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  1. #1
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    Specialized Fat Boy: How I went tubless

    There is already plenty of information on how to convert to tubeless, but Specialized Fat Boy rims have special needs because of the 10 vent holes in the rims. If you don't cover these holes, the air will escape out from the seams. Here's a pictorial of how I did it. The objective was to keep it simple, light and inexpensive.

    I just got this Expert model 24 hours ago and did the modification before it ever hit the dirt.

    Here are the vent holes, there are ten total. I supposed they were drilled to vent gas in the manufacturing process, but I don't know for sure.


    The first thing was to deburr the holes as they had some rough edges.
    I used a countersink cutter. Just knock the sharp edge off.




    Using 91% alcohol, the rim and any area where the tape will contact was cleaned. Make sure to clean your finger tips with the alcohol too as this keeps the tape from getting contaminated.
    Tubeless rim tape was first applied at the seam of the rim. Trim with razor blade.


    A piece of rim tape is cut to span and cover the holes. Make sure the tape has no wrinkles as it tapers into the red rim band. It took a few tries for me.




    After all the small holes are covered, it's time to apply the Gorilla tape.
    One layer of 3" wide tape is all it gets. The first thing was to cut a hole for the valve stem. I used a cardboard hole cutter (from Harbor Freight) to make a nice hole.


    With a block of wood, apply a layer of tape. This keeps the wood debris out of the actual piece that will be used. Lay the tape over the tape covered block.

  2. #2
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    Drill the tape in the center with a 6" leader to the edge.


    Nice hole.


    Place the Stan's valve stem through the tape and into the hole of the rim to center the new rim strap.


    Start working the tape around the rim. Don't worry about the center, the edges are all that matter. Make sure there are no wrinkles here.


    Take out the valve stem and reinstall the tube and tire. Air it up to 25 psi or so and let the tape glue cure for a bit.
    I took off the tire at this point and you can see that the pressure pressed the tape in the center nicely.


    Take the tube out and reinstall the Stan's stem. Put the tire on and inflate. There should be very little air leaking out. If there is, find the problem and fix it. It's easier to fix the problem without the mess of the Stans goop to deal with.
    Once you are satisfied with the results, add 6 oz of Stans.

    After I added the Stans, there was only one tiny leak (at the seam) that the Stans quickly took care of.

  3. #3
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    Re: Specialized Fat Boy: How I went tubless

    Cool thanks.

    Have you ridden it yet? Any issues with running super low pressures on those hook less rims?

  4. #4
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    Specialized Fat Boy: How I went tubless

    Excellent write up thanks.

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    Great write up!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by matto6 View Post
    Cool thanks.

    Have you ridden it yet? Any issues with running super low pressures on those hook less rims?
    I haven't ridden the bike at all. The maiden voyage will be this Thursday when I will be riding the entire 130 mile Mojave Road. Hope it works, but if there is a problem, I'll bring some tubes.
    I wanted to get this down while it was fresh in my head. I'll let you know how it worked out.

  7. #7
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    nice work raspberry, see you Thursday

  8. #8
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    I replaced the flat pedals with Ti clipless and removed the inner tubes.
    That's it. Here's where it's at.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Specialized Fat Boy:  How I went tubless-dsc_0394.jpg  


  9. #9
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    The tubes came in at 2 lbs 7 oz. for the pair.

  10. #10
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    Awesome! Appreciate the walkthrough.

  11. #11
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    I tried to do tubeless with tape on the front of my Fatboy. I didn't cover those holes individually instead I ran two strips of tape around the rim, with the tape going almost all the way to the edge of the rim.

    I could never get the tire to hold air for more than an hour or so. I looked at it a week later (much riding in between with the tube back in) and found that the tape did not adhere to anything in there - rimstrip or rim. The tape had pulled back from the edge exposing those holes, which is where I was losing air. It was really easy to pull the tape off, which is not good - it wasn't stuck to anything.

    I am not sure if I got a bad roll of tape or there is something on the rim that makes the tape not stick. I did it inside at room temp, so it wasn't a cold thing. I ended up going split tube with the front (which worked great and is probably about the same weight as two layers of tape). I'm going to take your lead here and try the back tire with tape again, but this time I'll wipe the entire rim with alcohol, maybe there's something on the rim.

    I'll be interested to hear your longer term review, and if the tape stays in place.

    The rim has a good bead pocket and I expect that it should hold the bead in place better than some rims - no need for foam or anything else to create a ridge.

  12. #12
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    I've been tubeless of my Fatboy since I got my in Dec. Basically the same setup. One strip along the left edge then right and one down the center. I've had it down to 2 psi. However I think the sweet spot is between 7-8 psi.

