A 29″er UST Standard: An Update

A little over a year ago, I wrote a post here about the coming of UST standard approved tires and rims. I recently got a question regarding this subject:

Is there any word on when we will get more choice in tire(s)? This article is over a year old and still only one tire is available.

Well, while this is true, there have been several developments since then that bear looking into. Let’s see where we are and where we might be going.

Hutchinson Python tubeless ready tires

The “tire” in question that has a UST certification for use with sealant is the Hutchinson Python. Huthinson has also introduced a Toro model in 29″er size that should become available soon. This would make two 29″er tires available with the much ballyhooed UST certification seal. That doesn’t quite seem to be cutting it for some folks. The feeling I get perusing the various forums and talking to folks is something that isn’t congruent with what tire manufacturers are doing, and really, is incongruent with riders own expectations.

Right now there is a group of folks waiting for a “true UST” tire in 29″er size. My opinion is that you will probably never get it. What is “true UST”? It is the idea some folks have based from the earliest 26″er UST tires that all tubeless UST tires need no sealant. In many riders minds, there isn’t any other UST type tire out there. But there is. It is the UST tire that requires sealant to work, most commonly known as “tubeless ready”. These tires meet UST certifications and are compatible with UST certified rims. Yet some riders do not recognize this as UST.

Bontrager XDX tires

Why won’t you see a UST tire that requires no sealant in 29″er size? Because of weight. A UST tire requiring no sealant adds extra butyl rubber to the casing making it air tight. Some may see this as a cool thing for sharp rocks or more abusive riding, but for mere tubeless uses, it is a deal killer for 29″er freaks and the manufacturers know it. I’m not saying it will never happen, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Why don’t we see more UST certified tubeless ready tires? I think manufacturers are finding out they can do rims and tire manufacturers are finding out they can do tires that will work together tubeless without spending the money for the UST certifications. Bontrager’s Tubeless Ready tires and wheels are an excellent example- no UST certification needed. However; in my mind the real underlying reason for the lack of tubeless ready UST tires and rims is Stan’s NoTubes and the efforts of individual riders all over the world who have turned to making tubeless work on their own terms. If you, as a manufacturer, see what is going on out there, why would you spend the money on a certification when you can make an end around on the whole thing. Think about Panaracer, who when introducing the Rampage more or less gave its blessing on using it tubeless. Continental has essentially done the same thing, declaring all their mountain bike tires safe to use with any of the mountain bike tire sealants commercially available. Doesn’t sound as though either of those manufacturers is interested in doing a UST 29″er tire anytime soon, does it?

Stan's NoTubes Flow rim diagram

Then you have the various rim manufacturers who are doing a lot of refinements to rim bead seat designs on 29″er rims, not saying they are “tubeless compatible”, but making it a lot easier to do just that. WTB, Sun, and Salsa are three that I saw at Interbike that were doing new rim bead seat designs, but not going so far as to say they were tubeless compatible.

What of Geax and Michelin? I have seen that Geax has gone their own route with the “TnT” concept and Michelin is also rumored to be doing their own tubeless ready type designs without seeking UST certification. At one time it was rumored that these companies would do a UST 29″er tire, but this seems to be not the case now.

So, revisting that article of over a year ago makes me say that I was wrong. There still is “that” argument against 29″ers. However; you can choose to stick with looking for a UST 29″er tire, but the rest of your riding buddies and competitors at the races are already doing something about it. Tubeless ready type tires are here now and there are rims that work as well. Some will scoff and say the risk isn’t worth it, but it’s something that isn’t going away anytime soon. Advantage or disadvantage for 29″ers? You’ll have to make that call.


No Responses to “A 29″er UST Standard: An Update”

  1. James Slemboksi Says:

    UST would be nice, but I can handle a little Stan’s flinging everywhere.

  2. Davidcopperfield Says:

    Real UST for FR/DH 29ers with sealant :thumbup:

  3. Mike Says:

    Is there still any development with UST in 26″? I can’t imagine there would be much going on with 29″ UST if 26″ has stalled.

  4. j-dog Says:

    Tubeless ready is going to be THE standard soon, Wait and see..

  5. Desert9r Says:

    I DON’T buy the “because of the weight” bit for gawd sake 33″ truck tires are tubeless, Without a bead lock!

