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  1. #1
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    What is your criteria for a successful tubeless tape job?

    About 6 weeks ago I taped up two different wheels and installed the tires with no sealant. One of the tires was deflated within a day, but the other one still has just as much air in it today as it did six weeks ago. I like the idea that the tape job is so good that the sealant really is there just for dealing with punctures, but I don't know if that's really necessary. I'm wondering if I should re-tape the wheel that doesn't hold the air in an attempt to get it to hold air without sealant just like the other one does. Perhaps being able to tape a wheel such that it holds air long term without sealant is an unnecessary and unrealistic goal.

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  2. #2
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    Damn near all tubeless ready tires won't hold air without sealant.

  3. #3
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    ^that. But some hold air for half a day or more even without sealant.
    If your wheel can't hold air you have a problem, and most likely it's the tape job.
    Even if you don't mind to pump your tire every other ride, if it's leaking air it means your sealant is also drying up faster.
    So, it's up to you.

  4. #4
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    Just put sealant in. You're welcome in advance for when you don't get your first flat and the sealant does its job.

  5. #5
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    Oops, I completely missed the part of OP not using sealant.

  6. #6
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    I will eventually put in sealant, but not until I'm sure that I'm happy with the tape job. I'm just trying to figure out what constitutes "good enough".

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  7. #7
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    Inquisitive minds want to know: if you swap the tires, the 1 day tire over to the 6 week rim, what will the results be?

    Seems premature to credit the tape job without determining if it's the tire that is responsible.

    BTW, I use a heat gun to ensure the tape adheres well to the rim without air bubbles near the edge. Tip could come in handy to ensure consistent tape job quality.
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  8. #8
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    Just place wheel in tub of water or squirt with soapy water to find leaks. If air is coming through spoke holes or valve stem area then taping is most likely the issue.
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  9. #9
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    I install a tube/tire and inflate to make sure the tape fully adheres.

  10. #10
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    Is it taped? If yes, Its good enough. If you taped half the rim and then ran out, its probably not good enough.

    Theres no verifying or checking a tubeless setup without sealant. That's like asking how to test out your derailleur without installing a chain. Its a mandatory and critical component of modern tubeless setups.

  11. #11
    Trail Ninja
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot View Post
    Is it taped? If yes, Its good enough. If you taped half the rim and then ran out, its probably not good enough.

    Theres no verifying or checking a tubeless setup without sealant. That's like asking how to test out your derailleur without installing a chain. Its a mandatory and critical component of modern tubeless setups.
    What is your criteria for a successful tubeless tape job?-tune-linientreu-rear-derailleur-laser-alignment-tool-11-1068x712.jpg
    https://www.bikerumor.com/2017/08/25...on-laser-tool/

    Can tune it to a fine degree without a chain, to ensure the test passes. This tool works with or without a chain.

    Even different types of sealant perform differently. Rubber is porous and is not 100% air tight. Some rubbers are better than others at holding air; butyl holds air better than latex. They don't use butyl rubber on tubeless ready mtb tires, since people hated the extra weight and stiffness it added to UST tires. The rubber they used for the tread and to impregnate the casing isn't as airtight as butyl rubber. Don't expect much from skinwall tires, or gumwall tires in terms of air-tightness. UST was the only one that could guarantee airtightness without sealant, but needed sealant to address unplugged punctures (e.g. thorns that were picked out). Tubeless ready tires rely on sealant to improve air tightness, hence required a coating process (e.g. Stan's shake and lay on side).

    Here's some traits of a bad tubeless setup that involves the tape somehow:

    1) Leaks air or sealant into the rim cavity. If you see schmoo on the nipples, or sealant creeping under the edges of the tape, or hear air leaking from the rim cavity, such as the base of the valve or any "drainage holes" on the side of the rim, you did it wrong.

    2) Is damaged from tire installation/removal. Tire levers, if they aren't nice like Pedro's, can damage thin tapes. If the tape doesn't extend all the way to the end, and only covers the holes. Tires being pushed back to the center channel can possibly grab a loose edge of the tape.

    3) Is damaged by moisture ingress from within the rim cavity. Perhaps you forded some stream letting your rim roll submerged, and the water came in (perhaps at the valve), and turned the adhesive into some slimy goo.

    4) Is damaged by a broken spoke compromising the seal. Should've picked a stronger tape or addressed nipple/spoke setup to not have the ability to push through.

    5) Produces a too tight or too loose tire fit. Tape too thick, or not thick enough. 1 wrap for thin tape to avoid being too tight, or multiple wraps to build up thickness, or use a thicker tape to avoid being too loose.

