Author Topic: Are tubeless tyres worth it?  (Read 881 times)

Chezzer

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Are tubeless tyres worth it?
« on: October 12, 2020, 01:29:04 PM »
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.

JohnR

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Re: Are tubeless tyres worth it?
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2020, 06:19:05 PM »
I'm another forum newbie who has been riding tubeless tyres, with a certain amount of trepidation for nearly 3 months http://thorncyclesforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=13958.0 .

There's some useful discussion here http://thorncyclesforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=13779.0 with a link in the first post to a very helpful article.

Schwalbe https://www.schwalbe.com/en/tubeless-technology 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 https://www.schwalbe.com/en/procore/articles/doc-blue 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 http://www.sjscycles.com/thornpdf/thorn_mega_brochure.pdf .


martinf

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Re: Are tubeless tyres worth it?
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2020, 07:06:32 PM »
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.

Chezzer

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Re: Are tubeless tyres worth it?
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2020, 10:32:01 AM »
Thanks for your views thus far.

trailplanner

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Re: Are tubeless tyres worth it?
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2020, 08:40:42 AM »
See also https://trailplanner.co.uk/2020/04/25/fine-tuning-a-new-thorn-audax-mk4/

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.

energyman

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Re: Are tubeless tyres worth it?
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2020, 09:25:37 AM »
I sometimes think that the words of Thomas Bertram Lance "If it aint broke don't fix it" could be applied to some "improvements" marketed by the cycle industries ?
[This does not apply to Rohloffs of course ;)]

leftpoole

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Re: Are tubeless tyres worth it?
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2020, 09:52:25 AM »
I sometimes think that the words of Thomas Bertram Lance "If it aint broke don't fix it" could be applied to some "improvements" marketed by the cycle industries ?
[This does not apply to Rohloffs of course ;)]

Seconded. Agreed. Absolutely in agreement!

PH

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Re: Are tubeless tyres worth it?
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2020, 10:27:08 AM »
I sometimes think that the words of Thomas Bertram Lance "If it aint broke don't fix it" could be applied to some "improvements" marketed by the cycle industries ?
[This does not apply to Rohloffs of course ;)]
Yes, some improvements. 
But how do you know without trying?  If no one tried we'd still be riding xxx, well we probably wouldn't be riding at all.
I haven't gone tubeless or have any current plans to, but neither have I rejected the idea.  I think it's still a technology in development, still for me probably more effort than the perceived benefit warrants, that may change.

JohnR

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Re: Are tubeless tyres worth it?
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2020, 07:43:33 PM »
Last weekend I decided that it was time to swap the Schwalbe G-one Speed tyres for a pair of Panaracer Gravelking SKs https://www.probikekit.co.uk/bicycle-tyres/panaracer-gravel-king-sk-tubeless-compatible-clincher-tyre/11567290.html?variation=11567296 with more grip for winter roads. The attached photo shows the G-one tyres after 1500 miles. The front tyre looks almost new but the rear tyre is somewhat more worn. I counted up the holes. There was one small hole in the front tyre (it's somewhere in the photo) but I counted 19 holes or small cuts in the rear tyre. Some of these were actively oozing when I took the tyre off, perhaps because there wasn't much goo left inside. Why the difference? I can only surmise that my local roads are littered with minute bits of glass or stone flakes and the extra load on the rear wheel is enough for these to cause little cuts whereas the front tyre floats over them. Whatever the reason, it doesn't provide a lot of confidence over the durability of these tyres. The G-one All-round with bigger pimples might fare better but don't come in a similar size (50mm).

After that the next task was trying to fit the new tyres. Needless to say, without a big air compressor or booster tank I couldn't persuade the Gravelking beads to to seat so they are currently running with inner tubes. The front has a standard tube and the rear one of the Schwalbe XL tubes, but I can't notice any difference in ride. The ride is definitely a bit firmer than with the tubeless G-one tyres but I'm still looking for the optimum pressure. In due course I'll take off one of the tyres and see if it has remembered the new, unfolded, shape in which case the beads may be more willing to seat if I retry tubeless. I'm also keeping an eye open for second-hand booster tanks on ebay. However, having a booster tank at home doesn't help if I'm away on a longer trip and a tubeless tyres has to come off for some reason. I'm therefore inclined towards living with tubes. I'll see how long before I get a puncture with the new tyres but I'm carrying a spare tube (one ready-filled with sealant) as the backup.

