Archive for November, 2015

A Better Road Tubeless Tire – Schwalbe One

| November 9, 2015 8:23 am
A Better Road Tubeless Tire - Schwalbe One
by Franz Kelsch

The Past Trials of Using Tubeless Road Tires

I have been using road tubeless tires on and off for the past year, on two different bikes.  Although they offered some advantages, the frustration of installing and removing the tubeless tires lead me to a decision to give up on road tubeless tires.  I have been using Hutchinson tubeless tires, both their Fusion 3 and Intensive models.  To get the tire on the wheel I had to use a great deal of effort with multiple strong tire tools. Then getting the tire inflated was another ordeal.  I have an air compressor, but even with removing the valve core to allow for maximum air flow, sometimes it would not inflate.  So I would have to revert to using a CO2 cartridge to get the air flow rapid enough to seat the tire.  Last time I had to go through 3 CO2 cartridges and only when I put a strap around the circumference of the tire did it finally seat.  Later when I got a cut that did not seal with the sealant, getting the tire off when I was back home, was equally hard.

Considering this, it gave me no confidence that should I have some issue out on the road that I would ever be able to put a tube inside the tire to get back home.  That lead me to feel that using tubular tires was a better approach and I wrote about this in this other blog post.

The Schwalbe One Tubeless Road Tire

I read about another tubeless road tire, the Schwalbe One Tubeless and the reviews showed it was easier to install.  I decided to give tubeless one more try and ordered one tire.  It turned out to be much easier to get on the wheel than any Hutchinson.  Although I had to use tire tools to mount (something I always avoid with a regular tubed clincher), I was able to get the final part on with my bare hands.  Then I tried to inflated the tire, without removing the valve core.  It seated without any issue.  I left the tire inflated for a couple days without putting in any sealant and it was still fully inflated.  It was such a better experience that I ordered a 2nd tire and installed the other wheel and my experience was just the same.

With a Hutchinson, should I need to add sealant later on, I was facing a major issue of getting the tire seated.  No problem with the Schwalbe One, that seems to have no problem to inflate and seat using my air compressor, even with the valve core installed.  Some report they can just a floor pump.

Note that Schwalbe has now released a Pro One Tubeless tire which is lighter yet and supposedly easier to install [see this review].  We will be testing that tire in the future but this report is for the Schwalbe One Tubeless (not Pro).

Performance

I have not ridden enough to say how well they wear.  I have pretty good confidence, but not 100 percent, that should I have a problem on the road that I will be able to install a tube and get home.

On my other wheelset I run Michelin Pro Race 4 tires and the Schwalbe One seem to handle just as well, although I have not tested on wet roads.  I am inflating to about 85 psi and riding on chip sealed roads seems much smoother than with my regular clincher tires (which I run at 100 psi).  The Schwalbe One seems to have low rolling very smoothly on smooth pavement as Schwalbe claim.  That seems to bear out by this article that shows a rolling resistance of 12.5 watts at 18 mph, 100 psi with a 42.5 kg load.  This puts it in between the Continental Grand Prix 4000S II with a latex tube at 11.1 watts and the Michelin Pro Race 4 Endurance version 2 at 14.9 watts.  These values are for one tire and considering the front tire has about half the load of the rear, multiple these numbers by 1.5 to get the total for both tires.

This other article gives different values but uses a 25 mph speed, 50 kg load.  It shows a comparison with the No. 1 ranked Specialized S-Works Tubeless.  Here the the Schwalbe One Tubeless ranked 9th place with a rolling resistance of 38.2 watts.  In comparison, the Fusion 3 tubeless tire ranked 25th with 46.5 watts. Those numbers are per tire.

Sizes and Weights

This tire comes in three sizes.  I bought the 700x25C and weighed them before mounting and they weighed very close to the claimed 340 grams (compared with 320 for the Hutchinson Fusion 3).

SchwalbeOneSize

Pros and Cons of Tubeless Road Tires

As with all tubeless setups you don’t save any weight becasue the tires weigh as much as a regular clincher plus tube.   Based on my experience with this tubeless tire, I have revised my pros and cons as follows:

 Advantages

  • Almost eliminate flats when using sealant
  • When there was a leak that does not seal, the leakage is usually slow and you can usually make it home.  Some punctures will seal as the pressure goes down and you can still ride the tire with low pressure.
  • No pinch flats so you can run at a lower pressure, making for a more comfortable ride.

Disadvantages

  • Likely more weight since the tires tend to be heavier plus the weight of the sealant.
  • Difficult to get the tire on the wheel.  Tubeless tires are made so there is no stretch in the clincher bead.  The Hutchinson brand tires were almost impossible to install and to get inflated.  The Schwalbe One was harder than a regular clincher tire but doable.
  • If you have an issue on the road with a cut that does not seal, installing a tube would prove to be almost impossible with the Hutchinson (and other brands that my friends have tried).  However with the Schwalbe One I think it would be possible since they are easier to get on and inflate.
  • Getting the tire to seat was difficult with the Hutchinson.  Even using soapy water on the bead, it is hard to get air in fast enough to seat the tire.  Using a compressor did not always work.  One tire required I used a CO2 cartridge, even went through three CO2 cartridges to get it to seat.  I had to put a strap around the tire and cinch it down to help.  I had a very different experience with two different Schwalbe One tires, which inflated right away, even with the valve core installed (using a compressor).
  • Tire are expensive and the selection is very limited.

This video goes over some of the advantages and disadvantages using the Schwalbe One tubeless tire.

My Take

After going through the hassles of tubeless tires, I had about given up on them. However my experience with the Schwalbe One is so much better that I am back to riding tubeless part of the time since we live in an area prone to many flats.  I still feel the modern tubular tires, with sealant, are a good way to go but you need tubular wheels.   I also have a wheelset with regular clincher tires and I can change a flat in 5 minutes without too much effort so if flats were infrequent this still might the best approach.  Hopefully there will be continued improvements in the design of road tubeless tires, but the Schwalbe One seems to have found a good approach.