15 April 2010

bikefix Q&A: Going Tubeless


I want to give this tubeless thing a try but have some hangups. First, and most importantly, I am going to Moab the weekend of the 23rd and don't know if I should try something this new for a big trip. I love it there and don't want to be having to work out any kinks when I could be riding and drinking beer. I have 26" Mavic Crossrides that came on my Rocky Mountain ETS-X. The opening in the wheel for the valve stem was large enough to accommodate a shraeder but had a hard plastic grommet in them to decrease the size to a presta. For some reason I never have liked prestas so I took the grommet out and have been running shraeder tubes since then. If I decide to go tubeless, could I use the same wheels and just get a Stans kit? For a tubeless newbie do I need a compressor to inflate my new setup? I read your review on the Caffelatex sealant and it seems superior to Stans. In short everyone thinks it is so great and I would like to give it a try, but I am way overthinking this.



I was hoping that the Crossrides were designed with a Mavic tubeless strip (which would have made things easy)- but no luck there. As that's the case, I think that the Stans rubber rim strips would work out alright- they used to require enlarging the valve hole a bit, so the schraeder-sized hole shouldn't be an issue. You may want to try to track down a reducing (stepped) valve stem nut or grommet, though- that'll keep it from wandering too much at the inside wall. The biggest downside of the Stans strips is that the valve stem is non-removable, meaning that the entire rim strip must be removed for a tube to be installed and the messy $23 strip carried home. Stuff an empty bread bag in your pack.

One mistake that people trying tubeless often make is trying to 'convert' tube-type tires. Do. Not. Do. This. 'Converting' tires is a recipe for frustration- more likely than not you'll end up spending far too much time trying to get a too-thin tire to mount, only to cut it on your first ride. As you're here in Albuquerque, I'd recommend a higher-volume fast-rolling tire (like Geax's TNT AKA 2.2- Bikeworks now have them in stock) on the rear and something similar or a bit chunkier (like Schwalbe's Nobby Nic or a Continental Vertical -which would work well on both wheels, actually) on the front. Those will work well both in the Foothills and East Mountains.

As to whether or not you will be able to seat them without an air compressor, it's difficult to say. Stans' rubber rim strips do make things easier (with a floor pump), but every tire is different. You did want an air compressor, didn't you? I'm moving back towards Stans' sealant as well- it dries out more quickly than the Caffelatex, but it does seem to heal cuts a whole lot better. I've heard that some people are mixing the two 50/50, but I think that you could just buy a quart of either and call it a day.

Don't forget to carry a tube for when things do go wrong, but you should see far fewer cactus and pinch flats as well as better performance from the tires themselves. If you can hang the wheel by the rim while inflating (rather than resting it on the tire), things should go much more quickly. If you actually the Stans videos and run a tubeless tire that's appropriate to local conditions, you should do well. Good luck!


1 comment:

The Bikeworks Crew said...

I believe Conti Vertical is now only available in a wire bead, inexpensive version. Prolly not what you want for a tubeless conversion.
Otherwise, I'd say Marc is right on, and I wouldn't dream of going to Moab with tubes in my tires...