To go tubeless or not to go tubeless

Discussion in 'Mountain, Trail' started by EddieJ, Jul 25, 2016.

  1. EddieJ

    EddieJ Well-Known Member

    That is a question that I often hear asked on ebike forums.

    The following is just my take on the subject specifically in relation tooff road use, away from any metalled/tarmac surface.

    Looking briefly at tyres which is an all together different subject, many new eMTB's are supplied with very light weight tyres/tires and inner tubes, which whilst saving weight, do nothing in respect of puncture prevention. In many cases it is best just to bin the OE set up and start again.
    Options for punctures resistant tyres are available, but for now, I won't bring that subject to the thread.

    Looking at tubes, you have several options.

    • Thicker puncture resistant tubes
    • Standard thickness, and fill with slime
    • Dedicate slime tubes

    My preferred set up, and also the preferred set for many that ride off road, is to run what is known a tubeless set up.

    Tubeless has several benefits which include the following.

    • Potential weight saving
    • It is very puncture resistant
    • A greater size hole can be self sealed without incident
    • Tyres pressures can be run significantly lower with no risk of a pinch flat
    • There is no risk of tearing valve out through tyre creep when running low pressures.

    I still don't rely on tubeless as being invincible though, and always carry both a spare tube, and a tubeless repair kit

    Also very importantly. Don't go rushing out to buy a kit before first checking that your wheel/tyre set is tubeless compatible.

    My initial findings using Stans No Tubes, was a dismal failure, and in my case the product just balled up inside the tyre, and had zero effect when needed just a few months later. Others have had no issues though.

    My own preferred product to use, is one called Caffélatex. It seems to do exactly as described, and I now wouldn't use any other product. That is just my opinion though.

    http://www.effettomariposa.eu/en/products/caffelatex-family/caffelatex-sealant/

    ebr 21.JPG

    When riding on the South Downs, I have had several quite large cuts from flint, which after rotating the wheel and applying finger pressure, have sealed back up, and not been a problem since.

    The only downside that I have found, is when the time comes to swap tyres around and you then have sealant to remove and clean up from the bead and wheel rim.

    With any sealant, you will still need to occasionally add new sealant as per manufacturers recommendations.

    I would also advise carrying a tubeless repair kit such as this one shown below.

    ebr22.JPG

    In respect of actually going tubeless, some OE wheels are now starting to be sold with tubeless rim tape already pre installed, but provided that your wheel set is tubeless compatible, it is no big issue to carry out the task.

    Firstly you will need to remove the wheels and then the existing tyre and rim tape, then thoroughly clean the whole inside of the rim with isopropyl alcohol. I also prefer to slightly abrade the seat of the rim and clean again.
    Many Youtube clips show the tape being applied whilst supporting the wheel between the knees and turning it slowly whilst applying the rim tape.
    If a wheel stand isn't available to use, the best method that I have worked out, is to simply suspend the bike and refit the bare wheel, then starting about 6" beyond the valve stem hole, start to apply the tape keeping it very tight and even, and rotate the wheel whilst holding the tape taught. Finish by cutting the tape approx 6" beyond the valve stem hole in the opposite side to starting.

    t1.jpg ebr 2.JPG


    When completed, simply cut a simple cross hole through the tape at the valve stem hole, and insert the tubeless valve stem. Tighten the valve stem finger tight only.

    The wheels can then be removed, and the tubeless tyres fitted, making sure to check that the tyre rotation is correct.
    The photo below is actually of a tyre that is being removed after about 8 months of use, but roughly speaking when installing the tyres, fit to about this stage, carefully rotate the tyre, and finish fitting the tyre to the rim, making sure not to loose any fluid. Carefully rotate the tyre a few times, then inflate to the correct pressure, cleaning off any residue of sealant that may have bubble out.

    ebr23.JPG

    I'll try to expand upon this thread when I return from my hols. :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2016


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  3. Mark Troup

    Mark Troup New Member

    I would add one more significant advantage for going tubeless, especially when running plus or fat tires: those lower psi tubeless setups provide a nice bit of cushion. I ride on a lot of rooty, rocky stuff on a fully rigid bike and don't miss the suspension at all.
     
    EddieJ likes this.
  4. Peter Dixon

    Peter Dixon New Member

    i went tubeless on my 650b+ wheels and found i was having problems where the sealant was getting stuck in the valves and giving me slow punctures, got really annoying so went back to tubes and have had no problems
     
  5. trebor

    trebor New Member

    The best reason to go tubeless is significantly less rolling resistance. So more range. It is actually nuts to not be tubeless.
     
  6. JRA

    JRA Well-Known Member

    I have to agree. Going forward the e bike industry should adopt tubeless technology.

    All but one of my wheels, due to lack of a tubeless compatible rim, are tubeless. The low rolling resistance as noted and ability to use a low psi makes for a great amount of passive suspension offer big benefits over tubes. Also increases traction and knock on wood no flats to date.

    The only problem is in order to go to tubeless, although there is the ghetto method, it involves new rims which can be a costly affair to switch out. But if you do a conversion I would suggest going with a wider rim, within reason, at that time also to gain more volume. I have found this to be even more benefit than a wider than stock tire.
     
  7. newfydog

    newfydog New Member

    My experience with tubeless is that it is nearly invincible. As in riding cactus on the Arizona trail which shredded the knobs but didn't give us a flat. Stans no Tubes.

    We have not had a flat in three years.

    As far as ease goes, the early versions were ghetto conversions which sometimes cooperated, often were nightmares to get the initial seal. Recent wheels with tires and rims made to be tubeless are fantastic.
     
    E-Wheels likes this.