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How High Maintenance are Tubeless Tires Anyway?

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How High Maintenance are Tubeless Tires Anyway?

Old 09-21-21, 07:12 AM
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LifeNovice1
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How High Maintenance are Tubeless Tires Anyway?

There's a nice Scott Cyclocross bike near me for $500. Only problem for me is that it has tubeless wheels/tires. I've read the pros and cons and I don't really need tubeless as I will be keeping the tires inflated and will be on roads 99% of the time. I keep hearing they are expensive to replace and every few months you have to out some nasty sealant in them. I have no problem replacing tubes on my older bikes but getting a puncture on these things seem like a PITA.

So how much more are they to maintain? Seems like to get them to seat you need a compressor. Also putting gunk in them every few months doesn't really appeal to me.
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Old 09-21-21, 07:19 AM
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caloso
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The tubeless version of a given tire is usually more expensive, but not extremely so. It’s not like they’re twice as much. They are a bit more involved setting up initially, but once installed there isn’t much more to do. Yes, you occasionally need to refresh the sealant, but that’s about a five minute job once or twice a year. I have a couple wheelsets that I set up tubeless and have never needed a compressor. Maybe I am just lucky.

For a cross bike, I think they’re really superior. You can run lower pressures and they are good protection against flats from goatheads, which are an issue at a lot of our race venues.

Finally , even if you decide you have no interest in tubeless, that’s no reason to reject this bike if you like it otherwise. You can always put a tube in a tubeless-ready tire.
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Old 09-21-21, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Finally , even if you decide you have no interest in tubeless, that’s no reason to reject this bike if you like it otherwise. You can always put a tube in a tubeless-ready tire.
+1 Please just buy the Scott, it's much nicer than the plethora of other stuff you've posted about.
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Old 09-21-21, 07:35 AM
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Lol...paralysis by analysis, right? Ok I'll do it. I've ridden enough crappy bikes, maybe it's time to buy myself something nice for a change.
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Old 09-21-21, 08:18 AM
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My experience is that once you have mastered the learning curve they are not much more trouble than regular tubed wheels. My Damone came set up with tubeless. Here are the things I learned pretty quickly.

If I ever flat on the road I will use a tube to get me home which will require removing the tubeless Presta stem. Not a huge deal.

The tubeless valves will easily clog with sealant making it difficult to add air sometimes. This requires removing the valve core and messing around with it. Not a huge deal but worth noting esp. if you need to add air and don't have a core removal tool. Apparently some valves are better about this than others. As it is I use a very small drill bit or pokey tool to get the sealant out so I can add air.

I was able to use a simple track pump to seat the bead. Probably not true of all tubeless tires but mine worked easily.

Adding and removing sealant is much easier with a sealant injector tool. I bought a Park version for about 20 bux because frankly .....Im a Ho for Park Tools.

The verdict is still somewhat out because I am limited on experience and I like working on things so learning the set up was fun for me. 300 miles with no flats on the road and these tires look like they will last a while. I will add new sealant either the end of the year or next season.
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Old 09-21-21, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Rdmonster69 View Post
My experience is that once you have mastered the learning curve they are not much more trouble than regular tubed wheels. My Damone came set up with tubeless. Here are the things I learned pretty quickly.

If I ever flat on the road I will use a tube to get me home which will require removing the tubeless Presta stem. Not a huge deal.

The tubeless valves will easily clog with sealant making it difficult to add air sometimes. This requires removing the valve core and messing around with it. Not a huge deal but worth noting esp. if you need to add air and don't have a core removal tool. Apparently some valves are better about this than others. As it is I use a very small drill bit or pokey tool to get the sealant out so I can add air.

I was able to use a simple track pump to seat the bead. Probably not true of all tubeless tires but mine worked easily.

Adding and removing sealant is much easier with a sealant injector tool. I bought a Park version for about 20 bux because frankly .....Im a Ho for Park Tools.

The verdict is still somewhat out because I am limited on experience and I like working on things so learning the set up was fun for me. 300 miles with no flats on the road and these tires look like they will last a while. I will add new sealant either the end of the year or next season.
Seems like if I get a flat on the road it WOULD be a pretty big deal to me. Trying to remove a presta stem AND putting a tube in a tire not meant for it AND trying to get a tubeless tire to go back on.
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Old 09-21-21, 08:52 AM
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I have never seen a tubeless ready tire you couldn't put a tube into. Removing the tubeless valve stem is no big deal...
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Old 09-21-21, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by LifeNovice1 View Post
Seems like if I get a flat on the road it WOULD be a pretty big deal to me. Trying to remove a presta stem AND putting a tube in a tire not meant for it AND trying to get a tubeless tire to go back on.
Its not though .... Tubeless stems should not require a tool to remove. If they are tightened too tightly such as with a pair of pliers they can mess up the rim tape or the sealing part of the valve, Unless you have tremendously weak fingers you should be able to get the stem nut off. There is plenty of room in a tubeless tire/rim combo for a tube so once the stem is out the tube goes in as normal. This aint rocket science.

