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Are tubeless tyres worth the fuss?

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Are tubeless tyres worth the fuss?

Old 05-11-22, 05:40 AM
  #76  
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Originally Posted by Sardines View Post
…unlike heavily chemical fortified Stan's race sealant, which can stiffen the casing.
Oh, that’s interesting, and something I didn’t know! Per Stan’s site FAQ:

”It is always good to wipe excess sealant out of your tires if you plan to use them again. A dry rag is sufficient for cleaning out regular sealant. Race Sealant must be rinsed out of the tire with water after use and then wiped with a rag. If allowed to dry, excess Race Sealant can cause the casing to stiffen, thereby affecting the performance of the tire.”

I’ve been largely “sealant ambivalent,” using pretty much whatever is available; aside from a couple of really lousy performers— notably Joe’s Eco— I’ll flop between Bontrager, OrangeSeal, SealSmart, and Stan’s Race. I’ve got some small preferences and dislikes, but maybe I should be looking more closely at sealants and making smarter choices.
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Old 05-11-22, 12:13 PM
  #77  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
In 4 years of riding gravel i have yet to get a flat with tubes. I run more psi than most though because 1- I am not a feather weight and 2- I don't like the sluggish feel of low psi.

there is just no discernable disadvantage for me.
I've also been told I ride on baby gravel here, but I've ridden gravel in many of the counties here(all contract for their own gravel) and many of the surrounding states without issue.

perhaps its luck, perhaps its picking my line better than others. Who knows.
to try tubeless I would want/need a new wheelset too since mine isnt a tubeless rim and that just isn't appealing.
How has this post held up over the last three years?
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Old 05-11-22, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
Oh, that’s interesting, and something I didn’t know! Per Stan’s site FAQ:

”It is always good to wipe excess sealant out of your tires if you plan to use them again. A dry rag is sufficient for cleaning out regular sealant. Race Sealant must be rinsed out of the tire with water after use and then wiped with a rag. If allowed to dry, excess Race Sealant can cause the casing to stiffen, thereby affecting the performance of the tire.”

I’ve been largely “sealant ambivalent,” using pretty much whatever is available; aside from a couple of really lousy performers— notably Joe’s Eco— I’ll flop between Bontrager, OrangeSeal, SealSmart, and Stan’s Race. I’ve got some small preferences and dislikes, but maybe I should be looking more closely at sealants and making smarter choices.
Well Stan's Race has ammonia and other ingredients which contravene my environmental checklist, and latex seems to be the least terrible to the environment, breaking down in sun, heat and water. The walnut shells are better than the other artificial fibers used in other non-liquid sealants. So I buy Seal Smart only now. It's not the best performing sealant, but good enough for my needs. It's also priced competitively so the only downside is maybe again with getting the sealant in. My injector works ok with the valve, but I have to keep shaking up the Seal Smart, even in the injector, otherwise the shells just drop to the bottom of the injector. It's the same for the 1 liter bottle. It needs to be shaken hard just before extraction.
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Old 05-12-22, 07:35 AM
  #79  
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Originally Posted by shoota View Post
How has this post held up over the last three years?
A handful of months after I posted that over 3 years ago, I purchased a tubeless wheelset since I bought a new gravel frame that was thru-axle.
I have had more punctures with tubeless than with tubes(2 vs 0), but I chalk that up to just bad luck since I dont ride differently. Tubeless setup has been WAY more difficult than tube setup. Once set up, its been nearly the same- basically no effort needed to maintain.


Posted this earlier, but to add to it- I do run my tires at a lower pressure now so that in theory is a comfort gain. At 70mi, I dont know if I am really recognizing the 10psi lower amount and its benefit to me, but I will trust the numbers and agree the benefit exists.
The punctures I had with tubeless would have torn a tube too, so I dont view them as any indication of one system being better or worse than the other. Basically, the flats were too catastrophic for either system.

