Tubeless?

Forums Mountain Bike Forum Tubeless?

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This topic contains 33 replies, has 16 voices, and was last updated by  Moto Bike Mike 1 year, 8 months ago.

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  • #240591

    Coming back after a long layout, tubeless MTB tires are new to me. I’ve got the stems and rim tape to convert, just need the sealant. Is the conversion really worth the trouble? If so, what is the best sealant to use? What is the main improvement of tubeless technology, just lower tire pressures? Thanks.

  • #240609

    Both my bikes are tubeless ready, but I have not converted. Most of the guys I ride with have. If you like real low tire pressures (under 25lbs), and/or you get a fair amount of pinch flats, or if  you ride in an area where there are a lot of thorns that can cause puncture flats, tubeless is well worth it. But even if you go tubeless, out on the trail if something happens you usually need to carry a tube as a back up.

    Not a lot of thorns where I ride, I run tubes at 25psi to 28psi. I have gotten three flats in three years, all pinch flats from going over sharp edged technical stuff when I let my tires get below 25psi.

    From what all my riding buddies say, Stan’s is the best sealant if you decide to do it.

  • #240610

    Is it worth it?   YES YES YES. If your rims are tubeless compatible then it shouldn’t be a hassle at all.  Any tubeless sealant will work fine, I use stans because its easily available.  Just find a video on youtube on tips for tubeless setup and you will not look back.  Good luck

  • #240611

    Do it! In addition to almost eliminating flats, it makes the bike feel lighter and more responsive. After converting I could instantly flick and corner the bike way easier. There was also a noticeable difference in tire resistance. Not quite like getting new wheels, but you should feel the drop in weight. If I remember correctly someone, Seth’s Bike Hacks or GMBN maybe, did a weight test and found that with rolling mass factored in, you can drop up to a pound in weight. Less weight and improved performance is a big improvement many people talk about. I believe it to be true now that I’m tubeless.

    Pitch flats are usually easy to avoid if you run an ultra high pressure but thorn punctures are almost impossible to avoid. It got to the point where I couldn’t ride certain trails with inner tubes. The amount of money some people spend on new tubes is more than what you would spend on tubeless supplies (sealant, tape, valves) or having a bike shop set it up for you so there’s really no reason not to try it if your bike has the right wheel and tire combo.

    I’ve only ever used Stan’s so I can’t really comment on sealant but that Slime stuff looks interesting.

    • #240618

      I’m still not tubeless either. What kind of maintenance is involved? How often to replace sealant? Anymore info is appreciated, thanks.

  • #240619

    newbie no more here with this. I just completed my first time ever trying it on my Giant and it really was fairly easy just time consuming for my first time and I felt like a bomb diffuser for some reason doing it

    Phil on Youtube has a how to with a pump sprayer from HD but a compressor helps way more so go to Harbor Freight or something and get one if you don’t.

    I put tubes in mine to seat the tires, then deflated and popped one side a bit and pulled the tube out, added sealant and resealed

    +1 for Stans… went with Trucker and it was a “meh” experience and I’ll stick with Stans since they have a good reputation and quality and easy to be had.

  • #240640

    GMBN has a great video on how to install tubeless tires. If you have a compressor, it makes it a 100x easier but it’s still possible with a regular pump. Nick was right, GMBN in this same video has a weight test. If i remember correctly, it takes off about 400 or 600g. Just about 1lb.

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q89NTR2yNyc

  • #240643

    depends on climate how long sealant will last and how much you use them.  I think every 6 months give it a refresh and you would be safe.

  • #240649

    Thanks for the replies so far. Losing 1lb of rotational mass sounds pretty good to me. Talked to the mechanic at my LBS this morning and he said some of the areas I ride locally are having issues with thorns causing flats and tubeless is a big help there. The dried sealant issue sounds like a pain, but I think the conversion sounds worthwhile. Will probably convert to tubeless soon.

  • #240663

    One piece of advice I’d give is to make yourself a cheap sealant injector using a small squeeze bottle (like a clear condiment bottle, Harbor Freight has some that work great for like $5 for a 3 pack) and I think 1/4” ID flexible tubing (take a valve stem to the hardware store, the right size will be just right to thread into the tubing). This way you can seat your bead without the chance of spraying sealant everywhere, and easily refresh your sealant without having to even remove your wheels.

