You Do NOT Need Rubber Grease To Install Tubes & Tires!
I started using red rubber grease because when I was a kid, I saw it used on rubber hoses and seals in classic cars, so I thought, why not use it on my dirt bike?
As it turned out, I was a few decades too late with this idea. Red Rubber grease and motorcycles have been used together for a very long time.
Rubber grease has many applications when it comes to dirt bikes, so I’m going to save that for another article.
This article will focus on the benefits of using rubber grease when installing the tubes and tires on your dirt bike.
Great Tube & Tire Protection
Rubber grease protects rubber on rubber, and rubber on metal contact. Rubber on metal protection means your dirt bike tube will be protected from friction wear on all sides.
Rubber grease is stable up to 230° Fahrenheit, with strong mechanical stability, which means it won’t break down when your tire heats up.
It’s also a vegetable-based grease, so it’s suitable for both synthetic and natural rubber tubes.
Natural materials are one of the reasons I only run natural rubber dirt bike tubes, and I go into more detail in another article.
Waterproofing Your Wheel
Red Rubber grease is water resistant to the point that pressurized water it required to remove it. This resistance makes it an excellent waterproofing solution both inside and outside the rim.
I apply a thin layer to my tubes as I install them to get a functional layer between the rim, tube, and tire. When your tube is inflated, it seals TIGHT against the rim and tire.
Here is a dirt bike tube inflated to 5 psi, and you can see it expands much larger than the tire.
So when you seat the bead at 30 psi, that thin layer of grease tries to find a way out, filling any gaps or cracks along the way.
Here is an example of white lithium grease escaping through the valve stem hole after a tube alignment.
I also apply a little extra to the outside of the valve stem and rim lock hole just in case. I like to waterproof my tires because I ride trails and never know what I’ll be riding through.
And even though aluminum can’t rust, it can still corrode. Here is an example of what happens when water sits in your rim.
These spoke bolts have corroded and seized to the rim. Even after soaking it in PB blaster, these bolts won’t budge. I can never true this rim if it gets out of true. All I can do is replace it, and rims are not cheap.
And even if water does get into my rim, rubber grease is an excellent corrosion inhibitor, adding another layer of protection.
Conditioning Your Dirt Bike Tube & Tire
Rubber conditioning has two forms; motion and lubrication. And without conditioning, the rubber will dry out, harden, crack, and even break.
Unfortunately, my “good” bike sits most of the year. When I go riding it’s usually on a project bike, so I don’t take my nice bike out as much as I’d like.
Red Rubber Grease helps keep the tube and tire conditioned and helps mitigate dry rot when my bike sits for long periods of time.
But applying rubber grease to the inside of the tire will only go so far… literally. The inside of the tire has a thin layer of rubber before the fiber layer.
While grease will condition this inside layer, it will most likely never permeate to the outer layer. So other measures need to be taken to avoid dry rot of the tire.
You can learn all about what causes dry rot and how to avoid it in my “Why Do Tires Dry Rot” article.
Why I Use Red Rubber Grease
Rubber grease does make installing tires easy, but it’s very messy if you don’t take your time. And if you are in a rush to change your tube or tire, you probably didn’t need it to begin with.
The main reason I use it is to save myself time and money in the long run. It may take me an extra 20 minutes to install a new tube or tire, but when they are protected from wear and dry rot, I can run them for years.
And after those years, when I do need to change my tube or tire and service my rim, I can perform maintenance on it without having to fight seized parts, because it was waterproofed.
A Quick Side Note: Lubrication on the inside of your tire will not make your tire slip on the rim. The only reason your tire will slip is a loose or misaligned rim lock.
So Do YOU Need Rubber Grease?
Absolutely Not. Red Rubber grease is not a necessity, but, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You definitely don’t need it if you ride motocross or changing your tires on a regular basis.
However, I would recommend using rubber grease to anyone that doesn’t need to change their tires often, rides in wet conditions, or just doesn’t get out much.
If you DO want to try it for yourself, you can get Red Rubber Grease on Amazon!
If you have any questions or anything to add, please leave them in the comments or on our FaceBook page!