Tubeless or Tubeless Ready?

While perusing comments from across the innerweb I have seen a few comments referring to the desire for a true tubeless or UST standard tire and rim system. With Stan’s products, Bontrager’s Tubeless Ready System, and now Mavic/Hutchinson’s wheel and tire combination out there, do we really need a true tubeless tire for 29″ers?

Considering that the weight concious are probably going to balk at the outcome of a true tubeless system, is this going to be an all mountain/free ride kind of tire if we see one come out?

Also, considering the seemingly widespread use of sealant in tubeless tires anyway, doesn’t that negate the need for a true tubeless system for 29″ers. (Keep in mind that a “true” tubeless system does not require the use of any sealant what so ever)

I’m just curious to see what the 29″er rider has to say about this subject, since there seems to be two camps of tubeless afficiandos- Tubeless Ready vs. UST/true tubeless.

Sound off!


No Responses to “Tubeless or Tubeless Ready?”

  1. Lothar Says:

    It seems to me Bontrager practically made their TLR tires into true tubeless. Damn, these things weigh 700gm & pretty much hold air without sealant. I can’t imagine what a true tubeless tire will weigh or what benefits they’d offer over TLR. (I’m hoping if I keep complaining about this Bontrager will make me a 600gm 2.1″ TLR tire, with decent tread..that’s what we REALLY need).

  2. emetal Says:

    i don’t see a point for UST tires. stan’s works great, and why run a version of tubeless that is heavier and doesn’t seal puncture flats – that’s the whole point of tubeless – for me anyways. that along with running lower pressure, which is the only thing that UST can do just as well as a kenda karma + stan’s sealant.

  3. Chris Bailey Says:

    For the last 4 years, I’ve run UST-based tubeless on my 26″ wheel bikes. Earlier this year I got my first 29er (a fully rigid Niner :), and not long after that I eagerly anticipated the C29ssmax wheels (and now have them).

    In my experience with 26″ UST, I started out converting regular tires using Stans because the available UST tires were none that I was interested in (most were too narrow, super light race oriented tires). Converting tires was hit or miss and they simply didn’t work that great. Once better choices of UST tires were available I wound up only using UST tires. I still used sealant as discussed above, but the UST tires truly sealed (and didn’t burp), performed way better, and could be run at even lower pressure (because they didn’t burp).

    Now that I have the C29ssmax, and there aren’t any real UST tires, I’ve been converting again with mixed results. I’ve been asking for UST tires, but my thinking has begun to change recently, in that I agree, I always use sealant, so if “tubeless ready” tires can be produced, that can perform like UST tires do, where the only real difference is that they *require* sealant, then that would be a big win I think. You would lower the weight as compared to a UST, yet retain the other benefits.

    In terms of a pure Stans system, or Bontrager’s setup, I’ve stayed away. When I did the 26″ wheel tubeless stuff several years ago, I tried a few different Stan’s rim strip setups and, honestly in my opinion, they flat out sucked. I changed to UST and it worked great, and I never looked back. I haven’t tried any of the Bonty stuff. I hear the Stan’s 29er tubeless wheels and such work well, but I have a relatively deep seated distrust, although I’m slowly at least becomming open to looking at it again 🙂

    So, to sum up: my desire would be for “tubeless ready”, so long as you got all the same performance characteristics of a real UST tire, with the one difference being that the tires simply required sealant (which we all run in this arena anyway).

  4. Race29 Says:

    It seems a bigger issue right now is maybe the danger factor of running a standard tire with sealant since many fit so losely. A burp and roll-off is a real possibility and I hate being nervous about it as I ride. I have the Hutchinson TLR’s and they have been fantastic on Stan’s 355’s, even in manic racing conditions at low pressures. I also have a set of standard Crossmark’s on Salsa Delgado Race rims with a 26″ Maxxis tubeless strip stretched out in the rim bed. This system works on the trail, but it doesn’t hold air for more than a day or two and is pretty sloppy since the 26″ strip gets distorted and doesn’t make consistent contact around the rim bead. Maybe I need to ditch that system and try a Bonty set-up, the Mavics or a Stan’s training / all mountain set up with TLR tires to feel good about not having a catastrophic failure. I run a training wheel set and a racing wheel set and don’t mind a heavy(ish) training set. Maybe the market will segment much the way the 26″ wheels have – high-end race style wheels, everyday training bomb-proof wheels and maybe even DH specific wheels. Who knows if there is enough depth in the market to support such specificity…. (and will tire makers oblige with a large enough menu of choices to satisfy these niches?)