Tubes are clearly still easier to set up- its why Specialized and apparently every wheel brand tests tubeless wheels with tubes- fast and reliable setup every time. It has been 2.5 years since I last got a known puncture in my tubeless tires. Its been longer for my road bikes. Flats just arent a significant issue for me- I pick good lines and apparently find baby gravel everywhere I ride.
I will say that when I decided to get a frame that needed thru axles, there was no hesitation to buy tubeless rims since there is no downside to having them. It seems goofy to actively avoid them. A few of my road bikes have H plus Son Archetype rims and though I really like the mix of weight, shape, and price- I wouldnt buy them moving forward since they arent tubeless. Just no benefit in buying them over a similar tubeless rims.
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Old 05-12-22, 09:27 AM
  #80  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
A handful of months after I posted that over 3 years ago, I purchased a tubeless wheelset since I bought a new gravel frame that was thru-axle.
I have had more punctures with tubeless than with tubes(2 vs 0), but I chalk that up to just bad luck since I dont ride differently. Tubeless setup has been WAY more difficult than tube setup. Once set up, its been nearly the same- basically no effort needed to maintain.


Posted this earlier, but to add to it- I do run my tires at a lower pressure now so that in theory is a comfort gain. At 70mi, I dont know if I am really recognizing the 10psi lower amount and its benefit to me, but I will trust the numbers and agree the benefit exists.
The punctures I had with tubeless would have torn a tube too, so I dont view them as any indication of one system being better or worse than the other. Basically, the flats were too catastrophic for either system.

Tubes are clearly still easier to set up- its why Specialized and apparently every wheel brand tests tubeless wheels with tubes- fast and reliable setup every time. It has been 2.5 years since I last got a known puncture in my tubeless tires. Its been longer for my road bikes. Flats just arent a significant issue for me- I pick good lines and apparently find baby gravel everywhere I ride.
I will say that when I decided to get a frame that needed thru axles, there was no hesitation to buy tubeless rims since there is no downside to having them. It seems goofy to actively avoid them. A few of my road bikes have H plus Son Archetype rims and though I really like the mix of weight, shape, and price- I wouldnt buy them moving forward since they arent tubeless. Just no benefit in buying them over a similar tubeless rims.
Yep that all sounds spot on to me.

The biggest takeaway I see there is that gravel varies so much by location. I've ridden many, many miles in central Iowa and it's one of the few places I've ridden where I'd feel confident riding tubes on gravel. It's just that tame. Here in Oklahoma you wouldn't make it more than a few rides without flatting.
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Old 05-12-22, 10:26 AM
  #81  
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Originally Posted by shoota View Post
How has this post held up over the last three years?
Tubeless is an ongoing new adventure for many, whatever the 'arena', road, grvl, mtb...
So the anecdotal and other info which crops up here, besides being interesting, it may be useful for someone.
Frankly I'm surprised that this thread ISN'T a sticky... Seems the mods in this forum just don;t think stickies are a useful thing or they're not thinking about it.
Reading all the posters' comments and considerations is very interesting. I'm sortta gradually merging into Tubeless, from larger wheel stuff, like mtb, towards performance road.
And just recently started to tubeless for mid-width/size tires on 'gravel' (35-42mm)
Given the tire size, and associated lower psi, greater physical cushioning of tire size, gravel sizes are good candidates for tubeless.
I don;t ride my gravel on roads, so no real considerations for glass, metal frags or wire, or any other puncture stuff in 'road' environs.
Occasionally I might have consideration for old ribar while going thru areas where prior 'civilization is reverting back to a 'natural' state - common in a state/region where many 'shore' areas had structural development for support of oil/petroleum industrial infrastructure.
Anyway, been a week since my prior post, and no gravel riding in that time - purely road rides because of current focus. Took the Gravel bike off the hooks yesterday, and went offroad.
But checked the tire/bike first. Did my first top-up of psi, since putting on the new wheels, and going tubeless/TPU.
Front is 42mm tubeless and needed 4 psi to get back to the 34 psi I use. Rear is 35 (measured 36mm) with TPU tube - it needed 4-5 psi to get back to the 38 psi I'm using on the rear.
Hard to say which 'rides' better, because front and rear do ride different, by nature.
Given they are equal in weight added to the wheels ( initial 3oz of tubeless goo - Orange Endurance, 65g TPU tube), I might say TPU is the easiest to setup, and may not need any maintenance, and longterm easiest to deal with... YMMV

