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Going tubeless

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Old 07-10-18, 08:34 PM
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wunderchicken
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Going tubeless

I just got a new bike for commuting that has tubless ready rims and tires. They're 42mm with sawtooth tread. The guys at the bike shop were suggesting I convert immediately - said they would do it for free if I bought tubeless valve stems. I know my brother in law rides tubeless on his MTB but I'd not really heard much more about it. Apparently it's all the rage on road bikes now.

What do you all think about tubeless? How does the feel of the tires change? Right now, the tires ride super smooth and feel nice and grippy. Any other drawbacks? If I got tubeless, I'm thinking about ditching my spare intertube, tire levers and C02 cartridge and pump (sounded like a nightmare to pull the tubeless valve to get an intertube in place if I got a flat). I haven't had a flat in years and I'd probably just call Lyft or Uber like I do if I have to pick up a sick kid.

My commute is 16 miles RT on days I have to pick up the kids and 25 miles RT other days (I drive to various starting points and ride into work). In the fall I'm hoping to add 1 day a week where I commute from home for about a 36 mile RT.

Thanks for your thoughts!
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Old 07-10-18, 08:40 PM
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Following with interest!
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Old 07-10-18, 09:58 PM
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Each person's scenario is different, and I'd say that tubeless on the road is new enough that it's hard to say if it's better.

Since you have a tubeless ready rig, I'd say it's worth just trying and seeing if it's right for you. If it doesn't work out you can always go back to tubed.
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Old 07-10-18, 10:30 PM
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I've been tubeless on my mtb forever. But I haven't ridden road tubeless. My current commuter has a 45 width tire, but I just picked up a set of the 42 sawtooth tires and was considering going tubeless with them.
My only reservation with going tubeless is that in my experience they don't hold air as well as a tube. On my tubed commuter I can go about 2 weeks before I put more air in. On the tubeless mtb the best setup I've ever done is lucky to make it a week before it's too low to even think about riding.
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Old 07-11-18, 12:15 AM
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I use tubeless on my mountain bike, but not on my commuter. In my opinion, it is too much of a hassle having to worry about sealant every ~6 moths for me to consider it on my commuter that rarely gets flats. I have also heard of issues at higher PSI not sealing the puncture fast enough so the tire looses too much air and has to be topped off. This is not a problem with my mountain bike running at a low PSI.

It is recommended you still carry flat repair supplies with tubeless. I always carry 1 tube with my mountain bike and will carry 2 tubes if I am going on a long ride and expect to be alone.
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Old 07-11-18, 04:06 AM
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Keiffith sounds about right - I'll give it a stab and if I don't like it, I can always just put tubes back in. I have 100 miles on tubed tires in this new bike so it'll be a pretty good comparison since I'm only changing to tubeless and not the tire or rim as well.

Any recommendation on stems or sealant? I get the impression they're all about the same commodity type stuff. I keep seeing Stans when I google about.
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Old 07-11-18, 06:25 AM
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Tubeless is trendy, so go tubeless to protect yourself from people telling you to go tubeless

FWIW, I didn't notice a difference in ride last year when I mounted a set of WTB Horizon tires (47 mm) tubeless for a few days. Both bikes -- tubeless and tubed -- felt the same when I rode them. However, tubeless with sealant would provide peace of mind against flatting from a piece of say, glass. That's where I see the advantage.
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Old 07-11-18, 09:10 AM
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Also, bottoming out won't cause a pinch flat, so you can run lower pressures if you want to.

I'm nowhere near trying tubeless, so I can't offer an opinion.
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Old 07-11-18, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I'm nowhere near trying tubeless, so I can't offer an opinion.
Tom, I just got "the lecture" again yesterday during a ride w/a friend. I'm honestly thinking I'll convert my latest bike to tubeless just so that I can say I'm running tubeless on "something", and maybe then people will leave me alone about it!
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Old 07-11-18, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
Tom, I just got "the lecture" again yesterday during a ride w/a friend. I'm honestly thinking I'll convert my latest bike to tubeless just so that I can say I'm running tubeless on "something", and maybe then people will leave me alone about it!
I would need the rims, and I'm nowhere near replacing rims that work fine. And wouldn't I need a compressor? Actually, I have one at the weekend house. OK whatever, but I just don't care enough to taste the Kool Aid.
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Old 07-11-18, 09:44 AM
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People who like tubeless generally either appreciate the low pressure ride, or get too many pinch flats or punctures of the type that sealant will protect from.

