Going Tubeless: What You Need To Know: Questions And Answers

One of the readers of Twenty Nine Inches- “Mickey”, had some great questions that were posted in the comment section of the last article. I thought I would break them out into their own post and share the answers with all of you readers. Here are some day to day issues one might face going tubeless.

What (do) you do with (old) sealant then, throw it away? Probably yes, but how?: This question can be answered in a few ways depending upon which sealant you are using. If you are using a latex based sealant and it dries up, there really isn’t any clean up necessary. Usually the sealant dries into “interesting formations” which Stan’s users have a rather uncouth name for. (!!) These can simply be discarded. If the sealant isn’t dried out though, it can be re-used. Recovery of old sealant from a tire usually is easiest when using a “syringe” type instrument such as the unit available from Stan’s or a similar product from CaffeLatex. Draw out the old sealant and mix it in with new sealant, then add it back into a new tire.

contiking09 036 An injector/syringe tool aids in sealant recovery as well as injecting sealant into tubeless tires.

Glycol based sealants are usually still wet after several months, but may be dried up to a thicker, gooey consistency. If you are switching out tires, it generally will be easier to wipe up the old sealant with an old rag or sponge. After getting the majority of the sealant out, you can wash with a soapy water solution and rinse with water to get any left over residue out. Your rag or sponge could be washed, or discarded with other hazardous waste.

How do you clean tires inside when changing to another (pair)?: Again, in a similar way to what I describe above. Just remember to discard the old rags or sponge with your other hazardous waste.

How do you put the tube (in) when the puncture is too big and you are on the (trail) ?
Once you have determined the sealant isn’t going to seal the puncture, you should release all the air in the tire, break down the beads from the rim, and remove the tubeless valve stem. All rather simple things to do, but the whole process is complicated by the mess of sealant you will encounter within your tubeless tire. I have experienced this a couple of times. My advice is to carefully install a slightly inflated tube and push the bead of the tire over the rim without removing the sealant out on the trail. (Of course, making sure you do not have a foreign object in the tire yet, or a tear that requires a tire boot.) Keeping sealant off the trail and off you is the best way, if at all possible.

In the case of Bontrager’s TLR rim strip, you will also want to make sure you have a long stemmed presta valve to allow good purchase with your pump or CO2 unit after installing the tube. I have also found that carrying a multi-tool with a pliers type tool helps in loosening the tubeless valve stem nut, which is generally too tight to remove by hand. (Make sure you pick up your valve stem and stow it before you ride away!)

How (do) all those sealants work during a winter time? Sealants that are water/latex solutions will freeze up. Sealants that are glycol based are much less likely to freeze up, but may become too thick to really seal any punctures depending upon how cold it is out and the particular sealant in question. Some home brew sealants use windshield washer solvent, which aids in keeping the solution from freezing. In my experience, tubeless tires will still work in winter, but you may not see the puncture protection benefits that you do in summer, or during warmer weather.

Okay, that’s a wrap on Mickey’s questions. Thanks Mickey for writing those in the comments section. Remember, if you have any questions, just put them in the comments. I try to answer all of them and I may use one of yours in a future post.


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No Responses to “Going Tubeless: What You Need To Know: Questions And Answers”

  1. Willie Says:

    “discard with other hazardous waste” Does not sound very green to me. Purely for longevity sake, which is better latex based or glycol based? Is glycol based poisonous to animals?
    Have you ever used the GEAX cartridge system? How does it compare the the syringe based systems? Thanks again, we all owe you ALOT!

  2. Guitar Ted Says:

    @ Willie: Well, you can never be too careful, ya know? 😉

    Geax’s system I have not used, only the Pit Stop quick fill stuff. It is a latex though, so expect similar results to Stan’s, etc. However, I am not certain it can be injected through a valve stem without removing the core.

    Glycol is poisonous to animals. Make sure to not let your dogs, cats, or other pets around the stuff.

