Leaving road tubeless – for now

Tubeless plug from the inside of the tire

A tubeless plug(Often called bacon strips) from the inside of the tires after a repair.

I have ridden tubeless road/gravel tires(Schwalbe G-one 35mm) on my cyclocross bike for the past 4 months. Read about setting up the tubeless here. I have now changed back to my trusty Continental Grand Prix 4 season 28c. Since I’m changing back you might guess my opinion of tubeless setup but let’s give this road tubeless setup a 4 months review.

Where was the road tubeless setup used?

The bike was used for commuting(~8 mi./13 km. per day), for 5-6 longish weekend rides and for 3-4 gravel rides over those 4 months. Overall I do like the tires. They are wide and grippy enough to work well as a low profile cross tire when you aren’t racing. I do not race cyclocross so I don’t mind a little bit of sliding around. This is, to me, part of the charm of cyclocross/gravel/adventure riding. And they ride really well in most terrains. I didn’t feel that I was any slower on my weekend rides, the handling was as good as normal and the ride was smoother than normal.

So why am I now back on the Conti GP clincher tires?

It’s quite simply really. I got too many punctures that the sealant couldn’t seal. A total of 4 punctures in 4 months. I had to use bacon strips on 3 of the 4 punctures to get them to seal up the holes. That’s simply too many punctures for me. All of the punctures came during commuting. I don’t know if the sealant was the problem or if the tires weren’t puncture-proof enough for commuting in Scandinavian winter. But a puncture a month is more than I’m willing to accept from something that is supposed to do away with punctures. And then there’s the process of fixing a tubeless road tire. If you don’t know the process here it is.

If the sealant can’t fix it, then you take what looks like a two-pronged needle and then you take a tubeless plug, which is a piece of sticky rubber string which you thread on to the needle. Then you basically stab your tire where the hole is. Then you twist is around and pull out the needle. Now you just need to cut of the part of the rubber sticking out (not needed if you do it while out on the road, just do it when you get home).

I tried fixing a tubeless puncture on the side of the road. That was an eye-opening experience to say the least. First trying to get a tubeless tire to seal and sealant flying everywhere. Then prying a tight tubeless tire off the rim resulting in even more sealant spilling out on the ground. Now granted, this was the first time I have tried to fix a tubeless setup on the road. But the process was very messy and not something I feel is worth it for my everyday riding.

I intend to go back and try tubeless again in the fall for more cyclocross oriented riding. This is where I really see an advantage of tubeless over clinchers, since you can run lower pressures without pinch flats. And I don’t want to spend the money to buy a set of tubular wheels.

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