Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Tubeless: Get With It

I retweeted this yesterday......
The whole tubeless mountain bike tire thing got started around 1998 by a dude named Stan. You know his company, "Stan's NoTubes". The thing was, back "in the day", you had no choice but to convert a regular mountain bike tire, aka: Tubed Tire Technology, to a tubeless state using some new trickery developed by Stan and picked up by XC mountain bike racers at the time. Of course, it was a risky business, setting up non-tubeless stuff tubeless. You could blow tires off rims, have sealant seeping through sidewalls, tape failures, and maybe the worst, a failure at speed, which generally meant you were crashing.......hard. Yet the search went on to make things work better.

Remember, this was almost twenty years ago. Yes, there have been improvements to how you can use Tube Tire Technology in a tubeless state, but in 2017, one has to ask....."Why?" There really is no good reason anymore to do the "conversion dance" with tires and/or rims that were never meant to be tubeless. This now goes for fat bikes, gravel bikes, and increasingly, road bikes.

There are way too many great choices to go tubeless now. I'm not suggesting that you should go tubeless, (Although, you should. Really.) But I am saying that you shouldn't ever consider running Tube Tire Technology with anything other than tubes. That's what Matt McCulley of Mountain Bike Radio was Tweeting about yesterday that caught my eye. But there is also something else I've noted as well.

If you are going to bother doing a tubeless set up, at least get it right.
So, I've seen some "not very well done" things while observing what some folks do to set up tires and rims tubeless. My pet peeve is crappy valve stems. How many ways can companies mess this up? You'd think not many. I's a valve stem! You had one job, to create a decent, operable tubeless valve stem......

Yep! Some have horrible base designs, some have slippery shafts that pumps cannot seal against, and some corrode faster than you can blink an eye. I haven't even mentioned valve cores......

Then there is tubeless tape. Oh my! There are some real klunkers out there masquerading as tape. I won't name names here, but I bet some of you are shaking your heads and know a brand that has awful tape. I will praise two brands here: Stan's Yellow Tape and by extension, brands that license that tape, like WTB, and Velocity's Blue Tape. I've had stellar success with both and see no reasons to use anything else.

Finally, there are some real bad tape installation jobs. Tape isn't easy to get right all the time, and I give grace where it is obvious someone tried, but only one run of tape? You are asking for failures there. Tubeless tape doesn't weigh much, and two full runs of tape is so much more durable, safe, and effective that I see absolutely no reason not to do it that way. Plus, the higher pressures gravel riders use will force many tapes to sink into spoke holes in rims and split out if you only use a single layer of tape.

Tubeless tire technology has risen to a level, for the most part, that you don't have to put up with mismatched technology, poor products, or especially mixing in anything not meant to be tubeless. Choices abound in tires. Heck, even a few short years ago there were only one or two tubeless gravel tire options. Now there are so many you cannot name them all.

And finally, tubeless isn't for everyone or for every situation. I still use tubes in lots of my bikes because tubeless maintenance is a chore. I get it. Trust me, I do. But for my "high performance", more demanding riding, I'm using tubeless tire systems and technology that is light years better than it was ten years ago. There just isn't any good reason not to use that stuff.


Rydn9ers said...

Thoughts on rims that would work with the offset rear on a Pugsley? I've looked at a few, like the Hugo but none of them that are true tubless ready that I have found are drilled for offset lacing.

Guitar Ted said...

@Rob E-Surly makes the tubeless ready My Other Brother Daryl rims (MOBD rims) and there are carbon rims from China with 64 hole drillings. Mulfuts can be had in ofset compatible drillings too.

glenn said...

I really like the Bontrager (Trek) rim strip which is used in their tubeless system. I feel it removes the chances of me messing up the taping job.