  6. Vandal Says:

    Weight matters when the vehicle is powered by a 1/4 horsepower engine (a 1/2 horsepower for some of us).
    The fact that savvy riders put a bit of Stan’s goop in UST tires tells us something about how necessary full UST certification is. I can use a standard tire, pour some liquid in it, make it airtight and self-repairing, and save weight over a UST tire. UST might have been the first, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best solution.

  7. John from Cape Town Says:

    Ted, what is in the Bontrager pipeline? I initially ran the Jones XR front and rear on Stans ZTR 355 rims with tape only and Stans sealant, They were fantastic but on the third set and two semi-aborted races with shredded sidewalls I went over to Hutchie UST Pythons.
    There also seems to be an XDX? but no info on their website, any ideas as to where they are going?

  8. Guitar Ted Says:

    John from Cape Town: Actually a Jones XR is now available as a tubeless ready tire, just so you know. The XDX is the new name of the Dry X. Same tire, new name. Bontrager felt that the “dry” in the name was limiting sales. Actually, this tire is a great all rounder.

    New 29″er stuff from Bontrager should include the long awaited and talked about Mud X, the new Team XR ( A “low tread” version of the regular XR, if you will.) and a rumored big, meaty, aggressive tire. Possibly based on something from the Big Earl series.

  9. John from Cape Town Says:

    Thanks Ted, much appreciated, will get a set of each shipped out here to try.

  10. Slim Says:

    For 2009 Specialized will be doing their 29er tires in tubless ready as well.
    The other reason why tubeless ready tires are taking off so big is inventory: Instead of stocking each tire in each size in UST and tubed versions now a store can simply sell any tire to any customer, regardless of whether they want to run tubes or not. As a tubelss rider I love that because it means manufacturers will produce all their sizes and models in a version I can use and my LBS is will have many more tires in stock for me to choose from.

  11. Dan0 Says:

    as I see it , the only real advantage to going tubeless is traction, which is achived by running lower pressure, you may be able to save a little weight also but it depends on the tires and setup used. Now the lower pressure is fine for traction but the big hit comes in the sidewall damage. Once you start running low pressures, the tube type tires run tubless and most of the Tubeless ready type tires dont have strong enough sidewalls unless you’re riding buff singletrack xc, once you start in on rocks the sidewalls rip. UST sidewalls are thicker because of the air tight layer and so the sidewalls hold up better. alot of the new tubeless and tlr tires are coming out with an extra layer of kevlar which I hope will address this problem. as it stands now my “tubeless” tires last maybe 2 months in the rear

  12. C Cow Says:

    After having read both articles and threads about 29r UST/Tubeless ready, I’m ready to ask a question. What is the difference between a regular tire and a Tubeless Ready tire?

    I’ve just suffered an experience with a 29r Spec S-Works Fasttrack LK 2bliss ready tire. The tire mounted up tubeless nicely, when new. Due to a rim failure, the tire blew off at speed, fortunately in a straight away. I am not able to get the tire to mount tubeless now. When new, the tire was a little tighter on the rim before inflation. Nows it’ll flap in a breeze, hanging from the rim. This reminds of another experience I had once with a non-UST tire and rim combo, that blew off from a sideways landing. The tire would not seat tubeless again. It seems to me that once a non- UST tire blows off, it stretches at the bead, and is or is near impossible to re-seat.

    The UST tires that I have dealt with are tight when mounted initially, and on consecutive remounts. So, back to my original question, what is the difference between a regular tire and a Tubeless Ready tire? Are we paying for something we are not getting? Is it like the “Digital Ready” stereo speakers of the early 80’s, in that it means nothing but marketing hype?

    Thanks for any insight.

    C Cow

  13. Dan0 Says:

    C Cow
    the only difference I know of is the bead, tubeless, ust, tlr, etc. all use a ust type bead. Regular tires do not. the special bead locks onto the rim (which also has to be tlr, tubeless, ust, etc.)

  14. Guitar Ted Says:

    C Cow: The difference is that in both your examples the tire blew off catastrophically- ie: It wasn’t removed carefully by hand. In any case- even if a UST tire blew off, your tire is unreliable at that point. This really has nothing to do with UST, tubeless ready, or folding bead and more to do with the type of failure preceding your trying to re-use the tire.

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