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What's an acceptable leak rate from tubeless gravel tires

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What's an acceptable leak rate from tubeless gravel tires

Old 08-11-20, 08:24 PM
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Helldorado
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What's an acceptable leak rate from tubeless gravel tires

I just purchased a new Cervelo Aspero gravel bike from my local authorized dealer. It came with "tubeless ready" AlexRims Boondock 7D wheels and a pair of Donelly 700x38 knobby tires. As part of the deal the store offered to set me up tubeless. Of course I said yes.

The problem is the the tires leak a lot of air, now that they are tubeless. I have literally taken the bike back to the store five times over this first week because the tires don't hold air. After the store mechanics tried re-wrapping the rims, adding more sealant and even swapping out the OEM Donnelly tires for new Terravail Cannonballs, the front tire only leaks about 5 PSI/day -and I can live with that.

But the rear tire leaks 30 PSI/24 hours, consistently. I've ridden the bike about 100 miles this week, trying to get the sealant to spread out inside the wheel and maybe stop the leak, to no avail.

The store owner told me I should just accept it because "that's what tubeless tires do - they leak, some more than others." He actually told me to buy a frame pump so that I wouldn't have to spend so much money on CO2 cartridges. I asked him to please keep trouble-shooting it. Then he called me to say "we just can't find the problem with that rear wheel and tire, so we're gonna put the inner tubes back in, OK?"

I told him no. I asked him to file a warranty claim with Cervelo (the bike is only one week old) and he started hesitating, mumbling about how long that would take because of COVID-19 and how Cervelo takes so long to respond.

Seems like a 'tubeless-ready" wheel set should perform as advertised. I know that those AlexRims are pretty basic wheels and not the top of the line by any means, so I expect them to be heavy and less durable. But they should at least hold air.

Am I being unreasonable here?

Thanks for your opinions and advice.
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Old 08-11-20, 10:06 PM
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I've seen air tight tubless and gradual loss. Like you, I lose about 3-5 PSI per day, but going pretty much flat in 48 hrs is not how tubeless works. If a proper tape job was done, the valve and tire seated properly and a good quality sealant used, it should hold
Mumbling about the warranty is a troubling sign. Could be for a number of reasons, but a few that come to mind is:
He's not an authorized dealer.
He changed out some parts (like tires)
Or
Cervelo will blame the mechanic for poor workmanship.
Either way, you spent some coin for that bike, you are not being unreasonable asking for perfectly working bike, but at the same time you don't want to burn bridges. Try contacting Cervelo directly and see what they say.
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Old 08-11-20, 10:11 PM
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Did the mechanic swap the proper tubeless valve into the rim? Tubeless tires, when set up correctly, shouldn’t leak like that.
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Old 08-11-20, 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Helldorado View Post
I just purchased a new Cervelo Aspero gravel bike from my local authorized dealer. It came with "tubeless ready" AlexRims Boondock 7D wheels and a pair of Donelly 700x38 knobby tires. As part of the deal the store offered to set me up tubeless. Of course I said yes.

The problem is the the tires leak a lot of air, now that they are tubeless. I have literally taken the bike back to the store five times over this first week because the tires don't hold air. After the store mechanics tried re-wrapping the rims, adding more sealant and even swapping out the OEM Donnelly tires for new Terravail Cannonballs, the front tire only leaks about 5 PSI/day -and I can live with that.

But the rear tire leaks 30 PSI/24 hours, consistently. I've ridden the bike about 100 miles this week, trying to get the sealant to spread out inside the wheel and maybe stop the leak, to no avail.

The store owner told me I should just accept it because "that's what tubeless tires do - they leak, some more than others." He actually told me to buy a frame pump so that I wouldn't have to spend so much money on CO2 cartridges. I asked him to please keep trouble-shooting it. Then he called me to say "we just can't find the problem with that rear wheel and tire, so we're gonna put the inner tubes back in, OK?"

I told him no. I asked him to file a warranty claim with Cervelo (the bike is only one week old) and he started hesitating, mumbling about how long that would take because of COVID-19 and how Cervelo takes so long to respond.

Seems like a 'tubeless-ready" wheel set should perform as advertised. I know that those AlexRims are pretty basic wheels and not the top of the line by any means, so I expect them to be heavy and less durable. But they should at least hold air.

Am I being unreasonable here?

