Tubes vs. Tubeless

 

out of the tires can shave somewhere around half a pound off the weight of the bike. Since this is rotational weight saved at the wheels, a rider will also experience improved acceleration with less energy required to move the bike.

To help from making a mess, there is also the option to inject sealant through the valve with a syringe.

Downsides

• It’s not bulletproof: While your tires may be set up tubeless, a big-enough puncture can render your sealant useless. A hole larger than a 1/4 inch will likely pour your tire sealant all over the trails. For this reason, even when running tubeless you may want to carry a spare tube. Although you might be covered in sealant after installation of the spare tube, you will be glad you brought one to get you home safely. A tire plug is an option for holes too large to seal with tire sealant alone. Essentially, a tire plug is pushed into the puncture on your tubeless tire, and then the tire is re-inflated so the plug can work with the remaining sealant to fill the hole and hold air pressure.

• May hurt the bank account: In comparison to tossing in a new tube and inflating it with a pump, some of the essential items needed to go tubeless have price tags that add up to more than many budget-minded riders will want to spend. Those things include a kit for converting your wheelset, tubeless valves, extra sealant, special trailside tools and tubeless tape.

• Installation and maintenance: Things can get messy and at times be a bit awkward when you first attempt to set up tubeless on your own, but we will give you some tips later. For most, the hardest challenge seems to be getting the bead of the tire to sit properly on the rim. What’s more, over time, the sealant will eventually dry and need to be replaced. Luckily, this is not every single day, but we recommend adding tire sealant at least once every three or four months. Also, if you do gash a big hole in the tire on the trail, tire sealant will probably spray on your clothes, gear, and frame, so there will be some clean-up involved.

Pushing the limit of a tubeless setup through a rock garden at low tire pressures.

How to Go Tubeless

• Method 1: There is a chance your mountain bike came with tubes installed but was advertised as “tubeless-ready.” Check the tire’s sidewalls to see if they are tubeless-ready or not. Rims that are noted as tubeless-ready typically have a tightly sealed rim tape pre-installed. In this instance, the only other items needed are tubeless valves and some sealant. From there, you can do the conversion from the comfort of your garage.

• Method 2: If you wish to turn a non-tubeless wheelset into a tubeless-ready one, you will need some additional items and a great deal of patience. Not only does it take more time to properly install the tape onto the rim, making sure there are no leaks can be time-consuming. Although most tires or rims will work with this method, it is best to use a tire designated as tubeless-ready to ensure a sealed and reliable system.

Tips on Tubeless

Setting up a tubeless system can cause some headaches if you don’t take the proper steps. To help, we’ve listed a bunch of tips and tricks we’ve learned over the years to keep our bikes rolling right.

• Tire-over-rim advice: Tubeless tires have a very tight fit with the rim in order to keep air securely in the tire. This means that it can be a battle to get the tire over the rim. The first side of the tire is typically not a problem, but the second can have you breaking tire levers or saying some foul words. Once one bead is over, you must take into account where the bead is currently sitting….

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