Technical > Wheels, Tyres and Brakes

Are tubeless tyres worth it?

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Dear All,  I am new to the forum, but not new to my Thorn 3-year old tourer.  Since I purchased it I have had tubeless tyre set up and have had nothing but bad experiences with them.  Have I had just a bad experience or what?

Issue 1: I exported the new bile to Asia once purchased. Upon reassembly overseas the front tyre has never bedded properly and seems to be eccentric with a strange wobble as I ride.

Issue 2: Punctured in Taiwan and caused no end of problems sealing, with constant re-inflation on daily basis to stay inflated.  Just didn't seal well at all (isn't that the point of tubeless anyway?)

Issue 3: After several months of not sealing properly and after lots more latex-adding (involving purchasing a valve extractor, etc) I finally got rid of the sealant and added an inner tube.  When replacing tyre of said back wheel I spent almost 2 hours trying to get the rear tyre and inner off the wheel, not helped by the inner gluing itself to the tyre.

If one considers the extra 'kit' required, (e.g. spare latex, valve extractor, tubeless-specific tyre levers, rubber-string-thingies for larger holes, CO2 canister and adapter to ensure rapid inflation to get seal) and hassle of carrying a spare inner anyway, which welds itself to the tyre once converting back to tubed tyres - is it all really worth it on a tour?

Carrying a couple of spares (which is advisable anyway, even running tubless) and a puncture repair kit with a mini-pump does the job, surely? Less kit, less hassle, less time faffing!!

The arguments for tubeless don't seem to make sense. Lighter? We aren't racing, we carry loaded anyway! Rolling resistance? Ditto argument. Quick fix of smaller punctures? Maybe! Cost? Tubed is cheaper and greater availability!

Can anyone convince me otherwise?  It has been a frustrating journey using tubless and I am going back to tubed tyres.

I'm another forum newbie who has been riding tubeless tyres, with a certain amount of trepidation for nearly 3 months .

There's some useful discussion here with a link in the first post to a very helpful article.

Schwalbe claim the following advantages for tubeless tyres:
-   Less rolling resistance. This crucially reduces the rolling resistance. It is even lower than in super-light competition tires.
-   More grip. Lower air pressure increases the contact patch. This brings noticeable advantages in comfort, but also significantly more grip and control in critical situations and on rough trails.
-   High puncture safety. Sudden loss of air through bursting tubes or valve tear off is impossible. At the same time puncture protection liquid seal punctures within a few tenths of a second whilst riding.

I feel there is an improvement to comfort but the puncture sealing, while not instant, hasn't yet caused a problem during a ride. I carry a spare tube for emergencies as well as a tubeless repair kit (although I've read that the rubber strips don't work so well on lightweight tubeless tyres). I've also got some tyre boots, internal patches and sealant so I hope I've got all emergency options covered (and hopefully never needed). The sealant has shown it is capable of fixing small cuts and thorn holes. I'm going to wait a few months before deciding whether to stick with relatively light tubeless tyres (Schwalbe G-One or similar), get heavier tubeless tyres (eg Marathon Mondials) which have greater resistance against cuts, or opt for even heavier tyres with greater puncture resistance. I'll shortly be fitting a pair of Panaracer GravelKing SK tyres as I want more tread during the winter months.

Regarding your specific issues: 1: Make sure that the tyres are inflated rock hard to ensure that the beads are seated properly and this can be helped by using some diluted washing-up liquid as a lubricant. Could there have been some old sealant in the groove? 2: The sealant, as long as there is enough, should seal small holes. Schwalbe states that its sealant is effective for 2 to 7 months. I suspect that it dies out faster in hot conditions but evidently the sealant should be refreshed / replaced at least twice per year. I've also read that using a CO2 injector isn't good for the sealant (but would be useful for reseating the tyres before adding the sealant).

If weight and optimal ride comfort are not priorities then a pair of Marathon Plus tyres or others with similar thick bult-in puncture protection could well be the better alternative for heavy duty touring. However, first read pages 41 -43 of the touring bike bible .

I've gone for the halfway house of latex inner tubes on some of my bikes.

Compared with butyl tubes:

- less rolling resistance.
- more comfort.
- more expensive.
- need replacing more often, as latex perishes faster (about every 5 years in my experience).
- need inflating much more often. Not an issue for me as I check tyre pressure regularly anyway.

Compared with tubeless:

- can use my existing rims and tyres.
- no messing about with sealants or CO2 cartridges.
- probably more rolling resistance.
- maybe less comfort.
- probably more punctures, but I haven't had very many with the Marathon Supreme tyres I use most of the time.

Thanks for your views thus far.

See also

I'm not sure - yet.  You don't say what tyre size as I think the discussion is different for 28mm vs say 50mm.  I'm using Schwalbe Pro-One TLE 30-622 at the moment on a Thorn Audax and the ride is superb, but I wouldn't even think about using tubeless on my Sherpa using 59-559 - which has done > 20,000km with no punctures using Schwalbe Duremes.


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