Going Tubeless: What You Need To Know: Day To Day

Now following up on the last post on Going Tubeless, here is a post dealing with your day to day living with a tubeless tire set up. This assumes you have a set up that is successfully sealed and ready to roll.

contiking09 033The difference between using a dedicated system and a mixed and matched set up is huge in the world of tubeless tires.

Using A System Or A Mixed “Rider’s Choice” Set Up: The way your tubeless tire set up will work depends upon what components you have chosen to work with to a large degree. A “system”, such as Bontrager’s, Stan’s, or a system using UST type components, will typically be much more successful and safe than a tubeless tire set up that draws from different systems or uses non-tubeless parts. Differences may include the ability to stay sealed, tire bead/rim interface issues, or even poorer tire performance.

Tubeless systems from Bontrager, Stan’s, or the UST developed rims and tires are not infallible systems, but they do require less fussing around with. Set ups using parts of other systems, or non-tubeless tires and home made sealing systems have success rates that vary about as much as the different combinations. It seems that a lot of folks have their particular favorites or have learned through trial and error to tweak out the bad and keep the good. However; one must discern whether they are willing to take the risk of possible failure and have the ability to take responsibility for their experimentation. For those who are not willing to take that gamble, then the systems that are offered now are your best bet. The good news is that several wheel manufacturers are working on tubeless rims/rim strips for their 2010 lines, so the list of choices will blossom soon.

bonty29-3-09 007Systems such as Bontrager’s Tubeless Ready System are very reliable typically.

Tires and Sealants: Tires and sealants are also part of the picture here and once again, we see tubeless ready tires, UST tires, and several sealants available or being concocted for use. Not everything out there is workable in a tubeless situation. Getting non-tubeless tires to seat, seal up, and stay on are probably the number one problems here. It can even run counter to what benefits tubeless tires are supposed to offer in terms of pressure. Non-tubeless ready casings often do not have the support to carry a load without the tube inside resulting in the rider needing to use higher pressures rather than the lower pressures one is supposed to be able to use when going tubeless.

Care And Maintenance: Tubeless tire set ups will require similar maintenance to tubed tire set ups. Pressures will have to be checked, inspection of the tires should be done on a regular basis. The only real difference here is maintaining your sealant. Some sealants will outlast others, but predicting what you will experience is difficult. The climate, the conditions your wheels are stored in, and whether or not you regularly get punctures will all affect how often you will need to replenish your sealant. A good rule of thumb is to check your tires every three months or less. You can shake the wheel, and perhaps hear the sealant sloshing inside. Otherwise a visual inspection will be necessary which will include letting the air out, breaking the bead, and looking inside.

A note on mixing sealants- While I have not dabbled in the mixing of sealants, some readers have asked me to comment on this. It is my opinion that latex type sealant and glycol based sealants should not be mixed together. I do not see any benefit in doing so. Some folks do add glitter, or some other small particles to aid in sealing punctures. There may be some positive benefit to this. (Actually, Slime Tubeless product actually has small bits of rubber in it to do exactly this.) My experience bears out that there isn’t anything wrong with using sealants as recommended. Slime, Stan’s, CaffeLatex, and others all do what they claim without assistance. Adding anything beyond some glitter to aid in sealing seems to my mind to be a gamble at best.

Next time: I’ll wrap up the series with an overview of where tubeless tire technology is now and where it should be headed.


No Responses to “Going Tubeless: What You Need To Know: Day To Day”

  1. Youngballs Says:

    Been using a bontrager 29-3 TLR for a couple weeks on a Stan’s Flow rim. The tire seated on the rim really easy, aired up with a floor pump, and has been trouble free with 100mL CaffeLatex injected through the valve stem. Today on a break during a ride, we noticed “foam” on the sidewall of the tire. The sealant easily sealed a nice puncture in the sidewall.

  2. Mickey Says:

    When talking about day by day usage please write something about tire change. What you do with a sealant then, throw it away? Probably yes, but how? How do you clean tires inside when changing to another couple?
    How do you put the tube when the puncture is too big and you are on the way? You can probably pur away a sealant, but how about CaffeLatex?
    How all those sealants work during a winter time?

  3. Guitar Ted Says:

    Mickey: Those are all great topics to cover and I will get to that in my next post on the subject. 🙂 Thanks!

  4. Lee T Says:

    Are Stan’s and Caffelatex both latex sealants?

