What's your relationship with tubeless tires?

Forums Mountain Bike Forum What's your relationship with tubeless tires?

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    • #249566

      I just installed new tubeless tires and what a hassle. Which reminds me of an old girlfriend. She was prettier, sexier, smarter, and more fun than my previous girlfriend but also very high maintenance. I loved her but I just couldn’t see spending the rest of my life with her. I feel the same way about tubeless tires. While tubeless tires work much better than tires with tubes, tubeless sure is a lot of trouble when installing new tires or when the sealant won’t stop that leak. I got sealant all-over myself, the wheels, and the garage floor. What a mess! With tubes I could change 2 tires in about 15 mins, now it takes more than an hour with tubeless tires. And that bottle of sealant wasn’t cheap.

      I sure would like to see some new tire product that eliminates sealant. To that end, there is a new product, the Tannus Armour Liner. A foam liner is placed next to the tire and then a tube is installed. The thick foam liner prevents thorn flats and also eliminates pinch flats. Does it work? Is it heavy? Only time and testing will tell?

      Maybe this is the one! I want to dump tubeless tires and find a new tire system that I can spend the rest of my life with. What’s your relationship with tubeless tires????

    • #249571

      Your first tubless tire install is always a bitch. You’ll learn tricks the more you do it and it’ll get easier. My first experience with tubless was with Specialized tires, and the ones I had didn’t stay inside the rim very well during install. I’ve had much better luck with Maxxis tubless tires since then. Having two good tire levers is essential, and making sure your rim is clean and dry when installing a tire made a big difference for me.

      And from my personal experience, I’ve never known anyone to go back to tubes after going tubless, and I’ve never had issues with holes that sealant couldn’t fix so far. I don’t mean to be captain obvious, but its important to make sure you’re actually using a tubless specific tire. I’ve had my current pair of maxxis tires on my bike for almost a year (exo models), set up tubless, and I’ve yet to have a flat on them.

    • #249577

      What Mitch said: It gets easier, faster and far less messy when you’ve done it a few times.

      Judging tubeless by installation only is being short-sighted. You can’t know how much aggravation in the field you’re saving yourself by dealing with it in the shop. By my experience, goatheads, pinch flats, road debris and inner tubes are more high maintenance than tubeless.

      “That leak” – ? If you keep the wheel oriented vertically and are using tubeless gear, you should not get more than a few drops of sealant anywhere. If you have sealant gushing out of somewhere, something is very wrong. Did you check out a video tutorial like the one at the Stan’s site?

      It’s a happy union here. You can learn to love, too. : )

    • #249586

      HA! Looove your girlfriend analogy! With tubeless I would place the emphasis on smarter; Ivy League, MIT & multiple doctorates smarter and she ain’t gonna fall for the same droll lines you fed your previous girlfriends, so you’re gonna have to work a lot harder up front -but-  once you prove your worthiness, she’s little or no maintenance moving forward.

      Tip for you: buy Stan’s The Injector NOW! – just order it . https://www.amazon.com/NoTubes-Stans-No-Tubes-Injector/dp/B07BV9D7SJ  little or no mess once you start using it to fill your tires. I just carry the damn thing in my tool box, worth it’s weight in platinum if you’re running tubeless.

      I admit, for me, the payoff for tubeless has been much bigger with my road bike (flats all the time) than my MTB, but I haven’t had a flat in years…yeah,YEARS on either bike with tubeless. And I love the road and trail feel of tubeless tires.

      Trust me, she’s a fantastic girlfriend, just, really, really smart.


    • #249587

      ^^ what they said.  Once you do it a couple of times it’s just as easy as replacing a tube… assuming you have tubeless ready rims???  The only time that was difficult for me was when I converted to tubeless on my fat bike.  It was critical to make sure that the tires were stretched to the edge of the rims before inflating.  That was a big PITA but once I got it done it’s been smooth sailing ever since.

      To me, tubeless IS the prettier, smarter, sexier, and more fun girl.  Tubes is the one you take on a date and then she walks out and leaves you stranded without warning.  Tubeless wants a little more upfront commitment but if you set her up right she’ll take care of you. ????