    Mice been doing this for a few years and it’s really made having tubeless even easier and a whole lot less messy. All you need to do is remove the valve core, squirt the sealant in, and re-inflate the tire.

  • #240665

    Going tubeless is one of the best upgrades you can make.  It will totally transform the way your bike feels and handles.  I use Orange Seal sealant instead of Stan’s because it is more environmentally friendly and not as corrosive on alloy nipples.  I live in Florida, so I have to add some to my tires every couple of months due to evaporation.  Orange Seal has a great kit that makes it easy to add the sealant, and gives you a dipstick to check the sealant levels in your tires.  I have not seen any downside to going tubeless, and haven’t had any flats even when running really low air pressures.

  • #240666

    Once I converted to tubeless a few years ago my wheels got less bouncy. Part of it was that I was able to run lower pressure.

  • #240668

    RJShoop, my LBS uses Orange Seal. Probably would have bought it today but they were zero stock.

    DH Mike, less bouncy sounds good. I’m hoping that translates into more supple over small stuff… Also wondering how much traction is enhanced.

     

  • #240674

    More supple is a right word. Regarding traction you can run lower pressure so you will have more traction for sure.

  • #240680

    As a recent convert to a new tubless bike (and upgrading my old bike, 2010 specialized, to lend to a friend), here is my take:

    1. Is it worth it? As with most things it depends. If you ride any of the following, it’s probably worth it (outside these areas, maybe it is too – but I don’t know them enough to say): soft/loose areas or desert regions full of things that will cause small holes (goatheads, cactus, etc). The short is that lower pressures give better grip as your tire has more surface area (no surprise here) and the holes of any small punctures are filled with the sealant – keeping you from needing to manage much with your tires. There is the physics of rolling resistance removed without the mass of a tube as well, as others comment.

    Of course, you generally still carry a spare tube in the cases you get a bigger impact (“snake bikes”, etc).

    My experience: To date, there have been no times in which I would get my bike out for a new ride where one, or both, tires were toast. Also, riding through areas I knew were prone to goat heads/cactus I didn’t see any issues that were not handled by the sealant filling the hole (I am in CO – so more desert/arid terrain).

    2. Which sealant? I’ve run Stan’s and Orange Seal – so far I prefer the orange seal. First they include the stem adapter – so no need to finagle anything. Secondly, and entirely subjectively, I’ve noticed faster seals – even on the bigger segments (e.g. sealing new wheels where the rim tape allowed more than it probably should have…). However recently there has been a buzz about the newest finishline release…

    3. Added maintenance? You pretty much just need to re-seal every ~6mo. If you notice tires are not holding quite as well as before – it may be time. Also if they sit for a while (6mo+) you may get the sealant pooling and hardening (aka “Stanimals” for stan’s :)). Finally seating a tire takes some more work (you will need either a charger pump or an air compressor) – new tires that are held in a non-round shape may need a tube in them for 5-10 minutes first to get them seated in a wheel, then pulled out to do the tubeless way.

     

  • #240692

    Go tubeless.  I concur with others:  (1) noticeable less rotational weight that affects performance (acceleration, cornering); (2) you can lower tire pressures as the surface demands; I ride on lose over hard pack mostly, so the lower pressure is a big help and (3) no flats in years.  I do run quite low tire pressures, so sometimes I burp a tire, but my set up is quite good (tires match the rims well), so I have always been able to re-pump my tires on the trail with a small hand pump after burping.  Personally, I use Specialized tires (Butcher Grids mostly) because they have been easier to manage tubeless.  I like the ride performance of the Maxxis Minions more, but have found that Specialized tires go on the rim readily and then set up and seal very easily.  I have only used a regular floor pump to set up the Specialized.  I have had more trouble with Maxxis Minions, needing a compressor for the initial set up and not being able to fix burps at times on the trail with a regular hand pump.

