Well, I did it. I finally joined the “cult of tubeless” ditching those pesky inner tubes and switching my tubeless-ready carbon wheels to run fully tubeless.
It wasn’t quite as straightforward as inner tubes. It did involve some head scratching, a bit of Googling and some sage advice from tubeless friends to get set up. I’ve learnt a lot! Future tubeless tyre installs should be far smoother. To save you the same troubles I had here’s five quick tips for anyone considering going tubeless:
1) Set up your wheels with care. If your wheels have exposed internal spoke holes, you’ll need to wrap some tubeless rim tape over the top. Note that this is different from regular rim tape! Be sure to use a tubeless rim tape for the job. Many brands recommend two full wraps. If your rims are internally sealed like mine were, you will not require rim tape. Next install the tubeless valve. Be sure to get a snug fit against the internal surface (the valve nut should be finger tight).
2) Use an air compressor. Mounting and setting up tubeless tyres is arguably more difficult and time consuming that simply whacking in a tube. The tyres need to be “seated” correctly onto the tubeless-compatible rim. Some rim and tyre combinations will easily snap onto rims with a few pumps from your track pump, while others (like mine) need a hit from compressed air.
You can buy special “tubeless track pumps” for this. These have a chamber that can pumped up to deliver this blast of air, but an air compressor is the best tool for the job. I bought mine from the local auto parts shop for a similar price to a tubeless track pump. Remove the valve core, attach your air compressor and give it a blast.
If you’ve done it correctly, you should hear the tyre beads “snap” into place on the rim.
3) Still no luck? Strap it up! Two out of three of my tyres inflated and snapped into place with a short blast of air from the compressor. The third was a little tricky. Another trick of the trade is to use a ratchet strap to hold the tyre down against the rim. This reduces the amount of air that can escape. Once strapped down, give it another hit from the air compressor and the tyre should play nice.
4) Add sealant through the valve. Some people lever off part of the tyre, pour in sealant, then snap the tyre back on. While you can do things this way, you’re more likely to end up with a white sticky sealant mess on the floor. The cleanest method is to remove the valve core, then add sealant in via the valve. You can either use a syringe, or some sealant bottles have a small enough nozzle to fit into the valve.
5) Bounce to spread the love. Once you’ve added sealant, screw the valve core back in and added air to the tyre. You may or may not hear some small air leaks at this point. Now get your wheel and give it a bounce on the floor! Lightly bounce the inflated tyre up and down on the floor, rotating the wheel as you go. This helps spread the sealant across every internal surface and seal any small leaks.
BONUS: Go for a ride! The best way to ensure full sealant coverage is to go for a ride. Once you’ve completed setting up your wheels, step back and admire your handiwork, then head out for a short test ride. Don’t venture too far just in case (although if you’ve followed my tips there shouldn’t be any issues). Have an easy half hour roll around the neighbourhood to bask in your awesomeness. This ride helps to completely spread the sealant to coat every internal surface.
Congratulations! You’re now a member of the road tubeless army! 😁