What are tubeless tyres?
Tubeless tyres are based on a similar system to a car tyre, whereby an open rubber tyre sits firmly in the wheel's rim and no inner tube is needed.
The shape of the tyres and the rim are designed to create a seal that holds the air in. As bicycle tyres are thinner than car tyres, sealant is used to make the system fully air tight.
So what are the benefits over a traditional clincher tyre? We explain why tubeless are great for puncture free riding.
Beat the flats
For both road and off-road riders, the main advantage of tubeless is fewer flats. If the tyre is cut by glass, thorns or stones, the sealant in the tyre instantly dries around the hole, preventing air from leaking out.
This makes them perfect in poor weather conditions and winter where debris is frequently washed onto the road. The beauty of tubeless is you won’t even know your tyre has been compromised during the ride. You're not left freezing at the side of the road, fixing punctures and getting your hands dirty.
Perfect for gravel and cyclo-cross riders
Off-road tubeless tyres can run at lower pressures (as low as 20-25 psi), providing better grip on loose surfaces without the risk of pinch or snakebite punctures. If you are planning on tackling rough cobbles or icy roads, road tyres can be run as low as 70 psi for extra grip and comfort without fear of the tyre detaching from the rim.
Better roll, better ride
A tubeless tyre rolls up to 12% faster than a clincher tyre according to Stans, a fact that is backed up in tests by Bicycling Magazine (link). The lower rolling resistance and shape helps the tyre is sit better on the ground. This creates added compliance, ensuring you get a great quality ride from the tyre.
Too good to be true?
Many wheelsets are now tubeless ready, including carbon wheels from Zipp and most of the 2017 wheels made by Mavic, Fulcrum and Shimano. However. tyre selection is limited compared to the traditional clincher.
Condor has a number of tubeless tyres for gravel and mixed terrain riding, including the Mavic Yksion All Road and Specialized Tracer 2Bliss. For road, there are options from Schwalbe, Vittoria, and Hutchinson.
You will need to spend time setting up the tyres and installing sealant, but the pay-off is that you’ll have no interruptions to your training ride. The tyres require more attention, regularly topping up the sealant to stop it drying out.
In the rare situation that your tyre does lose air and won't reseal on your ride, you can put a tube in the tyre and ride it like a normal clincher until you get home.
How to set up tubeless tyres
Remove your existing tyre. If you do not have a tubless rim remove the rim tape and install two layers of NoTubes 21mm wide yellow spoke tape if your rim tape is damaged or worn.
Mount the tubeless road tyre with a road tube installed. This helps the tyre get into shape.
Deflate, install the 44mm road valves and remove inner tube.
When the tyre is fitted, wipe the tyre with soap suds. This lubrication will make inflating and sealing easier. Pat the tyre into the rim to seat it.
Inflate the tyre to 100 psi and let it sit or do a small ride. The tube will press the tape down and help make it air tight.
Remove the valve core from the road valve. Use needle nose pliers or a Stan’s valve core remover to do this.
Rotate your wheel so that the valve is in the eight o'clock position (not at the bottom). You may want to hang up your wheel.
Shake the bottle of sealant to ensure the crystals are suspended. Inject the sealant into each tyre via the valve core.
Reinstall valve core. Inflate tyre to 90 psi.
You can also pour the sealant directly into tyre, unhook a small section of the tyre from the rim.
After adding sealant. If the tyre is not on the rim manipulate the tyre back into position.
Inflate the tyre using an air compressor, or pump with booster for tubeless or Co2 cannister. The bead of the tyre will be popped onto the rim.
Soap the tyre, valve stem area, and all spoke nipples to clear excess sealant and to make sure you have no bubbling. If you have any bubbling at the valve stem or spoke nipples then your tape is leaking.
Spin the tyre to spread the sealant.
If you have a sleeved rim you may need to shake the tyre so the sealant can seal any area around the sleeve that the yellow spoke tape did not cover. The sealant will seal most leaks at the seam of the rim.
Hang the tyre over night, with the valve in the 3 o clock position. You may need to re-inflate the tyre with a pump the next day.
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