and the lightweight benefit of standard tire casing. Sealant required for maintaining air tightness. From what I've read on mtbr, Specialized tires seem to fall into a huge range of quality as far as just how porous or airtight the sidewalls are. I suspect they have a big range of "acceptable" at quality control since sealant will be used anyway. Now based on your picture, your 2nd tire is quite porous whereas the first tire was not. If you find that any seeping sidewalls is unacceptable, then you will have to seek out true UST tires only. It will have to have the UST logo. Specialized is coming out with a lineup of true UST tires next year that they are calling "Grid" to go along with the Control, Armadillo, etc. No sealant required for running Grid tires.

    Have you watched the instructional videos on the notubes.com website? They are invaluable for learning the techniques of getting nonUST tires to mount and run tubeless. Your porous tires should be sealed up fine if you do the shake and turn and then lie them flat on each side after you inflate them.
    http://www.notubes.com/support_movies.php
    Watch the "Tubeless System Installation" video for a demonstation of what I'm saying. Sounds like you can ignore a lot of early part of the video as it is demonstrating how to install the conversion kit. Of course you did doubt the Stan's conversion kit, so watching it could verify how it works for you. Skip aheat to about 8 minutes in for the start of the shake and spin then lie flat demo.

    The 3 vs 2 scoops of Stan's thing, it is also common to take a while to get standard or tubeless ready tires to fully seal. The tire is losing sealant along with air during this process, so using extra Stan's initially is a way of planning for and compensating for that. Not required, but prudent.

    Good luck!!

  3. #3
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    I have noticed also that my Spec Captain control was rather "leaky" around the letters for the size and such. They did eventually seal with Stans, but it did take laying the tire on its side and getting the stans to that spot.

    I have found most Spec control tires to seal with no problem. I have got a few that were tempermental, but still seal with a little extra effort.

    Also, just use Stans. Nothing else works as well I have found.
    Lead by my Lefty............... right down the trail, no brakes.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ziscwg
    I have noticed also that my Spec Captain control was rather "leaky" around the letters for the size and such. They did eventually seal with Stans, but it did take laying the tire on its side and getting the stans to that spot.

    I have found most Spec control tires to seal with no problem. I have got a few that were tempermental, but still seal with a little extra effort.

    Also, just use Stans. Nothing else works as well I have found.

    Yup, I had a specialized Captian full of pinholes, total junk tires.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    Yup, I had a specialized Captian full of pinholes, total junk tires.
    shake & spin, then lie flat. Easy to fix.

  6. #6
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    I would not call them junk, but a decent all round tire. Sometimes they just need a little special touch...........

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    Yup, I had a specialized Captian full of pinholes, total junk tires.
    Lead by my Lefty............... right down the trail, no brakes.

  7. #7
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    Specialized's response from Cody Nelson:

    Chip,
    We have a 90 day satisfaction guarantee on our tires. They will all seal up differently, but you have done plenty to seal up this tire. Eventually those pinholes would seal, as you are finding, but it should not require the extent of sealant that is being used.
    I would approach the shop and say that you have been informed about a satisfaction guarantee and request a new tire.
    If they are unwilling let me know.

    Thanks,
    Cody
    --------------------------------------
    E Warner: Thanks for the ALL of the info and the link. The one thing that these tires have going for them that prevents me from bashing them is that the first tire aired-up without issue, and has remained issue-less. Because I've done everything I can, short of putting a bunch of tire-bandaids inside the tire, I'm just going to take it to the shop and ask for a new tire...and hope that I get a repeat of the first tire.

    I had intended to run the tires with sealant prior to their installation, but I didn't have enough at the house to do so; I misjudged exactly how much I had left, and only had enough to seal the beads. The Super Juice comes with a clear tube so that you don't have to remove the bead to fill the tire, but my Stan's didn't have a tube with it...just the "scoop".

