Celebrating the life of a tube: Michelin Protek Max

The Michelin Protek Max tube had such a short, but great life…

If you can recall, I installed two Michelin Protek Max tubes back in late February. I performed a test on the front tube, and it held up surprisingly well. Despite puncturing the tube with something as small as a paper clip, such a small item will typically turn a good day into a bad day with a flat tire.

After riding the Protek Max and allowing the slime to slosh around and seal the puncture, the tube held air very well.

Then, I ran over a nail. Ouch. Unfortunately, the nail was a little too big for the tube to seal – leaving a puncture that was too big for the sealant to seal. Even when trying to ride the bike, it wouldn’t hold air for very long.

I tried everything to save that tube and get it to hold air. I cut up pieces of an old tube to place on top of the puncture, but that only worked somewhat.

Placing a piece of an old tube on top of the puncture helped slow the puncture, but not as well as changing the orientation of the tube in the tire.

Then the I swapped the position of the tube in the tire, so that the puncture wasn’t directly next to the puncture in the tire casing. That actually helped a lot, but the tube was still on its last legs.

That’s when I realized the tube was trash. After softly laying the tube in the trash can (see below), I wept for a little bit before ordering a new tube.

Before disposing of the tube, I risked getting sealant everywhere to get a look at the inside to see how it ticked. Note the little specs in the sealant and the shape and thickness of the tube itself.

The big problem with the Protek Max is that, unlike other non-sealant tubes, they can’t be unused. Slime and other sealants can save you from a bad day (like a thumbtack causing a flat), but they do make a mess and can’t be reused. I typically hang on to my old tubes to repurpose at some point, or donate to someone who can repurpose them. (I don’t like seeing them go to landfills.)

I didn’t reorder the Michelin Protek Max. Instead, I opted to go for an option that was half the price – Continental “ContiTube” tubes. These tubes feature a 40mm threaded schrader valve – somewhat a rarity in bicycle tubes. I bought the same tube for the Huffy Superia I had a couple years ago and they haven’t changed. One thing I dislike about the Continental tubes is they’re made by CST (Cheng Shin Tire), who we all know I absolutely love.

The Continental “ContiTube” is a cheaper alternative to the Protek Max.
The Continental ContiTube has a threaded 40mm schrader valve.

My final verdict on the Michelin Protek Max tubes: they’re not bad tubes, rather they’re fairly good. The Sedona’s rear tire still has its Michelin Protek Max tube, which has had excellent air pressure retention. But for many ordinary cyclists (myself included,) the $13 price tag can be a little too much. As I mentioned in my original Protek Max entry, I talked about how I purchased my specimen for only $6 as my parts vendor was running a special sale on them when I ordered.

The Protek Max, however, can save some people money. If you’re constantly running out buying new tubes (like me) because of road junk, or if you live in an area with sharp plants and such (think cacti, goat head thorns, etc.) the Protek Max can save you a lot of money by sealing small punctures. Just remember, it doesn’t seal large punctures such as those from larger nails and such. (So don’t take your bike riding through a construction site littered with large, framing nails.)

There is also Slime. The Continental “ContiTube” is half the price of ONE Protek Max tube, and a bottle of Slime at Walmart is about $6. So you can save some money by trying to fill ordinary tubes with Slime. (Walmart also sells pre-filled Slime-brand tubes that are cheaper, but these are CST.) But I’ve heard the Protek Max is much better at sealing punctures, partially because the special design and the little rubber particles in the slime.

Basically, the only reason I didn’t re-order the Protek Max is because of the price. I purchased two ContiTubes – one for use as a spare – for the price of ONE Protek Max. I’d still highly recommend the Protek Max tubes if you’re looking to end flats caused by running over thorns, thumbtacks or other small items.

Post written on the 2018 iPad. Photos with text taken and edited on 2018 iPad using Photoshop Express.