  • #240693

    Also, about a month ago, Jeff posted a article on a sealant that doesn’t evaporate for the life of the tire.  So you may want to find that in the archives and get some of that.  That sealant sounds like it solves most all maintenance issues.

  • #240694

    mongwolf, Thanks for the input. Your experience running the Specialized Butcher Grids is helpful since they came on my new bike. Will look for Jeff’s sealant article.

  • #240701

    I first ran tubeless a dozen years ago. There were no tubeless ready tires (Mavic UST sucked), no dedicated rims or tape. It was a mess and hard to manage and I only ran it for about 3 mos.

    Fast forward eight years and it’s a very different deal. Tubeless is very simple to set up. Maintenance is check your pressure before each ride (takes about a minute) and popping the bead every 6 mos +/- to add more sealant as needed.  At this point, I would not return to tubes. I cannot stress how dramatic a difference the ride feel is.

    Benefits?

    • Almost no flats. In 4 years I’ve had two. These occurred when I did not check my pressure before the ride.
    • Lower pressures = better traction and all around improved handling.
    • Low maintenance (see above)
    • Easy to deal with and less hassle once you figure your pressures. Speaking of that #whatpressureareurunning… I am at 24/28 PSI frt/rear (2.5/2.35 Maxxis 29er meats) which for a 200 lb aggressive rider is impressive. If you wanna get really wacky you can get down into the low twenties if you run an insert like Cush Core.

    Downsides?

    • Small learning curve with set-up, pressures, etc.
    • Can be messy until you get the hang of it set-up wise.
    • Cost, but wholly offset be the lack of flats, better handling, etc.

    Finally, find someone that knows what the hell they are doing and have them help you through it. The videos are fine and dandy, but you will curse a lot less with some help.

  • #240702

    Tubeless is great.  Another vote here for Orange Sealant and tape, but NOT for their valves.  I prefer the Bontrager valve stems much more, they are squared off and don’t require an O-ring.  Another cool thing about tubeless is the ability to fix bigger holes with patch plugs rather than with a tube.  You don’t need to remove the tire or wheel, just shove it in with a pointed tool and let it self-adhere.  I carry a few of these in addition to one tube, a high volume pump, and tire levers.

    I ride a hard-tail in the Northeast US where you get a lot of square-edged hits from granite, and i get very few flats with 2.3 in. Maxxis Ikon tires at 20 lb/ft² front 25 lb/ft² rear, body weight 155 lb.  The lower pressures let the tire grip better on slick rocks.

    One place where tubeless is not so great is cyclocross – the smaller ratio of tire width to rim width in conjunction with lower pressures results in burped tires during races.  Tubulars are still king.

    Sean

     

  • #240704

    Hi,

    It’s all been said already really.  Tubeless is great; amazing even.

    Up till a few months ago was riding a 2003 bike, well specced for its time but very very of its time.  Bought a new bike. It had 3.0 tyres tubeless.  Picked the wheel up to put it in the car…light!  Incredibly.

    This translates to increased acceleration and the proproception of this is just stunning….was thinking…does this thing have an engine? … it was so perky. All that physics of ‘unbraked rotational mass’ really works for you when you shed a kilo of inner tube!

    have fun.

    j

     

  • #240723

    Dude, this is a no brainer.  IMO there is no reason NOT to go tubeless.  There really is no downside (provided your wheels/tires are tubeless ready… and even then there are “ghetto” versions that many have created which you can watch on Youtube).  Here’s why:

    • NO PINCH FLATS!  Nothing ruins a ride faster than a flat.  I went from 4-5 flats/season to 3 flats in 4 years since going tubeless.  And 2 of the 3 flats with tubeless were tire punctures which would have resulted in a punctured inner tube anyway.  There’s only one instance (broken spoke/nipple) where I flatted with tubeless where a tubed tire would not have.
    • Less rotational weight = you can go faster or longer expending the same energy
    • Ability to run a broader range of tire pressures (esp. at the low end) without worrying about pinch flats.  This really allows you to dial in to the terrain/conditions you’re riding
    • Less expensive (after initial set up) if I compare the cost of the tubes to the cost of the sealant

    I’ve had great success running the following on my steed:

    • Stans Arch MK3 wheels
    • Maxxis Minion DHF (front)/Maxxis Ikon or HR II (Rear)
    • Stans or Orange Sealant have both worked well for me

    My bike mechanic skills are “average” and I’ve done 3 separate wheelset conversions to tubeless from XC to fat wheels (the fatties were a bit of a challenge to seat but I eventually got it).  Adding in some fresh sealant once a season is all I do and it’s a very simple process especially if you have removable presta valve cores as you don’t even need to unseat the tire.

