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Bitten by Tubeless

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Bitten by Tubeless

Old 12-27-19, 12:37 PM
  #1  
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Bitten by Tubeless



Many of you know I don't exactly have a love affair with tubeless. That said I do try and embrace anything that seems to be gaining acceptance just so I can speak intelligently about it. I have also learned to change my mind here and there.

This being said I have been running tubeless on a setup of mine for a few years now (3-4 maybe). I have 2 seasons on a set of maxxis Ramblers in a 40mm width on my cross/gravel bike ( Van Dessel Full Tilt Boogie - Amazing bike ). I have ridden these just about everywhere. I haven't had any flats. That's great right? I mean that must be because of the tubeless right? Well - It's very rare that I would have any flats on any setup. 1 flat in the last 6,000 or so miles. So I give little to no credit to the tubeless on that one as I have the same results with tubes and ride tubes on the road - with rare flats.

With the unseasonably warm weather we are having the Chicagoland area. I decided to go for a longer ride yesterday with a couple of riders form the team. Easy Chicagoland path ride on gravel bikes. Sure enough at the halfway mark on an out and back (of course) I rode over something that just decimated the tread on the tire. Cut clean through and left a 3/4" or so cut on the near center of the tread. Dumped the sealant everywhere and was flat in seconds.

So what. Flats happen. Even tubeless can't stop a flat from something like that.

Spending the next 5 minutes pulling out the valve, wrestling the tire, dumping the remaining sealant, having sealant over everything including my hands, having it freeze into orange seal snot boogers on the CO2 when I inflated the tube, having my buddy complain about how his hands were swelling and itching because he grabbed my wheel and is allergic to latex all had me thinking. Every tubeless flat I have been around and helped others fix has been a total PITA that would have taken less time if it wasn't tubeless.

So....
1. Re-confirms for me that if you are not currently riding in a manner or a place that gets a LOT of flats now then IMHO it really is not worth switching to tubeless.
2. Reminded me that I am glad I always ride with a flat kit even though I am on tubeless as tubeless isn't any sort of real assurance that you won't experience a total flat.
3. Confirmed that I will still have flats at the same rate as I did with tubes but they will take longer to change and be messier.

**** I get it. Your anecdotes are just as important and valid as mine. I understand tubeless has completely changed your entire cycling experience for the better. I am laying odds that the word Goathead will be used within the first 2 or 3 responses. All I am saying, for the 200th time, is that tubeless is still not a complete or best solution for all riders in all circumstances. In fact I still maintain it is still an inferior technology for the vast majority of riders for their uses and conditions. This is while also saying it is the supreme and best technology for every rider in certain terrain conditions.
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Old 12-27-19, 12:49 PM
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Old 12-27-19, 12:50 PM
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Saw on GCN today with J-Pow
Tubeless gaining acceptance in Pro CX racing
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Old 12-27-19, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by shoota View Post
Goathead
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Old 12-27-19, 12:51 PM
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All I am saying, for the 200th time, is that tubeless is still not a complete or best solution for all riders in all circumstances.
Yuppers.

IME.....Big(ger) tires and lower pressures (CX/gravel and bigger/lower) it works pretty well and reliably on smaller punctures, and if needed with a bacon-strip insert or similar. Narrow roadie rubber and high(er) pressures, OTOH....complete crapshoot of severity and luck. I've never had it hold air enough to not warrant a tube almost immediately and be a goopy mess. My LBS actually dubbed roadie tubeless "the crappy form of tubeless".
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Old 12-27-19, 12:54 PM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by RedBullFiXX View Post
Saw on GCN today with J-Pow
Tubeless gaining acceptance in Pro CX racing
Meh - being pushed more like. Donn is pushing hard. Even then go ask him what Gage Hect was riding when he won nationals. He's on Donn's team. He was on tubulars. Becca is riding tubeless because she has been sponsored by a tubeless company since day one. The best she can say is that it isn't holding her back....which means....

The whole thing with tubeless in cross is that even at it's best it MIGHT perform AS WELL as tubular. It is only ever a benefit when it comes to cost and mounting and considering tubulars can last for seasons I call that a moot point.

This isn't the cross forum though...
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Old 12-27-19, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
Yuppers.