MODS - I do think this thread is worth being a 'sticky' as tubeless continues to evolve and become more of a consideration/use for many.
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Old 05-15-22, 08:15 AM
  #82  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Maybe my skills in tubeless setup are lacking or maybe I picked a couple pairs of tires that dont love my rims?...though I think you have my rims- Hydra. So I guess that pushes blame back to my lack of skills.
Meant to respond to this earlier, but the problem is usually the tires. When I ran Gravel Kings I always had to use two layers of gorilla tape (which is thicker than actual rim tape), and I thought that's just the way it was since the only other tubeless experience I had was MTB's with wire bead ghetto tubeless that was even trickier. In the last 18 months I have tried the Vittoria Terreno Dry, Pirelli Gravel H, and Specialized Pathfinder that all setup easily on Spinergy rims with the factory tape (Gravel King required another layer of gorilla on top). I know people love Panaracer and WTB because they are older brands, but they both seem to have fallen behind a bit.

It's understandable that some people just don't want the hassle of tubeless though when a tube is install and done. I run tubeless on all bikes and would never go back, but we have to consider some points (most have been made, just putting in a list):

1. The tire and rim have to be manufactured to good tolerances or there will be problems.
2. You really need a charger pump or air shot can to setup the tires. More complexity and $ (compared to a basic track pump).
3. Sealant has to be checked and refreshed. Orange Endurance worked well for me, but I think Silca has a promising new product that works even better, and makes the sealant lifecycle predicable. More complexity and $.
4. Mid-ride punctures too large to seal. The Dynaplug is the best solution by far, but of course you still need to carry a tube as insurance. I have used a tube backup one time in four years, so why carry around a heavy butyl tube? Using tubolito backups on all bikes now. More $.
5. TLR tires almost always cost more than non-TLR. More $.
6. Now we have hookless rims and hookless approved tire combos. More complexity.

Point 6 is really the only one that bothers me as of late, because all the other problems with tubeless tires have been solved with better manufacturing and tools. Hopefully that one is solved too without a jenja puzzle of what works and what doesn't (and risk catastrophic failures), but I'm still lukewarm.
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Old 06-03-22, 02:02 AM
  #83  
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Once you have the right equipment at home and have done one or two tires I find tubeless easier. I don't have to worry about pinching the tube. The tires just go on easier.

I find being prepared for tubeless bike ride requires more stuff. In addition to all the tools you need to change an inner tube ( since you have to have that as back up ) you also need to bring a plug and co2 in case the tires blows and and you need to re-seat the tire. Sometimes you get the smallest little leak and tubeless is awesome. Just put the hole on the bottom and make sure on the sealant goes to the hole. But when that does not work I find tubeless a huge PITA. After you did the sealant dance and if that does not work ( you have already wasted at least 15 minutes ) you now have to take tire off, valve, clean off the rim and tire of all sealant and now install a tube. At the moments you think to yourself I should have just installed a tube from the start. smh. ha-ha

I am still on the fence if I like it better. Seems to be awesome on the mnt bike. My road tires 28mm / gravel tires 32 to 40mm not so sure.
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Old 06-20-22, 06:22 PM
  #84  
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Agree with what I'm reading here.

