Trying to go tubeless - not making much progress

Telkwa

Member
Our Trek Powerfly 5's come with tubeless ready rims. I bought some Conti Cross King Protect tires. Went to Trek store and bought the official Trek TLR rim liners and Trek valve stems and sealant.
I had a lot of trouble trying to get the tires to seat. The last one was the worst. Finally went to a tire shop for some industrial strength volume.
I don't know the proper terminology for the rim shapes, so it's difficult to describe this. The valve stem hole is in the center of the rim, but the rim is angled at that point so the ring that tightens the valve stem only contacts the rim on one side. The valve stem loosens on its own and I keep getting bubbles with my soap-and-water squirt bottle.
I tried GENTLY gripping the valve stem with a pair of pliers, then tightening the ring with another pair of pliers, then tightening a spare ring against the first one as a jamb nut. Still getting bubbles at the valve stem.

Does anyone have any ideas? I'm about ready to tear all four wheels apart and go back to tubes.
 

m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
What valves are you using? I have found that valves like Stans with a rubber bottom (and many like them) will leak after repeated use (at best) but valves with a metal flange on the bottom - Orange Seals or MBP's) will not. Its all about the rubber seal meeting a metal base - an immovable object.

Beyond that, pick the right rubber base. I like the conical ones. I've seen people have trouble with the square blocky ones. Usually you get one of each in a valve kit.


 

PedalUma

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
People who come from the bike world alone do not like my unconventional approaches to problem solving, pulling from many sources. But that is why I screw up more than them and learn more and innovate. I use this stuff all the time in situations such as yours. Might be worth looking into. It works with plumbing, electrical and pneumatics.
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Telkwa

Member
The young man at the Trek bike shop set me up with the Trek (Bontrager) TLR system. The rim strip certainly seems more robust than using Gorilla tape or what have you. The TLR rim strip has a molded recess for the round base TLR valve stem, shown on the above webpage. The base of the valve stem is not round. It's somewhat of an oval shape. The molded recess is designed to catch the oval-shaped foot of the valve stem, but it's not deep enough to really grab the base of the stem and hold it in place.
The TLR round base stem has an o-ring for sealing against the rim strip. So far it all sounds great. But as I mentioned, the recess is not very deep and the valve stem very easily twists out of the recess so the o-ring can't seat like it should.
What I'm trying to say is that the valve stem does not utilize a cork-shaped rubber bottom as m@Robertson describes. It's a flat metal shoulder and an o-ring that is supposed to mate up with a shallow recess molded into the rim strip.
I don't have any previous experience with tubeless so I don't have any idea of what works and what doesn't. I don't know if a person can use a rubber-bottomed valve stem with the TLR rim strips or not. The TLR strips and valve stems weren't exactly cheap and I'd hate to tear it all out and try something else.
I googled Orange Seal, found their VersaValves. They appear to be well-engineered. I don't think they would work with the TLR rim strips because of those molded recesses. And the o-ring that goes behind the ring on the exterior side of the rim would not work correctly because the valve stem hole is on a slope, as I tried to describe in the first post.
I'm sure there are folks who have experience with these non-symmetrical Bontrager rims. I'm not one of them. It kinda feels like events are conspiring against me.
 

Luto

Active Member
Often the leak around the stem is not actually not what it seems. Air can escape from the stem area on the hub side of the rim, BUT it is NOT coming from the tire side of the stem. The most common cause is the air is coming from the spoke holes, which the tape is covering, and then going inside the hollow rim to the stem.

The solution is:
1) make sure the tape is put in well.
2) put a inner tube in the tire and use it for some time, say 50 miles. This will cause the tape to seal air tights against the spoke holes.
3) remove the inner tube and seat the tire tubeless.

All the issues of sealant, proper tubeless stem and tire seating still apply.
 

Telkwa

Member
Hi, Luto -
I appreciate the response, and I really appreciate tips & tricks that people have used. The TLR rim strip is not like tape. It's a hard, somewhat stretchy plastic that snaps very tightly into the rim. It's stiff enough that it seems to cover the spoke holes without deformation. Of course, that could change after it's been in use for a while.
Yes, I agree with you completely about air getting out around the stem may not be where the air's leaking from. Kinda like trying to chase down a leaky house roof. But I could wiggle the stem a little bit and get air/sealant to squirt out, which tells me that there's a problem at the stem. Even if that's not the only problem.
 

Luto

Active Member
Hi, Luto -
I appreciate the response, and I really appreciate tips & tricks that people have used. The TLR rim strip is not like tape. It's a hard, somewhat stretchy plastic that snaps very tightly into the rim. It's stiff enough that it seems to cover the spoke holes without deformation. Of course, that could change after it's been in use for a while.
Yes, I agree with you completely about air getting out around the stem may not be where the air's leaking from. Kinda like trying to chase down a leaky house roof. But I could wiggle the stem a little bit and get air/sealant to squirt out, which tells me that there's a problem at the stem. Even if that's not the only problem.
A lot of people double tape too. I hit mine with a light touch of a heat gun to "activate" the glue more, since I was doing it in the dead of winter in the garage.
 

Telkwa

Member
I've got a little trick for those who tape. I tried Gorilla tape on a rim a while back. The 1" wide Gorilla roll was just about perfect for my 22mm wide rims. My hands hurt when I abuse them, so I was looking for something to work the tape into the corners. You know those little roller tools for applying screen to a window frame? The convex end works great for pushing the tape deep into the corners of the rim.