Thanks for your opinions and advice.
IMO the tries should hold air without the sealant. When you can get this to work, then add the sealant.
Rims might be suspect. If aluminum, Alex rims are usually sleeved and pinned.... a soucre of a leak. Also the valve seating. Better rim taping job might help. like a double wrap or different/better tape.....And then sometimes when you want something done right you just gotta do it yourself!
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Old 08-12-20, 06:36 AM
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When they set them up in a shop, they might not do some of the steps that are often helpful in distributing the sealant, because they take extra time. I recommend that you check the sealant level and make sure they put in plenty; then remove the wheels, do the "stan's shake," lay each wheel down over a bucket and leave it for several hours, etc. (use google if you don't understand these instructions - their are a million blogs/sites/posts with tips for setting up tubeless tires.)
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Old 08-12-20, 06:46 AM
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Of course you are going to top your tires up before each ride but they shouldn't lose significant pressure during the course of a ride. You could swap your acceptable front tire with the rear and determine if the tire or rim is at fault.
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Old 08-12-20, 07:41 AM
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Re-wrap the problem rim yourself. Get some good quality tape like DTSwiss, make sure to do a double wrap. Keep the area at the valve single wrap so the valve seats properly. The way you do this is start the wrap on one side of the valve hole go around twice and end the wrap on the opposite side of the valve hole. Also make sure you are using the correct rim tape width. Off the top of my head it should be 4mm wider than internal width of your rim (but check that because I'm just going off the top of my head). Your rear tire should not leak like that and the tech is wrong.
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Old 08-12-20, 10:03 AM
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I was having a problem with a leak on one of my tires (Continental GP5K). I mounted these tires on tubeless rims 1500 miles ago. I double checked my sealant which was good and I replaced the valve core and I haven't had to add air in over a week.
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Old 08-12-20, 10:29 AM
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that's too much -- maybe 10psi over a 24 hour period but definitely not 30
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Old 08-12-20, 10:31 AM
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5-10psi/day is acceptable to me. More than that and I would retape the rims. Myself.
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Old 08-12-20, 02:06 PM
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I have a plus bike set up tubeless. I haven't been riding it for several months, and it's hanging on a hook. Still plenty of pressure when I squeeze the tires with my fingers. Months.
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Old 08-12-20, 02:24 PM
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I've owned 3 bikes in the last year, some tubed some tubeless. All have lost at least 3-5 PSI on a daily basis.

To me - this is something that was one of those shocking "I can't believe they put up with that" revelations about cyclists. When did it become acceptable to have to air-up tires with every single use?

This doesn't happen on motorcycles.

This doesn't happen on cars.

Why are we conditioned to be OK with this?
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Old 08-12-20, 02:35 PM
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I've had super good luck with my first tubeless setup - Gravelking SKs on cheap stock Alex tubeless rims, Gorilla clear tape - zero problems and they hold air better than tubes (subjective feel). So tubeless Nirvana is possible but I don't know what the secret is.

The Gravelkings were very tight - most difficult tire to mount I've ever done, and that might be the secret. I hear mostly good things about Gravelkings and tubeless.
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Old 08-12-20, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
I've had super good luck with my first tubeless setup - Gravelking SKs on cAndheap stock Alex tubeless rims, Gorilla clear tape - zero problems and they hold air better than tubes (subjective feel). So tubeless Nirvana is possible but I don't know what the secret is.

The Gravelkings were very tight - most difficult tire to mount I've ever done, and that might be the secret. I hear mostly good things about Gravelkings and tubeless.
Curiously, Cervelo actually indicates that the Alex Rim wheel models of Aspero are supposed to come with the Gravelking SKs..
Also read that at one point it seems Cervelo was shipping the Asperos with Donnellys that were NOT tubeless ready and required tubes, not sure which you originally had..
https://weightweenies.starbike.com/f...t=405#p1554729
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Old 08-12-20, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by basscadet View Post
I've owned 3 bikes in the last year, some tubed some tubeless. All have lost at least 3-5 PSI on a daily basis.

To me - this is something that was one of those shocking "I can't believe they put up with that" revelations about cyclists. When did it become acceptable to have to air-up tires with every single use?

This doesn't happen on motorcycles.

This doesn't happen on cars.


Why are we conditioned to be OK with this?
Bicycle tires are typically pumped up to higher psi than car tires and even motorcycle tires...Higher pressure means higher air loss through the rubber.