IME.....Big(ger) tires and lower pressures (CX/gravel and bigger/lower) it works pretty well and reliably on smaller punctures, and if needed with a bacon-strip insert or similar. Narrow roadie rubber and high(er) pressures, OTOH....complete crapshoot of severity and luck. I've never had it hold air enough to not warrant a tube almost immediately and be a goopy mess. My LBS actually dubbed roadie tubeless "the crappy form of tubeless".
That's the other thing with road tubeless - even if it seals right away there just isn't enough air volume to not result in almost immediate need to re-inflate.
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Old 12-27-19, 12:57 PM
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goatheads everywhere
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Old 12-27-19, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
Real life story from BRAN a few years back....they found GHs on the route, the hard way. That year, they burned through the entire SAG LBS's stock of tubes. Done. Gone. No more. Due to those things on the roads.
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Old 12-27-19, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
Real life story from BRAN a few years back....they found GHs on the route, the hard way. That year, they burned through the entire SAG LBS's stock of tubes. Done. Gone. No more. Due to those things on the roads.
Yeah they don't mess around. As a kid when I got into the sport I was in El Paso, TX. I wish we had tubeless at the time. I would ride thorn resistant tubes with mr-tuffy liners and thick cheap tires in 27" on my Schwinn. Even then I would be patching tires all the time. Moving out of there I ditched all of that stuff real quick.
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Old 12-27-19, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
1. Re-confirms for me that if you are not currently riding in a manner or a place that gets a LOT of flats now then IMHO it really is not worth switching to tubeless.
I guess I feel the opposite. For me, it's not worth using tubes. Not using them works great, lets me run lower pressures for more comfort, and I save a handful of watts in rolling resistance. In my circumstances, I definitely flat less, it went from 6-12 a year to about 1 per year. I'm not really sure what I'd gain from using tubes, I guess they set up easier, but that's minutes compared to hundreds of hours of riding.
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Old 12-27-19, 01:32 PM
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I've had limited time in goathead country. Yeah, a few flats. But I don't live there. I'll ride with tubes the rest of my life. Clincher now and I am going to slowly migrate to tubulars on rim at a time. I have a couple more clincher rims and 10 current wheels. All new will be tubular. (I simply never want to have a clincher come off the rim ever again. Once is enough for a lifetime.)

I don't have psimet's luck (skill?) with avoiding flats. I get quite a few each year. Big box of used tubes, many with 5-6 patches. But rarely do I encounter a flat that stumps me. Never the mess that psimet just described. And I've ridden home on a few major casing tears and sufficient greenback booting.

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Old 12-27-19, 01:38 PM
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I thought this was going to mean that you were bitten by love for tubeless.

Maybe better title would be "slimed by ..."

Thanks for the report in any case.
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Old 12-27-19, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
I guess I feel the opposite. For me, it's not worth using tubes. Not using them works great, lets me run lower pressures for more comfort, and I save a handful of watts in rolling resistance. In my circumstances, I definitely flat less, it went from 6-12 a year to about 1 per year. I'm not really sure what I'd gain from using tubes, I guess they set up easier, but that's minutes compared to hundreds of hours of riding.
Yup - it's just another tool in the toolbox. Another factor for me is maintenance - roughly that tubeless requires it while tubed does not. When I only get a flat every couple of years the fact that I have to check the sealant level and top it off every 4 months or so is also bothersome for no return on performance. With so many bikes....between so many people in the family and all the disciplines... I'd burn them if they were all tubeless. As it is I yank them out when we need the bike, air them up and forget about it.

What I do enjoy about tubeless is that I do make an immense amount of money for setting them up for people in the shop. It takes longer for sure but the $/minute are definitely better on the tubeless side. With the shop and all the right tools it can also be fun to set them up.
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Old 12-27-19, 01:44 PM
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On the money bit - just realized.... I charge $100-$110 to glue a set of tires for tubulars. I charge $70 on a set to set them up tubeless. For a consumer that doesn't do their own work it's almost a wash between the two. Just the tire prices are huge differences... if you're paying retail.
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Old 12-27-19, 01:58 PM
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I definitely like the feel of tubs on the Cross bike, but the ease of changing a tubeless tire setup, is preferable to peeling and sticking tubs
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Old 12-27-19, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
On the money bit - just realized.... I charge $100-$110 to glue a set of tires for tubulars. I charge $70 on a set to set them up tubeless. For a consumer that doesn't do their own work it's almost a wash between the two. Just the tire prices are huge differences... if you're paying retail.
Tire price differences are nuts.

A typical roadie racing slick tubeless is probably going to be $70-100 depending on what you buy and who from. You can get a steel belted radial car tire for that kind of money that lasts longer.
A gravel cycling tire that literally has double the nominal width, and probably 3x or more material is going to cost $35 to 50 usually.

