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My Experience with Tubeless

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Road Cycling ďIt is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.Ē -- Ernest Hemingway

My Experience with Tubeless

Old 08-02-20, 01:20 PM
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RiceAWay
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My Experience with Tubeless

About two years ago I went to tubeless tires. I had been riding 28 mm clincher tires (Michelin Pro4) and really liked them. I must not have been the only ones since I haven't been able to find them recently. For some reason I got the idea that these Michelin's were tubeless and used them as such. After a really steep high speed descent. I came into town and accelerated off of a stop light and it threw the tire off of the rim. So always be careful that you use tubeless tires only. I was lucky that the cars stopped in time to keep from running over me. Anyway I figured that the whole idea of having a wider tire was to be able to lower pressure and get a softer ride. So I changed to a 25. Well, while that sounds good the 28's have a lot more air volume and ride is softer not only because of lower air pressure but also because there is more room for the air to compress on the bumps so the 25's still ride harder. Now, I'm 6'4" and 190 lbs so your experience may differ.

Also tubeless tires are terribly difficult to mount and I started going through plastic tire levers rapidly. And every time I bought a new set of tires or wheels they were monumentally higher mounting pressure. It is now to the mount where I can't even get a GP5000TLR onto a tubeless rim. I bought some VAR tire jacks hoping that would help but it really doesn't and you still spend hours trying to mount a tire that you used to be able to change a tire on in 10 minutes.

It also turns out that you can make cuts in tubeless tires that cannot be sealed by the sealant. You can carry "bacon" and the insertion tool or tire plugs but the flats I got were cuts and neither worked well - the tire would simply lose air more slowly. So you have to also carry a spare tube to insert if you get one of these cuts. Especially in the rain, it will lubricate glass so that it makes large cuts in a tire. The entire idea behind tubeless tires was not having to carry these sorts of things and you have to carry them anyway. But now, out on the road you can't repair a tires because, you can still get if off of the rim but you can't get the damn thing back on. Right now, down in the garage I have a GP5000TLR I've been trying to get back on to an Aero carbon tubeless wheel for 4 days. I have broken three plastic levers and upon finally mounting the tire the tube was pinched. Remember that you can also get tubeless aluminum wheels and they have the same problems.

So the honeymoon period of the tubeless venture is over, I'm returning to clincher wheels and tires.

Another point we might make is that no one uses talcum powder on the innertubes anymore. Whether this is because they found that some talc's had asbestos in it or simply to cut costs I don't know. But I've bought a container of baby talc to lubricate the tubes and make pinch flats from mounting less likely. I can also now go back to the small light tire levers and the small light CO2 cartridge filler head instead of the cumbersome large CO2 container.to insulate my hand from the freezing of the bottle as you fill your tire, I have a small foam rubber cover that works well enough. And if you're using tires that are designed to not get flats you rarely have to use it anyway. Racing tires are for racing. While I don't like the ride of Gatorskins, I'm about to try Continental 4 seasons which have even better flat protection and supposedly a descent ride. I haven't gotten any flats with Vittoria Corsa G+ I don't know if that is a matter of luck or it they are tough. All of my flats on tubeless were the Continental GP5000TLRs or Michelin Power.

Nothing spoils a ride like a flat that can't be fixed. In my experience it would take me 10 minutes to repair a flat with clincher wheels and tires. But I've had to call my wife on three occasions now because it was impossible to repair a tubeless. And then I get razzed all the way home.
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Old 08-02-20, 01:53 PM
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My e pertinence has been just the opposite. Most of the tubeless tires I’ve tried were installed with no tire levers, just my hands. I’ve yet to break a tire tool. I’ve had exactly one flat that didn’t seal in over 15,000 miles of riding on tubeless, and that’s when I was running Stan’s. With Orange Seal everything has sealed fine.

Yes, there are absolutely things that can be done to a tire that tire sealer will not seal. I’ve not had them happen, but that’s just the luck of the draw. I’ve had sidewall damage on tubed tires.

With tubeless I no longer carry a pump, co2 cartridges, tire levers, boots or a patch kit. I’m sure I’ll eventually make the call of shame, but in almost two years of riding tubeless I’ve been good.
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Old 08-02-20, 02:07 PM
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Opinions about this are all over the map and depend on many variables. Certainly riders who get frequent flats (think goathead thorn territory) benefit more than those who don’t.

Personally, I am generally lucky with flats and get one every 3000-ish miles (ie 3 per year) and I have decent arthritis in my hands and wrists in spite of “only” being 55, so for those two reasons I am in no rush to go tubeless.

Among my friends who have gone tubeless, about half are very happy and half are neutral to negative.

As always, YMMV.
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Old 08-02-20, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by MattTheHat View Post
My e pertinence has been just the opposite. Most of the tubeless tires Iíve tried were installed with no tire levers, just my hands. Iíve yet to break a tire tool. Iíve had exactly one flat that didnít seal in over 15,000 miles of riding on tubeless, and thatís when I was running Stanís. With Orange Seal everything has sealed fine.

