Technical > Wheels, Tyres and Brakes

Tyres and Tribulations

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Less than 10 months after buying my Mercury I'm in a quandary about tyres.

My original thought was to buy a bike fitted with tubeless tyres. I have them on my other bike. However, after discussion with SJS I decided on Schwalbe G-One Allround with tubes filled with sealant. This autumn and winter has seen a number of punctures and all have failed to self-seal therefore requiring wheel removal and tube replacement. I have found removing and refitting the tyres very difficult and onerous. Something I could do without in the rain.

I have read a lot about the pros and cons of tubeless. One of the main 'cons' is that they are difficult to remove and refit if tyre damage is too bad for the sealant to cope and a tube has to be fitted. Well to be honest, I can't see anything more difficult than removing/refitting my existing tyres in cold weather. The beads are solid. Due to being tubeless ready? I am loathed to use levers to get them back on but have not been able fit the tyres without one.

If I had been riding my other bike it would have been a case of remove the thorn, spin the wheel then ride on. To date, no doubt now cursed, I have never had to remove a tubeless tyre so don't know how bad they are to remove/refit should a tube be necessary. Worse than a Schwalbe? Also, I carry plugs and an applicator. Again, never required.

So. Tubeless or tubes? Not that simple I'm sure as puncture protection is a factor. My experience, limited, of Schwalbe is not good. More punctures in ten months than in three years on my other bike. Puncture resistance of my Schwalbe tyres seems to be inferior to previous experience of WTB tyres and Specialized Armadillo.

Options seem to be:

A. Go tubeless and run the risk of struggling to fit a tube if necessary.
B. Try different Schwalbe tyres, more puncture resistant, and struggle to replace a tube if necessary.
C. Use tyres, with tubes, that are easier to fit on the rims should tube replacement be required. I've seen some tyres, mainly on road bikes, that can be removed and fitted by hand.

One thing I do know. Using sealant in a tube is a waste of time and money. Won't be doing that again!

What to do?



What are the rims? The fitting issue might be either. pr both, tyre and rim.
I like Schwalbe Supreme and Schwalbe Almotion, I'd been running one as a summer tyre and the other for the mucky months, but there's very little difference, so as they wear I might revise that.  Puncture protection is good for such light tyres, there is of course a huge dollop of luck, but anecdotally I average a puncture every 4,500 miles (Yes I am sad enough to record them).
My E-bike came with G-One Allround, not impressed, I changed the rear after four punctures in less than 2,000 miles, OK that's mostly urban riding and might just be a dollop of bad luck, but touch wood I haven't had one since (Though I changed it for a heavy tyre I'm not recommending for your use)

I don't know anything about tubeless, that's unlikely to change, I have a fair bit of interchangeability between bikes, I don't want to confuse it (Or myself) Then I might like it too much and need to change all the wheels...

PH - thank you for your response.

Never thought about the rims! The rims are DT Swiss R460db at the rear and R460 at the front. Reading further suggests that the rims have a hooked interface and are tubeless compatible. Perhaps that has a bearing on the problems experienced. I'm not in a position to have new non-TLE ready rims made so, as both the tyres and the rims are designed to run tubeless, tubeless might be my best option.

No doubt the tyres will need to be replaced as sealant will automatically be expelled through holes from previous punctures.

Thanks again,


Hi Ray,

What size tyres are you running?

If it's any help, I'm running 650b x 50mm G-One Speeds tubeless on my Mercury and I'm delighted with the results. I've had one serious puncture, repaired in a minute or so with a Dynaplug. I've had one slow puncture that I didn't pick up and that fully deflated and unseated the tyre overnight. That arose because I had let the sealant dry out. I replaced the sealant, had a shop reflate the tyre, and have not even needed to plug the hole: the sealant alone did the job.

I have bought a light compressor and Presta valve inflation head so that I can unseat and reseat the tyres every few months to top up the sealant. With the compressor, this is a five minute job.

I think it's unlikely one of my high volume tyres would deflate fast enough on the road to unseat before I repaired it. In case that happens, I carry a tube on significant rides.

If you're running much narrower tyres things may not be so clear cut, as the Dynaplug only works while a tyre is partially inflated and has enough resistance that you can force the plug in. That may be why Thorn recommended tubes. Interesting to hear of your disappointing results with those.

I have never run tubeless and have no plans to do so.  On a different forum about a year and a half ago there was a long thread on running tubeless tires for randonneuring (or audax), thus on pavement (tarmac) and narrower tires.  That might provide some insight.

Although I have not used tubeless, I have tried to stay current on the latest, and there is a big difference in tubeless and tube type rims.  When I look at rim cross sections, the tubeless type rims clearly have a different shape to hold on to the bead tighter.  The following cross sections are from Velocity rims:

I am using Dyad 700c rims on my light touring bike, note the cross section shape, this is a tube type rim:

The A23 is a tubeless type rim of similar dimensions, note the shelf that the bead sits on in the cross section, you can easily imagine that the bead on that rim is not going to want to come off very easy.

You may need different tools than plain tire levers for tubeless.

That said, I know some people that have tubeless on wider mountain bike tires, and they love them.

I regularly ride about a half dozen bikes each year, and if you have to maintain your sealant every year or maybe a few times a year, and then multiply that by a half dozen bikes, suddenly my sticking to inner tubes makes a lot of sense.  I average one puncture a year, and I am quite sure I spend less time each year fixing a flat than I would maintaining sealant on a dozen wheels.


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