Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Advantages Of Road Tubeless

In the last four years since I have converted from conventional clinchers to road tubeless, I have found a number of serious advantages to this system.

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!

No Tubes

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.


  1. This looks so good! I'm going to try it.
    Tires For Sale

  2. I 'went tubeless' 2 weeks ago. I'm running Hutchinson Fusion 3s on Fulcrum Racing 3 Two Way fit wheels. The first time I mounted the tyres, I thought they were Fulcrum No Way fit! There was 6 inches of rigid bead stretched across the rim. I was able to prise it over the rim with two Scwalbe nylon levers and it did worry me how much force was needed. By some mkiracle the beads seated with a hand pump. I'm using 40 mils of Stans sealant.

    The ride quality at 90 psi is superb. First ride I checked the tyres at the end and found a small cut with a large sliver of glass in it. No flat.

    Second ride I got half way through and thought I lacked energy. A fellow rider pointed out that my rear tyre was very soft. There was a 4mm cut in it. I applied a CO2 canister and brought it back to pressure then rode on. At home I took the tyre off and discovered the cut went right through but was sealed. I could probably have left the tyre alone.

    So I'm an instant convert. Two confirmed 'clincher punctures' in two weeks and no flats PLUS the better ride quality.

    As Jason says, they're not prefect - they're tough to mount and can be a b I t C h to get the bead seated. I'm carry an Air Kiss and CO2 and I haven't 'wasted' a canister yet.

    Follow the mounting instructions carefully including spinning the wheel with sealant and the 'laying on the sides' routine.

    But I'm in LURV!

  3. Hey Jason

    Just stumbled across the the Stan's no tube system and I am riding both a tt bike and a road bike and struggle to change flats on my rear wheel and was thinking of at least doing my rear wheels. The only problem is both bike have 60mm deep dish carbon wheels. Will that matter? I am 8 weeks out from my first Ironman and last year this same Ironman it rained heavily and people were flatting left right and centre so i am starting to worry as I am very slow at tyre changing. What are your thoughts on this?

  4. shouldn't need to change tires, just put a little extra sealant in them, they fix themselves.

    I'm new to the road tubeless game but I use tubless on my 29er and I pull out all sorts of thorns, spikes, nails, etc. out of those tires and after 2 or 3 spins they are sealed back up! the only way to really flat them where you would have to remove the tire is to get a 1/4" or larger hole, or a long tear.

  5. Hello Jason,
    I'm considering going road tubeless and am thrilled to have come across your blog.
    (I always thought that Beloki had hit a patch of melted tar, but...)
    A quick question. If I ever needed to put a tube in after getting a bad cut, wouldn't I need a compressor or at least a CO2 cartridge to set the bead back where it should be? In other words, my old faithful mini-pump wouldn't do, right?

  6. Beloki's crash was on tubular tires, not clinchers.

  7. You are correct of course, but the principal is the same, if not worse with standard clinchers.

  8. Dora, any pump will do when fixing a flat with a tube.

  9. Very nice and helpful information has been given in this article. I bought a tubeless road wheels last year and that is really amazing easy to use no chances of any puncture. Thanks for this helpful info.Keep posting. Thanks..

  10. There is lot of articles on the web about this. But I like yours more, although i found one that’s more descriptive
    tubeless road wheels