Bicycle tubes (and tires) are also thinner than car and motorcycle tires, which allows air to escape more rapidly.

Bike tires (even tubeless) don't have such a tight interface at the bead, which makes it possible (usually easy) to mount them at home. That looser connection allows more air to escape. Car tires are mounted much more tightly to the rim - so tightly that it takes shop equipment to do the job. I believe some larger motorcycle tires are the same. That tighter bead interface holds air more effectively.

So, in other words, we are "conditioned to be OK with this" because it beats the alternative -- which would be much heavier tires, pumped to insufficiently low psi, which have to be installed by a shop with special equipment and skills.
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Old 08-12-20, 09:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Curiously, Cervelo actually indicates that the Alex Rim wheel models of Aspero are supposed to come with the Gravelking SKs..
Also read that at one point it seems Cervelo was shipping the Asperos with Donnellys that were NOT tubeless ready and required tubes, not sure which you originally had..
The bike I just bought came with Donnellys. After three days of leaks the store swapped them out for Teravail Cannonballs. Still leaking.
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Old 08-12-20, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Bicycle tires are typically pumped up to higher psi than car tires and even motorcycle tires...Higher pressure means higher air loss through the rubber.

Bicycle tubes (and tires) are also thinner than car and motorcycle tires, which allows air to escape more rapidly.

Bike tires (even tubeless) don't have such a tight interface at the bead, which makes it possible (usually easy) to mount them at home. That looser connection allows more air to escape. Car tires are mounted much more tightly to the rim - so tightly that it takes shop equipment to do the job. I believe some larger motorcycle tires are the same. That tighter bead interface holds air more effectively.

So, in other words, we are "conditioned to be OK with this" because it beats the alternative -- which would be much heavier tires, pumped to insufficiently low psi, which have to be installed by a shop with special equipment and skills.

No. TL bicycle tires use a liquid sealant and a specific rim strip. Much, much different than car tires.

On one of my bikes still running tubes (Airstops w/ GP5000s) I donít have to add any air for weeks at a time. They stay within <2psi of lost pressure in 20-25 days, and thatís with a gauge check @ thereíd if the three week+ interval. So, no- bike tires are not supposed to leak.
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Old 08-12-20, 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted by AdkMtnMonster View Post
No. TL bicycle tires use a liquid sealant and a specific rim strip. Much, much different than car tires.
Rim strips on tubeless bicycle tires aren't really part of the tubeless system, they're just an artifact of using spoked wheels. There are some rims that do not have spoke nipple access from the rim bed, and these do not require a rim strip.

Liquid sealant is ubiquitous on bicycle tires primarily because the tires are so thin compared with car tires (and therefore more prone to punctures and also more likely to be porous), and secondarily because standards and tolerances still haven't been worked out for bicycles anywhere near as well as for cars.

But fundamentally, the systems aren't incomparably different. The tight fit and thick rubber of car tires is why they leak air slowly compared with tubeless bicycle tires.

On one of my bikes still running tubes (Airstops w/ GP5000s) I don’t have to add any air for weeks at a time. They stay within <2psi of lost pressure in 20-25 days, and that’s with a gauge check @ there’d if the three week+ interval. So, no- bike tires are not supposed to leak.
That's with butyl tubes that are specifically optimized for minimal air permeability. Tubeless setups and more performance-oriented tubes (such as latex) tend to bleed air considerably faster, even if nothing is wrong with them.
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Old 08-13-20, 06:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Bicycle tires are typically pumped up to higher psi than car tires and even motorcycle tires...Higher pressure means higher air loss through the rubber.

Bicycle tubes (and tires) are also thinner than car and motorcycle tires, which allows air to escape more rapidly.

Bike tires (even tubeless) don't have such a tight interface at the bead, which makes it possible (usually easy) to mount them at home. That looser connection allows more air to escape. Car tires are mounted much more tightly to the rim - so tightly that it takes shop equipment to do the job. I believe some larger motorcycle tires are the same. That tighter bead interface holds air more effectively.

So, in other words, we are "conditioned to be OK with this" because it beats the alternative -- which would be much heavier tires, pumped to insufficiently low psi, which have to be installed by a shop with special equipment and skills.
Originally Posted by AdkMtnMonster View Post
No. TL bicycle tires use a liquid sealant and a specific rim strip. Much, much different than car tires.