Something else I noted is that while the G-one tyres are nominally 50mm and the Gravelkings 48mm, in reality there's only about 1% different in size which meant two attempts to recalibrate the speed sensor to give the same distance.

leftpoole

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Re: Are tubeless tyres worth it?
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2020, 10:51:31 AM »
The reason you cannot notice any difference is because 1) They still have tubes in them or 2) Because it has all been a con!
In my opinion the latter. Are people going to buy tyres which need filling with 'Slime' and require a massive pump to fit? Not me!
Regards,
John

JohnR

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Re: Are tubeless tyres worth it?
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2020, 11:13:13 PM »
The reason you cannot notice any difference is because 1) They still have tubes in them or 2) Because it has all been a con!
In my opinion the latter.
I should have been clearer: I can't feel the difference between the tyre with the standard inner tube and that with the Schwalbe XL (extra-light) tube. However, in my next sentence I commented that the ride with the new tyres (with inner tubes) is firmer than with the previous tyres which were running tubeless but that might be due to the tyres themselves. A proper test would be using the same tyres with / without tubes on back-to-back rides.

Near puncture-proof tyres (eg Schwalbe Marathon Plus) in the 50mm size get quite heavy and are fairly firm so the best compromise may to use fairly lightweight tyres with sealant-filled inner tubes. This should give a reasonably comfortable ride (slightly worse than those tyres running tubeless), while still having self-sealing punctures but without the hassle of fitting tubeless tyres and the mess when those tyres are removed.

Edit: I'm thinking of exploring a tubeless fitting option C which is to paint the inside edges of the rims with some sealant before trying to inflate a tubeless tyre. It might be possible to do one side at a time and manually push the bead into the groove where it will be held by some tacky sealant. This is unlikely to work with freshly unfolded tyres but might work with tyres that have been in the required shape for a week or two. Or maybe I'll strike lucky on ebay.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2020, 04:48:13 PM by JohnR »

Bill

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Re: Are tubeless tyres worth it?
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2020, 01:32:26 AM »
Tubeless work great where there are a lot of punctures from thorns, like in the desert.

In New Mexico on the Great Divide, over the course of about a month, by friend, using tubes, had about half a dozen punctures from thorns, some exceedingly hard to find and fix. I was running 3" tires and though I hit more than a few thorns, had no punctures that didn't seal.
Hint: If you can see the head of the thorn and and it isn't leaking , don't pull it out.

I dont see why you need to carry all that extra gear, all I had was a small bottle of sealant for top-ups which I think I used once. I carried an inner tube for emergencies but didn't need it. If you were using tubes you'd carry a spare anyway.

There are a number of other supposed advantages of tubeless, lighter weight, ability to run lower pressures, etc., which don't mean much to me, but they are important to some people.

It is important to get a good seal from the tire to the rim and it is difficult for many people. I had a shop set mine up, so I can't offer any advice there. Make sure you have compatible tires and rims, and it appears to work better on wider, lower pressure tires. So maybe not so good for narrow road bike tires.
 

JimK

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Re: Are tubeless tyres worth it?
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2020, 04:17:20 AM »
yeah I live in thorn country and most everybody rides tubeless. My wife's bike has tubes but there is sealant in the tubes. They sell tubes with sealant already inside. I right Marathon Plus which do pretty well with thorns.

PH

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Re: Are tubeless tyres worth it?
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2020, 11:07:37 AM »
Tubeless work great where there are a lot of punctures from thorns, like in the desert.
Yes, I think that's a critical part of the equation.
I had one puncture last year in 8,200 miles and although maybe I shouldn't speak too soon, I've had two this year in 6,700 miles.  They're normally such a minor inconvenience that it isn't a consideration.  When I had an urban commute, I wasn't so lucky and they were more of an inconvenience, I used tougher tyres to minimise it, but would probably have tried tubeless if available. The evidence seems pretty clear that there's a small speed advantage, though the figures vary, even at the high end it isn't enough to tempt me.  It's also clear that they allow lower pressures which I don't think anyone disputes increases comfort, but again it's not tempting, I'm perfectly comfortable on my bikes already.
So the answer to the question are they worth it is... depends what you're looking for and what you need.

geocycle

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Re: Are tubeless tyres worth it?
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2020, 01:29:33 PM »
I needed some new wheels on my audax machine so decide to try tubeless to see what the fuss was about. The good news is that the 28mm Schwalbe one tyres run at 70 psi are very comfortable and based on some comparable rides are about 1 mph faster, not that I am bothered about speed. But it is so hard to make comparisons as they replaced 25mm Duranos on different wheels which I ran at 90 psi. The new ride is smoother but thatís not just down to the tyres being tubeless. They need regular inflation and I havenít had the misfortune to check on puncture resistance. So for me the jury is out.