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To tube or not to tube that is the question

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 :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

To tube or not to tube that is the question

Old 05-02-19, 11:28 AM
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Hondo Gravel
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To tube or not to tube that is the question


Taking inventory to see what I have. I have tubeless compatible wheels and tires WTB TCS so I decided to do both. Then go from there. It will be a few days I need to get some supplies. Iím waiting on UPS for my Terreno Dry 700x40s. The gravel bike is leaning on the fridge with tubeless compatible wheels.
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Old 05-02-19, 12:49 PM
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looks like my Garage (at least one bike matches too). Not sure what I'm gonna do with all those skinny Gatorskins though.
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Old 05-02-19, 01:03 PM
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is that a bikesdirect showroom
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Old 05-02-19, 02:32 PM
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Yet again, I'm missing the point to this thread.
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Old 05-02-19, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
Yet again, I'm missing the point to this thread.
I have tubeless compatible wheels but only use tubes. I need the sealant etc etc to go tubeless. The pic is just for the heck of it. It shows some wheels that are made for tubeless setups.
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Old 05-02-19, 03:11 PM
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And I’m bored out of my mind waiting on UPS and it is fixing to rain. So I tuned up this one speed that will kill it on gravel.
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Old 05-05-19, 09:44 AM
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tubeless for gravel. Before I switched, I would get tons of flats. With tubeless, none. I do lose pressure between rides; my last rear tire probably had 20-30 spots were sealant would leak a little. But they hold pressure during the ride, which is all they need to do.
Even though I'm tubeless, I still carry a tube as sometimes even sealant isn't enough. Two tubes and a patch kit if going into very remote areas where self-rescue is critical.
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Old 05-05-19, 10:03 AM
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Luckily the locals on the backroads are friendly people when I have had mechanical issues I was always offered a ride. But to you’re point I ride with a patch kit, extra tubes , air pump and CO-2 just to be prepared. One time my crank fell apart the old FSA Gossamer was notorious for that anyways I had to walk a few hundreds yards to get one bar on my phone and had a neighbor give me a lift. While waiting several folks offered helped a few were drunk but friendly. Tubeless is probably my next upgrade.
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Old 06-21-19, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Hondo Gravel View Post
Tubeless is probably my next upgrade.
Did you ever do this? I have been debating with myself over it. I have absolutely no issues running tubes in my gravel bike's tires, but I'm curious. I don't want to jinx myself by saying this, but I have owned this bike for almost a year and have never had a flat. The wheels and tires are tubeless ready & came with the tubeless valve stems. Essentially all I should have to do it remove the tubes, put in the valve stems, & add sealant.
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Old 06-24-19, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by medic75 View Post
Did you ever do this? I have been debating with myself over it. I have absolutely no issues running tubes in my gravel bike's tires, but I'm curious. I don't want to jinx myself by saying this, but I have owned this bike for almost a year and have never had a flat. The wheels and tires are tubeless ready & came with the tubeless valve stems. Essentially all I should have to do it remove the tubes, put in the valve stems, & add sealant.
I don't feel the big difference like I do on my mountain bike tubes vs tubeless (less pressure) on my gravel bike with 40c tires but I ride road to the dirt on my gravel bike and tubeless has saved me several flats a month.... all my bikes are now tubeless but if I didn't get so many slow leaks/flats from tiny road debris and the thorns we have here I would not bother.

The downside is if you get a decent sized puncture or slash the sealant spraying out of the tire will stain your clothes... comes off the bike and hard parts with ease but turns to rubber in fabric pretty much instantly.
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Old 06-25-19, 09:41 AM
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I'll run 10-15psi lower with tubeless vs tubes on gravel (40mm). But there is a lot of piece of mind knowing I won't get a pinch flat (or puncture) tubeless.

