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Got a new used bike. Got my first flat. What is tubeless?

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Got a new used bike. Got my first flat. What is tubeless?

Old 09-28-22, 10:44 PM
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bcsteeve
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Got a new used bike. Got my first flat. What is tubeless?

Hey everyone. Newbie here, in the sense that:

1) my first post
2) my first bike in THIRTY YEARS
3) my first mountain bike, period
4) my first flat. Yep... I did ride bikes when I was younger, and not once had to deal with a flat (bikes always got stolen first).

So please forgive the stupid questions.

About a week ago, I bought a 2021 Giant Trance-E from some guy. He mentioned that the rear tire had been converted to tubeless, and the front was ready to be converted. I had no idea what he was talking about, so I nodded my head like it made sense, paid the man his $4000 (calm down, it was just Canadian dollars) and rode away like a wobbly drunk.

Since then, I've been shredding the trails like a mad man way out of his element but having a blast!

Today... I'm not sure what happened. Tire seemed fine the whole ride and I even gave it a squeeze as I parked it because I wondered how it survived all those rocks. Still seemed fine. I literally walked into the other room, realized I meant to grab the battery to charge it, turned around and back into the bike room and... completely flat. So what? It managed to survive all the rocks and then poked a hole from the carpet?

Anyway, no matter... I've got a flat. It has a tube and it is tubeless ready. Should I get a new tube, or convert it to tubeless at this point? Is this a DIY for a total noob, or should I just take it to a shop?

The bike came with a small plastic bag of "stuff": a couple of small bottles of what I'm guessing is sealant for use in the tubeless tires; a couple of valves that I'm guessing are for the conversion; a variety of spacers, a metal washer and a screw (no idea).

Cheers.
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Old 09-28-22, 10:57 PM
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What is tubeless, you ask?

Tubeless is one of the greatest thing to happen to bikes in a long time.

It's not for everyone though as different people have differing priorities. It requires occasional maintenance & some use cases are better than others. But, it's nice that with a tubeless capable wheel set you have the freedom of choosing tubed/tubeless as you desire.

Edit: It reads to me like you need a YouTube video or a friend to show you.

Last edited by base2; 09-28-22 at 11:02 PM.
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Old 09-28-22, 11:24 PM
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
Edit: It reads to me like you need a YouTube video or a friend to show you.
Ahh, the old "rtfm" reply

I think just about anytime anyone on any forum ever bothers to register and post, you can assume they at least tried a little Googling first.

I mean... even just getting the wheel off the bike was a Google fail. I couldn't figure out how to get the wheel off, since the fork was solid so there was no way to drop it out. I googled "how to remove a MTB front wheel" and about 3 dozen variants of that. I never did find anything helpful. Watched a dozen videos all showing how to remove a quick-release wheel (which seems a bit obvious) or an old-school fork. Because I'm such a noob, I didn't know what terms to search for. Eventually I decided to see what would happen if I just put an appropriately sized allen wrench in there and turned, and voila... it was suddenly obvious (the axle slides out and the wheel drops... duh).

So yeah, I've already searched a bunch of "tubeless" phrases and watched a bunch of videos explaining what they are, and why they're the bomb and why they suck... and nothing helps a noob like me with the specific question I asked: should I replace the tube, or convert to tubeless (having no idea how to do either) and is it DIY for dummies or take it to a shop?

Of course I can keep searching. And I have been while I awaited a reply. Thank you for your reply. I keep searching while I continue to wait for help.
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Old 09-28-22, 11:50 PM
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Take the punctured tube out, find the hole, match it to the tire, and pull whatever caused the puncture out of the tire. Instead of a new tube, just put one of those valves from the little bag in. Then pump the tire up. If it holds air even for a few minutes, you are in good shape. Let the air out, dump in about 100 ml of sealant, pump the tire back up, and then take the wheel and spin it around both vertically and horizontally until you coat the entire inner surface with the sealant. It should then hoild air like the rear tire.

