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  1. #1
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    What's the deal with tubeless?

    This week I have had three flats! First ride was a night ride in the rain and I got the flat right at the start of the ride. Replaced the tube at the trailhead then completed an hour and a half ride. Next time out I made sure to inflate the tyres to a good pressure pre ride but midway through the ride I noticed the rear tyre slopping around and sure enough my rear tyre was going flat again. I removed my rear wheel but found to my dismay that I had not repacked my pump or tyre levers from Thursday night after removing them to clean and dry out my Camelbak. At this point I was looking at a long walk back to the road and a call to the wife to come and pick me up. Luckily for me a fellow rider appeared offering help. What a good guy. He would have provided a new tube if needed but I had packed a spare and just needed to borrow his tyre levers and pump (great pump BTW a Giant model, pump was effective plus it had a small built in gauge to know exactly how hard the tyre was inflated - better than my Topeak). Anyway I carried on and completed my ride thanks to this guy. This morning I checked my tyre and it was flat again! On inspection all three tubes had a pin prick puncture in exactly the same spot so I checked that spot on the tyre and there was a tiny, needle like thorn stuck in my tyre. I've removed that now and hopefully won't have any more problems other than the usual, occasional flat. The good Samaritan that helped me out on the trail suggested going tubeless. It's honestly not something I've given much thought to. What's involved and what are the benefits? Would a tubeless tyre have survived that tiny thorn that caused me so many problems?

    BTW do you guys repair your inner tubes or just replace them? I repaired one but it still leaked and I'm wary of relying on a repaired inner tube as a spare. I've fixed plenty of inner tubes in the past but they're reasonably cheap to replace (so long as you're only getting occasional flats, not on every ride!).

  2. #2
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    I repair them and some tubes will have 10+ patches. I don't repair them if the hole is very close to the stem as it doesn't work very well. I've have ridden through thistle patches and ended up just throwing out the tubes as there were too many holes to make it worthwhile fixing.

    I'm stating the obvious, but if you keep using tubes you need to find the cause of the puncture each time as they don't just go flat suddenly.

    Tim

  3. #3
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    Tubeless is well worth the conversion process. That tiny thorn would never have been an issue. Tubeless rules for a great number of reasons.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocop View Post
    Tubeless is well worth the conversion process. That tiny thorn would never have been an issue. Tubeless rules for a great number of reasons.
    What's involved in converting? I'm currently running Rocket Ron tyres. Can these be converted to tubeless?

  5. #5
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    Re: What's the deal with tubeless?

    Don't have to switch to tubeless. Gain the same effect with putting sealant in ur tubes.

    Here it seems thorns are seasonal, never get a thorn flat till fall, at which point they get annoying. I didn't have a single flat all last season till the end of it then somehow found 2 large thorns at 2 diff trails in the same weekend.

    Sealant in tubes took care of it. Original slime works ok, small holes seem to plug quick but will have a slow leak sometimes. Slime has bicycle specific sealant too which is supposed to be better but just now getting to where I figure its time to get some.

    Upside to tubeless is supposed to save weight over sealant in tubes and can run lower tire pressures since no tubes to pinch flat. If neither of those matters (which to me they dont as i run high enough pressures and I don't race in a serious form) then just put it in ur tubes and save the $100 it costs to convert.

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  6. #6
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    I do not patch tubes. I have not patched a tube since the early 90s.

    You have to take the time to determine the cause of the flat. It sounds like you have one flat from the mountain bike gods and two flats form not changing the tube properly.

    When replacing your tire, line the tire logo with the valve stem. That does two things: 1) looks good; and 2) lets you line up a flat tube with the tire to determine where the puncture happened.

    To change a tube, put some air in the flat to find the hole. Use the valve to line the hole up with the tire. Run your fingers around the inside of the tire to find the little pokey thing that caused the flat. Check the rim strip to make sure it was not disturbed during tire removal. Put a bit of air into the new tube. Install one tire sidewall - with logo aligned to valve stem hole. Insert the tube. Seat the other tire sidewall. Push around both sidewalls and visually make sure there is no tube under the tire sidewall. Inflate tire.

    Try some CO2 - way better than pumping. I haven't had a pump for 15 years either - but I can see one as a backup. Especially on long out in the middle of nowhere rides. I usually take 2-3 16oz CO2s in my hydration pack.

    Also, I get in flat tire trends. I may go six to nine months with no flats. Then get three in a week.

  7. #7
    Bascule
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    Quote Originally Posted by tigris99 View Post
    Upside to tubeless is supposed to save weight over sealant in tubes and can run lower tire pressures since no tubes to pinch flat. If neither of those matters (which to me they dont as i run high enough pressures and I don't race in a serious form) then just put it in ur tubes and save the $100 it costs to convert.
    Depending on what rims you've got, you can either do the ghetto method (using a tube as a substitute for a Stans rim strip - which can be done with pretty much any rim or tyre) or with a tubeless-ready rim you can do a DIY tape conversion. I've done both, and both work fine.

    Either way, you're spending cents rather than dollars - the most expensive part is the sealant, which you've got to buy anyway with your sealant-in-the-tube method.