  3. Guitar Ted Says:

    Just to be clear, not all glycols are harmful, but some are, so it is best to be on the safe side. 😉

  4. Youngballs Says:

    I sent a message to the folks at Cantitoe Road for information about the presence of glycol in the Caffelatex I’ve been using. Here is the answer I received:

    I spoke with Alberto, the man who engineered Caffelatex, and he gave me the following information:

    There is 12 % of monoethyleneglycol in Caffélatex (as anti-freeze).

    From Wikipedia: “The major danger from ethylene glycol is ingestion as it is somewhat toxic with LD50 = 1.4 g/kg for humans”

    This means this chemical is not very dangerous (infact Aspirin has an LD50 = 0,2g/kg… this means aspirin is 7 times more dangerous than ethylene glycol!) but it shouldn’t be swallowed nevertheless.

    I hope that this satisfies as an answer. I suppose the bottom line is that Caffelatex is not a food and does contain some ingredients that would be best not to be ingested! Please let me know if you have any further questions.

    I thought that was a pretty interesting answer. Very up front and honest. Obviously we should keep ethylene glycol out of the environment to the best of our abilities. I would not be surprised, however, if the environmental impacts associated with production of inner tubes (as well as patches and patch glue) far outweigh the impacts of the loss of a small trailside loss of Caffelatex during a catastrophic tire failure. With the potential to dramatically cut down on the use of tubes, maybe sealants are more environmentally friendly. I’m sure somebody with the right background and enough free time could provide us with a definitive answer. Just something to consider.

  5. Willie Says:

    Sorry, please help with my math. If there is 12% mono ethylene glycol in Caffelatex, wouldn’t that equal 120 grams/kg? Well over the 1.4 grams/kg that is “somewhat” toxic for humans.
    Am I missing something??

  6. Youngballs Says:

    The entire bottle is 1000mL. At 12% glycol, that would mean you have 120g in the entire bottle. Thus, if you drank the entire bottle, you’d be getting the entire 120g. We should probably be more concerned with the effects on wildlife, rather than on humans. In addition, most people spray far more glycol into the environment via windshield washer fluid.

    I weigh 150lbs, which would convert to 68.2kg. Thus, the LD for me is around 95.48g. I’d have to drink over 3/4 of the bottle. Even if I drank all the Caffelatex in one of my tires, I would not come close to this.

    Again, I think the potential impact on wildlife is much greater than on humans. You bring up good points. Good discussion.

  7. Rob from Ottawa Says:

    I think they were saying that it is toxic in people if you ingest 1.4 g per kg of weight. So if I weigh 80 Kg, if I consumed 112 g of it, it would be toxic. (I could be mistaken.) You would probably have to consume quite a bit of it for it to be toxic. (Maybe?)

  8. Willie Says:

    Thanks for that clarification! However 29 x 2.4 tire = 150ml of Caffelatex=18 grams of gycol/tire=dead cats, squirrels, small dogs, birds! Bring back DDT!
    With careful use and proper disposal(who is going to do that when they are trying to put in a tube in the middle of a race).
    I ride a MTB to enjoy nature, not destroy it.
    Seems like natural rubber tubes are the “green” way to go. Is latex based sealants less toxic?
    Agreed good discussion.

  9. Oderus Says:

    You guys are all missing the big picture. You can drink it a probably be ok. It’s the latex bubbles you’ll be blowing out of your ass that you’ll have to explain to the doctor.

  10. MG Says:

    … not to mention the fact that you’d be able to seal any thorn punctures your body happened to incur on the way to the emergency room! LOL!!! i can’t even believe this discussion.

    put it this way… i’ve been messing with ‘getto’ tubeless solutions involving mold builder latex and windshield washer solution for about seven years now, and i’m still alive and kickin’. there don’t even seem to be any growths coming off of me ‘er nuthin’. so i guess we’re okey dokey, smokey.