Yes, there are absolutely things that can be done to a tire that tire sealer will not seal. Iíve not had them happen, but thatís just the luck of the draw. Iíve had sidewall damage on tubed tires.

With tubeless I no longer carry a pump, co2 cartridges, tire levers, boots or a patch kit. Iím sure Iíll eventually make the call of shame, but in almost two years of riding tubeless Iíve been good.
I've never seen a road tubeless you could mount by hand. Perchance are you talking about MTB tubeless tires which I could easily believe are easy to mount? Or are you built like Don Johnson?
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Old 08-02-20, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by RiceAWay View Post
About two years ago I went to tubeless tires. I had been riding 28 mm clincher tires (Michelin Pro4) and really liked them. I must not have been the only ones since I haven't been able to find them recently. For some reason I got the idea that these Michelin's were tubeless and used them as such. After a really steep high speed descent. I came into town and accelerated off of a stop light and it threw the tire off of the rim. So always be careful that you use tubeless tires only. I was lucky that the cars stopped in time to keep from running over me. Anyway I figured that the whole idea of having a wider tire was to be able to lower pressure and get a softer ride. So I changed to a 25. Well, while that sounds good the 28's have a lot more air volume and ride is softer not only because of lower air pressure but also because there is more room for the air to compress on the bumps so the 25's still ride harder. Now, I'm 6'4" and 190 lbs so your experience may differ.

Also tubeless tires are terribly difficult to mount and I started going through plastic tire levers rapidly. And every time I bought a new set of tires or wheels they were monumentally higher mounting pressure. It is now to the mount where I can't even get a GP5000TLR onto a tubeless rim. I bought some VAR tire jacks hoping that would help but it really doesn't and you still spend hours trying to mount a tire that you used to be able to change a tire on in 10 minutes.

It also turns out that you can make cuts in tubeless tires that cannot be sealed by the sealant. You can carry "bacon" and the insertion tool or tire plugs but the flats I got were cuts and neither worked well - the tire would simply lose air more slowly. So you have to also carry a spare tube to insert if you get one of these cuts. Especially in the rain, it will lubricate glass so that it makes large cuts in a tire. The entire idea behind tubeless tires was not having to carry these sorts of things and you have to carry them anyway. But now, out on the road you can't repair a tires because, you can still get if off of the rim but you can't get the damn thing back on. Right now, down in the garage I have a GP5000TLR I've been trying to get back on to an Aero carbon tubeless wheel for 4 days. I have broken three plastic levers and upon finally mounting the tire the tube was pinched. Remember that you can also get tubeless aluminum wheels and they have the same problems.

So the honeymoon period of the tubeless venture is over, I'm returning to clincher wheels and tires.

Another point we might make is that no one uses talcum powder on the innertubes anymore. Whether this is because they found that some talc's had asbestos in it or simply to cut costs I don't know. But I've bought a container of baby talc to lubricate the tubes and make pinch flats from mounting less likely. I can also now go back to the small light tire levers and the small light CO2 cartridge filler head instead of the cumbersome large CO2 container.to insulate my hand from the freezing of the bottle as you fill your tire, I have a small foam rubber cover that works well enough. And if you're using tires that are designed to not get flats you rarely have to use it anyway. Racing tires are for racing. While I don't like the ride of Gatorskins, I'm about to try Continental 4 seasons which have even better flat protection and supposedly a descent ride. I haven't gotten any flats with Vittoria Corsa G+ I don't know if that is a matter of luck or it they are tough. All of my flats on tubeless were the Continental GP5000TLRs or Michelin Power.

Nothing spoils a ride like a flat that can't be fixed. In my experience it would take me 10 minutes to repair a flat with clincher wheels and tires. But I've had to call my wife on three occasions now because it was impossible to repair a tubeless. And then I get razzed all the way home.
I followed through being surprised when a non tubeless tire, used as tubeless, blew off. Then expecting a 25mm tire to be cushier than a 28mm. I kind of gave up after that but hope it all worked out.
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Old 08-02-20, 04:06 PM
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Brilliant.
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Old 08-02-20, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by RiceAWay View Post
I've never seen a road tubeless you could mount by hand. Perchance are you talking about MTB tubeless tires which I could easily believe are easy to mount? Or are you built like Don Johnson?
No, Iíve never run tubeless on MTB. Iíve mounted 3 different sets of Specialized Roubaix in 32mm. Two in black sidewall, and another in transparent sidewall. And Iíve mounted two different pairs of Continental GP5000TL in 32mm. None of these 5 pair of tires needed tire levers to install.

I will admit that the GP5000TL in 28mm did require tire levers. They were quite tight. But they were no match for two plastic Park tool tire levers.

I must admit to being a little amused with bicycle tires being referred to as being difficult to mount. After decades of mounting motorcycle tires, it amuses me to be able to install bicycle tires by hand.
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Old 08-02-20, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
Opinions about this are all over the map and depend on many variables. Certainly riders who get frequent flats (think goathead thorn territory) benefit more than those who donít.

