tubeless - 2

Having raved about using tubeless tyres on the road, I thought I better do a “how to” piece.

For those out there who haven’t tried it yet, fitting tubeless tyres probably seems a bit daunting. Forums and websites are full of horror tales of exploding tyres, messy sealant and failed attempts. It needn’t be this way.

First of all ignore anything involving non tubeless specific components. Use proper tyres and proper rims and it will all go according to plan. Whenever I hear a tale of how the living room was covered in sealant it usually boils down to the use of a non-specific tyre and or rim.

tubeless - 5There are two ways of making a rim airtight. Firstly you can use a specially designed rim tape. Best known of these is probably Stans No Tubes. You need to use this with any of the Tubeless rims out there that have spoke holes that go all the way through the rim. It’s likely that your wheels will probably have this fitted when you buy them. If not be careful to pull the tape nice and tight when you stick it down. Secondly an increasing number of wheels are tubeless ready and have an airtight construction. These generally do not need tape.

You will need to fit a tubeless presta valve into the rim. If you used tape make sure the hole you make for the valve is small and neat. Just pop the valve in and secure with the lock ring.

So you have the right wheels and the right tyres. Do you need a different pump? Well yes and no. A compressor does make life a lot easier but you can fit tyres with a track pump. It does require a slightly different approach however and a lot more patience.

With Compressor

This is actually fairly easy and is how bike shops generally do it. Take the tyre and fit one side to the rim just like normal. Then put the other side on but start opposite the valve and work towards it. This enables the tyre to seat right down into the rim and makes it easier to get the last bit on. Finish at the valve and make sure the bead on both sides of the tyre is covering the valve.

Attach the compressor and let rip. Nine times out of ten the tyre will fill up and snap onto the rim with a satisfying bang bang bang. Bingo.

tubeless - 6All you need to do now is put some sealant in. To do this let the tyre down and remove the valve core. You can do this with pliers if your careful but a nice little valve key is cheap and much better. The tyre should stay attached to the rim by its beads (this is why we used proper tyres and rims). Sealant is available in a variety of dispensers. The first time you use some it’s a good idea to buy the small dispenser, which contains just the right amount of sealant for one tyre. You can refill this from a bigger bottle for subsequent fittings. Just squeeze in the right amount of sealant, replace the valve core and inflate to the correct pressure. Spin the tyre around a bit and your done.

Track Pump

Now I’m not going to pretend that this is anywhere near as easy. You’re going to need some extra patience and some soapy water.

First of all mount the tyre using an inner tube. Inflate nice and hard until the beads snap into place. Let the tyre down and gently pop one of the beads off. Very carefully remove the inner tube. You should end up with one bead still snapped onto the rim. Install the valve. Put the tyre back on the rim making sure you don’t disturb the other side. So you should have the tyre back on the rim with one bead installed and one loose.

At this point I usually have a go at inflation. Sometimes it works but mostly it doesn’t. Queue the soapy water. When I say soapy I mean quite soapy. So you could almost blow bubbles with it. Using a sponge liberally apply the soapy water to the non-installed side of the tyre. This is messy. Don’t do it in the house! Quickly attach your track pump and pump vigorously!! If you got the mix right you should be blowing bubbles all around the tyre. It probably won’t work first time so have a breather apply some more suds and have another go. If you still can’t get it to go try removing the valve core. This will allow air to get into the tyre faster and does help. In the end the tyre will inflate and snap onto the rim. If you removed the valve core the tyre will go straight back down when you remove the pump, but don’t worry it will be fine when you put the core back in again. Remember to put some sealant in.

Bingo! Have a well-deserved beer and make a note to go and buy a compressor tomorrow.

So there you have it. Tyres nicely fitted and ready to roll.

Chris HudsonAbout the Author: Chris Hudson is 55 and has over 30 years experience in the cycle trade. Cycle Mechanic and owner of Chalet Ribot situated on bend 12 of the famous climb of Alpe D’Huez. He rides bikes, repairs bikes and photographs bikes. In the winter he loves to ski.

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