Tubeless Road Tires End of the Line

| November 12, 2016 7:08 pm

History of Experiment with  Tubeless Road Tires

I have written a couple posts about using tuebeless road tires. This first post discussed with the pros and cons of tubeless road tires vs tubed clincher tires vs. tubular tires.  In this second post I discussed my tests with the Schwalble One tubeless tire, which was much better than my experience with the Hutchinson tubeless road tires.  All together I tested about 6 tubeless tires, from two brands, on two different wheel sets for well over a year.  It has been a costly experiment that has been quite frustrating.

Why I Will No Longer user Tubeless Road Tires

While the Schwable One tubeless tires proved to be much easier to deal with than the Hutchinson, both tubeless tires suffer from this issues.

  1. Dealing with tubeless road tires has proven to require far more effort than with regular clinchers, even adding in the effort of fixing flats on the road.
  2. Tuebeless tires are very hard to install and seat.  I even took one Hutchinson tubeless tire which I could not get to seat to a bike shop and they could not get it seated either.  It was so hard to get on, I just disposed of the tire since I was not going to try to put a tube in it.
  3. Removing a tubeless tire is sometimes harder than putting one on the rim.  Sometimes I have had to cut the tire to get it off.  That does not speak well if you need to put in a tube on the road to deal with a cut that does not seal.
  4. You need to use a sealant and that can be a mess.
    • Sometimes I let the pressure get to low and the seal breaks and sealant spills out on my garage floor. Happened more than once.
    • Trying to it sealed again can be difficult and sometimes not possible.
    • If a cut does not seal you have to remove the tire and patch from inside using a special type of patch.  I did it twice.  Each time that effort of removing the tire, patching it and putting it back on and getting it to seat took more effort than fixing flats with a tube over the past couple of years.
    • One time I got a slow leak in the rear tire on the way home so I didn’t notice it. The tire sprayed sealant all over the rear of the bike and that stuff is very hard, sometimes impossible, to clean off.
    • I have given up more than once and removed a tubeless road tire and disposed of it before fully worn.
  5. Tubeless tires are much more expensive and the selection is limited.  Considering the expense I went through, not only for high priced tires, but special rim strips, tubeless valves, and how little I got out of the tires, it was a costly experiment.
  6. I notice no improvement in rolling resistance compared with a tire like the Continental Grand Prix 4000s II.
  7. I feel more comfortable being far away, outside of cell phone coverage, to replace a tube than dealing with a tubeless tire should I get a cut that will not seal. I can change a tube in 5 minute but dealing with tubeless tire may take 30-60 minutes and even then I am not sure I could be successful to get a tube inside and the tire back on the rim.  At least with a tubular tire that does not seal, you can ride on them flat, maybe to get into cell phone coverage.

How About Tubeless Mountain Bike Tires?

In case you are wondering, do I still use tubeless on my mountain bike?  The answer is yes. The difference is a much lower pressure and a much larger tire that are easy to install and remove.   When you pump up a road tubeless tire to to 80-90 psi it can start to leak, even when it didn’t at a lower pressure.  You run mountain bike tires at a much lower pressure.  With a mountain bike tire I have always been able to get them to seat.  On a mountain bike, the lower pressure you can use for tubeless is a big advantage for handling.

Going Forward

For road tires I now only use tubed clinchers and tubular tires (with sealant) on my road bike.  For most people tubed clincher tires are the way to go.  

 

2 Responses to “Tubeless Road Tires End of the Line”

Harry wrote a comment on November 13, 2016

I am curious: did you mount the tubeless tires on tubeless rims or on normal converted rims?

Franz wrote a comment on November 13, 2016

I used tubeless specific wheels with a form fitted plastic rim strip they sell specifically for these wheels for tubeless application. The issues I had were generally not with the wheels but the tubeless tires. They are all very tight fitting, by design. Once I finally got installled I would roll them around trying to expand them toward the wheel. Even using an air compressor it was hard to get the stiff tubeless tires to expand out tight enough to seat. I also went through several CO2 cartridges experimenting. I did get several tires to work and road more than a 1,000 miles on tubeless tires but decided the efffort and cost was too great for the minor benefit.