    Some of these are fixed with selection of higher quality tape. Others fixed by tape application. The last one can only be helped so much by tape, be due to tire and rim offerings not adhering to tight universal standards.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by savechief View Post
    I'm just trying to figure out what constitutes "good enough".
    Sounds like you may be impossible to please, in which case it will never be good enough, even if it was.
    Quote Originally Posted by pvd
    Time to stop believing the hype and start doing some science.
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  13. #13
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    Actually, thinking about it, I'm pretty sure your wheel isn't true enough either. Better check.

  14. #14
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    Any decent tape job will be air tight. What leaks is the tire bead seal to the rim or the tire sidewall. That's what sealant seals.
    Do the math.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    Any decent tape job will be air tight. What leaks is the tire bead seal to the rim or the tire sidewall. That's what sealant seals.
    This! Without sealant, if one leaks and the other doesn't, I would attribute that more to the imperfections in the bead than your "masterful" tape job.
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  16. #16
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    Very few tires hold air for long periods of time without sealant swishing around inside the tire.

    If the rim tape lasts 3-4 years then it is a successful tubeless tape job.
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  17. #17
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    Random question: do you patch a tubeless tape job, or do you retape the entire thing, if you need to access a spoke hole?
    We're all on the same ship, and it's sinking.

  18. #18
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    Here's a very good demo worth watching:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZjGLecVvuo

    So as a dry run, I tried my first tubeless install without sealant. I pumped up to around 50PSI and air leaks at the valve. The tire is completely flat in about 10 minutes. Just in case the valve was defective, I tried another valve - same thing.

    Rims: Stan's Rapid 28
    Tires: Maxxis DHR II 2.3
    Tape: Stan's 27mm wrapped around twice
    Valves: Stan's

    Is this a normal thing that sealant will solve, or am I doing something else wrong?

  19. #19
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    Pfft, that guy's on the amateur level. I inspect every square mm of tape when I do it. Heat gun, no air bubbles, edges secure. Friend bringing his frame over for the same attention to detail with his invisiframe installation. Told him he can pick it up Tues... xD
    We're all on the same ship, and it's sinking.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    Here's a very good demo worth watching:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZjGLecVvuo

    So as a dry run, I tried my first tubeless install without sealant. I pumped up to around 50PSI and air leaks at the valve. The tire is completely flat in about 10 minutes. Just in case the valve was defective, I tried another valve - same thing.

    Rims: Stan's Rapid 28
    Tires: Maxxis DHR II 2.3
    Tape: Stan's 27mm wrapped around twice
    Valves: Stan's

    Is this a normal thing that sealant will solve, or am I doing something else wrong?
    IMO 50psi is way too high for a tubeless tire...
    Is it leaking from the base of the valve or through the core?

    Since I make my own sealant, I always have a tub of liquid latex kicking around. I put a dab around the valve hole before inserting the valve stem and tightening it. Never leaks.

  21. #21
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    My new criteria for tubeless is it has to be tyvek tape. If it's not, throw away the whole wheel and start from scratch. Hubs and all. I guess you could just retape it with tyvek, but it's almost not worth the risk at that point.


  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shark View Post
    IMO 50psi is way too high for a tubeless tire...
    Is it leaking from the base of the valve or through the core?

    Since I make my own sealant, I always have a tub of liquid latex kicking around. I put a dab around the valve hole before inserting the valve stem and tightening it. Never leaks.
    Oh yes, 50 PSI is way too high for riding. I figured higher would get me a better initial seal. If it held air, I would back it down to riding pressures.

    Not sure where on the valve the leak is, but since I can feel as well as hear the air coming from the valve, can I assume it's from the core? Both Stan's valves I tried did this? Would sealant solve the problem, or is something else going on here?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Varaxis View Post
    Random question: do you patch a tubeless tape job, or do you retape the entire thing, if you need to access a spoke hole?
    I patch it...

    Had an occasional nipple or spoke end snap. I just clean the tape on the half of the wheel with the issue, poked a hole through the tape replaced the busted part, tensioned the spoke back up to spec and put a ~8" piece of tape over the spot where the hole is located. Lasts for a few years no problem.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    Oh yes, 50 PSI is way too high for riding. I figured higher would get me a better initial seal. If it held air, I would back it down to riding pressures.

    Not sure where on the valve the leak is, but since I can feel as well as hear the air coming from the valve, can I assume it's from the core? Both Stan's valves I tried did this? Would sealant solve the problem, or is something else going on here?
    50 while inflating or testing is enough to blow a bead off the rim without a tube.

    Try spraying some soapy water around it, where it bubbles is where the leak is.

    Dumb question, did you tighten the center part of the presta? They will not seal properly unless you close them.