Personally, I am generally lucky with flats and get one every 3000-ish miles (ie 3 per year) and I have decent arthritis in my hands and wrists in spite of ďonlyĒ being 55, so for those two reasons I am in no rush to go tubeless.

Among my friends who have gone tubeless, about half are very happy and half are neutral to negative.

As always, YMMV.
I agree completely. If I didnít get lots of punctures (usually those little bits of steel belted radial wires) I wouldnít bother with tubeless.
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Old 08-02-20, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by RiceAWay View Post
I've never seen a road tubeless you could mount by hand. Perchance are you talking about MTB tubeless tires which I could easily believe are easy to mount? Or are you built like Don Johnson?
I mounted a set of GP5000 TLs on my wife's bike a few weeks ago without levers...I am mainly a MTBer so have been messing with tubeless for a long time. There are tricks that work for both...
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Old 08-02-20, 05:30 PM
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Some rims don't like some tires, and that's just the way it is. Maxxis Padrones were some of the most difficult to mount tires I've ever encountered. They were waking nightmares. Conversely, I put 700x23 RoadLites on my CF wheels with my bare hands, no issues whatsoever. Same for 700x25 Giant Gavias. Sure, the wider a tire gets, the easier it is (usually) to get it on the rim. 700x40 Conti Terra Speeds practically fall onto the wheels.

I run tubeless now and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future because I live in what I estimate to be the Flats Capital of the World. I would-- without exaggeration-- suffer 2-3 flats per week running any tubed tire short of an Armadillo or Gatorskin. And life is simply too short to ride on those kinds of tires. I'd rather clean some latex off of the seattube once in awhile than sit on the side of the road fixing a flat... at all.
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Old 08-02-20, 08:12 PM
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I remember posts like this about tubeless when tubeless first came on to the MTB scene.

I just mounted a pair of GP5000 TLs on Friday, it was just like any other tire mount.
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Old 08-02-20, 08:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Wooderson View Post
I remember posts like this about tubeless when tubeless first came on to the MTB scene.

I just mounted a pair of GP5000 TLs on Friday, it was just like any other tire mount.
Yeah, compared to the newer MTB tire/rim setups, road tubeless tires are a piece of cake.

One trick I have always done, and it helps that I am in the south, is to keep the tire outside in the heat so it is nice and stretchy and the rim indoors in the air conditioning. Also, the last portion of the tire, if it does not go on at first, I just let it stay stretched out a bit. I find that if I come back to it a bit later, it goes on easily.
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Old 08-03-20, 08:55 AM
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Are wider tubeless tires easier to mount than narrower ones?

My bike came with 33mm Vittora cyclocross tires that are tubeless (ready) and they go on/off just like any other tire.
I've mounted 28mm non-tubeless GP5000's to the same wheels and they are harder to mount. I'm thinking of getting some 32mm GP5000 TL's to try out tubeless on these wheels.
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Old 08-03-20, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
Are wider tubeless tires easier to mount than narrower ones?

My bike came with 33mm Vittora cyclocross tires that are tubeless (ready) and they go on/off just like any other tire.
I've mounted 28mm non-tubeless GP5000's to the same wheels and they are harder to mount. I'm thinking of getting some 32mm GP5000 TL's to try out tubeless on these wheels.
I would not say that. What I would say is that different brands vary in mounting ease and that the wider (and higher) the rim, the harder to mount.
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Old 08-03-20, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by RiceAWay View Post
I've never seen a road tubeless you could mount by hand. Perchance are you talking about MTB tubeless tires which I could easily believe are easy to mount? Or are you built like Don Johnson?
Once I learned how almost 10 years ago, I have mounted every single road tubeless tire I have ever owned by hand with no tire elvers
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Old 08-03-20, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by alcjphil View Post
Once I learned how almost 10 years ago, I have mounted every single road tubeless tire I have ever owned by hand with no tire elvers
I only learned four years ago, but same experience - never a lever.
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Old 08-03-20, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by vespasianus View Post
Yeah, compared to the newer MTB tire/rim setups, road tubeless tires are a piece of cake.

One trick I have always done, and it helps that I am in the south, is to keep the tire outside in the heat so it is nice and stretchy and the rim indoors in the air conditioning. Also, the last portion of the tire, if it does not go on at first, I just let it stay stretched out a bit. I find that if I come back to it a bit later, it goes on easily.
Another trick is to inflate the tire with a tube installed, let it sit overnight, then take the tube out and then do your tubeless setup.

Dave
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Old 08-03-20, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by bonsai171 View Post
Another trick is to inflate the tire with a tube installed, let it sit overnight, then take the tube out and then do your tubeless setup.

Dave
Oh yeah. When I first set up tubeless tires (new tape), I always do this. But after, I just seal, air and go.
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Old 08-03-20, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by bonsai171 View Post
Another trick is to inflate the tire with a tube installed, let it sit overnight
That's how I store the next set of tires to be used

Originally Posted by vespasianus View Post
When I first set up tubeless tires (new tape), I do this
Every rim I tape for tubeless gets this treatment.
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