Ever thought of going tubeless on your road bike, but hesitate because of all the horror stories you’ve heard?
Do the positives really outweigh the negatives?
Only if you take the time to learn the proper techniques and maintenance of tubeless tires, plus acquire the proper tools for the job.
Tubeless tires do take extra effort to mount, but there are some tricks to make the job easier. Start by using good tire levers. We like a combination of a Bontrager tire lever and a Crank Brothers Speed Lever. The Speed Lever does a nice job of holding the bead in place while you work the other end onto the rim with a conventional tire lever. Take your time and only pry an inch or two at a time onto the rim.
Once the tire is mounted, seating it is easiest if you have an air compressor. The portable Bontrager Flash Charger floor pump is a close second if a compressor is not available. New tire installations usually seat easier than repairs, but there are tricks for that as well. First, make sure the stem is cleaned out of old coagulated fluid, you need as much unhindered air flow as possible. Then push the entire bead of the tire (both sides) to the center of the rim. This helps keep the big blasts of air from escaping before the tire seals itself.
On the rare occasion you do get a flat, don’t panic. Most of the time you can rotate the puncture towards the road and let gravity direct fluid to the hole. Then, after about a minute, use a CO2 cartridge to refill the tire. Only if the puncture is too big or if you forgot to refresh your fluid do you need to add a tube to the repair. Carry the two levers mentioned above and a tire boot to make this type of repair easier.
Finally, replenish your fluid every couple of months. Tubeless fluids dry out over time. Fresh fluid will ensure the small punctures seal themselves and keep your tires from unseating when not in use. This is also a good time to check that your stem nut is not corroded and can be removed without tools (in case you need to add a tube out on the road).
Stop into Santiago Cycling for a tubeless demonstration or to learn about all the great new tubeless products available for roadies. Soon you too will be enjoying all the benefits of going tubeless.