    Sent from my RM-893_nam_tmous_201 using Tapatalk

  13. #13
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    Excellent write-up and pictures.
    Thank you for posting!

  14. #14
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    Is that Kapton Tape?

  15. #15
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    Its Gorilla Tape

  16. #16
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    No, the clear / orange'ish tape used to plug the 'vent' holes. Not the black gorilla tape. It was called just 'tubeless rim tape' i guess? It's not yellow like Stans tape, it looks like kapton tape to me.

  17. #17
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    gotcha, I don't know about that tape.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drolic View Post
    Is that Kapton Tape?
    The roll says "Rim Tape DT Tubeless"
    Honestly, I don't know. The guys at the local bike shop gave me some for the project.
    I bet you could even use packing or gorilla tape for the holes.

    I thought about silicone for the holes. The problem is that if the silicone is on anything but in the hole, the tape will not stick to it.
    One might be able to use tiny self tapping screws to plug the hole. That would actually be a pretty solid way to do it. The biggest leak is at the seam.

    Both tires were flat this morning. I'm not worried because I didn't ride the bike after doing the job. I aired them up and shook them - they're holding fine.

  19. #19
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    great write up!

  20. #20
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    Let us know if they hold air in the long term.

    Sent from my HTC6500LVW using Tapatalk

  21. #21
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    Update!

    Fail.

    The tires were holding air but I decided to dismount them to have a looksie.
    It appears that the Stan's doesn't agree with the gorilla tape glue. Mostly, the tape was sealing just fine to the aluminum rim. There were breeches where the sealant got underneath the tape


    I thought about redoing it with two layers of tape that would span the entire distance, but then there is still a seam where the Stan's could penetrate.

    I went ghetto. It wasn't worth messing with the tape anymore. I'm sure it works for some, but I didn't feel confident with it.

    In haste, I promptly sliced an inner tube to do the ghetto fix when I realized I cut a 26" tube. No bueno. I forgot you need to start with a 24" tube. Back to the store for 24" presta tubes. All they had were stupid thick down hill tubes, but at this point I gotta get it done.

    Here's the filleted 24" tube


    Of course, it ends up with these flaps.


    I know it's going to be more difficult to service, but I couldn't stand the flaps so I did a circumcision. The flap strips came to 140 grams per tire.


    This *should* take care of it. I'll let you know.

  22. #22
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    Split tube. Tried and true. Not the lightest but the best!

  23. #23
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    So is the hassle of doing all this worth it for a fatbike? What's your primary motivation?

    I know that on a skinnier tires tubless allows you to run lower pressures without pinch flatting. But is that even true on a fatty? Does burping kick in before or after pinch flatting?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by matto6 View Post
    So is the hassle of doing all this worth it for a fatbike? What's your primary motivation?

    I know that on a skinnier tires tubless allows you to run lower pressures without pinch flatting. But is that even true on a fatty? Does burping kick in before or after pinch flatting?
    1. I'm riding the Mojave Road tomorrow. 130 miles through the desert with thorns hiding all over. The Stan's keeps me pedaling instead of fixing flats. I hope.
    2. Less rotating weight. Even with the split tube, I still lost at least a pound.

    Some say tires roll easier without tubes, I can't really tell the difference.

    I don't have any experience with pinch flatting on fatties or any experience riding fatties at all for that matter.

  25. #25
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    Yeah Excellent write up, thank you too. It starts to answer some questions that have been just theoretical in my head, until now.
    It's not dirt in my apartment --it's Earth.

  26. #26
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    I used gorilla tape on mine, been setup tubeless for 2 months and it holds air fine. Ran down to 3 psi (accidently) with no issues. I've also ridden this at -10 F without issues. The key is to make sure that the gorilla tape does not have any wrinkles that could allow the stans to leak through. Also, make sure not to exceed 9-10 psi on the high end. The higher pressure allows the air to blow the stans through the tape and it will start to leak.

  27. #27
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    Thanks, good info. I think I'm going to just use a split tube, its probably a bit heavier, but there's a lot less that can go wrong.

  28. #28
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    Specialized Fat Boy: How I went tubless

    Layers seem to be the key with gorilla tape. I have about 500 miles on my wheels and no leaks
    Marty
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  29. #29
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    How did you layer the tape? I assume one strip down each side then one down the middle? Did you run the tape up the side wall?

    I want to use gorilla tape (because I have all the materials at hand), but it seems I'm not the only one having issues with the tape adhering well to the rim. I spent a lot of time making sure I had no wrinkles in the tape where it attached to the rim, but it just slid down the rim exposing the seam and venting holes as I aired it up.