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by extreme.serene
    ....E Warner: Thanks for the ALL of the info and the link. The one thing that these tires have going for them that prevents me from bashing them is that the first tire aired-up without issue, and has remained issue-less. Because I've done everything I can, short of putting a bunch of tire-bandaids inside the tire, I'm just going to take it to the shop and ask for a new tire...and hope that I get a repeat of the first tire...
    No problem, I hope your replacement tire seals easily! I have had good luck with Controls, but some S-works models had porous sidewalls. You mention that you have tried "everything", but you don't mention your experience with the shake/spin/lie flat step..... I think that will fix your issue. A new tire might be nicer, though!

  9. #9
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    Follow-up: The bike shop gave me a new tire, no hassle this time. They did not give me an LK, though...I received a non-LK. In any case, the tire went on and sealed up perfectly right off the bat just like the very first tire I installed. Weird...

    So in the past 2 or 3 weeks, I've had zero issues with the replacement tire!

  10. #10
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    Just to add a data point, I just bought (2) s-works 2.3 eskars, and (2) s-works 2.2 captains.

    So far I've mounted up one of the Captains. I tried it with NO sealant first to see how many pinholes there were. At 60 psi to my surprise there was exactly one pinhole (remember, no sealant) and it held air for a number of hours. With a little bit of stans sealant it's been perfect.

  11. #11
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    The saga continues

    After hanging the bike up on the wall for the better part of two semesters so that I could focus on my MS degree, I took it down and began to perform some upgrades. THE VERY LAST STEP WAS THE DOWNFALL: INSTALLING THE TIRES. I ran into worse issues than before with the pinhole issue, and this is the exact reason that I quit using Bontrager tires. Anyone want recommend a better tire...or at least one that I won't have to worry about having to seal up? I like riding tubeless, but after these issues I'm really considering going back to the old school.

    Below is my follow-up message to Specialized. It won't get me anything, I'm sure, but I'm just sick of shelling out money for sh|t on this bike...and also having it end up just being sh|t.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    In dealing with Specialized in the past about two Specialized Control - Fast Trak LK tires that I purchased, I was instructed to return one of the tires to the LBS because it refused to seal. There were pinholes throughout the sidewall on both sides of the tire and even TWICE the recommended amount of Stan's wouldn't seal it up. These tires simply wouldn't hold air for any amount of time. And now that I just finished hours of installing a Fox F120RLC fork and Mavic Crossmax ST wheelset, I swapped these tires to my new wheelset, only to see that the same pinhole issue that I had previously, is now worse. I never went above 40psi when installing these tires.

    Now, after dropping all of that money on my bike and spending the time to upgrade, with all of my excitement waiting to riding my bike, I now have TO DUMP MORE MONEY into it for tires since these two have 90% of their tread life left AND THEY'RE COMPLETE GARBAGE. I have only owned Specialized shoes and refuse to purchase any other brand. I have raced on a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR and loved it. However, I am completely baffled by the crap-quality of your tires, and the opinions expressed by others that match my experience. At this point, I am hesitant to purchase any more of your products, nor will I recommend that anyone else does so.

    Again, what's most frustrating is that I'm all hyped up to ride, and now I'm set back by something as simple as tires leaking. Furthermore, I paid $110 at my LBS for these tires, but I only got about $11 worth of their life, and I've wasted about 6 hours between the two ordeals.

  12. #12
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    shake & spin, then lie flat. This step has a purpose, it coats the interior sidewalls with sealant and then lets it pool up on the sidewall when you lie it flat. This allows the sealant to do its job of working its way into all the tiny pinholes. Did you tires lose pressure due to the pin holes? I have a Specialized Captain control that has a few miles on it and slightly scuffed sidwalls. It has numerous spots where sealant is leaking out, but the tire holds pressure just fine. I check pressure before every ride anyway and it is never more than a few psi low.
    You should look into true UST tires before giving up on tubeless. Sounds like your experience has been entirely with standard tires converted or with tubeless ready tires, both of which are prone to porous sidewalls. They are not designed to be anything more than that. A true UST tire, however, will have an extra layer in there that will make things airtight w/o sealant. Specialized 2Bliss is tubeless ready, not UST. They do have the Grid tires now which are true UST. Your Mavics are UST and if you match them up with UST tires you will have the no-maintenance setup you seem to be looking for. Tubeless ready (2Bliss) or standard tires converted will almost always require some prep in order to get them air tight.
    Last edited by ewarnerusa; 05-06-2010 at 12:02 PM.