Once you've set up a few bikes tubeless, it no longer feels like deep witchcraft. I won't go back to tubes. Maybe I'm imagining things, but riding tubeless just feels different, especially at low pressure. This is certainly most noticeable with fatbikes, where at really low pressure the tube and tire feel like two racoons fighting in a gunny sack.
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Old 06-25-22, 06:23 AM
  #85  
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Has anyone experience in TL setups without sealant or only minimal sealant to setup and forget? Reason for asking is I currently ride Pirelli Cintuarato tyres with tubes and I never flat. The burly tyre takes care of that, thus no perceived need for sealant. Just wanted to try them in TL configuration to save a few watts. In case I flat anyway, Id like to just stick in a tube and not deal with too much sticky sealant. Preferably none at all.

Is this feasible?

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Old 06-25-22, 07:30 AM
  #86  
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
Has anyone experience in TL setups without sealant or only minimal sealant to setup and forget? Reason for asking is I currently ride Pirelli Cintuarato tyres with tubes and I never flat. The burly tyre takes care of that, thus no perceived need for sealant. Just wanted to try them in TL configuration to save a few watts. In case I flat anyway, Id like to just stick in a tube and not deal with too much sticky sealant. Preferably none at all.

Is this feasible?
The answer is "it depends" (I would think) - depending on what type of rims you are using, what type of rim tape they use, how good of a tape job it is, etc.. and how the tightly the Pirelli tubeless tires mount all could contribute to the air holding (with or without sealant). Try it and see doing a little air pressure check before and after your ride. My guess is that you really need the sealant for best air retention though.
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Old 06-25-22, 09:34 AM
  #87  
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
Sure, me too. I've done a lot of miles on gravel and haven't flatted yet. To my mind its not about tubes or no tubes, its about tyres that's reinforced enough to not get punctured through the thread and casing. I've tried Wiggle own brand "prime armour" tyres and lately Pirelli Cinturato velo. So far, so good. Imo, riding thin unprotected "gravel tyres", relying on sealant to save the day is a disaster waiting to happen.
Tubeless Gravelkings have puncture proof reinforcement. The "Plus" models have even more protection!

Ofc these reinforcements comes at a cost in weight and rolling resistance but I agree with your thinking. Whether I'm going tubed or tubeless, I'd want these reinforcements in my tires even if they make me slower. I've seen rocks in my gravel rides that literally looks like stone age arrowheads! Some were sharply pointed and pointing up. I do pay attention to these things and avoid them whenever I can. I think in the worse possible luck, these can slice through unprotected tires.
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Old 06-25-22, 10:22 AM
  #88  
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I just setup my 4th tubeless wheelset in the past 3 weeks. The first 3 I had to tape myself. I carefully go over the rim tape to make sure it's firmly sealed and set the tire on the bead as best as possible before using the air compressor at the gas station. It's a fairly painless process. My fourth wheelset already came taped with valves and it was a straight forward process. Now I'm tempted to go fully tubeless with my road bike and be done with tubes completely. I rate tubeless tire setup less complicated than internal cable routing and derailleur indexing on the scale of bike difficulty once you get the steps figured out.

In terms of ride quality, it's definitely more supple and I can attack the corners more aggressively. I'd say I'm a full convert at this point.

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Old 06-25-22, 01:16 PM
  #89  
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
Has anyone experience in TL setups without sealant or only minimal sealant to setup and forget? Reason for asking is I currently ride Pirelli Cintuarato tyres with tubes and I never flat. The burly tyre takes care of that, thus no perceived need for sealant. Just wanted to try them in TL configuration to save a few watts. In case I flat anyway, Id like to just stick in a tube and not deal with too much sticky sealant. Preferably none at all.

Is this feasible?
I’ve ridden tubeless without sealant in the past, on the original Schwalbe One. I don’t think there’s any good reason to do so, but if you have a tire which is airtight on it’s own, yeah, you can do it. You’re looking for a tire with a butyl liner or somesuch; IRCs are constructed like this, and Michelin advertise tires like the Power Road TLR as having “AirProof” technology, which sounds like what you’d want, but confusingly a footnote on the box about AirProof says “only efficient with sealant.”

