​10 Top Tips for Tubeless Tyres

Tubeless tyres offer a huge number of advantages over their tubed counterparts; including greater grip, puncture resistance, and a lower rolling resistance. To find out more about the benefits of tubeless, have a read of my post 'Going Tubeless on Road Tyres'.

However, tubeless tyres can be a right pain. Most notably to fit, but also when they don't seal out on the road or trails. After fitting more tubeless tyres than I care to count, and having plenty of dramas of my own, I thought I would share some Top Tips for Tubeless: for mounting, repairing and maintaining the tubeless system.

1. Mounting - Use two wraps of tubeless rim tape

Most tubeless conversion kits recommend one compete wrap of the sealing tape (such as Stan's Yellow Tape); I'd recommend doing two wraps. You'll use twice as much tape, and add a tiny amount of weight; but the added friction on the tyre bead, and the better coverage of the rim bed, makes it far easier to inflate the tyre. It also makes it less likely that the rim tape will lift up over time, which causes sealant and air to leak into the spoke holes.

2. Mounting - Use something to lubricate the tyre bead 

Because tubeless tyres are designed to be tight fitting, it can be tricky to get them to evenly seat around the rim. Using something like a little washing-up liquid on a sponge, and wiping it around the tyre bead before mounting, will allow the bead to slip into place more easily.

3. Mounting - Inflate first with an inner tube, to get one of the tyre beads engaged with the rim 

If you're struggling to get the tyre bead to 'pop' onto the rim, try inflating the tyre first with an inner tube; so that it pops into place (you can pump it up hard). You can then deflate the tyre, and remove the inner tube; but leave one of the tyre beads engaged with the rim - meaning you've only got one side to 'pop' into place when you inflate it tubeless.

4. Mounting - Hang it up when you're inflating, to aid bead seating

If you rest the wheel on the floor when you're trying to inflate it, the the bottom of the tyre bead is pushed into the rim cavity (reducing the seal), and the top of the tyre bead is pushed away from the wheel (also reducing the seal). To avoid this, hang the tyre up with a strap when you're inflating it.

It's also worth positioning the valve at either 5 or 7 o'clock; which has the effect of pushing the tyre closer to the rim near the valve, but means also you're not pumping air directly into the pool of sealant at the bottom of the tyre (that makes a mess!). This technique aids easier inflation, and also means the bead is more likely to seat evenly on the rim.

5. Mounting - Shake it like a Polaroid picture

After successfully seating your tyre, make sure the sealant covers all areas within the tyre cavity, by giving it a proper good shake! Spin it, shake it, bounce it - splash that sealant about!

6. Repair - Use a 'worm' when the tyre gets cut

Tubeless sealant should seal around pointy objects that piece your tyre, but it can struggle with cuts and gashes. Use a "worm" and needle to plug bigger holes, then let the sealant do its magic around it.
'The Worm' - a simply sticky strip, which you plug a hole with using the needle, to make it small enough for the tubeless sealant to work its magic

7. Repair - Big cuts and gashes need a tube to get you home, don't forget one (or two!)

Sometimes tubeless just can't handle the damage to a tyre, or the sealant runs out. In this case, make sure you have a spare tube to put in the tyre (remember to remove any offending objects in the tyre first!). In fact, I often carry two tubes, and a spare set of instant patches; because if you puncture far from home, particularly on an off-road ride, then it's quite possible that the tube you put in the damaged tyre will get punctured itself!

8. Maintenance - Check your sealant levels regularly

Latex sealant dries up over time. This is especially true in tyres which have suffered (and sealed) punctures in the past; or those that aren't tubeless specific, so may have porous sidewalls. Check your tubeless tyre sealant regularly, to make sure it is topped-up and ready to seal!

9. Maintenance - Keep your air fresh, if you use CO2

Carbon Dioxide has the effect of shortening the curing time of latex sealant, significantly; which means that if you use a CO2 canister, you'll end up with dried-up sealant in your tyre before very long at all. To overcome this, if you do use CO2, let the majority of it out at the end of the ride; then re-inflate the tyre with a floor pump, so the air is "fresh".

10. Persevere, it's worth it

Finally, I'd like to re-iterate that tubeless is worth it. I have converted to tubeless tyres on all of my bikes now: MTB, road and CX. It significantly reduces punctures, and improves handling and performance, in my opinion.

It is worth persevering, even though it can be tricky at times. I hope these tips make it a bit easier!
Tubeless can offer the opportunity to ride anywhere and everywhere, it's worth persevering


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