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Just realized my bike has tubeless tires. What do I need to do to take care of them?

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Just realized my bike has tubeless tires. What do I need to do to take care of them?

Old 02-03-15, 03:25 PM
  #1  
charliemagne
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Just realized my bike has tubeless tires. What do I need to do to take care of them?

I have been riding my Santa Cruz Tallboy for 9 months and just got my first flat... at which point I learned I have tubeless tires. I know that to maintain them I will need to refill the fluid, but I have no idea where to start. Anyone have advice, or a good resource for learning this stuff? I watched a couple YouTube videos and browsed BikeForums but all the knowledge I found was geared towards someone who has a decent understanding of the topic already.

I want to know:
- Basic maintenance, besides filling them with air
- What lingo do I need to know?
- How do you know when to refill the fluid?
- What to do when you get a flat
- What equipment is worth buying (I ride 10-15 miles/week on my Tallboy)
- What equipment to carry with me on rides
- Anything else that you think is valuable info.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 02-03-15, 03:40 PM
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What kind of flat did you get? A puncture? Tear in the sidewall? Or, did you roll the tire off the rim?

I'm a tubeless newb myself, but as far as I know, getting a puncture flat is no big deal. Just shake and rotate the tire to let the milky fluid get there and plug the hole.
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Old 02-04-15, 11:01 AM
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- Basic maintenance, besides filling them with air

Latex-based sealant should be used in all tubeless tires. Otherwise, if you run over a thorn, bit of glass, or hit a sharp rock, you could get a flat. And without sealant, it's very likely that your tubeless tire will slowly leak air and need attention daily. You need 3 basic things:

1. Sealant. Stans is the, uh, standard. I find that Slime Pro stays liquid longer and seals bigger holes faster and more reliably.

2. Injector. Stans makes a good one. This is so that you don't have to break the bead between the rim and tire in order to add sealant. Of course... without breaking the bead, you can't know for sure how much sealant remains in the tire.

3. Valve core remover. Sounding like a broken record here, but I just use Stans. You need to pull the core in order to inject sealant.

- What lingo do I need to know?

Lingo?? The only term that you might hear is 'boogers'. Latex can dry and form balls inside the tire. Stans is well-known for this, and other sealants do it less. (Slime Pro, in my experience, doesn't form boogers at all.) Anyway, if you are ever looking inside a tubeless tire and see chunks of latex, get rid of them.

- How do you know when to refill the fluid?
You will need to add more sealant every 60-90 days on average. More often if you ride more. You can spin the tire and hear it sloshing around when there is a good amount of sealant inside. Typically you'll want at least 2 oz in there.

- What to do when you get a flat
When you have sealant, you won't get flats hardly ever. It takes either a big puncture, like a nail or sharp rock, or it requires you to have low / no sealant.

However, only fools ride without a spare tube, tools and a pump. I am no fool. If your sealant fails for any reason during a ride, pop the bead, remove the tubeless valve and install a tube, then air it up.

- What equipment is worth buying (I ride 10-15 miles/week on my Tallboy)

Besides what I mentioned above, if you want to install a new tubeless tire or if you break the bead on your existing tire to clean and inspect it, you might consider a small compressor to help you bead the tire. Bontrager (Trek) also sells a pump that has a large chamber you pump up that 'flashes' the tire similar to the initial hit on a compressor. Supposedly it's the bees knees, but I haven't seen one in action yet.

- What equipment to carry with me on rides
Already covered this. Pump, plastic tire lever, spare tube. Optionally, a tire boot in case you have a severe puncture or tear in the tire.

- Anything else that you think is valuable info.
What kind of wheels do you have? Different wheels and tires may be easier or tougher to mount and inflate tubeless. I've had the best luck by far with wheels and tires that have the UST bead, which usually are called 'tubeless ready'.

Last edited by ColinL; 02-04-15 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 02-04-15, 04:37 PM
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Once every 3-6 months add sealant, short end of the range for dry climates, long end for humid areas. Once a year (roughly every other re-fill), pull the tire off and clean out the sealant boogers, before refilling. At your mileage there's a good chance you'll wear out tires before needing to clean out the boogers.

The only catch with tubeless and flats is to be careful when using a CO2 cartridge to refill the tire. CO2 interacts badly with many sealants, probably due to the temperature drop, so its best to inflate slowly, either with small puffs or a slow controlled inflation.
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Old 02-08-15, 11:37 AM
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There's great advice above.

I have tubeless on my mountain bike and CX rig. The biggest lesson I learned early on when I started with tubeless is you have to refresh the sealant every couple of months. Out on a ride i carry a mini pump, tube (in case i tear the sidewall) and a small bottle of sealant.

Also had a very funny experience with tubeless. I make my own sealant with a mix of mold builder (latex from hobby store), slime, water, ethelynglycol, and glitter. The glitter helps seal the bigger punctures. So one night I was in the garage and swapping out CX tires for a race the next day. Couldn't get it to seal so I cranked up the air pressure on the compressor. High pressure blew the tire off the rim with a huge bang and sprayed bits of green and glittery sealant all over me and the garage and wife's car. Neighbors heard the bang and thought it was a gunshot. As long as you are using tubeless-specific tires this shouldn't be an issue.

Last edited by 1242Vintage; 02-08-15 at 11:39 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 02-10-15, 04:01 PM
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Thanks everybody, I really appreciate the detailed responses.

ColinL - I do ride tubeless ready wheels, 29" wtb st i23 to be exact.
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Old 02-10-15, 09:58 PM
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Originally Posted by charliemagne View Post
ColinL - I do ride tubeless ready wheels, 29" wtb st i23 to be exact.
Good wheels. Probably means you have a Tallboy LT, right? I thought the regular Tallboy came with the skinny rims, the i19s, and Maxxis Ikons. The LT comes with the i23 and either High Rollers or Ardents, I forget.
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Old 02-11-15, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by ColinL View Post
Good wheels. Probably means you have a Tallboy LT, right? I thought the regular Tallboy came with the skinny rims, the i19s, and Maxxis Ikons.
Its actually a custom build with the Tallboy frame and most of the LT parts. Its my first MTB (although Ive been riding for years) and I got hooked up by a friend of a friend who used to ride for Santa Cruz. I'd have to say its my most prized possession.
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