    • #249591

      Definitely a love hate relationship.  It gets a little easier with time but can still be challenging.

      My son’s Orbea came with 24″ tubeless ready wheels.  I was at my LBS when it came in arrived and when the mechanic asked if he should set up the wheels tubeless I said yes.  It took the mech, another employee, and myself 45 minutes to get the first tire mounted.  Another 30 minutes to get the other one.  The next morning both tires had gone flat.  I fought to get them sealed and pumped up again just for them to lose all pressure in less than 12 hours.  My son’s bike has tubes now.  In this case the tires and rims just weren’t a good match.

      As you continue with your tubeless experience you’ll find some rim and tire combos work really well and others will seem impossible.

    • #249625

      Sounds like a good idea, I planned on doing it, but so far I am able to run the pressure I like with tubes (20psi rear 25psi front), and I rarely get pinch flats, with running Maxxis 125g ultralight tubes (80g less than Conti light weight tubes) it doesn’t seem like it is worth the trouble.

    • #249627

      There are definitely pros and cons to either solution. Everyone prioritizes the benefits differently, so whichever direction you choose is the right one for you.

    • #249629

      I agree that setting them up is a pain, but so is riding a steep climb, cleaning your bike, and many other thing we do for the sake of mountain biking. The only problem is whether the payoff is worth it. For me, tubeless is absolutely worth it. I wish there were a perfect system that’s impossible to pinch flat, never makes a mess, has impeccable traction, etc., but there is no such thing as far as I know. For now, tubeless is the best thing I can use to ward off pinch flats and punctures. I will say that for me it has become much easier to set up tubeless tires.

      • #249638

        Its not uncommon for you and a new girlfriend to bump heads, or clank teeth when neckin.  Love my tubeless tires, love how much traction I have to climb with @20 psi.  Dont like burping air out the front at times, but ill never go back to tubes.

    • #249666

      I am fairly new to running tubeless. I set my wheels up about 4 months ago after 4 rides in a row of being cut short due to flats or canceling due to flats. It was every other ride I was pulling the tube and replacing or patching and trying to find all the small thorns/stickers in my tires causing problems. It was a pain and took me a few tries but since then none of my rides have been ruined because of flats. I discovered some techniques installing the first time and have watched a few more vids for future reference. I think it has been total benefit. Still learning from the experience and don’t see me going back.

      I too wished there was some magic insert where tires were maintenance free. There are several different kinds of inserts out there that are designed to help but nothing will eliminate all problems. It is part of the sport. Even the professionals are working on their bikes in between runs. They have the best bikes out there and mechanics to help and yet they still need to get their hands dirty. I want it easy and to be able to just grab the bike and go. The work though makes it more satisfying.

    • #249677

      Run tubeless only except for the fatbike (only ride on snow and just don’t trust the tires to stay sealed with <5psi).

      I’ll second what someone else said about just using an injector, it makes life so much easier. Just seat the bead with the compressor, pull the core, inject the sealant, replace the core and inflate the tire. I can’t remember the last time I made a sealant mess.

    • #249694

      There are certainly some tricks to make tubeless setup easy. First, if it’s a new tyre, it’s often worth unfolding it and leaving it round overnight before fitting. Always take the valve core out. It’s normally too restrictive getting air in fast. Get a spray bottle of soapy water. Get the tyre one the rim, then go round the bead getting it wet and bubbly. A track pump is a must, high volume preferably. Pull the bead out as much as possible and hang the wheel on a hook to stop the bottom deforming. Pump like crazy and the tyre should start to crack onto the bead with scary banging noises. If it won’t, see where the air is escaping worst from the bubbly water and straighten the bead. CO2 is an absolute last resort but works. Get the tyre up to 40 psi and it should be fully seated. Now pull the pump off (all that precious air will escape) and crack open 20-30cm of bead to pour in your sealant. You do it now so it doesn’t spray on the floor when you first seat the tyre. At this point one bead should be happily seated and 3/4 of the other one. Turn the tyre 180° so the sealant runs into the sealed area and refit the bead. Reinflate to 40psi. Get the valve core ready and pull the pump off and pop the core back in fast and you’ll still be inflated. Give the wheel a good shake and roll it about to get the sealant everywhere. I can change a tubeless tyre pretty much as fast as a tubed one now. Oh, and get the lid off a paint can to scoop the old sealant out of the old tyre and put it in the new one if you’re saving it.

