Archive for the 'Tires' category

Tubeless Road Tires End of the Line

| November 12, 2016 7:08 pm
Tubeless Road Tires End of the Line

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.  

 

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.

 

Tubular, Tubeless or Tubed

| October 28, 2015 3:34 pm
Tubular, Tubeless or Tubed

For the the past 10 years I have used the more typical configuration of a regular clincher tire with a tube inside.  Recently I have put some carbon tubular wheels on my bike.  I have also used tubeless tires on this bike.  This post is to share some of my experience that the reader can use in deciding what type of tire to use.

When we moved to a new area my old approach of the regular clincher tire with a tube (and no sealant) didn’t seem to work very well.  My lightweight tires (Michelin Pro Race 4 Service Course) were getting flats frequently from goat heads that seemed to be everywhere.  Sometimes I would even get two flats on one ride.

One approach was a thicker, heavier and more flat resistant tire.  However on my wife’s bike I had installed Continental Gatorskin tires, known for puncture resistance.   Although not experiencing as many flats as I was experiencing, she was still getting too many flats.  I needed to do something.

Tubeless

Our new bike came with tubeless ready wheels so I bought some tubeless rim strips from Trek that custom fit into the wheel, along with tubeless valves.  For tires, I selected Hutchinson Fusion 3 and Hutchinson Intensive tubeless tires.  It seemed like a great solution since I have been using tubeless tires on my mountain bike for some time with great sucess.  My experience has not been very favorable, even after going through 5 tubeless tires on two different bikes.

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

  • Requires tubeless ready tires
  • 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.

My Take

After going through the hassles of Hutchinson tubeless tires, I had given up on but after using the Schawlbe One tubeless tire, I am giving them a second chance.

Tubed Clincher

The next approach I have taken is to return to using regular clincher tires and put a sealant inside the tube (you need a tube with a removable core).

Advantages

  • Wide selection of tires and reasonable prices.  A high quality racing tire is half of what a tubeless tire costs
  • The sealant usually deals with the flats.  When it does not, it is easy enough to put in a new tube
  • The most reliable setup for riding far from home.  A spare tube and a tire boot will almost always get you home.

Disadvantage

  • The sealant tends to coagulate inside the tube, depending the sealant used.  I started out using Stans sealant and found it render the tube nearly worthless after just a couple weeks.  I switched to using Bontrager TLR sealant and it seems to be working better and went I removed the tube after 40 days, the sealant had not coagulated like the Stans.  Click here for a test of sealant in tubes.  I have pulled out many goat heads and the sealant sealed the tube in all cases using the Bontrager TLR.
  • You still get pinch flats so you need to run at a higher tire pressure than in the case of tubeless or tubular.

My Take

For most people this is probably the best approach.  Whether you want to put a sealant inside the tube is really a function of the area where you bike and how frequently you get a flat.  For amateur racing where you don’t get some follow car with a mechanic to do a wheel swap, it can make a big difference.  On a recent time trial race, a friend was hopping for first place, but flatted.  If he had sealant in the tube, it might have sealed and allow him to finish with a great time.  Many triathletes use the sealant in tube approach for racing.

Tubular

Tubular tires have been around long before clincher tires. Today all pro cyclists use tubular.  The modern tubular tires are not like before where it required sewing up a tire around a tube, making a repair complicated.  Today’s tubular tires resemble more like a garden hose.  In the past the ritual of gluing the tubular tire to the rim, was enough to make most people want to avoid tubulars.  Now many people have found using a special double sided mountain tape installing a tubular tire almost as easy as a clincher tire and much easier than a tubeless tire.

Advantages

  • Almost eliminate flats when using sealant.
  • When there was a leak that did not seal, the leakage is usually so slow you can make it home
  • No pinch flats so you can run at a lower pressure, making for a more comfortable ride and potentially lower rolling resistance.
  • Much easier to install than a tubeless tire
  • Far wider selection of tires compared with a tubeless tire but not as wide of selection as clincher tires
  • You can get a far lighter wheel-set using using a tubular tire since the wheel does not need to hold the clincher at high pressure. The wheels in the above photo are only 1210 grams, even though they have a depth of 45 mm.
  • The lightest tubular tires are lighter than a lightweight clincher tire plus a lightweight tube.
  • Many prefer the ride quality of tubular tires.

Disadvantages

  • Requires tubular wheels
  • If a leak does not seal and the tire goes flat before you get home, you are pretty much dead in the water unless you brought a spare tubular tire with you.  On the road you can install a new tubular tire and if you pump it up to a high enough pressure and are careful on turns, you should be able to make it home even without using new tape or glue.  There are lightweight tublar tires that weigh only 215 grams, so carrying one as a spare is not out of the question.
  • Tires are more expensive than clinchers
  • You need to use tubular wheels to use tubular tires.  However Tufo has introduced a new tubular tire to use with a clincher rim, but I have not tested that and can not recommend it at this point.

My Take

If one wants the lightest tire setup for either racing or training with near flat protection, a tubular tire should be considered.  Since most individuals will not be able to put a tubeless tire on the road, my thought is you might as well use a tubular tire and gain several advantages over a tubeless tire or go with a regular tubed clincher.