The roadie tax is a thing.
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Old 12-27-19, 02:28 PM
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While I'm a big proponent of tubeless, I've never thought that it was an end all, be all. Like most things, it's a trade-off. For me, it's a trade-off that makes a lot of sense. If I were the kind of person that got one flat every 4,000 miles, I wouldn't have switched to tubeless, either. As it is, though, there's not a chance in hell that is go back to tubes on my primary bike.
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Old 12-27-19, 02:50 PM
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Does anyone put sealant inside their tubes? I was wondering about this yesterday when I took a valve core out of a spare to give it to the kid, who needed it for his high-maintenance tubeless setup. (Why do they have removable valve cores in tubes?)

Apart from having 100 ml of fluid sloshing around, would there be any disadvantage to putting sealant in tubes?
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Old 12-27-19, 02:53 PM
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I'm with you. I'm pretty happy with my road tubeless for feel, weight, and what I am told is an improvement in rolling resistance. But since I still have to carry a spare tube and CO2/pump just in case (I've flatted twice with tubeless), I'm not sure whether the hassle factor is worth it. I was pretty happy with good tires and latex tubes before I tried tubeless. This spring's setup may just depend on what my shop offers me the best deal on.

The one thing I am certain of is that I am annoyed with the "you'll never flat again" and "zero rolling resistance" tubeless missionaries. As you said, tubeless is just another tool in the toolbox, and it comes with it's own unique set of issues.

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Old 12-27-19, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
Tire price differences are nuts.

A typical roadie racing slick tubeless is probably going to be $70-100 depending on what you buy and who from. You can get a steel belted radial car tire for that kind of money that lasts longer.
A gravel cycling tire that literally has double the nominal width, and probably 3x or more material is going to cost $35 to 50 usually.

The roadie tax is a thing.
I got car tires at a place that sells insurance on them. I didn't want to buy it, so that offered it at a huge discount and I took them up. And ran over a bolt at a construction site. So they replaced the tire for free. While they were doing it I asked if they could insure my bike tires too. The place was shocked to learn what road tubeless tires cost, and how few miles you get from them.
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Old 12-27-19, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
Yup - it's just another tool in the toolbox. Another factor for me is maintenance - roughly that tubeless requires it while tubed does not. When I only get a flat every couple of years the fact that I have to check the sealant level and top it off every 4 months or so is also bothersome for no return on performance. With so many bikes....between so many people in the family and all the disciplines... I'd burn them if they were all tubeless. As it is I yank them out when we need the bike, air them up and forget about it.

What I do enjoy about tubeless is that I do make an immense amount of money for setting them up for people in the shop. It takes longer for sure but the $/minute are definitely better on the tubeless side. With the shop and all the right tools it can also be fun to set them up.
I only have one bike, I can see how having a fleet would make it more of a pain in the ass. Especially if you wind up having to top the sealant off at different schedules. Also I'm using 28s on wide rims, if I was on high pressure 23s I don't know if it would work.
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Old 12-27-19, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
I only have one bike, I can see how having a fleet would make it more of a pain in the ass. Especially if you wind up having to top the sealant off at different schedules. Also I'm using 28s on wide rims, if I was on high pressure 23s I don't know if it would work.
I'm not a fan of tubeless for low-usage bikes, unless maybe there's a very specific season for the particular bike (like my gravel bike is used primarily in the spring). The maintenance schedule certainly can be a pain in the ass and it often ends up being just one more thing to do when you decide to ride it.

​​​​​For high pressure, I had no issues in the 100psi region with Orange Seal.
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Old 12-27-19, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Does anyone put sealant inside their tubes? I was wondering about this yesterday when I took a valve core out of a spare to give it to the kid, who needed it for his high-maintenance tubeless setup. (Why do they have removable valve cores in tubes?)

Apart from having 100 ml of fluid sloshing around, would there be any disadvantage to putting sealant in tubes?
I have heard of people who put sealant in their tubulars.
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Old 12-27-19, 03:40 PM
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My personal opinions about tubeless, having in excess of 40k miles sans-tubes:

Do you get a lot of puncture flats? Like more than 1-2 a month?
Do you ride a lot of miles, like more than 100 miles a week, and answered yes to question 1?

Then tubeless is absolutely for you. Otherwise, maybe not. Barring tires like Hardshells, I would get flats every 6 days or so. I live in the unofficial goathead and bottle glass capital of the world. So tubeless, absolutely.

Am I happy about things like rim tape and the cost of tubeless tires? Umm, no. But I had exactly two flats in 2019-- over 10k miles-- and both resulted in the total loss of the tire.
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