People who resist going tubeless generally consider the hassle to be more than it's worth.

Shops push tubeless because it means more business.
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Old 07-11-18, 10:05 AM
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I'm a fan of it for gravel.

If your bike has clearance for 42mm Sawtooths that's a pretty good setup for tubeless -- wide tires that can run low pressure.

Some people who have tried road tubeless on skinny tires at higher pressure have reported difficulty... but then I've also heard that there have been improvements in that area. I wouldn't know, I don't have road tubeless.

A cheap alternative for flat protection that I've used with good results is to squirt some Orange Seal (or Stans or any sealant really) in the tubes themselves. It requires tubes with removable valve cores, but it's really easy to do.
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Old 07-11-18, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by wunderchicken View Post
Keiffith sounds about right - I'll give it a stab and if I don't like it, I can always just put tubes back in. I have 100 miles on tubed tires in this new bike so it'll be a pretty good comparison since I'm only changing to tubeless and not the tire or rim as well.

Any recommendation on stems or sealant? I get the impression they're all about the same commodity type stuff. I keep seeing Stans when I google about.

Any tubeless stem will work, I've used Stan's and I've used cheap Chinese stems from Amazon. They are all fine.

For Sealant I don't really like Stan's. When it dries it balls up and you get a big glob of it rolling around inside the tire. I prefer the Bontrager sealant, as it dries it lines the tire and becomes an extra layer of protection.
I'm also experimenting with the new Slime tubeless sealant in one of the MTBs, so far after 2 months I'm pretty happy with it as well.
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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.

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Old 07-11-18, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I would need the rims, and I'm nowhere near replacing rims that work fine. And wouldn't I need a compressor? Actually, I have one at the weekend house. OK whatever, but I just don't care enough to taste the Kool Aid.
I've had good luck using a CO2 cartridge to seat the bead. Like you, my rims generally aren't ready and I don't get enough flats to motivate change. I do have a bike now that is tubeless ready, and I'll probably remove the tubes and throw in some sealant one of these days. I'm not anti-tubeless by any means. It's more that I just haven't had anything happen to give me a push in that direction.
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Old 07-11-18, 12:29 PM
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@u235, your's is one of the most informative posts on the experience of tubeless that I've seen in a long time. Thank you for sharing that.
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Old 07-11-18, 01:41 PM
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Tubeless on the mtb, not on the road bike, nor the commuter yet. As long as the 2-3 oz of sealant is fresh (still a liquid for ~6 months), your puncture flat protection will be greatly improved with tubeless. While replacing my sealant last week, I pulled multiple thorns out of the mtb tires, that were perfectly sealed.

I always bring a tube, and small hand pump with me, just in case I get a hole larger than the sealant can handle. Hasn't happened yet (knock on particle board).

If you've historically been pardoned by the God of Flats, then tubeless may not be for you.
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Old 07-11-18, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by wunderchicken View Post
Keiffith sounds about right - I'll give it a stab and if I don't like it, I can always just put tubes back in. I have 100 miles on tubed tires in this new bike so it'll be a pretty good comparison since I'm only changing to tubeless and not the tire or rim as well.

Any recommendation on stems or sealant? I get the impression they're all about the same commodity type stuff. I keep seeing Stans when I google about.
I switched to tubeless for commuting. The only flats I tend to get are pinch flats (riding too fast on tires too skinny on crappy roads or rough gravel), and those have totally disappeared. Flats were pretty rare for me, and now don’t exist (knock on wood).