  5. Steve-O Says:

    Hey GT,

    This is a great thread. I for example have been using DT Swiss X470 rims converted to tubeless with mixed results. My Racing Ralphs with Stan’s were good for about a month converted and then I could not keep them on the rim tubeless, with tubes they were fine. I had a set of WTB Nanoraptors that are in there 3rd season and I have NEVER tried to mount a set of old tires tubeless that are older than a year. ( It is my experience that going tubeless requires new tires each season no matter what condition they are in.) The bead was still nice and tight and both tires sealed up easy in 15 minutes with a floor pump. Staying on the rim just fine. If you want to be safe on any rim that is not considered a tubeless or tubeless ready rim, get a tubeless ready tire and most of the time you will have no issues going tubeless. I have had success with standard tires but I am always nervous about it due to my size and fast riding style. I am 195 and 6″5′.

  6. Fort James Says:

    Perhaps I should leave this for G Ted (or maybe provide a basis for his next article as to why one should not do this), but I recover the old Stan’s liquid by using a Stan’s Scoop and an old Stan’s bottle. I carefully remove 1/2 of the tire, hang the wheel on my repair stand, and use the scoop to scoop out the old sealant. I place it in the old bottle until I manage to scoop up most of the liquid. I then re-use that liquid immediately when mounting the new tire and of course it is never enough, so I top it off with some fresh Stan’s fluid. I have been doing this for about a year and I do not have any adverse affects. As I am writing this, it occurs to me I would probably be better off adding the fresh sealant to the old sealant in the bottle and giving it all a fresh shake before attempting to use it in the wheel.

    Another maintenance aid is the use of the Stan’s injector. No need to break the bead, just remove the core and add fluid. I am sure this adds to the wheel weight since I am not removing the Stan’s creatures living inside, but it prevents me from having the break the bead and fool around with resealing the tire. You can make one of these pretty easily, but they are not expensive to order from Stan’s.

    Sorry if I took any thunder G Ted . . . . . . . .

  7. Larry Crichton Says:

    An EXCELLENT topic especially for us tubeless rookies who can’t afford a bunch of experimentation. You have a great website that I read daily. I’m riding a custom DEKERF 29er
    which is a blast to ride, but need to go tubeless!

  8. Guitar Ted Says:

    @ LeeT: CaffeLatex would say no. CaffeLatex is actually a synthetic latex with zero ammonia content, so it will not corrode the un-anodized portions of your rim well.

    @ Steve-O: Thanks for sharing your experiences. That’ll help someone, I’m sure of it. 🙂

    @ Fort James: Excellent tip. I would also add that CaffeLatex’s injector does an excellent job of doing the same recovery method you mention. I also do this when I swap out tires.

    @ Larry Crichton: Thanks! I am glad that you find Twenty Nine Inches valuable as a resource. 🙂 Have fun on that DeKerf!!

  9. JeroenK Says:

    This is a great line of articles! All the tubeless answers can be found on the web, but rarely in condensed form.

    I’d like to hear more about the aftermath of sealant use. I used “NoFlats”, a type of sealant sold here in Europe, with a name shamelessly derived from NoTubes, it seems. The residue of this sealant is very sticky. If you use inner tubes in your tires, they get stuck. I ripped at least 5 Michelin latex inner tubes to pieces, when pulling them out of the tire. I was very careful the last few times…

    Notubes sealant does not give me that trouble. How do CaffeLatex and other sealant types do?

    (Why do I use inner tubes? Well, I do not have 10 wheelsets lying around setup tubeless. I change my tires according to the racecourse condition. After a few mishaps, I promised myself to never do a tubeless setup on raceday or the day before.)

  10. Guitar Ted Says:

    @ JeroenK: Stan’s, CaffeLatex, Slime, Bontrager Super Juice, Geax’, and Hutchinson’s sealants all are pretty easy to clean out of tires with a rag to absorb the most of the excess. Then a soapy water wash and rinse will take care of residue left behind.

    In the case of Stan’s, if you had used Geax’s or Hutchinson’s products prior, (or a home brew latex solution), you can skip the washing part and just install the Stan’s.

    I have no experience with the NoFlats product and some of the other flat preventatives out there, but again- Most are either latex or glycol based and react similarly to products I have used. CaffeLatex being slightly different in that it is a synthetic latex.

  11. Kosmo Says:

    I position the tire with the valve core down, wait a while, remove the valve core, and stick a thin red tube down in there to act as a kind of dipstick to tell how much liquid sealant remains.

    Downside: It doesn’t let you see how big of a latex “Notubes Ball” has formed, but I don’t worry about that 5 grams or so of weight until it’s time to replace the tire due to wear.

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