the advantages of road tubeless tires. As much as I love road tubeless tires, they are not perfect. Here are some of the disadvantages I have noted:
Road tubeless tires retail for around $80, but I have occasionally found them on sale for as little as $50 each. That is still far more than you would spend on a budget clincher. Furthermore, you will probably need too convert your wheels to tubeless, which can cost about $50. Finally, if you are really plunging in, you should buy a compressor. While a decent compressor will cost over $100, it is nice to know that they have all sorts of other household uses, so like a good adjustable wrench, it is not a bicycling only tool. I plan on writing a future blog post on the joy of compressors.
The costs are offset somewhat by not having to purchase tubes and patch kits, so once you get your rims converted and have the tools you need, the cost difference is minimal.
Unless you are new to cycling, you probably have a wealth of knowledge on how to install and maintain clinchers or tubulars. With tubeless, there is precious little information out there on all the little tricks you may need to set it up and get it working just right. If anything, their reliability means that you will ride tubeless for months without having to remove and reinstall them, so you won't gain much experience quickly. With this blog, I am hoping to correct that gap, but it will remain for some time. Your local bike shop mechanic will have little experience, and your friends will be confused, but hang in there, the advantages are worth it.
Installation Time And Effort
I have to be honest and say that it will take you longer to install road tubeless tires, especially the first time. It can be a bit of a struggle to get the tire on the rim. If you don't have a compressor, you will probably need to visit a local bike shop or even a gas station to get the tire seated. The good news is that it is unlikely that you will have to remove the tire throughout it's life. Once inflated, I tend to put thousands of trouble free miles on my tires before removing them and replacing them with new tires.
I am hesitant to mention this, because I haven't added any weight to my bike. I am a weight weenie, and I always rode lightweight tires. Nevertheless, I simply could not ride lightweight tubes without getting flats very often, so I stuck with standard tubes. I think that the Hutchinson Atom Tubeless is lighter than most tire tube combinations, but probably not all. I know for sure that there are plenty of super lightweight tubular tire and rim combinations, but that is offset by having to carry around an entire spare tire, unless you are tailed by your team car on every ride.
I don't think Stan's the rim strip weighs more than a standard strip, and I really don't think the sealant weighs that much. It is a lightweight liquid combined with latex, so I think the weight is minimal. I have seen the Fusion 3 weighed in at 312 grams, with the Atom at 290. A standard tube generally weighs 100-130 grams. It is a pretty expensive and fragile clincher and tube combination that will come in below the weight of the Atom. Between the increased rolling resistance, and the time you will spend on the side of the road changing flats, I am convinced tubeless road is faster than any clincher, but it might be slightly heavier than some.
Lack Of Tire Selection
One day, we will have dozens of road tubeless tires to choose from. Today, only three are in production and being sold. They are the Hutchinson Fusion 3, Atom, and Intensive. You may also find some Fusion 2 tires still for sale. Specialized has announced a tubeless version of their S-Works Turbo tire, but I have not seen it for sale yet. Their web site currently shows it as out of stock. I have experience with all the Hutchinson products, and I hope to post reviews soon.
Notably absent from the existing tire choices are good, commuter tires, however it appear that there will be many more racing and training tire options in 2011.