It is the question that is on everyone in the road cycling worlds lips at the moment (sorry mountain bike folks – you guys have had YEARS to decide on this question – lol).
Over the last few years the technology behind tubeless on the road has progressed massively, but is it something that is worth looking at? Is there a big cost involved in converting AND are there any risks to you as a rider OR to your bike?
Well lets have a look at the pro’s and con’s of ditching the pneumatic slugs for funky new tyres 🙂
What are the benefits of tubeless tyres for road cycling??
1. Reduced risk of punctures.
Whilst going tubeless is not a guarantee of no more punctures (as weird as that may seem) your risk is SERIOUSLY reduced, there are two reasons for this….
Firstly tubeless tyres are filled with a sealant that self heals punctures generally up to around 5mm – it is very rare to have a bigger puncture than this
Secondly, there is no tube to get caught between the rim and the road, the so called ‘pinch flat’ or as I prefer the ‘snakebite’ puncture
2. Greater grip and comfort.
A good tubeless set-up can be grippier, and have better comfort levels than traditional tyres and tubes (or tubulars).
This is because the tyre has more freedom to conform to the road surface which means that rather than bouncing along the surface of the road the tyres soak up the deformities making for a far smoother ride
3. Reduced friction (and therefore more speed).
There is actually more friction when a tyre is bouncing over a surface; so by reducing this, you reduce the friction between bike and road, sometimes this comes under the banner of ‘rolling resistance’ that gets thrown around in cycling circles.
Tubeless tyres also have less friction because the inner tube is not moving around inside the tyre; preventing it from changing shape optimally, as the tyre rolls along. Along with this you can run a tubeless tyre at lower pressure than a tubed tyre (see point 1 above) which amplifies the effect.
4. Less weight 🙂
Yep, tubeless tyres are tighter (as there are no tubes – weird eh) BUT there are other benefits to being lighter tyre wise.
Not all weight is created equal – there is a difference between ‘static’ weight (like your frame, handlebars etc) and ‘rotating’ weight (wheels).
When a load is rotating it has more of an effect on feel, speed and effort required to move – so the lighter you can make your wheels the better 🙂
Are there any drawbacks to tubeless tyres?
Yes and no – the main issue with tubeless set ups is that they are fiddly to inflate initially.
On mountain bikes it is not as marked – this is because the lower pressure that MTB tyres run at mean they do not need rigid beads in order to hold them on the rim – with road tyres this is VERY different, the higher pressures run on the road mean special ‘ultra rigid’ beads are needed -which can be ‘interesting’ to mount on the rim.
Moving on from the above point – you need special tyres to go tubeless! standard road tyre beads are designed to contact the rim with pressure being exerted on them from the tube.
If you try to blow up a non tubeless tyre with no tube on a tubeless set up in the best case scenario it will blow straight off the rim, worst case it will happen 20 minutes out on your first ride!
Finally – it can be messy – the sealant can get all over the place if you don’t know what you are doing with it – lol
But what if I get a puncture?
Pretty simple, you have two options, there is a ‘plug’ set that will seal any holes that are too big for the sealant to take care of.
Just whack a spare tube in like you would in any other situation – although the sealant will make a bit of a mess.
Remember though – the chances of you getting a puncture will be MUCH reduced once you go tubeless.
So what do you need to go tubeless?
The ideal start point is a set of tubeless ready wheels.
It is possible to convert non tubeless wheels to be tubeless ready with the appropriate rim sealant tape.
You will also need the special tyres (obviously), sealant, and special valves for the rims (as the valves are normally attached to the tubes).
And that is it.
We offer a full ‘tubeless’ conversion package where we will take your current wheels, seal the rims, set up all of the sealant, install your valves and fit some top quality tubeless tyres from Hutchinson. Click the button below for full details….
If you would like to have a chat about whether tubeless could be for you then please either drop me an email on…
Or call/text/whatsapp me on 07810 874756 – I can have the conversion completed for you usually in 48hours.