Thread: Going tubeless
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Old 07-11-18, 11:51 AM
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I have a love/hate relationship with TL. When it works, it is great, when it doesn't, it sucks. Tubeless will reduce flats, even large slices can be fixed with plugs and you can keep going. If that doesnt work, toss a tube in like you would have had to do anyway if you were tubed and be on your way. All positive.
The problem is if and when you have to break the bead for any reason and want to return to TL.. Things get a little hectic. It is almost easier to start over if any one of a number of things happen when you pull the tire off. I'm sure many people pop beads, do what they need to do, pop it back in, air up and roll for months. I've done that to but far less often than dealing with something.
- The tape will undoubtedly have sealant under it in spots slowly working its way to the spoke hole and it will never restick to the rim. I've found starting over and doing a retape is easier then messing with it
- The tire and ultra sticky dry latex layer on the bead can stick and get caught on the tape pulling it up. Making your tape narrower away from the bead helps that but that also causes other potential problems. Starting over and doing a retape is easier then messing with it
- The tire can have an uneven buildup of dried latex around the perimeter of the bead and/or the rim (depending on what ripped first as you dismount the tire) causing uneven gaps in the bead seal when remounting. Assuming none of the first two happened where a retape is required, at least you should clean up and peel off the dried sealant from the tire and/or rim to increase your chances of getting a better reseal.

Annoyances to consider but part of the game.
- A tube put in a tire that was previous tubeless will cause the tube to strongly adhere to the tire regardless of how much you clean out the old sealant. It can be pulled off with some force and does not seem to cause any problems.
- A tire with sealant on the bead will be harder to mount later, the tire will grab better and make your three handed manipulation to get it on harder then it was the first time you did it with no sealant yet. This MIGHT make your converting back to tubed in an emergency or routine slightly harder or damn near impossible. Obviously different tire/rim combos play a bigger role in fit but a tire that was once tubeless with latex around the bead would never be easier to mount, only equal or often harder to. Use of excessive soap and water I never thought was a good idea on TL setup. That tire is not only air tight, it will be water tight. That soapy water stays in there and can work its way under your tape leading to the problems listed above and possible the soap could break down the bound of the sealant? It certainly won't help it. Maybe in the big scheme of things some soap and water is negligible.

For me, breaking the bead to fix something happens to often for my liking. Twice in the past two months I've had to pop the bead and patch the inside of slits that the sealant would seal but at random times would blow through and possibly reseal again . Plugs got me "home" but the plug is not a permanent solution. Unlike a cars radial tire with steel cords to grab the plug, a bike tire does not have that, If you ever tried to seal a bias ply trailer tire with one of those plugs, you see immediately why they don't work for that either as a long term fix. That plug WILL eventually come out, move around or possibly be a source of a small slow leak. Bike tire slits seem to expand slightly over time as well. Long story short. Sealant and plugs are short term fixes for most slits and cuts. TL does not mean you won't be "patching" holes any more, you'll just be doing some later in a different way hopefully in the comfort of your home. For lower pressure MTB tires with sturdier construction and knobs to protect the plug you'll have much better luck. I have far less problems with TL on my MTB tires run at 25-35 then I have on my gravel bike run at 40-65. In the end, TL is not the ultimate golden ticket some people claim it is, it has many advantages but also some drawbacks. I will forever and always use TL regardless of any negatives on my MTB. On my gravel bike.. I go back and forth. In fact my front now is still tubeless, my rear is tubed. Seeing the difference in the two tires types I have I imagine a narrower road tire with more pressure would be that much worse. These are just my experiences, YMMV.

My personal experience. I've only used regular Stans sealant. For tape I've used Gorilla tape (IMO sucked), Stans tape, and more recently a combination of the much cheaper Scotch 8898 and 898. The fact that Scotch tape is so cheap, retaping if needed and starting over is not expensive, just a PITA. Patching a tube on the side of the road is a PITA too though.

Last edited by u235; 07-12-18 at 11:12 PM.
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