  • #240780

    You guys have me sold on the idea. Will get er done when I get some time (and sealant). Look forward to the benefits of tubeless.

  • #240856

    Well, it is done! When Specialized says “tubeless ready” they aren’t kidding. The rims were taped, tubeless tires installed and valve stems included. All I did was yank the tubes out, install the valve stems, add some sealant and air the tires up. Stupid simple. I do still have a very minute amount of leakage around the bead seats, but that will hopefully seal after a ride.

     

    Thanks for all the help everyone!

  • #240859

    Weighed the tubes I removed on a postal scale, 22oz… Sealant weight, 4oz total for both wheels. This mod took 18oz of rotational weight out of the wheelset. Can’t wait to go for a ride.

  • #240861

    Very cool MB Mike!  Enjoy the ride!

  • #240878

    Took a ride today. The wheels are definitely more lively feeling. Ran 26 psi up front and 28 rear. The Specialized Butcher tires have some cornering “sidewall roll” tubeless at those pressures but the supply feel on the trail is awesome. One rocky creek crossing had me concerned when the front wheel produced a subdued metallic sound on impact. Think I’ll go back to 30 psi (pressure I ran with tubes) to correct both problems and reduce rolling resistance a bit.

    The tires are certainly serviceable, but tubeless or not, seem to break loose with somewhat less warning than I’d prefer.

    All in all, tubeless is a great upgrade for $8 worth of Saan’s sealant.

     

     

     

     

  • #240879

    You really shouldn’t have to run your pressures as high as you did with tubes.  For similar conditions you described I usually run about 23-25psi (front) and 25-28psi (rear) and I’m 180lbs.  Not sure if it has to do with the tires as I have no experience with the Butchers.  There are some interesting observations in the following thread.

    https://www.singletracks.com/blog/forums/topic/optimal-tubeless-psi/

     

     

     

  • #240880

    Thanks for the link, good info there.

    The thing that concerned me was the rim bump in the rocks and cornering feel. My guess is that the Butchers have flexible sidewalls and I weigh about 205 suited up for a ride. Once these tires wear out, I may look for something with a stiffer sidewall. In the mean time, the Butchers are entirely serviceable and I’ll get it fine tuned. Something tells me that even at 28-30 psi tubeless Butchers will give a more supple ride than they did with tubes.

  • #240883

    Thanks again to everyone for all the help.

  • #240899

    Hey Mike.  Are you sure you are running the “Grid” casing on the Butchers?  Or could it be the “Control” casing.  I have never had any problems with sidewall roll while cornering with the “Grid” casing.  I have a had a variety of issues with the “Control” casing running tubeless … one of them very painful. =(  I ride at 185lbs so that could be the difference in our experiences, but I also ride at a much lower tire pressures.  Interesting.  Whatever it may be, hope you figure out what works for you … … Ride on !!!!!!!!! =)

  • #240900

    Mike, let me also say if you are using the Butchers with the “Control” casings, I personally wouldn’t wait until you wear out them out to make the change.  I found the “Control” casing actually dangerous running tubeless.  The “Control” casing is just too thin and unsupportive.  I took a serious crash due to a sidewall slash due to the thinness of the casing.  It happened in a location I have ridden 100s of times and never had a problem with the “Grid” casing.  And as I said above, I have had other issues with the “Control” casing.

  • #240915

    Very interesting. I did confirm though, the tires are Butcher Grids. They are decent skins, just need to fine tune things a bit. We’ll see how they ride at 28-30 psi.

  • #241269

    Took a spin today on some rocky trail. It looks like I’ll be running 26-28 psi up front and 30 or so on the rear. Thanks again for everyone’s help.

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