    • #249697

      I’ll surely be the odd man here.  Not trying to sell one method over the other, just expressing my view and experience.  I prefer tubes.  I’ve been down both roads more than once, but yeah, I just like the simplicity of tubes.  Especially when I’m on the trail.  Many years ago when tubeless first appeared, it was pinch fats than converted me to tubeless.  And yes, pinch flats were less of an issue when I went tubeless (although not 100% gone).  But I went back to tubes.  And honestly, for whatever reason, when I went from Maxxis to Kenda’s, I never saw pinch flats again (with tubes).  I’m now on WTB’s with tubes.  Also no pinch flats, and can run 24-25 lbs air without issues.  I have run lower, but I like it better around 24-25.  Going lower may be pushing it with tubes anyway.  As for smaller leaks from thorns and the like, I may see 1-2 a year, and they’re always slow leaks I can just deal with when I feel like it in my garage, and not on the trail.  I have one of those little packages of round Slime brand adhesive patches that is probably close to 10 years old.  And my tubes have always lasted longer than the sealant that I’ve had to replace.  Like I said, I’m sure I’m the odd one on this one.  Obviously, there’s certainly nothing wrong with tubes, and they work great.  I just vote for simplicity, and honestly, with tires and tubes what they are today, it’s getting harder for me to tell the difference (just my opinion and experience).  Like some have said, just do what works best for you.  After all, when you’re on the trail, nobody knows (or cares) what is, or isn’t, in your tire.

      • #251130

        I’ll back up FredCook. My opinion is that tubeless is not the magic elixir for everyone. If you’re aggressive, ride a lot of rocks and thorns, like lower tire pressure (less than 25psi), and you’re a capable DIY’er, then the benefits of tubeless probably out weigh these setup issues. If you ride more smooth flow, prefer higher pressure (25-28psi) so your tire doesn’t “roll under” in the corners, and prefer simpler maintenance, there’s no shame in tubes. I run both on two different bikes and haven’t developed a preference.

    • #250122

      I’m currently running a cush core on double down maxxis tyres – tubeless, and I wouldn’t go back to tubes now. I used to puncture almost every other ride. Haven’t had a proper one in almost a year now.

    • #250145

      I will never go back to tubes.  My tubeless tires have always set up easy with just a floor pump and of course they out performs tires with tubes. I have carried a tube in my bag for probably four years now in case I get a really bad hole the sealant can’t fixed, and I have yet to used it.

    • #250937

      I just swapped over to tubeless tires about two weeks ago.  I have two sets of rims.  One for street tires and one for mountain time tires.  The mountain bike set up was the first one I changed over and I made a mess.  I think my wife wanted to kick me out for that one.  I learned a lot from the swap.  I ordered more tools to make the change easier. The injector by Stan’s made this change 75% easier.  I got the tire to seal, let the air out of the tire, then injected to sealant into the tire.  The got rid of 95% of the mess. I have put over 80 miles on the street tires with no issues.  I have run over everything from palm tree branches to giant snails (I currently live in Okinawa).  When hit just right the snails will cut a tire.   I have not had any issues since swapping over to tubeless.  I hope it stays that way.

    • #250941

      IMO, there are clearly a couple of things to consider when going tubeless that make for tubeless bliss.  First, make sure your tire and wheel match well for easy hook up.  There are enough forum comments out there to find good matches or just go talk to your LBS mechanics.  I have set up specialized Butcher tires on Mavic and DT Swiss rims with ease using just a floor pump.  Second, make sure you get a tire with a heavy enough casing to resist major tears. The only problem I have ever had with tubeless was using a thin casing tire … … and that’s a story in itself … an ugly story.

    • #251012

      Once I figured out I’d punctured the rim strip by using a flat screwdriver to get the damn tire off and cleaned all the crap on the rim and tire strip, I love tubeless. I had lots of problems with tubes stems breaking because the rim strip was wrinkled just enough, my fault.