If the tire doesn't seat on the rim and hold air for a few minutes at least, don't put the sealant in. Take everything to a bike shop, and have them do it with a compressor. Watch what they do. Pay them the $20 and consider it money well spent.
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Old 09-29-22, 12:00 AM
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Awesome. That seems doable. Thanks.
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Old 09-29-22, 05:21 AM
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Originally Posted by bcsteeve View Post
I did ride bikes when I was younger, and not once had to deal with a flat (bikes always got stolen first).
Same here, with the only difference that my tire pumps were stolen from me, luckily never had a single puncture over many years of cycling like crazy.

Originally Posted by bcsteeve View Post
WTF is tubeless?
It's a new trend that allow professionals to win the competition with minimal risks of getting flat tires even when they run them at ridiculously low tire pressures. Following that trend for anyone else can potentially lead to that specific form of the OCD that manifests itself in urge to check tire pressure and top it up on a daily basis. Topping the air leaking from the tubeless tires during the cycling event is not uncommon too.

The choice between tubeless and tubes is literally finding what works better for you, gradually loosing all your air in 24 hours or a risk of a sudden loss of pressure when you least expect it.

Having said so, cars use tubeless for the last couple of decades, hope one day the cycling industry will be able to solve the air leaking issues with cycling wheels and it all be good.
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Old 09-29-22, 06:35 AM
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Originally Posted by alexk_il View Post
...Having said so, cars use tubeless for the last couple of decades...
More than half a century, my entire life in fact--they were standard equipment on cars in 1955.
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Old 09-29-22, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
More than half a century, my entire life in fact--they were standard equipment on cars in 1955.
Agree, however it's only a couple of decades when they make it illegal to put tubes in a tubeless wheel. Or is it in any wheel?
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Old 09-29-22, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by bcsteeve View Post
I think just about anytime anyone on any forum ever bothers to register and post, you can assume they at least tried a little Googling first.
.
You must be new here... we get newbs asking the same newb questions all the time - it gets irritating, sometimes responses get snarky... it's the internet. The neutral position is; some people like em and some don't.

Tubeless arguments are pretty common even among people who understand all the options - it's kind of political. The important thing is you decide which side of the argument you are on based on personal preferences, and then find documents and videos to support your side, while ignoring the others... it's the internet.

Anyway, tubeless tires have no tubes, they use special rims and special tires and special rim tape and a special pump. They handle certain kinds of flats better than tubed tires, and other kinds not so well. They either save you from flats or make it nearly impossible to fix one on the road - depends. Sometimes you can put a tube in a tubeless as a fix, sometimes you can't.

Got any questions about disk brakes?
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Old 09-29-22, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by bcsteeve View Post
I think just about anytime anyone on any forum ever bothers to register and post, you can assume they at least tried a little Googling first.
To be fair, your thread title includes the line "WTF is tubeless?" If you had spent ten minutes googling, that would not have been your opener.

Short answer: if you are new to cycling (at least in this millenium), treat it like the tires of your younger days: remove the valve, wipe out any remaining sealant on the rim, install a tube and remount the tire. If you keep riding and learning, maybe you will eventually want to convert it back to tubeless...And do the front tire, too.
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Old 09-29-22, 09:03 AM
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The tires in you car have been tubeless for years. That's WTF tubeless is.
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Old 09-29-22, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by bcsteeve View Post
Ahh, the old "rtfm" reply

Thank you for your reply. I keep searching while I continue to wait for help.
I misjudged your n00b level & sort of took the thread title in an existential meta rhetorical context. These types of questions, phrased in this way, tend to be asked with a jesters twinkle.

Then I tempered my response with some useful caveats because there is no such thing as a thing that is universally agreed upon as the embodiment of perfection for all uses, situations & intentions...& this being the internet, someone, somewhere would certainly like us all to hear all about how with their one experience, that one time, while doing something incorrect had less than stellar results & they now claims ""X" sucks!"

Lastly, I really did mean that someone just showing you may be more effective than text on screen. It's a lot to figure out if you have no point of reference to even begin asking the right questions or have the vocabulary to do so.

Last edited by base2; 09-29-22 at 10:06 AM.
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Old 09-29-22, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by alexk_il View Post
Following that trend for anyone else can potentially lead to that specific form of the OCD that manifests itself in urge to check tire pressure and top it up on a daily basis. Topping the air leaking from the tubeless tires during the cycling event is not uncommon too.