    There are lots of videos and how-tos on the web about the DIY / ghetto method: I found this one pretty helpful - Ghetto tubeless conversion DIY: tips and tricks.

    There are three serious benefits to going tubeless:
    - Less punctures: none since the conversion 12 months ago. The interesting thing about a tubeless setup is that you see where there's a hole in the tire by the small damp patch around it - a tiny amount of sealant leaks out before it dries enough to plug the hole. I spot these every now and then and remind myself that there's a puncture I didn't have to repair or have ruin my ride.
    - Less weight: I am no racer, but still noticed the lower rotating weight on both wheels. Actually, as I'm not a racer I REALLY appreciate the lower weight...
    - More traction for the same tire pressure: a tire-plus-tube setup has stiffer sidewalls and therefore does not flex as easily as a tire without a tube.

    I'd put off going tubeless for a couple of years as I wasn't 100% sure how to go about it. Part way through my first tubeless ride I was kicking myself for not having done it sooner.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocop View Post
    Tubeless is well worth the conversion process. That tiny thorn would never have been an issue. Tubeless rules for a great number of reasons.
    +1 on this. I've been running tubeless for about 7 months now and I've had zero problems. I was reluctant to try it but now I wouldn't go any other way.

  9. #9
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    Re: What's the deal with tubeless?

    I live in a hot and tropical country. Would that be an issue with regards to the stans drying up quickly?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikkosan View Post
    I live in a hot and tropical country. Would that be an issue with regards to the stans drying up quickly?
    Possibly, but if you follow the recommended procedure and add the recommended amount every 2 months, it shouldn't be noticeable. If you try to make the sealant last longer than two months between refreshes, then you may run into issues. Safe thing is simply follow procedure.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    Possibly, but if you follow the recommended procedure and add the recommended amount every 2 months, it shouldn't be noticeable. If you try to make the sealant last longer than two months between refreshes, then you may run into issues. Safe thing is simply follow procedure.
    This pretty much kills the "less weight" advantage. At the start the sealant weighs a bit less than a tube. However, if you keep adding sealant every two months, it should not be long before it all weighs more than a tube. There are still advantages to tubeless but less weight is not really one of them IMO.

    Tim

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwi_GR_Biker View Post
    This week I have had three flats!

    Actually you just got the same flat 3 times. Tubeless is supposed to be great for running low pressures and avoiding pinch flats but for your problem (thorn puncture) $4 worth of slime would have solved the problem.

    Nothing at all wrong with patching a tube, takes 5 minutes and is 100% reliable if done right. Throwing a tube out with a tiny puncture is wasteful, as is using Co2 every time you have a flat IMO.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Throwing a tube out with a tiny puncture is wasteful, as is using Co2 every time you have a flat IMO.
    The only time I can conceive of when Co2 wouldn't be wasteful is during a race. A proper pump handles the task for other situations. I carry an older version of this one.

    Universal Cycles -- Blackburn AirStik 2 Stage Frame Pump 2013

    It's tiny, but has a high volume vs high pressure switch so I can fill tires (yes 29") quickly then switch to high pressure to get them to pass the squeeze test.

    But ... I haven't had to use it since last season when I switched to tubeless. Still have to carry a tube just in case though.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwi_GR_Biker View Post
    ...The good Samaritan that helped me out on the trail suggested going tubeless. It's honestly not something I've given much thought to. What's involved and what are the benefits? Would a tubeless tyre have survived that tiny thorn that caused me so many problems?

    BTW do you guys repair your inner tubes or just replace them?
    Everyone will talk about tubeless—blah, blah, blah weight savings, blah, blah, blah lower tire pressures, etc. Don't believe any of it. It's hype.

    Here's what you can believe about tubeless: If you set your tires up right and maintain your tubeless system properly, you will never have to experience stopping to fix a flat during a ride ever again unless you are the extremely unlikely victim of some very bad luck.

    I was not an early adopter to tubeless. I was skeptical. I am not anymore. All of my bikes have tubeless systems. Flat tires are now something I never worry about anymore on a ride (though I do carry a tube in case of catastrophe when I'm out in the back country).

    Regarding the rest of the mythology, I can't tell you how many acquaintances or friends I know who are missing front teeth or came close to busting them out because they foolishly bought into the "you-can-run-your-tires-at-20-psi" fiction. Don't do it. Never go below the tire manufacturer's listed minimum tire pressure, particularly with a tubeless tire. Never.

    And tubeless doesn't weigh any less than a tubed system—at least if you want your system to fill a puncture that is.

    I have no hesitation recommending a tubeless setup to anyone. It's relatively easy to accomplish, and in fact I recommend that you set yourself up if you have the aptitude and ability to do it. That way you'll know what's going on, and if you know what's going on, you can fix and troubleshoot your system should problems arise. Otherwise, have it done at a bike shop that will answer all your questions candidly about your new system.

    And yes, you should always patch a tube if you can....

  15. #15
    human dehumidifier
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    ^ +1 on all of that.