    • #251028

      A flat blade screwdriver to break the bead? Is that what I might have to resort to to remove my impossibly unbreakable connection between tire bead and rim?

    • #251029

      For me it is defiantly a love hate relationship.  I have set them up long enough it is a breeze, and love the fact about pinch flats and thorns and so on.  My one problem is I can’t seem to run them low enough as I have a tendency to punch holes straight through the center tread even at 30 psi on the rear tire.

    • #251055

      After doing a bunch of tubeless setups, it gets to be pretty easy. That being said, I highly recommend a valve core remover, gorilla tape, stans no tube injector, and definitely an air compressor. Could be tough without a compressor. I always do a dry fit with out sealant to seat the tire bead on the rim and to see if there’s leak in your tape job. If you do it right your tire should hold air without sealant. Let the air out and put the Stans in.

    • #251075

      These guys are right….gets better with time BUT>>>

      Don’t fool yourself….you don’t need a valve core remover, gorilla tape, stans injector or any of that stuff.  Take your valve core out with a pair of pliers, if your rim ain’t taped….then yes you need tape.  And just use orange seal.  It weeps through the sidewall less than stans sealant, seals better, and lasts longer.  It also comes with a tube connected to the top of the bottle….so no need for a stans injector.  You could also just pop the tire off in a strip about 5″ wide and pour the sealant in that way.  OR…get a cheap set of plastic syringes…remove valve core, put syringe in, pour sealant in….boyahh.

    • #251129

      Take your valve core out with a pair of pliers

      Wait….what???!! Mary, mother and Joseph, no. — use a valve core remover. : – O

      It also comes with a tube connected to the top of the bottle

      OK…..that’s more like it.


    • #251132

      “Take your valve core out with a pair of pliers”

      Wait….what???!! Mary, mother and Joseph, no. — use a valve core remover. : – O

      Too funny!

    • #251152

      Sorry, off topic, but gotta say… if someone not familiar with biking were looking over my shoulder and saw this thread’s subject, they’d probably question my internet browsing habits.

    • #251154

      Sorry, off topic, but gotta say… if someone not familiar with biking were looking over my shoulder and saw this thread’s subject, they’d probably question my internet browsing habits.

      Ah, ha, ha, ha!!  So when your IT security team ask you why you’re looking at content with the words “pliers” “valve core remover” and “tubeless” just smile and say you keep “open mind” and are into “new things.”…..and leave it at that. ; -)

    • #251155

      Sorry, off topic, but gotta say… if someone not familiar with biking were looking over my shoulder and saw this thread’s subject, they’d probably question my internet browsing habits.

      My wife thinks that I love my mountain bike more than her.  Just because I spend more money on it, pamper it more, take it out for more one-on-one time, always try to get things just right…  Hey wait, maybe she’s on to something.  LOL!

    • #251160

      @ rmap01
      Comparing tubeless tires to an old girlfriend was bad enough. But comparing your relationship with your bike to your relationship with your wife is off the charts. Even though, I think your onto something. There might be more than a few of us mountain bikers who spend more quality time with their bike than with their wife. However, as long as we’re not sleeping with our bike, I think we’re OK.

    • #251450

      So far, not real good.  I got a Stan’s kit, it’s the widest “rim strip” kit they sell, for 25-28mm width (external) rims, while mine are 29mm internal width.

      First bad sign, the tape is 12mm wide, barely wider than my spoke holes.  I put in a double width double layer.  Ok.  Put in the rim strips and couldn’t get the bead seated (no Presta compressor).  Tried CO2, no go.  Took to a bike shop.  Held air at 35psi for 10 days.  One gravel ride, one road ride (everything is swamped here).  This morning, flat.  Pumped it back up, flat again in a couple of hours.  Soapy water says leaking around valve.  Spun it around some more, wiggled valve, tightened nut.  So far holding air again.

      I haven’t ridden on trail at low pressure yet, but could tell no difference on gravel and road.  I wasn’t having many flat problems, but did it preemptively.  Now I think I’m going to be paranoid about losing air through leaky tape or valve.  Grrr.

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