The choice between tubeless and tubes is literally finding what works better for you, gradually loosing all your air in 24 hours or a risk of a sudden loss of pressure when you least expect it.
I don't think tubeless typically has a problem with air retention. The easiest thing the OP can do is to fill up his one tire that has the tubeless setup and see for himself if it leaks air.

In any event I think the tube-tubeless debate is over in the case of MTB's. Tubeless is pretty much standard now. The debate is still ongoing with road bikes.
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Old 09-29-22, 10:16 AM
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Tubeless takes some work and frustration to figure out, but once you get it down you're much more resistant to getting a flat tire. I'll never go back to tubes.
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Old 09-29-22, 01:36 PM
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Oh wow, so many responses! Fun

Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
You must be new here... we get newbs asking the same newb questions all the time - it gets irritating, sometimes responses get snarky... it's the internet.
Lol, fair.

Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
Got any questions about disk brakes?
I'm sure I will. One thing at a time, but I'll get there.
Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
To be fair, your thread title includes the line "WTF is tubeless?"
Yeah, I get it. You're right and I'm sorry. It was meant as a humorous introduction, highlighting how noob I am, and not seriously asking for a definition.... but how would anyone know that (besides reading beyond the title, I mean)?

Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
wipe out any remaining sealant on the rim
Serious (but surely dumb) question: why? Does the sealant harm the tube? I started to wonder why you can't have both, but then I imagine that's because the valve is part of the tube, but I'm still not sure why it matters if the sealant is also there.

Originally Posted by base2 View Post
Lastly, I really did mean that someone just showing you may be more effective than text on screen. It's a lot to figure out if you have no point of reference to even begin asking the right questions or have the vocabulary to do so.
Fair point. I have no friends, but thanks.

Originally Posted by icemilkcoffee View Post
I don't think tubeless typically has a problem with air retention. The easiest thing the OP can do is to fill up his one tire that has the tubeless setup and see for himself if it leaks air.

In any event I think the tube-tubeless debate is over in the case of MTB's. Tubeless is pretty much standard now. The debate is still ongoing with road bikes.
That's interesting, and good to know. Considering I never learned how to change a tube tire, I suppose there's no bad habits to unlearn and I can just dive right into tubeless. In the week since getting the bike, the rear tire (tubeless) hasn't lost any appreciable pressure. I filled it to 35psi when I got it, and I went to top it up and it read 32... I very well could have lost 3 just connecting the pump (or other things like temperature variation). So it seems to work well enough.

Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
Tubeless takes some work and frustration to figure out, but once you get it down you're much more resistant to getting a flat tire. I'll never go back to tubes.
Good enough for me.



Thanks all. I wasn't attempting to be willfully ignorant. I think I have what I need to move forward now.

Almost. One more question: tubeless tape. When I read the various guides, I *think* the tape is needed to convert a non-tubeless-ready rim? Or is it also needed for one marked tubless-ready?

Cheers.
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Old 09-29-22, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by bcsteeve View Post
I'm sure I will. One thing at a time, but I'll get there.
Yeah, I get it. You're right and I'm sorry. It was meant as a humorous introduction, highlighting how noob I am, and not seriously asking for a definition.... but how would anyone know that (besides reading beyond the title, I mean)?

Fair point. I have no friends, but thanks.

That's interesting, and good to know. Considering I never learned how to change a tube tire, I suppose there's no bad habits to unlearn and I can just dive right into tubeless. In the week since getting the bike, the rear tire (tubeless) hasn't lost any appreciable pressure. I filled it to 35psi when I got it, and I went to top it up and it read 32... I very well could have lost 3 just connecting the pump (or other things like temperature variation). So it seems to work well enough
Almost. One more question: tubeless tape. When I read the various guides, I *think* the tape is needed to convert a non-tubeless-ready rim? Or is it also needed for one marked tubless-ready?