  11. diesel29 Says:

    GT I am an acft mechanic working in the great white north, acft operators would deice in the old days with ethylene glycol but with such huge impact on the environemt all acft operators switched to propylene glycol which has been deemed non toxic, maybe with your contact at caffe latex , you could suggest to them the use of propylene glycol it is more money but might save them in the future and make this discussion end here. The amount they use isnt much but some people/ organizations might not care.

  12. Mickey Says:

    Guitar Ted, thanks for all answers 🙂
    How to reuse CaffeLatex as long as it is foam not a liquid?

  13. Guitar Ted Says:

    @ Mickey: If you allow the wheel to be still for an hour or so, the foam returns to a liquid which will pool in the bottom of the tire again. 🙂

  14. Greg Says:

    Ok the stuff works great in the tires. Now what’s the best way to get this stuff (CaffeLatex) out of fabric? I accidentally sprayed the baby stroller with it. Don’t ask.

  15. Neanderthal Says:

    I’ve been using CaffeLatex since the middle of May and had my first noticeable sealed puncher which happened on one sidewall. What I’ve like to see addressed is the following:

    1. How does one know if a sealed puncher is one that can be ridden on for rides to come or if the tire should be replaced?
    2. Are sidewall seals more prone to a repeated future failure than tread area seals?
    4. Should an object found in the puncher be removed if noticed if sealed or not?
    3. Given that a major puncher or tear is possible, what are some trail maintenance possibilities with tubeless setups?

    So far, I’ve really enjoyed the tubeless setup and have had my riding buddies flat numerous times this season while I’ve had no downtime except for waiting for them. I’ve only questioned the above stated areas since switching.

  16. Guitar Ted Says:

    @ Neanderthal: #1- The best thing to do would be to patch the sidewall at your earliest convenience. But that said, a small hole that sealant gets sealed should stay sealed.

    #2- Yes, especially if you are a fan of low pressures.

    #3- Tire boots and tubes are the best bet trail side.

    #4- Generally speaking, no. However; each case is unique and one must use their best judgment.

  17. Mickey Says:

    How to determine if I can trust the setup I just did? I’m talking about standard tire, because with tubless ready ones everything should be ok.
    Mounting on Atans Arch rims.

  18. Guitar Ted Says:

    Mickey: Trust: I had the same type of feelings with my first tubeless attempts. Here’s some things you can do to help you out.

    Obviously, you should visually inspect the tire/rim interface to determine whether the bead of the tire has sealed and set up correctly into the rim hook. If it has, then proceed with riding.

    #1: Most tubeless failures happen after high impact incidents where the tire is struck by a trail feature or after a landing from a jump, etc. So, first you can try running over a small branch or piece of lumber to simulate a sharp trail impact. You could do this in the relative safety of a grassy area like a lawn, where if you were to experience a failure, the crash would not be very bad.

    #2: Then, if you live in an area where there are curbs along the streets, you can gather up some speed and jump off the curb and try to land the tires at the same time to simulate a drop to flat, or landing after some air time. (Obviously, being aware of your surroundings, you wouldn’t want to do this in traffic!) If you don’t have curbs, you can build a small jump from some scraps of wood, or find another suitable test “jump”.

    If your tubeless set up passes these tests, then trying some easy single track, then gradually increasing the severity of trail, should help increase your confidence in the set up to the point that your trust level will allow you to begin to enjoy the ride instead of worrying about a tire failure.

  19. Mickey Says:

    Thanks! I’ll start tests as soon as I finish my new bike setup 🙂

  20. Mike Says:

    Any info for the new Giant P-29 rims? No one seems to know?

  21. Guitar Ted Says:

    Mike: Grannygear has a Giant 29″er and posted that eventually there will be a Stan’s strip that will convert the wheels on Giant’s 29″ers to tubeless. As of now we have no indication that Giant plans on selling the rims as a separate part. Same with the wheels.

  22. Mickey Says:

    Could you please make a list of tubless ready tires available in the market? Maybe it is somewhere here but I missed it?

    BTW: what’s wrong with http://twentynineinches.com/database ?

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