  13. #13
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    < FACEPALM >< /FACEPALM >

    extreme.serene, why do you expect for Specialized to give a damn about your email?

    Aren't you trying to seal up a non-2Bliss or non-GRID tire? If so why do you expect their response to be anything other than a disclaimer about non-suitability of their product for what you are trying?
    Nobody cares...........

  14. #14
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    Extreme.serene

    After trying to read through your posts, I really didn't see where you stated if your Specialized tires were 2Bliss or not.

    If your tires are 2Bliss, that means sealant is required, as another poster stated. You can make virtually any rim tubeless ready with the proper rim strip and valve. Bead hooks are vastly different between UST and standard rims. So results will vary with different rim/tire combos.

    For years people have been converting standard tires to tubeless. Most either use Stan's kit, or do a ghetto conversion. Either way, standard tires not designed to be run tubeless, and the bead connection to the rim is not as strong without a tube. So in response to this, some companies have come out with tubeless-ready tires (2Bliss in Specialized's case). These tires have a UST bead so they seat securely in a UST rim, and a standard casing, which is much lighter. Sealant is required for the tire to hold air. Some tires might hold air for a few days without, but some might leak profusely without sealant. Stan's is the arguably the best sealant.

    If you aren't happy with the tubeless setup, just put a tube in. Problem solved. If you want to run tubeless, but don't want to hassle with sealant and pinholes in the sidewalls, get a true UST tire. Running standard or tubeless-ready tires in tubeless configuration requires some maintenance and patience. If you want less hassle and maintenance, either run a tube or go with UST.
    "Confidence is the feeling you have before you fully understand the situation".

  15. #15
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    As far as I know, the Control series tires are all 2Bliss. Only the OEM Sport class tires are non 2Bliss. Good point, though, he does not mention if his non-LK replacement is a Control series.

  16. #16
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    shake, spin, lie flat

    extreme.serene,

    My first race of the year is next weekend and I decided to mount up some race tires. I'm using Mavic Crossmax SL wheelset. I mounted up a new Specialized Renegade Control on the rear and a lightly used Fast Trak LK Control up front, both tubeless with a home brew sealant. I used the Fast Trak last year for a few weeks for the last race of the season and I don't remember any issue with it not holding air. After mounting it up the other day I noticed several weeping pin holes in the sidewalls just like in your attached photo, but I thought nothing of it since I remember it holding air fine last year. The Renegade had no visible pin holes weeping sealant. I did not get a ride in on them, I just hung up the bike when I was done mounting. The next day the Renegade was still at full pressure (30 psi) but the Fast Trak had lost almost all its pressure. I figured that spreading the sealant around again would do the trick so I pumped it back up to 30 psi and rode the bike to the grocery store. The next day the Fast Trak was flat again. Now I have your issue fresh in my mind on this same type of tire, so I decided to take my own advice and do the shake, spin, and lie flat step. I pumped it back up to 30 psi, did the shake, spin, lie flat step and let it sit on its side for about 20 minutes. Then I repeated the shake and spin and let it lie flat on the other side for the rest of the afternoon while I went back to work. After work, the tire was at 25 psi. I pumped it back up to 30 psi and did another round of shake, spin, lie flat and let it sit on each side for another 20 minutes or so, then put it back on the bike and hung it up for the night. The next day it was still at 30 psi. Problem solved. Renegade tire has not lost pressure during all of this, so it just goes to show that there is a huge range of sidewall porousity with Specialized tires like you came across with your pair of Fast Traks. Good luck and like we've been saying, there is a learning curve and some patience invloved when getting non tubeless or tubeless ready tires to seal up. If this is unacceptable to you, then you must seek out true UST tires.

  17. #17
    ouch....
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    Maybe you should stick with tubes.
    Riding.....

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