Cheers.
Some stuff here. IT is very nice to have new members who are not afraid of a bit of good natured ribbing. Often we get new members who take offence at the slightest reply that is often done with no ill intentions. I read your first post and I took it at face value, if you are a new cyclist and you don't know about tubeless bicycle tires you can easily react "WTF?". I don't blame you particularly in your case where you bought a bike with a tubeless/tube type tire setup. Tubeless setups for mountain bikes have been pretty much ubiquitous for close to 20 years. For road bikes using high pressure/low volume tires the timeline is much shorter. Tubeless tires do not necessarily need to be pumped up any more often than tires with inner tubes. My gravel bike only needs a fillip about once w\every 3 weeks. My high pressure low volume road tires need a fill-up after about 3 days. Anyone who claims that inner tube are any better really doesn't know what they are talking about.

" I *think* the tape is needed to convert a non-tubeless-ready rim? Or is it also needed for one marked tubless-ready?"

There is all sorts of contradictory information about tubeless conversion. If you want a safe and problem free conversion from tube type and tubeless, use compatible wheels and tires. Otherwise, stick to conventional tube and tires
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Old 09-29-22, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by alcjphil View Post
There is all sorts of contradictory information about tubeless conversion. If you want a safe and problem free conversion from tube type and tubeless, use compatible wheels and tires. Otherwise, stick to conventional tube and tires
Sorry, I don't think I was clear.

I have compatible wheels and tires, but I'm unclear if I need to use "tubeless rim tape" with it, or if that's for people converting conventional rim to tubeless.

I think I don't need it, as both my rim and tire are marked "tubeless ready"... but not sure.


Ok, so here's one more question I went to take the tire off the rim, and it was quite difficult. When it finally "broke free", I could see what looked to be some sort of blue adhesive tearing... so I stopped. Would that be the pre-installed tubeless rim tape? It wouldn't be sealant in a tube/tire, would it? Remember, this is my front tire, and that one was NOT converted by the last owner to tubeless (only the rear).
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Old 09-29-22, 08:04 PM
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You do need tubeless rim tape to run tubeless. Often times a manufacturer will claim "tubeless ready" but save a few pennies per bike with conventional rim tape of some variety.

The tape you need should be shiny smooth, slick, with no fabric or permeability. It should go from edge to edge with no folds, creases or bubbles, wrinkles, etc...It should completely cover the spoke holes (obviously.)

Tubeless sealant does not necessarily play well with aluminum nipples. Over time you can expect corrosion & breakage of the aluminum nipples if any sealant escaped due to poor tape application.

Most people will use 1 layer with some over lap for 35psi or less, (mountain) & 2 layers for more than 35psi. Road or gravel use often has pressures in the 45-85 range, so 2 is right.

It is worth noting that just because you can run lower pressures that doesn't necessarily mean you should run the lowest possible pressure. Even if you are avoiding pinch flats, your rim can still be damaged by abuse on rocks, roots, etc. My advice is choose a sensible pressure for that days terrain.
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Old 09-29-22, 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by bcsteeve View Post
...

Almost. One more question: tubeless tape. When I read the various guides, I *think* the tape is needed to convert a non-tubeless-ready rim? Or is it also needed for one marked tubless-ready?

Cheers.
Yeah you need tubeless tape and valves. I've done one tape job, so I'm no expert on this. Plenty of youtube videos on this subject. Or you can just take it to the bike shop. If you take it to the bike shop just have them do the complete tubeless setup for you.
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Old 09-29-22, 08:57 PM
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Tubeless tape is needed if the rim bed has holes to access spoke nipples. But if rim bed only has a single hole for the valve stem, then tape is not needed.
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Old 09-29-22, 11:36 PM
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Oh yay, I'm allowed to post again! (limit 5 in 24 hours - I assume that's a new user limit).

Thanks for the continued responses!

Ok, so an update:

I took the tire off. That was fun (they really get those suckers on there!). Took the tube out. Found the hole. Should be easy enough to patch, but I'm going the other route.

I figure it already has tubeless rim tape. It looks like how you describe: shiny smooth, slick, with no fabric or permeability. It is everywhere but the valve hole.

I installed the tubeless valve stem.

