Tubeless Tires Part 2 - Tips and Tricks

July 14, 2018

In the last 12 months, we’ve been putting tubeless tires to the test and our overall view on tubeless hasn’t changed.

We believe it’s a fantastic performance orientated tyre setup on offer due to improved rolling resistance, greater comfort and increased level of protection against flats.

Hold on, there’s always a catch, right?

Well, it’s not 100% puncture proof so you’ll still need to carry a spare tube and it can be a bit fiddly compared to the old trusty tyre and tube combo.

If you’re not ready for tubeless yet, rest assured that performance tyres like the excellent value 25mm Conti GP4000S2 with a set of lightweight tubes offer a excellent ride in feel. Running discs brakes, go even further with latex tubes for a superbly closer feel to tubeless.

If you’re interested in tubeless or are looking to get the most out of your tubeless system, read on! We’ll share the tips and lessons we’ve learnt on tubeless setups.

Sealant

First up, recognize that regardless of your tyre choice, the sealant is the key ingredient for an effective tubeless system as no tyre is puncture proof. If you take one thing away from this article, it’s that sealant selection is key to an effective tubeless system.

Sealants were originally developed for mountain biking and the lower pressures that mountain bike tyres afford (~30 PSI). Road bike tyres operate at 80-110 PSI and there are a number of sealants still out there that just won't seal at that pressure.

Our recommended sealant of choice is Orange Seal as it’s the best we’ve tried (we really like their addition of particles in the sealant).

We’ve also tried to get sealants that wouldn’t seal at higher pressures to work with “homebrew additives” with varying degrees of success. We can conclusively say that glitter gets everywhere and ground up pepper makes a great pepper spray at 100 psi. Sometimes it works, other times not, as mentioned, varying degrees of success,

Best to stick with sealants that just work out of the box to keep it simple.

Tyres

The list of tubeless tyres seems to keep growing and this is only a good thing with the internet offering more information/reviews than we ever could on any specific tyre model.

In saying that, there are two tyres that spring to mind. Schwalbe Pro One Tubeless and Vittoria Corsa Speed Tubeless.

If this is your first foray into tubeless, we highly recommend the Schwalbe Pro One as a starting point. Great performance, good durability and easy to inflate. From there on, the world is your oyster of seeing what you like.

If you want just all out speed and forget any practicalities, consider Vittoria Corsa Speed Tubeless, make no mistake this is a race day tyre only and so expect it to not last very long. However, this tyre is the fastest we’ve ridden hands down.

Epic Cuts

Tubeless tyres typically lack the puncture protection layers that a normal tyre would have as the expectation is that the sealant will do the job.

In some cases, this is easier said than done and one day you’ll hear the inevitable hissing of air rushing out of the tyre that no sealant can fix (i.e. sidewall).

For some, a new tyre is a simple solution and a quick stop down your local bike shop will have you sorted.

However for the more frugal amongst us, especially if the tyre was rather quite new and the cut quite small, rather than throw it away, clean it up inside, and use an old school tyre patch kit to patch up the hole. It’s basically the same process but instead of using it on a tube, use it on the inside wall of the tyre where the cut is. A new tyre would be around $60-80, a patch kit $2 online and does several tyres.

You’ll find that this cheap fix saves you having to buy a new tyre and allows the tyre to be used as tubeless again. Of course, there are limits to how big a cut this method can fix. Please use common sense here and monitor your tyre for any changes in the integrity of the tyre.

For a bit of an expert tip from our athlete Nick Locandro, carry around some “Vittoria Pit Stop” instead of a spare tube when riding. It’s normally used on tubular tyres but there’s nothing stopping this for being used in a tubeless setup. It’ll mean you can get up going quickly and sort out the flat at a more convenient location than mid-ride.

Rim Tape

Chose one that is slightly wider than the internal rim width of your wheels. Why? Well, the rim has a channel in it which increases the actual width required.

We’ve found that if you don't, then there is a chance there will be areas of the inner rim where air can escape due to an improper seal.

Inflation Method

All tubeless rims have a valley/recess in the middle of the rim that the tyre beads must sit in prior to inflation. Doing this is critical as it allows a build of air volume inside the tyre which then pushes the tyre beads outwards creating an effective seal. As you keep inflating the tyre it’ll eventually be forced towards the rim hook.

You’ll hear pinging noises as the tyre is forced into the rim hook, this is normal and a good sign you’re getting the required seal.

Most times the above can be done with a normal track pump, however sometimes not. A CO2 canister is then your best to get a large volume of air into the tyre.

Summary

Hopefully the above has given some practical advice on how to get the most of your tubeless system. If you’re on the fence about tubeless or would like to know more, feel free to get in touch.

We do believe tubeless provides a fantastic ride and it’s why Ronin wheelsets are tubeless compatible.

Kind Regards
David 
Ronin Cycling