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18 Grams of Insurance.
By Tom Demerly and James Knight.
Read this first about our reviews


Vittoria Pit Stop is an elegant solution to the flat tire problem.

 


Pit Stop is ideally suited for triathletes since you can fix a flat in under one minute with no tools.


Vittoria Pit Stop will fill most punctures caused by normal road hazards.


The small, pressurized cannister contains propane gas and polymer foam sealant in one.


One cannister of Vittoria Pit Stop effectively replaces all this stuff.

Since the invention of pneumatic tires the cyclist’s bane has been the flat tire. The history of the bicycle is filled with gadgets designed to keep air inside the tire and, once it leaks out, how to get it back in. The ideas range from zany to ingenious. One of the most recent and most effective is Vittoria’s Pit Stop.

Vittoria Pit Stop is a pressurized cylinder filled with compressed gas and polymer foam sealant. You carry the cylinder with you in a bike bag or jersey pocket. When you have a flat tire you simply open your valve stem, press the nozzle on the Vittoria Pit Stop canister onto your valve stem and press toward the tire to release the compressed gas and the liquid foam sealant. Both substances shoot into the tire under pressure. The gas inflates the tire while the foam sealant flows into the puncture and instantly dries, sealing the hole and fixing the flat. If you are familiar with the automotive version of this called “Fix A Flat” then you get the idea. It seals the hole and inflates the tire simultaneously.

This concept has been tried with sealants that are added to the tire before a puncture occurs. TUFO makes a white, milky additive that is intended to be injected into their tires (or any tire) when it is installed as a sealant when a puncture occurs. The break through of Vittoria Pit Stop is that you use it on the fly and don't need to add or use anything until you have a flat tire.

Injecting the sealant and propellant into your flat tire on the road adds about 15 grams of weight to the tire. We inflated a tire with Vittoria Pit Stop and the tire went to about 95 psi for a 700 X 23c sized tire. The tire held the tire pressure for about 18 hours. Since the pressurized gas that is used to inflate the tire is propane it somehow seems to dissipate rather quickly, more so than normal compressed air from a tire pump or even CO2. That means you need to re-inflate your tire with normal air after uisng Vittoria Pit Stop. The seal on the hole lated indefinately though and seemed to be a permanent fix if the hole is small.

It is difficult to mis-use Vittoria Pit Stop if you exercise reasonable care. Do double check that your presta valve is open before attempting to inject the gas and foam mixture. Make certain the Vittoria Pit Stop cylinder is perpendicular to the rim before you begin to press on it. The pressure of pressing the cylinder onto the valve starts the rapid flow of gas into the tire through the valve. Keep your face out of the way. There will be a little expulsion of foam sealant from the valve stem- that is normal. The tire will inflate and the hole will likely seal instantly.


James Knight of Vittoria America punctures a tire and inner tube for a test of Vittoria Pit Stop.

 


The cannister is pressed onto an open presta valve stem.

A Vittoria Pit Stop canister is about 6&1/4 inches long and 1&1/4 inches in diameter or 16 centimeters long and 32 millimeters wide. It fits well in a jersey pocket or most bike bags. The Pit Stop canister weighs 80 grams, the same weight as two energy gel packets. Carrying Vittoria Pit Stop is easier than carrying a spare inner tube, tire levers, CO2 inflator and patch kit.

The idea behind Vittoria Pit Stop is that you don’t have to change a flat tire. You simply inject the gas/foam mixture into the tire when you flat and get back on your bike. The attraction of this is obvious: No tools, no necessity to remove the wheel from the bike or the tire from the wheel. You don’t need to know how to change a flat. You just shoot the stuff in the tire and go.


The cannister is firmly pressed onto the valve, releasing the compressed gas and the foam.

We tested Vittoria Pit Stop on the road for the past four months and in our store before that. We’re impressed with the results. In every real world case of a flat tire Vittoria Pit Stop did manage to seal the puncture and restore some level of inflation back to the tire. Vittoria Pit Stop did not fail even once throughout a wide range of temperatures (the high 80’s Fahrenheit to the low 40’s) and with a wide variety of common punctures. Vittoria Pit Stop even sealed relatively large punctures with enough effectiveness to allow the rider to ride their bike home.

Vittoria Pit Stop was designed only to seal small punctures and it works perfectly for that. A small puncture as created by a tack, small sliver of broken glass, thorn, wire or other small, sharp object is closed instantly and tire pressure in a 700 X 23c tire is restored to over 90 psi instantly. The entire process takes well under a minute including stopping and dismounting your bike. You go from flat to repaired tire in under one minute.


A little foam sealant usually shoots back out of the valve stem. This is normal. It dries instantly.

On larger punctures we discovered Vittoria Pit Stop does actually work better than the manufacturer claimed, but not well enough to ride normally. If the puncture is large such as a tear longer than about 5 millimeters the foam sealant still dries and closes the hole, but some of the pressurized gas leaks out in the process. This means instead of having 90 psi in the tire you may only have 40 psi. That isn’t enough to ride much distance without damaging the tire, but it is enough to get you somewhere that has a tire pump or compressor. If you carried Vittoria Pit Stop and an additional CO2 inflator or small hand pump you would be well insured against punctures and from having to change a flat tire.


The hole that caused the flat is instantly sealed.

Vittoria Pit Stop is particularly well suited for triathletes since they can repair and re-inflate a flat in seconds on either tubular (sew-up, glue on) tires or traditional clincher tires. This totally subverts the need to carry a spare of any type, especially with tubulars. There is no more concern over fixing flats.

Vittoria Pit Stop works with every valve extender we tried including Zipp, Hed, Blackwell Research and Mavic. It does only work with Presta style valves, and the valve must (obviously) be open for the gas and sealant to flow inside.

When Vittoria Pit Stop was released in the U.S. I was not confident it would be effective enough to rely on. There have been somewhat similar products before that did not work. Pit Stop is different based on our functional experience in the real world and on our tests. It actually does work and it works somewhat better than what the manufacturer claimed- a pleasant surprise.


Thanks to James Knight for giving us samples of Vittoria Pit Stop to try on the road and some test tires to take out and flat for the tests. Vittoria Pit Stop actually exceeded our expectations significantly.

If there is a draw back to Pit Stop it is that the propellant and compressed gas is propane making it extremely flammable. You can not put Vittoria Pit Stop in any baggage taken onto an aircraft. It is both pressurized and explosive. Pit Stop is safe to carry on a bike but should never be exposed to excessive heat and the canister should never be punctured.

It’s possible that Vittoria Pit Stop may replace the kit of equipment cyclists traditionally carry with them to fix a flat. No flat remedy is 100% effective except replacing a punctured tire or inner tube with a new one, but Vittoria Pit Stop is nearly as effective and much faster, more convenient and even less expensive. One canister of Vittoria Pit Stop, enough for one flat tire, costs around $10.

While there may still be situations where Vittoria Pit Stop may not repair a flat tire 100%, such as a very large puncture or tear, it is reliable enough to use as a stand-alone emergency flat repair system. Perhaps more importantly, if you aren’t comfortable with removing bike wheels on the road and replacing an inner tube or tubular tire, Vittoria Pit Stop is the answer for you.

 

 

© Tom Demerly, Bikesport Inc.
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