    I run 30psi in all my tires, tubed or not. I don't have pinch flat with tubes, and I don't notice a difference between a tubed tire and a tubeless one other than not having flats.
    When you get older, much of your hate comes from knowledge and experience, which is why really old people hate everyone

  16. #16
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    Today was my first ride ever without tubes. I ride/race an Epic 29er. I started at 22 psi front and 24 psi in the rear tire. I had been running 30 psi front and 32 psi rear with tubes.

    There was a very radical difference in how the tubeless tires absorbed the smaller bumps. Not sure if it was the lower psi, or being tubeless, but it is good either way! I can barely feel the roots that used to make me catch a bit of air...

  17. #17
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    Lower air pressure is definitely one of the benefits of tubeless. Of course the pressure you run has a lot to do with the weight, terrain, riding style and tire size. On my superfly 100 with 2.1's I run 22 front 25 rear (I weight mid 150's). On my full Rigid SS with a 2.35 up front I run 19 front, 22 rear. If I ran 30 PSI or the manufacturers recommended minimum of 35psi I'd be bouncing all over the trail and have a hard time controlling the bike on New England terrain...especially on my rigid. Never blown a tire off the rim in 7 years of riding tubeless.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcteague View Post
    This pretty much kills the "less weight" advantage. At the start the sealant weighs a bit less than a tube. However, if you keep adding sealant every two months, it should not be long before it all weighs more than a tube. There are still advantages to tubeless but less weight is not really one of them IMO.

    Tim
    You don't just keep adding 2oz of sealant. You refresh the dried up stuff if need be. If there is still liquid sealant in there you leave it alone or can top it off a little. you shouldn't end up with 12 oz of sealant over a year.

  19. #19
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    Can someone explain some more about refreshing the sealant.
    At what point do you have to clean the inside of the tire. Let say when you don't ride a lot and the tires still have some life.

    As far as tube goes the slime say add 4oz at what point you throw them on the trash for having to much sealant every time you refresh the tube since I think there no way to get rid of the old one like on a tubeless setup.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by cloudbuster View Post
    Can someone explain some more about refreshing the sealant.
    At what point do you have to clean the inside of the tire. Let say when you don't ride a lot and the tires still have some life.
    I honestly don't know. I tend to wear tires out long before this point. Some people claim every time the tire comes off the rim (why would that ever happen if you're doing things right?) you have to clean it. I add sealant when I need it through the removable core valve stem, so I never take the tire back off them rim until it's time to throw it away, or use it for a "road slick" for winter riding when trails are too muddy.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikkosan View Post
    I live in a hot and tropical country. Would that be an issue with regards to the stans drying up quickly?
    Get one of the other sealants.. Caffe Latex or the new Orange stuff.. will still need to refresh but not as often and neither will give you the Stan's ameba inside that Stan's will most likely get in your area.

    Quote Originally Posted by cloudbuster View Post
    Can someone explain some more about refreshing the sealant.
    At what point do you have to clean the inside of the tire. Let say when you don't ride a lot and the tires still have some life.

    As far as tube goes the slime say add 4oz at what point you throw them on the trash for having to much sealant every time you refresh the tube since I think there no way to get rid of the old one like on a tubeless setup.
    the best way is to get yourself a large syringe and a short piece of tubing to fit over the stem.

    remove the core from the stem,
    suck up some sealant into the syringe,
    slide the tube over the stem and shoot it into the tire,..
    take a Q-tip and pull about 1/2 the end off of the cotton,
    stick the 1/2 sized q-tip into the stem to clean the seat of sealant,
    install core and inflate..
    go ride the tire right way to spin the new fluid around and mix with the old that's left.


    If you are using stan's after taking out the air, push in on the tire and run your hand around the whole tire and check of ameba lumps. if there is a lump remove one side of the tire and pull it out, wipe the inside of the tire and rim with rubbing alcohol and let dry. reinstall tire and add Stan's and re-inflate... all good.
    Going to try and bring Trail Tire TV back. go take a look... http://trailtiretv.blogspot.com/

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moonshine Willie View Post
    .......

    And tubeless doesn't weigh any less than a tubed system—at least if you want your system to fill a puncture that is.

    ............
    not true... tubeless weighs a good bit less... well if using the same tire (non tubeless) and Gorilla tape.

    Saved over a pound on my bike over tubes. Again, using the same tire. if you go UST , no you probably wont save much if any weight.

    for those that think "refreshing" adds weight . yes it does, but it's SO small that my scale which does 1/4 gram measurements can't detect it... and actually the tire will most likely weigh less as the loss from wear will subtract faster than the sealant adds up.

    the weight of the sealants is the liquid more than the latex/sealant it's self.

    also refreshing is as much replacing what actually gets squirted out filling what would normally be flats
    Going to try and bring Trail Tire TV back. go take a look... http://trailtiretv.blogspot.com/

  23. #23
    Bandit 29 FTW!!!
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    Been total (all bikes) tubeless for 2yrs and happier for it. Still requires maintenance since the sealant will dry up over time but if you check it regularly you will be good to go.
    Let's make like a Bike and get the Huck outta here...

  24. #24
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    my sealant last longer than my tires ?
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