Monday, July 13, 2009

Road Tubeless

Last night while I watched Stage 9 of the Tour de France I converted the front wheel of my road bike to a tubeless setup. I went to bed too late to get out this morning so my first ride will be later this evening. However, thus far everything looks good and the tire held air just fine overnight.

It terms of the conversion itself it was really pretty easy. Keep in mind that I'm not a very handy guy so if it was easy for me it should be extremely simple for you. (While I can do simple bike maintenance like installing a cassette, chain, bar and/or stem I struggle with more complicated tasks like, for example, adjusting the front derailleur.) I used the Hutchinson Fusion Road Tubeless tire (which is, to my knowledge, pretty much the only option currently available) and Stans valve stems and sealant.

Since my Mavic Ksyrium ES rims don't have internal spoke holes, all I really needed to do was remove some of the excess rubber around the valve stem (so the tire bead could engage the rim hook), screw the valve stem in place and mount the tire. The only sorta tricky part was inflating the tire for the first time. I wasn't able to get enough air into the tire to seat the tire's bead so had to remove the valve core in order to inflate the tire. Of course, with no valve core I lost all of the air as soon as I removed the head of my floor pump. However, the bead stayed seated so I was able to replace the valve core and re-inflate without a problem. Since I didn't have a way to get the Stans into the tire via the valve stem (I need to buy some small diameter plastic tubing) I had to unseat a section of tire and pour the Stans directly into the tire. Again, I was able to re-inflate with the floor pump as most of the bead was still seated.

I'm curious to see how road tubeless works out. I've been running a tubeless setup on my mountain bike for the past 3+ years and have yet to experience a flat tire (that's not to say I haven't punctured, just that I've never had a puncture that didn't seal). If the same proves true on the road bike I'll be very, very happy.

As far as weight is concerned I'm guessing the front wheel is the same, if not slightly heavier, than before - mainly due to the sealant. In my mind this is a small price to pay for the convenience of eliminating flat tires from my road riding.

I should have my rear tire converted in the next day or two and will post an update after a few weeks of riding. If anybody has any personal experience with road tubeless I'd be interested to hear what you think.

UPDATE: I just finished converting my rear wheel to tubeless and it was much easier the 2nd time. Earlier in the evening I rode over to Revolution (about 21 miles round-trip from my house) to pick up some more valve stems and a 2 oz bottle of Stans. I ran about 95 PSI in the tubeless front tire and it rode great. It also felt different, though I'm at a loss to describe what the difference is. More lively? That sounds too cliche. A bit squirrely? Maybe, but that makes it sound like the wheel was hard to control and it wasn't. Who knows - I'll try and get out for another ride tomorrow now that both wheels are done and see if I notice any changes. Oh, and I should report that I didn't have any flats - front (tubeless) or rear (tube).


Blackdog said...

Let me know how that works. It sounds interesting.

JZ said...

I went road tubeless last year around this time and overall it has worked well. I am currently running tubes since someone gave me some free tires and those Hutchinsons are spendy. The one problem with flats was when there was a piece of glass or metal in your tire keeping the hole open. If you get a puncture with something in it, get it out first then put it down low to let the Stans do its trick.

I do wish there were some other tire options. The Hutchinsons are decent, but not the longest wearing or durable tire.

I am 180 lbs and run around 85 psi tubeless. Very smooth ride.

Jason said...

It was good to meet you on the AF ride last week...

I went tubeless on the road bike last year as well. The one problem I ran into with them came from not changing out the Stan's often enough. At one point, started getting some serious wobble in the back wheel at about 40 MPH on descents that myself and a few others decided had to be the rubber band ball you get when the Stans dries out a bit, getting the tire a little off balance. Went back to tubes this year out of pure laziness.

Andy H. said...

You know how much I love them. I went from pinch flat king to no flats in over a year and a half now. Traction and comfort are both noticibly better as well. Studies have shown rolling resistance is on par with tubulars. They do seem to wear a little faster but they can be bought cheap from Europe and I don't have to buy tubes anymore.

pmt said...

I switched over about a month ago and will never go back. They're easy as pie to inflate with a Zefal DoubleShot pump or a CO2 cartridge. I have them on both a Neuvation wheelset and a Bontrager wheelset, and both were just as easy. I have to use the Stan's yellow tape of course, as my wheels have spoke holes.

I did finally get a flat, and it was quite simple to pull out the stone, unmount one side of the tire, and then just use a patch from a kit that includes the vulcanizing fluid. Popped the bead back on, hit it with CO2, and was ready to ride. The Stan's had dried up, so it didn't help me on that one.

A patch repair like that is dead simple to do on the side of the road.

garage equipment said...

The UST standard was developed in a 3-way love fest between Mavic, Michelin and Hutchinson all french, all 3 ways implies a tubeless system lacks an inner tube.

Anonymous said...

I switched to road tubeless at the beginning of the 2010 cycling season. I used Hutchinson Fusion 3 tires with Fulcrum 2-way wheels. All I can say is WOW! It was very easy to set-up. I had two flats during the 2000+ miles on these tires and they were easy to repair on the road. I just threw in a regular tube and finished my ride. When I got home, I put a regular tire patch on the inside of the tire where the whole occurred and continued to use the tire.

This winter I decided to convert a regular wheelset to tubeless using the Stans Tubeless kit. I haven't gone on the road yet with the conversion. But I love the ride, speed, cornering, etc. on tubeless tires so much, I will never go back!