  30. #30
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    I'm curious about the suggestion for layers as well. Is it that thickness needs to be built up to create a larger diameter? It wouldn't seem to help with adhesion.

  31. #31
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    I just deburred, alcohol swiped, taped the holes, gorilla taped then aired up my rear tire. I'm getting air leaking out through the rim strip, which tells me it's getting under the tape somehow. I still don't think I'm getting good adhesion.

    It looks like I'm going back to the split tube method. I'll keep airing it up over the next few hours and see if the stans sets.

    Sent from my HTC6500LVW using Tapatalk

  32. #32
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    Specialized Fat Boy: How I went tubless

    Layers are your friend and so is a heat gun

    I put a narrow layer on each side and then a wide layer down the middle.

    I also wipe the rim breads with sealant to help start the sealing process.

    Your first ride you will see a couple leaks but by the second ride they should be sealed up
    Marty
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  33. #33
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    I just pulled the tape off mine. I used two wraps of 2" tape. As I said above I taped up the holes and the seam with packing tape. I made sure there were no wrinkles in the tape stuck to the rim, but didn't really worry about how the two pieces stuck together in the middle. I put a tube in and pumped it up to 25PSI to set the tape. I pulled the tube out after a half hour or so.

    That was my mistake. When I pulled off the tape, there was a wrinkle where the two wraps met each other. It was big enough that there was sealant leaking onto the rim strip, but the sealant didn't seal it up. I'm going to give it one more shot with tape and make sure there are no wrinkles in the middle or on the sides.

  34. #34
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    The next chapter in my continuing saga, I know I should just give up and go split tube, but I'm stubborn. I bought a roll of 3" Gorilla tape. I cleaned the rim, and re-wiped with alcohol swipes. The 3" tape is wide enough that it spans the cutouts, I figured this would prevent Stans from getting into seams as long as it stuck well to the rim (and my packing tape stays in place). It was pretty easy to get the tape perfectly flat on both sides of the rim, it looked good when I was done, no wrinkles at all.

    I tried airing up without any Stans in first, but I couldn't get it to seal well enough. I probably should have stuck the tube back in just to push the tape down, but besides being stubborn I'm also impatient.

    I wiped a little Stans around the tire bead and it aired up instantly, that little bit of moisture is enough to start the seal. I got a small amount of seepage around the bead, but the Stans did its thing and sealed it up. Over an hour's time it lost some air, I pumped it back up and its been holding air with no pressure loss for about 2 hours now.

    It will take a while before I trust this one. I had the front (done split tube) down to 3 PSI (estimated) today, it worked great until I hit a rock sideways and burped out enough air that there wasn't enough in there to hold the seal. I got to within 25' of my truck before it lost the rest of its air. I pumped it back up with the floor pump and its holding fine now. I'll have to get some time on dirt to find the right PSI, which I imagine will be high enough to hold the tire on the rim. Today's conditions were a bit unique with softening snow and bare patches. I had to be aired way down to float on the snow, but it was too low once I hit the bare patches.

    I have a tube to go split tube and I'll do that if I can't get to the point where I trust this one.

  35. #35
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    I am a split tube guy but I have to set up another set of Bud and Lou tubeless on Clownshoes and I will try one new thing once. If it works great if it doesn't I am forever split tube!
    I bought a roll of 4" wide very flexible, very thin shrink wrap plastic that is used for packaging, like holding objects on a pallet. I am thinking I will try two or three wraps on the rim making sure to wrap over the edge of the rim and then insert a Stan's presta valve. Install the tire and air up to seat the bead. Remove valve core, insert 8 oz of Stan's sealant, reinstall valve core and air up. Slosh and ride. Should work!

  36. #36
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    Pretty sure I'll be back on the split tube before this is over.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jisch View Post
    Pretty sure I'll be back on the split tube before this is over.
    Sounds like your not having much luck with this. Your split tube failed while you were out riding, so go back to tubes?
    I'm waiting for my bike with 3" knards to come in and want to try tubeless but it seems like so much mixed results.

  38. #38
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    I have confidence in split tube, I have run them for years without issue. I have run them very low on snow with no issue. Yeah I burped today, it happens, no big deal.

    Sent from my HTC6500LVW using Tapatalk

  39. #39
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    Jisch, split tube works okay until running at low pressure in extreme cold. Your lack of adhesion could be helped with cleaning your rim as you said you have done, pulling the tape very tight, and maybe using a heat gun (I've never done this but it makes sense).