  5. wunnspeed Says:

    Honestly, I’m not sure about it. Most people I know seem to have one problem or another with tubeless systems whether on a 26″ or 29″ format. So, they end up running sealant to hedge their bets and/or constantly carry tubes with them anyway.

    One other thing that’s kept me away is the need for a compressor. I don’t have one and to the best of my knowledge there’s not one anywhere near where I live. Compressed air cartridges cost a bundle here and to use one in hopes of it working is silly and not cost effective.

    To me, the outrageous cost of Stans stuff has kept me from using anything of his. Well, that and that it’s so hard to find that sort of thing in Germany anyway. In any case, I just bought a rim (from a manufacturer that recommends not using this rim for tubeless) that’s set up to be tubeless. The guy that had it was doing some testing for a German manufacturer of tubeless systems and he claims that it works very well with most every tire that he tried outside of tires with thin sidewalls.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I’d like to see rims made to support tubeless that had better seating for the tire and didn’t cost 90 Euros or Dollars per rim. Maybe then I’d be more willing to attempt it at home. Also, if the valves cost a couple of Euros/Dollars instead of 5-10 and the tape were cheaper. Know what I mean?

    So, there’s my very scattered and indirect opinion.

  6. Don Wardo Says:

    Lothar, you read my mind, baby. 600 gram (or lighter, please), true 2.1 width cross country tires in TRUE TUBELESS READY would be perfect. I really don’t want to see another new non tubeless 29 tire in 2.2-2.4 width that weighs 750-850 grams. I have no use for another whale of a tire. I am surprised that no one has developed a tire with a UST bead and a standard casing. Bontrager and Hutchinson TLR have almost the same amount of sealing rubber on the inside of the casing as a true UST tire. Everyone uses some type of sealant in UST or TLR, so why not take the sealing rubber out? The most reliable lightweight setup I have used is a non-UST rim with Stan’s yellow tape, TLR tire, and Stan’s sealant. The setup is harder than a standard tire and tube or a UST tire, but if the directions for the tape installation are followed exactly, the setup works every time. As for people complaining about having to use a compressor to install tires, that is the price to play people! You wouldn’t say that you really liked the performance of a wheel, but were bummed that you had to buy spokes in order to build the wheel, would you?. Besides, auto parts stores sell tiny compressors for about $40 that will do the job, so I consider that a moot point.

  7. wunnspeed Says:

    Don… buy and send me the compressor and I’ll try it. Until then, I stand by my comments. Have a good Sunday or Saturday where you live. 🙂

  8. Chris Bailey Says:

    A couple notes on wunnspeed and others comments:

    – Compressor: you don’t need a compressor, all you need is an air tank. I got one for like $20-30 at Sears, a nice Craftsman. It doesn’t hold a ton of air, but will do maybe 4-6 tires depending on how well they seat up, and you can then just re-inflate it with say an electric car tire pump, or at the gas station. Mine is I think a “10 gallon” or something like that (but is about 16 inches long, and maybe 10″ diameter). Also, not all tubeless require it. I have yet to use it when converting my 29er Rampages to tubeless, and with Specialized’s 2Bliss 26″ tires, Continental UST 26″ tires, and some others, I never needed it. I mostly needed it when doing conversions or with a few stubborn UST tires.

    – Burp and roll: Possible, absolutely, especially on converted tires. On UST, no way. On TLR, don’t know. But, I will say this, I recently did roll a 29er Panaracer Rampage that was converted to tubeless, run on Mavic C29ssmax wheels. It was a front tire, and I had done a jump where I crossed up my front wheel, but didn’t get it all the way uncrossed on landing – pretty much the ideal way to roll a tire 🙂 However, while it flatted it, it wasn’t catastrophic, and I was able to ride it out. The tire stayed on the rim, etc. This was actually mildly surprising, as the Rampages aren’t exactly the tightest fitting tire on these wheels. My point is just that your mileage may vary. In general, I haven’t had problems rolling tires.