On the other hand, some of my tubeless tires are going to be near impossible to remove on the side of the road if it comes to that.
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Old 06-26-19, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by medic75 View Post
Did you ever do this? I have been debating with myself over it. I have absolutely no issues running tubes in my gravel bike's tires, but I'm curious. I don't want to jinx myself by saying this, but I have owned this bike for almost a year and have never had a flat. The wheels and tires are tubeless ready & came with the tubeless valve stems. Essentially all I should have to do it remove the tubes, put in the valve stems, & add sealant.
You can run lower pressure and have more grip and comfort with tubeless. Also punctures from glass or thorns are mostly a non-issue. Light bumps of the rim don't produce snakebit tubes.

If your wheels and tires are tubeless compatible, go for it!
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Old 06-26-19, 11:29 AM
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There's really no down side to tubeless for 99% of people.
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Old 06-26-19, 03:04 PM
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If you get lots of pinhole flats, I would go tubeless.

This is dangerous to put in writing: I have NEVER EVER, in six years of gravel racing, had a flat on gravel. Not with tubes. Not tubeless. Dirty Kanza's arrowhead gravel . . . nope. Open Range's miles and miles of nail-like thorns . . . nope. And there's no reason at all to have a flat on Tennessee gravel. If all I had to go on were my experiences, tubes/tubeless does not matter. Except that tubed tires hold air longer, weigh less, and require less maintenance. Oh, and tubeless is oh, so trendy!

Still, I have tubeless on my gravel bike, at least until this set of tires wears out. I'm mildly tired of putting 10 psi back into my tubeless tires every morning. Tubed on my road bike, because there's no point to tubeless there, either, unless you get a lot of pinhole flats.
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Old 06-26-19, 07:15 PM
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Huh, I've had no detectable loss of pressure since I did the initial overnight "cure"... one question, are you of the lightweight persuasion? I was getting pinch flats left and right on gravel, but I'm a fairly large person.
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Old 06-26-19, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by tsmorr View Post
Huh, I've had no detectable loss of pressure since I did the initial overnight "cure"... one question, are you of the lightweight persuasion? I was getting pinch flats left and right on gravel, but I'm a fairly large person.
If you're talking to me . . . I weigh 175 to 180. At Dirty Kanza, you can add 15 pounds of water, food, spares and gear. Never any pinch flats, but I run about 50 psi in tubed 38mm wide tires.
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Old 06-26-19, 10:26 PM
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Originally Posted by tsmorr View Post
Huh, I've had no detectable loss of pressure since I did the initial overnight "cure"... one question, are you of the lightweight persuasion? I was getting pinch flats left and right on gravel, but I'm a fairly large person.
What pray tell is the overnight "cure"?
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Old 06-27-19, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by RideMyLeMond View Post
What pray tell is the overnight "cure"?
Tires that loose are initially are often better after being mounted over night. This lets the tire unfold, and allows any small leaks to seal.
Some people will mount folding tires with tubes for a couple of days to shape the tire before going tubless
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Old 06-27-19, 09:37 AM
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There's really no down side to tubeless for 99% of people.
Probably true for people like us, but there is a diversity of riders.

Some of the downsides to understand before committing:
  • Tires cost more
  • Requires maintenance – so not good for a garage full of bikes or bikes that do not get ridden regularly.
  • Sealant will pool and try at bottom of tire if not rotated regularly
  • Some are impossible to mount, some are easy. I gave up on my worst set – bead was way too thick (for center channel) and way too stiff. It took two professionals 30 minutes working together to mount it. Not for the faint of heart. Sometimes it is relatively effortless.
  • It is a PITA if you like to change the tires on your rim.
  • Can't use CO2 cartridge - it freezes the sealant.
None of these are showstoppers, but its not for everyone. I have two wheel-sets set up tubeless. The rest are all tubed.

Last edited by chas58; 06-27-19 at 02:35 PM.
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Old 06-27-19, 02:54 PM
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I would add that there's a trade-off between tire performance and ease of maintenance. (This is also true between butyl- and latex-tubed tires.)