    It's surprising to me that a company like Specialized would put out a fat bike without putting any effort into making some tubeless rims.

  40. #40
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    Honestly I wanted to go tubeless on all my mountain bikes but hate to say it when I did a tubeless set up on my 29er SS I ended up saving meh amount of weight vs tube with stans in it. I switched back the next day after work. Never even took it out just didnt feel comfortable using it. Tubes work and you can always patch it or put stans / slime in them. I have yet to be stuck on the side of the trails. Maybe I have just been lucky but as they say "if it isn't broke don't fix it".

    Even with my fat bike I was so dead set on going tubeless but I said screw it and just put some stans in the tubes. Running over tons of gnarly stuff, blasting roots and logs and haven't had to think about anything other then riding. I hate to say it but I am just not sold on tubeless, id rather ride my bike vs having to mess with all the complication of making something work. I know people love tubeless but its just one of those things that I like the idea about it but I feel like its just not for me.

    I am sure you can run a DH 26er tube with some stans in it and have less issues then you have had. I have had my tire pressure so low on my fat bike that it bottomed out over some logs and when I took the tire off to see if I pinched it it was still golden. I had probably way to low of tire pressure in it on those rides so I couldnt see going any lower. I am only 150lb

  41. #41
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    ian0789, there are some things I would like to say but I'll hold my tongue. Suffice it to say that you live in New Jersey and don't have some of the riding conditions that many have where tubeless really shines. It won't take hitting the rims on roots and logs very long before you have some flat experiences. It does probably help that you are only 150 pounds.

  42. #42
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    I am just saying that's my thoughts on it even if I was in conditions that "called" for it people have been riding tubes for years no problem. I am not saying there isnt benefits but I for one like a tube and if you look from the 1st post doing the cheap setup on normal rims its more of a hassle and something id trust a tube on a 130mile ride vs having your tire fail on you.

    I am not saying its a fad or hype, I know tons of guys who love it (stans kits, ghetto, split tube) but its just not for me. Having to factor in all the things that can go wrong with the setups just doesn't seem worth it to me. Living in NJ has nothing to really do with a personal preference.

  43. #43
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    I hear ya, but there is less to go wrong with fat tubeless than with tubes. There isn't really any issues with tires failing. That's been talked about before and there wasn't anyone who could say they had a tire fail. That, is a non-issue. 130 miles isn't a long ride and there are few 130 mile rides where there is no help available, not even here in Wyoming.

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    I just got back from the desert. As mentioned before, we rode the Mojave Road from Afton Canyon to the Colorado river. 123 miles.
    The split tube tubeless set-up worked perfectly. The best thing was I never worried about it. By design, it would be pretty hard to fail. The only improvement might be to find a lighter tube than I did to start with, maybe drill for a Schrader valve?

  45. #45
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    The tubes I have are Schrader - I hope there is enough room to drill out for it, has anyone checked? As suspected my gorilla tape tubeless failed over night, completely flat. I'll try pumping it up again, but I just don't trust it.

  46. #46
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    How I did the gorilla tape…and it's worked for over 2 months with no failures. I bought the 2.88 wide tape. I started by putting 1/2 width on each side, making sure to run up the sidewall (lip) so that the side of the tire would pinch the tape to the rim. I then ran a strip down the middle, making sure to push it down into the middle (rim strip) before sealing it to the side tape. I also made sure that there were no wrinkles where the center strip of tape contacts to the side tape. Part of the problem with not pushing the middle all the way down first is that when pressure is applied, the tape slides to the center, even if using a tube to accomplish this.

  47. #47
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    Looks like I need to give it one more go with tape. The guys at gorilla tape love me.

    Sent from my HTC6500LVW using Tapatalk

  48. #48
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    I will say you are persistent, but I like that! Don't worry, your split tube will be there waiting.

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    Hey guys,

    I posted this elsewhere, but I used a 4" wide leading tape from Pegasus Auto website. Someone else posted it on one of the tubeless fat bike threads, so I tried it. I've done 4 Fatboy wheels and they all hold air perfectly. And I am only using one layer of this stuff, it's pretty thick. The tape hangs over the rim and you trim it to get to internal corners which covers the holes. I put a tube in it overnite, in a warm environment, to make sure it was adhered well. No issues. And I am running some low pressures.

    Jisch, I know you ride Case MTN, so you probably live close to me, I think I have enough to do at least one and probably two wheels if you want to try it. You can replace it at a later time, as I should be all set for at least this season.

  50. #50
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    By the time you do all that, how much weight are you actually saving?

    OP great post once again, I have learned a lot.

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