I love tubless for tires above 32mm – lets me run lower pressure with no problems. For tires 28mm or smaller – tubes are fine (when riding on good roads).

Fixing a flat would be a PITA. I have some tubless tire/wheel combos that mount fairly easy, some that are a nightmare, but no tubless tire is going to be as easy to change a flat on as a traditional tire.

And I agree – flats are so extremely rare with tubeless that Uber is better than carrying a repair kit.

Yeah – be prepared to check your air every week. Some tires (Schwalbe) have a built in inner tube and can hold air without sealant – they are a little better at holding air than the “tubless ready” tires that require sealant.

I use orange seal endurance sealant. I add sealant every 6 months.





Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
People who like tubeless generally either appreciate the low pressure ride, or get too many pinch flats or punctures of the type that sealant will protect from.
People who resist going tubeless generally consider the hassle to be more than it's worth.
True!
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Old 07-11-18, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by u235 View Post
I have a love/hate relationship with TL. When it works, it is great, when it doesn't, it sucks...
Good writeup. the bad part about tubless is that there are no standards - so one person's experience may be very different from anothers.

I haven't had the sticking to the bead problem except with some old UST tubless tires/wheels.
Most of your other issues I have solved by using skinnystrippers.com to essentially give my tubless tires a complete sealed air chamber (kinda like tubular tires). They also eliminate the need for a compressor.
As for the inner tube sticking - try coating the tire/tube with baby poweder.
I have some tires/wheel combos that are a nightmare to set up, some that are easy to set up, and have heard of many others having blowoffs when they don't set properly.
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Old 07-11-18, 02:32 PM
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One point that hasn't been addressed is cost and the lack of wide distribution. A tire starts at for about $30.00 and not every shop has them.
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Old 07-11-18, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by ksryder View Post

A cheap alternative for flat protection that I've used with good results is to squirt some Orange Seal (or Stans or any sealant really) in the tubes themselves. It requires tubes with removable valve cores, but it's really easy to do.
I thought of this the other day (as I inadvertently unscrewed a valve core from my tube while removing a pump head).

Is there any down side to this (apart from ~20 gm added)? Why don't people just do this with all tubed tires?
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Old 07-11-18, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
I thought of this the other day (as I inadvertently unscrewed a valve core from my tube while removing a pump head).

Is there any down side to this (apart from ~20 gm added)? Why don't people just do this with all tubed tires?
Not that I found. I had a flat-free 206 miles at Dirty Kanza in 2016 with this setup, before I went tubeless.
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Old 07-11-18, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
I thought of this the other day (as I inadvertently unscrewed a valve core from my tube while removing a pump head).

Is there any down side to this (apart from ~20 gm added)? Why don't people just do this with all tubed tires?
I do. Stans was not very effective on the one I tried. The tube is too flexible in my opinion. Old school tubed version of slime or the farm supply store version of Berrymans has worked pretty good. When I am not tubeless I use some in my tubes. Not as good as a proper tubeless setup with latex but it does work. It is a possibly get home without patching solution based on my experience. They are not "glues" that dry in place, just liquid plugs that clog up the hole. You often find out it had worked on the previous ride the next day when you notice your tire is completely flat.

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Old 07-11-18, 03:26 PM
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The problem might be Stan's. I use Orange Seal, never had a problem with it in either setup. Also don't have a problem with it seeping under rim tape or corroding spoke nipples or anything else.

Slime, on the other hand, is terrible.
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Old 07-11-18, 03:35 PM
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I don't hesitate to recommend the VeloTubes stems on Amazon-- I have three pairs of them now, and they're great. The rubber base is bonded just to the outside of the stem, so the inner hole is a consistent diameter. As such, the stems never get clogged with sealant boogers, and they can flow more air so seating tires is easier. Three different lengths, six different colors.

For sealant, I prefer TruckerCo Cream over Stan's. It's a bit cheaper, they include a sealant injector that actually fits on normal Presta stems, and the sealant itself has more suspended solids, so it seems to seal punctures more quickly.
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