  9. professed Says:

    great topic GT

    I have to say that the ultimate set up is:-

    UST rim with a true UST tubeless bead.
    Always sets up with a track pump and grips like nothing else.

    Most of us who run ( or ran on our old 26″ rims) tubeless this way may have used a little sealant to seal the enevitable puncture or small cut so what Hutchison is doing on their 29er python – using a UST bead then running a partially enhanced but not totally airtight carcass with sealant is perfect.

    This is the way forward as those of us who race 29ers can not afford tyre/sealant combinations of more than 700grams.
    By the way a bit of sealant in the tyre reduces burping risk on a UST bead substantially – it just holds the bead on that little bit more at the limit!

    In the interim the only way to run tubeless successfully without UST beaded tyres and have some tyre choice is to use a Stans rim – its the hooked ends that make all the difference – with a ruber rim strip and sealant.
    Pumps up with a track pump but can be a bit messy at times, is a pain to swap from a race tyre to a trail tyre and has a slightly higher risk of burping compared to UST.

  10. Desert9r Says:

    I Hate sealants, big pain in the ass!!! True (no sealant) tubeless car tires have been around for more than a half century, WHY hasn’t it been applied to bikes?

  11. Dirt McGirt Says:

    True tubeless would be pretty sweet. Sealants are a BIG pain in the ass. I know we charge way more to install a “stan’s” type system then just to install rego tubeless.

  12. Chris Bailey Says:

    I would love to see true tubeless myself as well, but honestly, unless you live where there is zero chance of getting a puncture, you still need sealant. That doesn’t bother me at all, as that’s how I’ve always run my UST tires (with a scoop or more of Stan’s in them). It’s saved me several times. While UST will elliminate pinch flats/snake bites, it won’t elliminate punctures from thorns and such. Yes, it protects a little more than a normal tire, but pull off your a UST tire that has sealant in it, after a good amount of use, and I bet you you will see a few spots where the sealant has done its job for what would have been punctures.

    As I mentioned above, I’m all for seeing how Hutchinson’s (and others) TLR tires work. If the sidewalls are at least beefier than standard tires, then that will be killer and I think the ideal setup, but if the sidewalls are flimsy, then it’s barely an improvement over regular tires that you can convert.

  13. Race29 Says:

    When you get on a really light 29er wheel set, like the Stan’s 355 / American Classic / Python TLR I race on – it get’s pretty addicting and I keep wondering if it’s possible to have a sub 600 gram TLR tire that is really durable. I have raced my 2,100 gram wheels and I have raced my 1,600 gram wheels (without tires, which also increases the gap between race and training wheel weight) and there is no comparison. My guess is that about 15% of the field at any given race I attended in Colorado this past season rode a 29er and I never had less than a handful of people at every race ask me about my bike and my wheels. Everyone always wanted to know what it was like to climb on those “heavy wheels”. I think there would be a lot more converts to 29ers if some new technology evolved that got a bunch of positive press to dispell the common myths we run into.

  14. Vandal Says:

    I want to maximize the advantages of riding a big-wheel bike. I want better traction and more supple tires that will roll more smoothly. Yes, tubeless, however it is done, is in my future. However, I agree that big ,heavy tires would suck. If sealant works and makes for a lighter package than a UST tire, I’ll happily use sealant. Give me a tire with a tubeless-compatible bead and I’ll pour sealant in to take care of the rest of the tire.

  15. SlowerThenSnot Says:


    I can run a tube and a wierwolf LT at 20 psi on a 30mm rim. I wigh in at 190lbs, and full rigid, and I haven’t pinched a tube yet on a 29er tire tube combo (kock on wood)

    Tubes I can patch anywhere and kepp it working even without a bikeshop or air compresser

    I think most enduro junkies stay away from the tubeless setups.