    The valve itself should not need any type of sealant to hold air, usually it's just the bead/rim.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shark View Post
    50 while inflating or testing is enough to blow a bead off the rim without a tube.
    At one point I had it up to 60 PSI and no blow off. As I said, I had absolutely no intention of riding it that way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shark View Post
    Try spraying some soapy water around it, where it bubbles is where the leak is.
    Good idea, thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Shark View Post
    Dumb question, did you tighten the center part of the presta? They will not seal properly unless you close them.
    LOL! Yes, I did. I even pulled the core out, examined it and put it back in.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shark View Post
    The valve itself should not need any type of sealant to hold air, usually it's just the bead/rim.
    OK, so it looks like I need to solve the valve problem before I go putting sealant in. The bead/rim mated up nicely and from what I can see, are air tight.

    Thanks Shark!

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Varaxis View Post
    Random question: do you patch a tubeless tape job, or do you retape the entire thing, if you need to access a spoke hole?
    Good question.

  27. #27
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    The first time a tire burps sealant at 50 psi will be the last time you pump above 30psi.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anthem1 View Post
    The first time a tire burps sealant at 50 psi will be the last time you pump above 30psi.
    This was a dry run (no sealant). Oh believe me, I don't want a sealant bath!

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    This was a dry run (no sealant). Oh believe me, I don't want a sealant bath!
    If you're installing tires without sealant and fussing about how fast they leak down.... you're wasting your time. UST died 10 years ago. Now if a tire holds air without sealant it's an interesting fact, not something to fuss over. The more significant aspect of that is sometimes you'll have a tire be suspiciously low when its sat for a week, but air it up and ride it and it's fine. It means nothing.
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  30. #30
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    For anyone trying to figure out where leaks are...tubeless 101 is to use a squirt bottle of soapy water and carefully inspect. Highly recommended after every tubeless install...you may be surprised what you find.

    Remove wheel from bike, lay it flat on a box and soap it up. Give it some time to see if everything is sealed. Focus on sidewalls, bead area and spoke holes. Flip it over and to the same. Also check around valve stem. My first tubeless was using a Stan's conversion. One wheel was great but one had a stubborn leak around valve stem that I finally fixed by removing tire and adding additional tape around stem hole...in some cases, moving and bouncing tire will get sealant into it and it's fixed.

    Also, don't be surprised if you see many VERY SMALL leaks that show on sidewalls...usually not enough to result in hardly any drop in psi over a few days. This is why sealant is used! It's not just the tape job.

    See Stan's website for video.
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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottzg View Post
    If you're installing tires without sealant and fussing about how fast they leak down.... you're wasting your time. UST died 10 years ago. Now if a tire holds air without sealant it's an interesting fact, not something to fuss over. The more significant aspect of that is sometimes you'll have a tire be suspiciously low when its sat for a week, but air it up and ride it and it's fine. It means nothing.
    I just got new wheels from Nextie, I installed Vittoria Barzo's sans sealant, 3 days later no noticeable loss of air.
    The new Vittoria graphene rubber is VERY impressive.

  32. #32
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    If you're pumping up to 50 or 60 PSI, wear ear plugs. Also, how did this thread get to 2 pages?

  33. #33
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    This ones at least a 3 pager. At least.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot View Post
    This ones at least a 3 pager. At least.
    Maybe it'll leak out that third page overnight.

  35. #35
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    OP, I think Varaxxis gave you best advice for controlling for the tape, I also like his approach of using the heat gun, I had never considered that before. My post is really just trying to get the thread to 5 pages on Tapatalk view, but I'll also share my current approach to tubeless. In the past, when I put the tape on myself, I try and follow the approach in the Stans video. Nothing special, and given that I don't have leak problems it must have been okay.

    For wheels that come with the tape installed, I don't bother checking other than to see if it is properly centered and no spoke poking through. No problems to date.

    I do not have a compressor, use a floor pump with an over-sized canister for tubeless. It allows one to charge the canister then release and get a decent flow of air. However, it isn't asa good as a compressor and I find with my last 2 sets for tubeless I had to install the tires with tubes and let them sit for a few days at around 40 psi. The pulled the tubes out but only removed tire bead from one side of rim. Removed valve core and inflated no problem. I tried getting the tires to hold air at that point without any sealant--no dice. Once the sealant was injected--no leaks. Now they just leak with changes in air pressure, as stated above rubber is porous.

    One observation from my recent tubeless setups, both HRII and DHR Minion, seems to have beefier casings than I can remember? This is probably just my imagination, but I thought for this go 'round I was going to need to go somewhere with a real compressor, as it took quite a while to get the tire beads to move to the rim. I hope this makes it to 5.


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