Tubeless setup on Mountain Bikes is now pretty much the majority case, at least for the more serious recreational or sports Mountain Biker, but what about Road?
I first experimented with Road Tubeless in 2013/14. Initially I was well impressed and thought it was the way to go. I could see places where tyres had small slivers of flint/stone that are prevalent in my area where I had not actually flatted. Then I started to have doubts. First, it was hard to prove whether or not I really would have punctured if running a tube. Second I was finding some of the early tubeless tyres were actually quite porous, much like Latex Tubes they would loose something like 5psi per day and so need pumping for each ride. This was not leakage around the rim seating but the tyre itself, as I discovered one day when cleaning the bike with soapy water and noticed loads of micro bubbles around both tyres. Hopefully that manufacturer has improved things but it put me off their tyres – and they were not cheap. Third, I started to get punctures that, while not huge, simply would not seal. At the time I was running Schwalbe 1. I have to say that they were a fantastic ride, probably the best tyre I have ridden. However, I did find that I picked up too many flint and stone slivers resulting in punctures and getting those tyres off and back on to fit a tube mid ride was an utter ‘mare. The soft rubber of the Schwalbe seemed to pick up way more slivers than my mate running Conti’s and it always seemed to be me getting the punctures.
I tried an experiment with those sticky string kits. Not a good outcome. At home, I put some in a tyre that had punctured to try them. Pumped back up to 100 psi and after a few mins the string was simply blown out of the tyre – and I had left plenty on the inside – messy in the conservatory. Conclusion, that stuff may work for MTB pressures but not for Road.
Net I switched back to tubes with Vittoria Corsa (Gum Wall) and more latterly Vittoria G+ (again Gum Wall) both running latex tubes. The G+ give a great ride and genuinely seem faster than previous tyres as when I switched to them I started to set PBs all around my normal rides. My conclusion being that while the ride with Tubeless was great, the sealant technology was not there yet for Road pressures.
I’m starting to wonder now though whether it is time to try again. I run Orange Seal in my MTB with no issues – though I can’t say I’ve been close to puncturing since running that sealant – but I started using it mainly as it is supposed to last longer between having to be replaced and was less prone to Balling/Coral. There are now a range of newer sealants available, one of the latest being from Finish Line which is guaranteed to last the length of your tyre. I have not yet heard any reports on how effective it is but will run this on my MTB at its next sealant change.
So I’m really tempted to give it a go again on #1 but the thing holding me back is the lack of Gum Wall Tubeless tyres. Style counts! Vittoria make the Vittoria G+ Corsa Speed Tubeless Ready. I’ll bet that is a great tyre vs the ‘standard’ Corsa G+ but it is less puncture resistant.
Would the tradeoff actually work? Is it time to try again?
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