    I really do not see the point maybe if I weigh in at 120lbs or was a wight winnie….

    Looking forward to that Gordo rim from Salsa

    So I guess Yes Tubes here =)

  16. Dirt McGirt Says:

    Kock on wood… huhuhuhuh

  17. Rider Dude Says:

    Just thought Id throw my hat in the ring on this one. Ive tried the two new Bonty TR tires niether lasted two rides before cutting the sidewall, very frustrating Grrrrr. Ive tried every concievable 29r tire tubeless, Ignitor, crossmark, nano’s, exis’s, Small blocks, and crow tires. All cut, side walls.
    I weigh 200 lbs, 6’4″ which I know is why they just dont last. My brother 6′ and 170 lbs, runs tubeless all day on his 29r, has had a pair of cross marks for 6 months not one single leak. Good for him says I, grumbling under my breath. I Run the UST maxxis crossmarks on my 26 at 33 psi and never had a sidewall blowout.
    I personally would like to see Maxxis create a UST using their LUST technology to lighten them up. I can concieve a 29er UST tire at about 750-850 grams. With the nanos I run now + tubes + plus sealant “Pesky Cactus in AZ” Im probably running a 950 gram combo on the back any ways.

  18. Vic Says:

    I don’t have a ton of interest in tubeless yet, I have ignitors on a set of Delgados with wtb hubs and though not the lightest setup, it is relatively light and has so far been very trustworthy. I am too heavy at 225 to worry about super low pressures, and up to this point I have not found a system that inspires me to switch.

    My wife bought some stans rims and threw her small block 8’s with tubes on them thinking she would convert later. The setup is super light, has no annoying sealant and has held up amazingly well, she can run mid 30lb pressures without any pinch flat issues. She is not planning on switching to tubeless any time soon.

    My 29er tubeless conversion friends burn through a lot of tires due to side wall failure.

    I am always open to new things and a compelling argument might lead me to switch, but as of now, my vote is to stick with tubes.

    Rider Dude, I am thinking about heading to AZ for the Kentucky Camp Epic in December, have you ridden that area? Is it worth my time?

  19. Rider Dude Says:

    Vic: Yeah man Ive ridden some of that area a few times, because we usually have one race down in Patagonia every year. It is a very nice area, with some super fun single track and jeep trails, very niner friendly. Kind of remote though, your more likley to run into a Rancher before another mountainbiker, but its one of the coolest parts of AZ I think. Very old west , part of Wyatt Earp, and Geronimos old stompin ground. I run some sealant in those tires down there though, Alot of Cacti. I get a kick out of all the guys from back east when they ride out here they think its the pinch flats from rocks that get you in AZ . But it’s more about the random Cholla’s in the trail or the newly fallen suguaro laying in the trail just around the corner. Sealant is a must have here in AZ.

  20. professed Says:

    seems that if you are close to the 200lb mark – boy, better not get into an argument as some of you are big guys ! – then tubeless benefits (converted tubeless) has a diminishing return.

    Vic – get your wife to convert to tubeless ASAP – she has the perfect setup – and she will really notice the more supple ride, the reduced rolling resistance and lower weight. That is if she is same weight or lighter than Rider Dude’s brother (same weight as me) !

  21. Vic Says:


    Do you suggest doing the conversion with the small block’s? For those that are skinny, is the sidewall sturdy enough?

  22. professed Says:

    sorry for belated reply Vic, but i have been forced to go earn a living rahter than relax reading and living bikes !

    I run Maxxis Exception tubed tyres, tubeless for my wife ( 50kg or around 112 lbs) due to – 1) softer compound rubber and 2) super light and supple carcasses.

    She has never had a puncture or a side wall blow out and rides rough rocky trails locally and also races.
    I have yet to try the small blocks. Thetread looks a bit spooky for my style of riding, but the Kenda Karmas – which if of similar carcass construction which I expect they are – run tubeless hold up to my regular fully rigid abuse, no problem.

    go for it and she will love you !

  23. Parker Says:

    Is there a way to become a content writer for the site?

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