How does increased protection against punctures, reduced rolling resistance and the ability to run your tyres at a lower PSI sound? No matter what discipline you ride - whether it be road, mountain, gravel or leisure - converting your tyres to a tubeless set up is a no-brainer with endless advantages that will make your ride experience better overall. Whilst still being a relatively recent concept, a tubeless tyre conversion is an obvious place to start for any cyclist if you're looking for improved protection, performance advantages and a smoother ride.
In this guide, we will explain how Tubeless tyres work alongside the advantages that come with the conversion (in all disciplines of cycling). Furthermore, we will be giving you a guide on how you can easily, effortlessly and efficiently complete a tubeless set up on your tyres using our best top tips.
Discipline - All
Usage - Tyre set up
Time needed - Upto an hour
Accessories Needed -
- - Tubeless Valves
- - Sealant
- - Rim tape
- - Tubeless Tyres
- - Compatible rims
How do tubeless tyres work?
First of all, checking whether your wheelset is Tubeless compatible will be the main step to your success. Manufacturers use key terminology that will make it easier for you to understand how easy it will be for you to convert your tyres and what parts you will require. These key terms and what they mean include:
Tubeless ready - Your rims are sealed with tape so all you need to do is insert the valve and sealant. Tubeless Compatible - You need to seal your rims with tape, insert the valves and add sealant.
Having Tubeless ready tyres is also a necessity when converting your set up and this is because the beading around the edge of the tyre is often larger and stronger allowing it to hook onto the rim. For the system to work properly, the tyre and rim have to be as sealed as possible to avoid air escaping however this can be helped with the addition of sealant.
Sealant is an essential item when it comes to converting your tyres to tubeless as it helps in repair and heal small puncture wounds that you might encounter on a ride as well as helping with the seating the beading of your tyre.
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What are the Pros and Cons of Tubeless Tyres?
The main benefit of Tubeless tyres are the endless capabilities to run your tyres at a lower PSI... What's the benefits? When riding off-road, being able to run your tyres at a lower pressure will allow for improved traction over rough terrain and loose surfaces - taking your riding to the next level. As discussed before, you will have increased protection from punctures and small holes as the sealant will efficiently reseal your tyre before you lose most of your pressure.
When it comes to Road cycling, converting your tyres to tubeless is a good solution to weight saving, especially when considering rotational mass. Not only will your set up be lightweight, but you will also experience decreased rolling resistance as there will be no friction between a traditional innertube and tyre all whilst reaping the benefits of improved comfort.
On the other hand, tubeless does come with its quirks... mainly the initial set up! In the next step of the blog we shall go through the most effective way to convert your tyres but just prepare for a bit of mess, swear words and allocated time. It is also worth noting that sealant will start to congeal after 6 months so it's beneficial to change your sealant when you service your bike.
Step by Step guide to setting up your Tubeless Tyres -
Step 1. Prepare and Tape your Rims- This step may not be necessary if your bike is advertised as Tubeless ready but if you do need to tape the rims then simply clean the rim bed to remove previous residue using cleaning spirits and a clean rag.
When taping your rim, start directly opposite the valve and pull the tape tight towards you at 6-8 inches at a time whilst keeping it central. Aim for 2 layers of tape on the rims to be sure that you have correctly sealed the rim whilst keeping the tape pulled tight.
Step 2. Equipping the Valve- By using a pin or a soldering iron, gently push a hole through the tape where the valve will sit. Line your valve up with the small hole you have created and the valve hole in the rim and gently push the valve through so it cuts the hole to the size it needs to be. From the inside of the rim, screw on the rubber bung and lockring to create an airtight seal between the inside and outside of the rim.
Note: If you plan on converting your Road bike to a Tubeless set up it will be worth getting the 60mm or 80mm valves depending on how deep your carbon rims are.
Step 3. Tyre fitments- As we mentioned before, the bead on a tubeless tyre has to be a lot more robust in order for it to proficiently sit on the rims hook. A top tip when putting tyres on is to rest the wheel on a flat surface, and work from the valve around the rim - with both hands on opposite side of the rim - to push the tyre on with your thumbs as you work your way round.
Step 4. Sealant- Once the tyre is seated on the rim, use a compressed pump and inflate the tyre enough until you hear the beading pop. Once you hear this, you can remove the core of the valve using a valve core remover and add your sealant in VIA the valve. This is the part that can get messy so it's worth doing it in a shed, garage or outside. Once you have added the correct amount of sealant you're ready to replace the valve core and pump your tyre up to your recommended PSI.