On one of my bikes still running tubes (Airstops w/ GP5000s) I don’t have to add any air for weeks at a time. They stay within <2psi of lost pressure in 20-25 days, and that’s with a gauge check @ there’d if the three week+ interval. So, no- bike tires are not supposed to leak.
As HTupolev wrote, the rim strips and sealant are irrelevant when it comes to answering basscadet 's question.

If you really think my answer is so wrong, I suggest that you check the psi on some of your bike tires, then remove one from the rim and check the sidewall thickness; then do the same thing with one of your car's tires. Good luck breaking the bead on that car tire.

By the way, your tubed bike tire still lost more psi in three weeks than do my car tires. Thanks for reinforcing my point.
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Old 08-14-20, 09:31 PM
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Update: after riding the bike a lot of the past few days, the leak rate has slowly subsided to about 5 PSI / 24 hours. It appears that the LBS's "advice" to ride and spin the wheels so that the sealant had a chance to spread out and plug the little backs and holes was correct. Still, it should not have taken almost two weeks for the tires to stay inflated overnight. I attribute it to the low-budget rims that came OEM with the bike. Thanks for your comments.
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Old 08-14-20, 10:17 PM
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Is there any evidence that sealant is getting out? Some tires leak and it's possible that you will be able to get them to seal up. But that also requires more sealant. I'm not sure it has anything to do with the rims, which generally don't get better over time.

I have some spots in my back tire that sealant isn't sealing, and it goes down overnight. It's almost bad enough for me to do something about. My front tire needs to be pumped up every few days. I'm not obsessive about tire pressure. As long as I can get a ride in, I'm not too concerned.
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Old 08-16-20, 01:49 PM
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After the initial breakin/set up mine tend to loose ~2% per day (percent not psi). After a few days starting at 40psi, they might drop up to a few psi.

I lose that much or more pressure putting on/off the pump fitting to the Presta valve and have to factor that in.
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Old 08-16-20, 02:06 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
Is there any evidence that sealant is getting out? Some tires leak and it's possible that you will be able to get them to seal up. But that also requires more sealant. I'm not sure it has anything to do with the rims, which generally don't get better over time.

I have some spots in my back tire that sealant isn't sealing, and it goes down overnight. It's almost bad enough for me to do something about. My front tire needs to be pumped up every few days. I'm not obsessive about tire pressure. As long as I can get a ride in, I'm not too concerned.
You've probably tried this, but I'll mention it, just in case: do you know the trick about setting the wheel on a bucket? Make sure you have plenty of sealant and relatively high psi...then hold the tire laterally, out in front of you, and wobble it around to make sure one of the sidewalls is coated in sealant, then set the wheel - with that side facing the floor - on a bucket. Let is sit for a couple hours - I'll even leave it overnight. (You're just using the bucket as a way to rest the wheel, parallel to the floor, without having to try to balance it on the very end of the hub's axle.) The idea is that this will help the sealant to get into any porous parts of the sidewalls and seal 'em up.

Obviously, you need to then flip the wheel and do it again on the other side.

Again, you many have tried this - but perhaps someone else will find this tip useful. It works for me. I think a shop won't do a time-consuming (and space-consuming) step like this, so it might help with the OP's issue.

Last edited by Koyote; 08-16-20 at 03:45 PM.
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Old 08-16-20, 03:35 PM
  #24  
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This reminds me, noticed this today on a ride. Was dry and warm out. Maybe low 80s and sunny, a little humid. Looks like the tan sidewalls were sweating.

WTB Byway. About 500 miles old with maybe 2oz Stan's sealant inside. About 36psi. I have a all black Schwable G-One on the front and couldn't notice this on that. I assume this is sealant migrating through the thinner than sidewalls? Haven't noticed this before but doesn't mean it's the first time.


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Old 08-16-20, 03:51 PM
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Toadmeister , that might be sealant coming through the sidewalls...And I wouldn't worry about it. To make suppler tires, some mfrs intentionally make the sidewalls relatively thin to the point of being porous. And then they are counting on the sealant finishing the job of making the sidewalls airtight. The alternative is much heavier, stiffer sidewalls, which will reduce ride quality.

If these tires had !,000+ miles on 'em, and we were actually seeing sealant (as opposed to some damp-looking spots), I might be more concerned. But this looks fairly normal.

PS: You might not see even this little bit of leakage if you use Orange Seal next time.
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