First Impressions: Effetto Mariposa Caffélatex Sealant

If you run tubeless-ready tires, you know the importance of sealant. The magic elixir is crucial for reliable tube-free setups. While you may assume that all sealants are the same, Effetto Mariposa’s Caffélatex stands out from the pack with its synthetic-latex formula and foaming action.

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Image courtesy of Cantitoe Road

Unlike traditional latex sealants, Caffélatex does not contain ammonia, making the sealant rim- and tire-friendly. Ammonia is corrosive, and over time, can degrade bare aluminum rims and tire casings. Effetto Mariposa’s sealant also contains microscopic silicate particles (less than 2 microns in diameter), which the company claims move more slowly through holes, allowing the sealing ingredient more time to stop the puncture.

Activated by wheel movement, Caffélatex’s foaming agent (Actifoam™) disperses sealant throughout the tire’s entire internal cavity. According to Effetto Mariposa, this makes Caffélatex more effective against sidewall punctures. We were initially skeptical of the sealant’s foaming abilities, but shaking the translucent container a few times showed just how quickly Caffélatex transforms to its foam state.

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Six-week-old Caffélatex sealant still going strong.

During our review period, we tested Caffélatex with mountain and road tubeless tires. Both new and previously used tires performed equally well. Adding sealant via the Effetto Mariposa-supplied injector was quick and easy, and didn’t require removal of the valves’ cores. For loose-fitting tires, we found that–compared to competitors’ products–less sealant was needed when using Caffélatex. In our testing, we never encountered a puncture that Caffélatex couldn’t seal.

Caffélatex is available in 250 ml ($11.95 MSRP) and 1000 ml ($29.95 MSRP) bottles. Road tires typically need 25 ml to 50ml sealant (each), with mountain tires requiring 50 ml to 100 ml, depending on size. If you’re not quite sure how much sealant is required for a particular setup, Effetto Mariposa has a smartphone app that can calculate the optimal quantity of Caffélatex sealant. The Effetto Mariposa injector has a 100 ml capacity, and retails for $13.95.

Disclosure: Cantitoe Road provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.

Under Test: SRAM Rival 22 Components

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Image courtesy of SRAM

SRAM’s Rival 22 component group features mechanical or hydraulic DoubleTap levers with Zero-Loss™ technology, Yaw™ front shifting for no trim, rub or rasp, and a WiFLi™ 11-32 cassette cassette option. Whether it’s cyclocross, triathlon, road racing, or unchartered journeys, Rival 22 delivers.

Stay tuned…

The King Is Dead, Long Live The King!

If you attended this year’s Interbike trade show, you may have noticed that the bicycle industry has distanced itself from the gravel bike moniker and replaced it with a term with more sizzle–the adventure bike. From the start, the gravel bike name has always elicited mixed reactions. People hear the word gravel, and they immediately think of poorly maintained back roads where they can’t get cell phone reception. Mention the word adventure, however, and the mind conjures up an abundance of two-wheeled Walter Mitty-esque fantasies.

Regardless of whether you call them gravel or adventure bikes, the genre continues to grow in popularity. In the three days that I spent at Interbike, it was rare to find a manufacturer who didn’t have at least one bespoke gravel adventure model in their lineup. While the interpretations and implementations may have varied, versatility proved to the common theme among all the bikes on display.

One positive side effect from the increased adoption of disc brakes (more on that later) is improved tire clearance. By removing close-reach brake calipers from the equation, designers can make room for fatter tires and/or fenders. It’s not just gravel rigs that are taking advantage of this new-found tire clearance, though. Several brands showed endurance road bikes with tire clearance that would have bested dedicated cross bikes from only a few years ago.

Riders who favor drop-style handlebars are no longer limited to mechanical disc brakes. Shimano and SRAM both offer several hydraulic disc brakes paired with integrated brake/shift levers. And if you’re not ready to ditch your cable-operated levers just yet, TRP’s HY/RD hydraulic calipers are compatible with conventional, cable-actuated brake levers. For those that favor the simplicity of mechanical disc brakes, Paul Component Engineering is upping the ante with their beautifully machined Klamper brake.

With disc brakes making the crossover from mountain bikes, it was only a matter of time before thru-axles made the jump to adventure and gravel bikes. Proponents of the larger thru-axles cite benefits such as increased rigidity and improved safety, while traditionalists argue that conventional quick release skewers are lighter and faster to operate. Both camps have their points, but it’s generally accepted that thru-axles all but eliminate the possibility of misalignment between disc brakes (rotors) and frames/forks.

Double-chainring setups continue to dominate gravel bike gearing. While the triple is by no means dead, expect to see more bikes spec’d with wide-range (compact) doubles now that SRAM’s 11-speed WiFLi technology has trickled down to the company’s Rival group (watch for our upcoming in-depth review). And if you don’t want–or need–multiple chainrings, the SRAM CX1 group combines a single-ring crank with an 11-speed cassette. Riders looking for an adventure bike equipped with an internally geared hub should check out Oregon’s Co-Motion Cycles, as they’re one of the few manufacturers offering Alfine- and Rohloff-equipped models.

Taking a cue from mountain bikes, wheels and tires for gravel and adventure bikes continue to grow in size. Leading the way are companies such as HEDRolf Prima, Velocity, and WTB, who prove that wider doesn’t have to mean heavier. On the road tubeless front, most tire manufacturers continue to concentrate on 23mm-25mm widths. Thankfully, 28mm road tubeless tires are available from Hutchinson and Schwalbe, with IRC expected to release a 28mm model in the near future. If you’re looking for something more dirt/gravel-friendly, WTB will be offering a tubeless version of their popular 40C Nano tire.

Even with the aforementioned minor identity crisis, the gravel and adventure bike market appears to be moving in the right direction. More bikes and components means more options for you and me. In an industry that’s often driven–and limited–by racing (real or imagined), it’s refreshing to see attention paid to a type of riding that takes place outside the limelight of competitive cycling.

Ride everything.