Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Revisiting The Yes Tubes vs. No Tubes Debate

I have been holding back on writing on this for several days now, but I've had enough, so here goes! If you haven't read my scribin' on the tubeless mountain bike tire deal, then you can catch up here and here.

My question for tubeless fans out there: How long does it take you to set up a pair of tubeless tires, ready to ride, from scratch? I'm talking using a prepared rim, (which in itself can be a whole bunch of time) sealant of choice, and tire. How long does it take you to be out riding? Here's my point: I could be miles up the trail on you using a tubed set up. There is simply no way a tubeless set up can be acheived without a big time investment. If you have not figured it out yet, yes...........this bugs me. A lot! I mean, I can set up a tubed wheel set in minutes, even if I have to install a rim strip. Tubeless? We're talking hours, sometimes days.

Why? Because you have to get the danged tires to seal up and quit leaking air. That takes time. Heck, some tire installations for tubeless advise you use things like soapy water, do a little shaky-shake dance, or go out for a twenty minute test ride to help the tires seal up.

Soap? Test ride? Funky gyrations? I'm sorry, but I've never had to do that, or anything remotely like it using tubes. Never. And that goofy stuff takes time, precious time that as a family guy, I don't have a lot of. One time it took me about an hour to mount a Continental tire on an old Trek Matrix rim. I think that was a record for a tubed set up. I couldn't imagine taking any longer than that to mount a tire. Then came tubeless and my world got turned upside down!

And then there are the "advantages" of running tubeless. Uh-huh..........riiiiiiiiight! I get it. They mean when you get to ride, right? Because I could have ridden a whole lot more miles this past weekend then I did if I had been using tubes instead of trying in vain to get one tire to set up tubeless to a point where I could count on it not losing air in 45 minutes.

Okay, yeah. I'm a little sore about a time investment that hasn't paid off. However; it's just one more reason against tubeless and for tubes, for me at least. I have already mentioned the higher monetary costs, the messy sealant issues, and the fact that eventually you end up using a tube anyway.

I grant that those living in thorn/goathead territories or that have pinch flatting problems may want to invest this time, effort, and money to at least be able to ride. I get that. But for where I'm riding, ( normally flat about 1-2 times a year with tubes), it just seems ludicrous to me to go to all this trouble to run tubeless. Sorry.........I'm just not convinced. This will be my third attempt at tubeless with the third different system for running tubeless. I figure that if this ends in another change to a tube in the field involving slimy goo and removal of another tubeless valve stem, I think I'll be done with the tubeless thing. Three tries with three different systems is enough to figure it out, at least I think so.

Well, this set up is still in the running so far, so we'll see. Heck.......I haven't even gotten one of the tires to quit leaking air yet!

Stay tuned!

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