Ready to go Tubeless?


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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December 30, 2018 7:03 pm

I may be experimenting with tubeless in January. Not because I feel any real need to go tubeless, but simply because I can. Irwin Wheels (I’m one of their ambassadors) asked me to do a write-up on the new Conti GP5000 tires compared to the GP4000s. They may also send me the tubeless version of the GP5000s. Their wheels are tubeless ready to should be relatively “easy” to run tubeless (we’ll see how easy the tire go on and seat). If I do, I’ll probably run them without sealant because I’m not convinced that I’m ready to convert to tubeless… Read more »

December 26, 2018 11:03 pm

hi gang- Been a while, I was lurking on the V” site for a long time after the big blowout. Glad to see the new digs. Regarding tubeless, I’ve been running tubeless on road, mtb and gravel for a few years, and won’t go back to tubulars or tubes. Less flats is nice, but lower pressures and better rolling is even better. That said, I found it’s all about finding a rim and tire combo that works, especially for road tubeless, as the last thing you want to do if you flat and have to put a tube in is… Read more »

November 21, 2018 8:25 am

Just out of interest, how often does one puncture on training, commute, race ride?

So far 2018, one puncture training ride – clincher, Conti GP 4000s II – glass
Commute, none – Conti GP 4000s II (broke a rear wheel spoke though on commute wheelset)
2017 – one puncture post race ride home Vittoria Corsa CX, tubular – glass.

November 20, 2018 6:58 pm

I’m ‘spiritually’ ready for tubeless – the more interested I become in bikepacking, the less appealing carrying endless spare tubes with me seems. Up until now, I have only ever used clinchers, and I’ve never had enough disposable income to fork out for the top-end ranges. For the reasonably low price, Vittoria’s Rubino Pro tyres are really nice – I did something like 4-5000 km on the last pair I have, mostly on roads (central London and Surrey) and a little gravel (the footpaths around Richmond Park, for instance) without flatting. When I did eventually ‘puncture’ it turned out that it was… Read more »

November 18, 2018 9:33 am

Oh boy, I get so confused… As a non-native English speaker, help me out guys. Tubs: that’s the old school tires you fit on a rim and glue it on, which has the innertube sewn in, like the pros, correct? Aka Tubulars? Tubeless: just the tire that one way or another needs to be glued on to your rim, where you also need to put in a separate valve. Messy when you need to change since the glue gets everywhere? And finally, what’s the expression for normal outer tire and inner tube; the one you take of the rim when… Read more »

November 19, 2018 7:49 am
Reply to  Teocalli

Thanks, I guess that was what I meant but glad that my English was as clear as ever!
My #1 has the option for tubeless but never tried them (i did mean sealant instead of glue, it’s messy anyhoo)

November 16, 2018 9:13 am

A few people have suggested I try it and some of my rims are tubeless ready….but, like running tubs it seems to be one more thing I would have to learn to do properly, but where the benefits to my cycling are pretty vague and perhaps non-existent. I rarely puncture anyway, and can change a tube within 5 minutes so I don’t really thing it’s an issue. And the last 2 punctures I got both ripped such big holes in the tyre I think with tubeless I’d have been fucked anyway. Am I allowed to swear here? Oh, and by… Read more »

November 16, 2018 11:35 am
Reply to  Teocalli

For me, it’s not broke so I wont try and fix it.

November 15, 2018 2:41 pm

I’ve had a very similar trajectory. I went tubeless way back in 2012 when I got my Ridley Noah with Campagnolo Eurus 2-way fit. Unfortunately at that time there was only one tyre manufacturer, Hutchinson, and I found their tyres pretty rubbish so I went back to tubes. Eventually I also discovered the joy of running Vittorias with latex tubes on my TCR. I still maintain it is every bit as good as a tubular. But since then several of my clubmates have been running tubeless and seem to be pretty impressed, plus there’s a much wider selection of tyres.… Read more »