|Tubeless set ups are not as straightforward as you'd hope.
Tubeless tires are not for everyone, nor do you need tubeless tires in many cases. And also: Tubeless tire set ups are not only more technical and maintenance intensive, but more expensive as well.
Now here's the kicker: Not all tubeless tires fit the rims they are designated to fit, and there is (almost) no way of knowing based upon manufacturers recommendations.
That's right folks. You may buy a 700c tubeless ready tire, you may have a 700c tubeless ready wheel set, and those tires may not work on those rims. Sound wacky? It totally is, and this has been how things have worked since tubeless tires for bicycles came about. So, how does one navigate the 'wild, wild West' of the tubeless tire/rim world?
By trial and error- that's how. So, not only does all this tubeless tire stuff cause MORE maintenance, and COST MORE, it may not even work! Admittedly, this is rarer than it used to be, but it still happens. Reasons are several, but the main ones are:
- Differences In Wheel Bead Seat Diameter vs Tire Bead Diameter: Tires and rims only have to be off fractional amounts between the two to make things miserable. Stan's rims have their own diameter (slightly larger) and Hutchinson/Vittoria/Mavic/Michelin tires have more UST based diameters (slightly smaller) for tires. Never the twain shall meet. While those are the most glaring offenders, there are others as well. There is almost no information out there at a retail level to protect you from making the mistakes that could cause you a nightmare.
- Super-Light Tire Sidewall Construction Leading To Casing Leakage: You may get past the first hurdle only to find that the tires you chose leak sealant through the sidewalls of the casing. This is most notable as a shiny appearance to the tires, and in worst case scenarios, the tire will actually bubble sealant right through the pores of the casing. Sometimes a dosage of more sealant will cure this- but sometimes leaks keep popping up. Beware of tires sporting lightweight claims, XC racing tires for MTB, and certain brands which have histories of doing this.
- Tire Tread/Casing Separation: This is a lot less common today than it used to be, but we are still seeing this. Maxxis and Kenda tires have been noted for this in the past. It also will happen more commonly where people use folding bead, non-tubeless tires as tubeless. It usually occurs after you've had the tires a while. The issue is caused by sealant incompatible casing materials which sometimes sneak into a brand's tire casings (or are naturally used in non-tubeless folding bead tires never meant for tubeless set ups) via their factories. If a company changes a factory in the Far East, for whatever reason, this might start happening where it didn't before. Consumers have no way of seeing this coming.
|Use all the resources at your disposal before you jump and buy in.
- Use A System: If you have tubeless ready wheels, try to stick with tires from the same manufacturer if they are available. For instance, many bikes come with WTB rims. WTB makes really great tubeless ready tires. Matching the tires to the rims almost always makes for a great tubeless set up. Specialized, Bontrager/Trek, and Giant all have OE spec tubeless ready wheels on many of their bikes and tires to go with them too.
- Use Your Local Bike Shop's Knowledge: Got a wrench in your area that knows his stuff and has been around a while? Talk to them and get the knowledge that a guy/gal has that has worked with a lot more tires and wheels than you'll likely ever see in your lifetime. Then, after you gain some hard won knowledge from them, buy something from that shop.
- Research Your Choices: The forums, review sites, and Facebook can be a resource, but extreme caution is advised. Look for trends in commentary, and try to find consistency in comments and advice. Be careful of just wanting your choices to be validated. Cross check with your local bike shop knowledge, and if it is not a systemic approach, double your caution.
|I've used this slightly modded Bontrager Charger pump several times for tubeless set ups.
If you cannot move quite enough air to create a seal with a floor pump, then a small air compressor will usually do the trick. A short blast of air through a valve with the core removed generally will push the sidewalls out quickly enough to create a seal. I air up the tire- never higher than 40 psi to seat beads - and then slip the core back in, tighten it, then I finish off pumping up the tire.
If either one of those two things does not happen, I am sorry- but this is 2020. If tactics #1 and #2 fail- then that combination is a failure. Flat out. We should not have to bounce, strap, or do any sort of 'trick' outside of the first two things I have described here to get tires to set up anymore. Conversely, if you cannot even get to this point because the tire won't go on? Major Fail. Plain and simple. You need to try a different combination.
By the way, if your tire blows off the rim, that tire is instantaneously no good. Never try that tire tubeless again. It is unsafe. Period.
Now lets say you get that tire set up. You are not done yet. Take the wheel into your hand, lay the wheel/tire down on its side. Now pick up one end about four inches off the ground. Pivot the opposite end up, then drop it. Turn the tire about three degrees, pick up the other end and drop it. Repeat this process for three revolutions of the wheel, then flip the wheel and repeat. Then- if you can- go ride the wheel in a bike for about 15-20 minutes. This should distribute the sealant around the tire's innards enough to seal the casing and the tire should stay sealed now for a reasonable amount of time.
If you see trouble after this, most often it is related to the valve, valve core, or possibly a porous sidewall. Go back and start over.
Did I mention tubeless tires for bikes are more technical, more expensive, and not as easy as tubed systems?