If you want set-it-and-forget-it pressures with tubeless, you often have to accept a tire that's heavier and stiffer. (see also, Mavic's UST tires) Good tubeless tires are heavy enough -- and significantly heavier than a tubed tire with a tube. But bad tubeless tires are thick and extremely slow to spin up.
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Old 06-27-19, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by FlashBazbo View Post
I would add that there's a trade-off between tire performance and ease of maintenance. (This is also true between butyl- and latex-tubed tires.)

If you want set-it-and-forget-it pressures with tubeless, you often have to accept a tire that's heavier and stiffer. (see also, Mavic's UST tires) Good tubeless tires are heavy enough -- and significantly heavier than a tubed tire with a tube. But bad tubeless tires are thick and extremely slow to spin up.
Are they though? For example the 700cx35c Schwalbe G-One is 400g and the non TL version is 380g. The compass bonjons are 350 and 300g each respectively in the same size. Good tubeless setups are as light as tubed setups or at least comparable
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Old 06-27-19, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by redlude97 View Post
Are they though? For example the 700cx35c Schwalbe G-One is 400g and the non TL version is 380g. The compass bonjons are 350 and 300g each respectively in the same size. Good tubeless setups are as light as tubed setups or at least comparable
Yes, they are. If you want comparable quality and performance and include the whole system. First, most companies' tubeless and tubed of the same model aren't really comparable. They do one or the other well, and make-work the other. All in, with goop, tape, valves, rim, tubeless is heavier than the tire alone. With tubed, you just add the tube -- which is lighter than all the tubeless paraphernalia.
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Old 06-27-19, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by FlashBazbo View Post
Yes, they are. If you want comparable quality and performance and include the whole system. First, most companies' tubeless and tubed of the same model aren't really comparable. They do one or the other well, and make-work the other. All in, with goop, tape, valves, rim, tubeless is heavier than the tire alone. With tubed, you just add the tube -- which is lighter than all the tubeless paraphernalia.
A 40c conti tube weighs almost 200g. An aluminum tubeless valve is ~10g, 2oz sealant =60g, tape is negligible difference between velox and stans, rims are the same. Almost all the best gravel tires the tubeless versions are the best or they only make a tubeless version so if you're going to run tubed you're using the same tire anyways.
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Old 06-27-19, 05:31 PM
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I have four tubeless sets of wheels ranging from 700cx40, 29x2.3, 700cx35 and 650bx47. All of them are 200-400 grams lighter than the tubed equivalent and range from 4-6 ounces of sealant. I even did a test to determine how much weight is added over time and measuring the 650b models across 3500 miles. I started with 4 ounces and added 4 more at 1500 and 2500 miles each as the prior sealant evaporated/diffused into the rubber/whatever - total weight increased only slightly over time. Right around 30 grams/1 ounce, total for the wheelset - negligible.

Good tubeless tires are as light or lighter than the tubed models. Continental started this heavy/thick nonsense with their GP5000TL and it's not true - you wanna talk tubeless, don't ask a roadie and don't ask the road division of a tire company. Gravel/Allroad and MTB focused companies like WTB, Schwalbe, Compass and Maxxis have been making tires with thin supple casing for years now that are as light, supple and durable (if not more) than their tubed cousins. I mean even the Continental mountain bike tires prove this point.

There's lots of reasons not to convert to tubeless, weight and ride quality is definitely not one of them. Maintenance, set-up and cost are all that really need to be said.
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Old 06-28-19, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by RideMyLeMond View Post
What pray tell is the overnight "cure"?
Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
Tires that loose are initially are often better after being mounted over night. This lets the tire unfold, and allows any small leaks to seal.
Some people will mount folding tires with tubes for a couple of days to shape the tire before going tubless
Sorry for the delayed response. Yes, pretty much that. I inflated the folding tires on the rim a few times to get in into the right shape, then added sealant and inflated again, reduced pressure down to 35 or 40ish PSI and hung them overnight, rotating when I thought of it.

When I went in in the morning both tires were quite low on air, reinflated again, and haven't noticed any air loss since.

Obviously not really a cure, but an opportunity for the sealant to work its way into any leaky areas.
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