I wouldn’t characterize any of the mainstream sealants as “sticky,” but in any case, I don’t get your perspective since if you “don’t flat” anyway, why would you worry about some crazy outlier situation like needing to put in a tube? I’ve been tubeless since ‘13/‘14, and have only tubed up a tubeless once, in the early days, but it’s even less of an issue today, what with improved sealants and things like plugs.

The other thing is that if you want to “save a few watts” over your butyl tubed setup, just use TPU tubes like Schwalbe Aerothan. You’ll save watts, reduce weight, increase puncture protection, and all for less than the cost of two new tubeless tires, so it sure seems like an all-win decision for you.
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Old 06-26-22, 12:28 AM
  #90  
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
I’ve ridden tubeless without sealant in the past, on the original Schwalbe One. I don’t think there’s any good reason to do so, but if you have a tire which is airtight on it’s own, yeah, you can do it. You’re looking for a tire with a butyl liner or somesuch; IRCs are constructed like this, and Michelin advertise tires like the Power Road TLR as having “AirProof” technology, which sounds like what you’d want, but confusingly a footnote on the box about AirProof says “only efficient with sealant.”

I wouldn’t characterize any of the mainstream sealants as “sticky,” but in any case, I don’t get your perspective since if you “don’t flat” anyway, why would you worry about some crazy outlier situation like needing to put in a tube? I’ve been tubeless since ‘13/‘14, and have only tubed up a tubeless once, in the early days, but it’s even less of an issue today, what with improved sealants and things like plugs.

The other thing is that if you want to “save a few watts” over your butyl tubed setup, just use TPU tubes like Schwalbe Aerothan. You’ll save watts, reduce weight, increase puncture protection, and all for less than the cost of two new tubeless tires, so it sure seems like an all-win decision for you.
I already have TL ready tyres, and im not really sold on tpu tubes. They are very expensive and compared to light butyl tubes, that I'm using now, the benefit seem marginal. Id save ~35g per wheel and a few tenths of a watt. Flat protection may improve, but I don't really need that, and honestly, I find the concept a bit iffy. If an object can penetrate the tyre, then what chance does the tube stand preventing a flat, tpu or not. An Aerothan tube at 40 some grams has to be very thin too.

https://www.bicyclerollingresistance...pu-inner-tubes
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Old 06-26-22, 07:22 AM
  #91  
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Are tubeless tyres worth the fuss?
Well, I (obviously) don't think so ...
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Old 06-26-22, 08:08 AM
  #92  
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
I already have TL ready tyres, and im not really sold on tpu tubes. They are very expensive and compared to light butyl tubes, that I'm using now, the benefit seem marginal. Id save ~35g per wheel and a few tenths of a watt. Flat protection may improve, but I don't really need that, and honestly, I find the concept a bit iffy. If an object can penetrate the tyre, then what chance does the tube stand preventing a flat, tpu or not. An Aerothan tube at 40 some grams has to be very thin too.

https://www.bicyclerollingresistance...pu-inner-tubes
Ah, I did mis-read; well if you have tubeless tires, then all you need to do is test their air holding ability. Pull the tubes, reinflate, and wait overnight. If they hold pressure, you’re good to go (assuming TLR wheels within spec).

I’dsuggest using a really nice sealant like Panaracer SealSmart, which in my experience, absorbs into the tire carcass and evaporates quickly, so if the tires need sealing, SealSmart will handle it without leaving behind much of anything, let alone the liquidy, rubbery ****ers like Orange Seal does. I’ve not found any other sealant quite as clean as SealSmart, but Bontrager sealant is pretty nice, too, and more commonly available.
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Old 06-26-22, 10:16 AM
  #93  
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
… the liquidy, rubbery ****ers like Orange Seal does.
???! But does snotrocket work? It’s the same effluent!
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