Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Advantages Of Road Tubeless
Decreased Rolling Resistance
This is the first benefit you hear about. Since there is no tube, there is no friction between the tube and tire, resulting in less rolling resistance. Less resistance means less effort and more speed.
No Pinch Flats
My biggest problem with clinchers was the pinch flat. This is where the tube is pinched between the tire and rim, resulting in a pair of punctures known as a "snake bite". They are as difficult to prevent as they are to repair. No tube means nothing to pinch, simple as that.
Extreme Puncture Resistance
When used with a sealant, it is very difficult to get a puncture flat. In my four seasons riding road tubeless, I had one major puncture. The Hutchinson Fusion 3 tire received a tear of about 2 millimeters, yet it still held air. It would only hold about 60 pounds, so I elected to complete my ride rather than put a tube in. I was able to repair the tire, and I am still using it at this time. Other than that, I have worn through about eight tires without a puncture flat.
Lower Tire Pressure
The lower your tire pressure, the more comfortable the ride. Unfortunately, the only way to avoid pinch flats is to keep your tire pressure really high. Since pinch flats are impossible with tubeless tires, you are free to run just about any pressure you want.
Here in Colorado, I descend the mountains at high speeds. I corner aggressively around the switchback descents that are part of my regular rides. A standard clincher tire can blow out and roll off the rim, resulting in a Beloki like crash.
The key difference between road tubeless tires and standard clinchers is that they have a special carbon bead that stays locked to the rim. I have even heard that it is safe to ride on a flat tubeless tire. I would try this out sometime, but I have never had a tubeless tire go completely a flat during a ride!
Did I mention I hate tubes? Bike shops love them. They cost the shop about $1-2 wholesale, and they are happy to mark them up 300-400%. When they flat, you end up having to throw them away, or patch them. For me, patching worked about 50% of the time, which was almost worthless when you consider the effort and the frustration. Bike shops pay pennies for patch kits, and then sell them to you for $3-4. Don't get me wrong, I love bike shops, but I would rather put my money into one tubeless tire than a series of tubes, as they say.
Compatibility With Tubes
As much as I hate tubes, I do carry one around as a spare. In the unlikely event I ever get a flat, I can insert a tube and be on my way. Unlike tubulars, I don't have to carry around a spare tire. In reality, I have used my spare tube to bail out my friends several times, yet have never had to insert it in my tubeless tire. It is still comforting to know it is there.
That Cool Sound
It is hard to describe, but it is unforgettable the first time you ride tubeless. It is kind of a sizzle, almost like you are tearing silk or something. It sounds like the road is wet, when is hasn't rained in a week.
Posted by Jason at 9:57 AM