A lot has been discussed around tubeless tires and how they can be beneficial for a number of reasons. In this article we will guide you through all you need to know on the subject, and help you with the decision making when the time comes.
INTRODUCTION TO TUBELESS
A tubeless setup, as the name suggests, refers to a tire that was installed without the use of an inner tube, instead it has a liquid sealant inside. Many riders are familiar with clincher wheels that require tubes, but lately tubeless tires have become more and more common, especially among MTB riders. If you’re a roadie, worry not - tubeless apparatus is also available for road and gravel bikes.
Now you may ask yourself: ‘Well, if tubes have been around for so long, they can’t be all that bad - why would I choose to go tubeless?’ And the answer for that question is not just one. So here’s a quick list of advantages of the use of tubeless:
Reducing rotational weight, by removing the inner tube tubeless wheels are often lighter than tubed wheels, making it easier to gain speed.
Allowing to run lower pressures, with less risk of a pinch flat. Additionally you get better grip, improved and more confident steering/handling and a faster rolling tire on rough surfaces.
The use of sealant also reduces the chances of a puncture ruining your ride by coagulating at the punctured spot and preventing air loss.
It is starting to make more sense now, we know. But there are other points to consider before deciding to go tubeless, and these are:
To be able to run a tubeless setup you need to ensure you have tubeless compatible rims, tape, valves and tires. Not all bikes are supplied with these, so make sure to check the bike specs before going down that route.
You’ll also need to add tubeless sealant to the equation, this sometimes can get a bit messy.
Installing a tubeless tire often requires pressured air, so an air compressor or a tire booster would come in handy for that task. There are ways around without it, but let’s just say they’re not very user friendly.
TUBELESS SETUP GUIDE
So you’ve considered your riding style and preferences, did all your homework, confirmed you have all compatible components in hand and now is time to set your bike tubeless. See below a step-by-step guide on how to convert your wheels:
With the wheels off the bike, go ahead and pop the tire off the bead and remove your inner tubes.
Check to see if your rims are already equipped with tubeless compatible rim tape. If not, remove the existing tape and install a tubeless compatible one. We recommend at least two overlaps, to ensure the structural strength of the tape.
When installing the tubeless specific rim tape, pay attention to the width of your rims and match that with the width of the tape. Ideally the tape would be 4-6mm wider than the rim, which would provide a wider cover of the tire bead and consequently a better seal. Make sure the valve hole, as well as all spoke holes are completely covered by the tape.
With the tape in place is time to install your tubeless valves. Poke a small hole on the tape where the valve hole is located on the rim and insert the valve through. With the valve inserted, you can then install the rubber seal ring and valve nut. Make sure to hand tighten it firmly so no air can escape from there.
Go ahead and work one bead of the tire in the rim, paying attention to the direction of the tire in relation to the rim.
Continue to install the other bead of the tire into the rim, leaving a gap of around 20cm. We’ll use this gap to insert the tubeless sealant.
Now it’s sealant time, make sure to shake it well. For MTB wheels you can use around 120ml, road bike wheels will take around 60ml. Pour the sealant inside the tire through the gap we left on the previous step.
With the appropriate amount of sealant in the tire we can then continue to finish beading the tire into the rim. You may use a tire lever for the final bit, but be careful not to damage any of the parts.
Once the tire is in the rim we can move to inflating and properly beading the tire. We like to use compressed air for this, if you do not dispose of an air compressor you can remove the valve core before inflating and replace it once the tire is beaded - this will allow for more air flow and hopefully bead the tire.
We’re looking for a couple of loud popping sounds here (sometimes a bit scary too, we have to admit), this will tell us the tire has beaded correctly.
Adjust the air pressure according to your riding preferences, spin and bounce the tire a few times to distribute the sealant uniformly inside, and reinstall the wheels back on the bike.
And by now you should have all the basic knowledge around tubeless tires and be able to make an informed decision considering your riding preferences. Feel free to contact us in case you have any questions or concerns and happy riding!
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