Going tubeless

So this is my story with going tubeless.

I took the plunge and decided that this fall I wanted to setup my cross/gravel tires tubeless, since I had to buy a new pair of tires anyway. I also commute on the bike and suffered a lot of punctures last winter. Real cross tires seems to not have any puncture protection. Turns out It’s not really needed in the grass and mud and traction is the main concern.

What I bought at first.

Schwalbe G-One Allround 35c for both front and back
Since I commute I wanted a all around tire that wouldn’t be too annoying and slow on tarmac as that is still 90% of the riding that will be done on the bike. I went with Schwalbe g-one Allround 35c. The thread is quite small and I hoped that would be a good compromise.

Schwalbe Tubeless Valves (1 pair)
Bought with the thinking that more expensive valves won’t make any difference for me. These were the cheapest on the website I used to buy everything.

Tune Tubeless Rim Tape 18mm
The tape that my research showed was the right size for my rims. Still not sure that, that is  right. But quite expensive for tape.

B.O.R Germany Tubeless Sealant 500ml
Cheap and most places said sealant was just sealant.

And that was it.. At first.

I got the stuff and started preparing to set it up. I read on many websites that you need a big pump, a compressor or a co2 cartridge. I have co2 and a normal floor pump.

I started by removing the old rim-tape and cleaning the inside of the rim. I then added a layer of the tape to the rim, covering the spoke-holes, which I thought would be the leaky part of this operation. I pricked a tiny hole in the tape and press the valve in, then I fitted the tire and tried to pump it up without sealant in there. Just to see if it would fit on there. To be honest, I have no idea how this is supposed to go, but the tire doesn’t inflate and I sweating from pumping for 10 minutes or so. Then I get a co2 cartridge and try that. Still no luck. That’s try number one, I stuck a tube in so the bike was ready for work the day after.

I looked at the “tubeless” pumps, the ones with a big cylinder that you can pump up before letting it all out in one big blast. Seems like a good idea but they are quite expensive and I have a track pump. I then looked in the hardware store and found a cheap compressor that was on sale. It was €15 cheaper than the cheapest tubeless pump. So I get that and a roll of gorilla tape. I read that the this stuff works for many mountainbikers and I felt like the tire was quite loose on the rim. The solution of the internet seems to be; More tape!

I get home and give the rim a double layer of tape and now the tire is a snug fit, just like my continental gp 4seasons. After getting the tire on I rub some soapy water around the bead of the tire, which supposedly helps with getting the tire to slide into place. I then try to pump it up with the compressor and I pops right into place. And it holds air, without the sealant in there… for like 1 hour.. A pretty successful test, I think, so I let the air out and then I add some sealant to the tire and Inflate it again with some more soapy water. Pops right up again and I shake it around to get the inside coated with sealent and then I ride that wheel for the next two days before converting the backwheel.

So I have now driven around 150 km on them, both on- and off-road and so far I really like it. Of course I haven’t had any punctures but that doesn’t really say anything. But it has been great off-road and I am able to run low pressures more confidently.

Things I would note about tubeless

  • Get a tight fitting tire. If it’s not tight, add more tape
  • Use soapy water, it really does help move everything into place when pumping
  • Be prepared to pump

But I would recommend it.

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