I put the tire back on. Wow, that was more difficult than I imagined it would be, but I wrestled with it and got it on.

Then I infl.... nope. Not even close. My... pump... just... isn't... going... to... cut... it.

So I don't know if it will hold air, because I can't even come close to getting the bead set.

I think I'm going to stop here. I'll take it to a bike shop Saturday and buy myself a bit of education and peace of mind.

Update to my update (since I wasn't allowed to post for a couple of hours, I went to HomeDepot!):

I followed some guy's tutorial on Youtube for using a garden sprayer to set the bead (I'm not allowed to posts links yet). It seemed like it was almost going to work, but I didn't quite have enough oomph to get the job done. The sprayer I bought had a really sloppy o-ring and I can hear a bunch of air bleeding out, so I think I'm just not getting the pressure I need. I'll fiddle with it more in the a.m. before heading to the bike shop.
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Old 09-30-22, 01:01 AM
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Originally Posted by bcsteeve View Post
Oh yay, I'm allowed to post again! (limit 5 in 24 hours - I assume that's a new user limit).

Thanks for the continued responses!

Ok, so an update:

I took the tire off... I installed the tubeless valve stem...
Then I infl.... nope. Not even close. My... pump... just... isn't... going... to... cut... it.

So I don't know if it will hold air, because I can't even come close to getting the bead set.
I apologise for asking the obvious questions, but
  • Did you put the tire sealant?
  • Is your tire tubeless?
  • ​​​​Did you ask why the previous owner didn't run the wheel tubeless despite the conversion?
If all good, you might want to invest in a proper compressor tank for your pump. Or a proper pump.
​​​​
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Old 09-30-22, 01:16 AM
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Originally Posted by alexk_il View Post
IDid you put the tire sealant?
No. As suggested earlier, I'm trying a dry run to see it it holds air..
Originally Posted by alexk_il View Post
I Is your tire tubeless?
It is now! Lol. But yeah, rim and tire both marked tubeless ready.
Originally Posted by alexk_il View Post
IDid you ask why the previous owner didn't run the wheel tubeless despite the conversion?
no, I didn't even really know what it meant. He told me the rear was coverted and the front was ready to go with kit included. He also admitted the rear has been plugged. So my guess? He took it to a shop, and the shop said "sure I can repair it. You know this is a sweet tubeless ready setup, right? Want me to change it over?" And he answered, "hells yeah".

But that's just a guess based on what I would have done.

What I'm a little confused is how the rear tire still has the same valve stem as the front. The kit has two tubeless stems and they are black. The rear one looks exactly like the front tubed one, which is silver.

I'm starting to wonder if the rear has a tube too . I did get the sense that the previous owner wasn't much less of a noob than I
Originally Posted by alexk_il View Post
I If all good, you might want to invest in a proper compressor tank for your pump. Or a proper pump.
​​​​
sure, that's one way to go... but I like the garden sprayer idea, so I'm going to see if I can make that work first. Cheap and multipurpose
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Old 09-30-22, 01:30 AM
  #24  
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So the idea is to deliver enough air and fast enough so that it pops the beads of the tire onto the sides of the rim. (Some rims have hooks, others just have a thickened side wall.) Often you have to use a canister pump or a compressor. I thought that having a tube on there initially might have given you a fighting chance of getting it to work, but it sounds like you will need a compressor or at least a canister pump. If you have a CO2 cartridge, it might be worth trying with that. Also, if you remove the valve core, it can sometimes help. But at some point it might be worth having the bike shop do it. There is no shame in that.
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Old 09-30-22, 01:42 AM
  #25  
alexk_il
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Originally Posted by bcsteeve View Post
What I'm a little confused is how the rear tire still has the same valve stem as the front. The kit has two tubeless stems and they are black. The rear one looks exactly like the front tubed one, which is silver.

I'm starting to wonder if the rear has a tube too.
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  • It's not tubeless if the tire holds air for more than a couple of days 😂
  • It's not a latex tube if the air stays for more than an a week
Good luck. I'm sure you will eventually make tubeless work for you, will be interesting to see if you stay in the tubeless camp or move back to tubes.
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