The tubeless tires on my Domane (limited experience but still) went on easier than the tires on my other tubed road bike. If you can put a tire on it shouldn't be an issue and if you are worried about it you can test it out at home. I did this just to learn the ropes.

This is easier for me than buying a plug kit and carrying sealant etc. to repair a tubeless flat in a tubeless fashion.

If you are super worried about it just pull the tirs, drain the sealant and pop tubes in. I wanted to learn something new and found it easy.
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Old 09-21-21, 09:07 AM
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Tubeless is pretty easy if you don’t swap tires a lot. Remove the valve core and check the sealant level (dipstick an old spoke) every 6 months. Add some if under 4-5mm. Punctures generally seal themselves while riding although you might need to add air. Riders sometimes stop which does not help the sealing - just ride. Large tears (+5mm) might need a bacon strip or better yet a Stan’s Dart but they rarely happen. Putting a tube in isn’t any harder than a regular tire except you need to unscrew the valve stem nut and remove the valve. Always finger tighten only for easy removal.
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Old 09-21-21, 09:19 AM
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I have been experimenting with tubeless on the rear of my work bike .... not big deal.

As others say, get a sealant injector--basically a small turkey-baster type of clear plastic syringe with a hose which fits snugly over the presta valve (you could make one but I bought one for a couple bucks (Truckers, I think.) Once the tire is seated (some might need a compressor, but you can also make a tire-setter from a 2- or 3-liter drink bottle--google it) you add a few ounces of sealant with the turkey baster, screw the valve head in, and inflate and ride.

You won't get pinch flats, and on gravel or other soft surfaces you can run lower pressure for more traction, and pump up for the road ride home. Add sealant a couple times a year, maybe an ounce or two, and minor nuisance punctures (goatheads, radial tire wires) won't even slow you down. You might not even know the sealant is working unless you get a nail-sized hole, in which case you might see a little dried sealant plume and lose a few pounds. Out with the pump, off down the trail or road.

People say they don't run road tubeless because of issues with high pressure, but i ride exclusively on the road (for now) and keep my rear tires very hard (I am fat, and I use the bike to carry big loads) and have never had an issue .... yet.

Go for it .... as people say, you can stick in tubes if you prefer.
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Old 09-21-21, 09:39 AM
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I haven't read all the posts, but I thought I'd add my experience as a data point. I've ridden around 25,000 miles on tubeless tires in about two and a half years. Maintenance over that time? ZERO. Well, that's not true. I did try to plug a well-used tire with a pretty significant puncture that was sealing on it's own, but that I was afraid would later fail. The plug didn't go well, making the puncture worse. That tire probably had at least another 1-2k miles of life left in it but I decided to go ahead and replace it.

Now that I think about it, I did replace the rim tape on a set of wheels when I changed tires once. But I didn't really *need* to.It took about 45 minutes, all told.

I've never had to add sealant, but I run through a set of tires every 4-5 months...it usually doesn't have time to totally dry up. As far as tire life goes, I get about 5,000 miles out of a pair of GP500TLs in 32mm. I could get more out of the front, but I just replace them as a pair.

Edited to add pressure info. I'm a big guy. I've run pressure as high as 90 pounds. Currently running 55F/60R.
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Old 09-21-21, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by LifeNovice1 View Post
Seems like if I get a flat on the road it WOULD be a pretty big deal to me. Trying to remove a presta stem AND putting a tube in a tire not meant for it AND trying to get a tubeless tire to go back on.
It seems that way to you because you don't know.

Taking the stem out is exactly as easy as removing the core.... which is exactly as easy as opening the valve to inflate your tire, which you have to do, tubed or tubeless.

Putting a tube in is Exactly as easy as .... putting a tube in a tire. It is just a tire, it is just a tube.
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Old 09-21-21, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
It seems that way to you because you don't know.

Taking the stem out is exactly as easy as removing the core.... which is exactly as easy as opening the valve to inflate your tire, which you have to do, tubed or tubeless.

Putting a tube in is Exactly as easy as .... putting a tube in a tire. It is just a tire, it is just a tube.
You are right. I don't know. Getting a tubeless tire SOUNDS like it's harder to get the bead right without a compressor. You need a lot more pressure to get bead to seat right, sounds like you need a compressor not just a hand pump but again maybe I'm making to big a deal out of it. Sounds like flats are a lot less frequent so maybe I'll give it a try. I can always go back
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Old 09-21-21, 10:05 AM
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Just put non-tubeless clincher tires on with inner tubes if tubeless is too daunting. Only high-end carbon rims that are hookless require tubeless tires.
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Old 09-21-21, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
It seems that way to you because you don't know.

Taking the stem out is exactly as easy as removing the core.... which is exactly as easy as opening the valve to inflate your tire, which you have to do, tubed or tubeless.

Putting a tube in is Exactly as easy as .... putting a tube in a tire. It is just a tire, it is just a tube.
You are right. I don't know. Getting a tubeless tire SOUNDS like it's harder to get the bead right without a compressor. You need a lot more pressure to get bead to seat right, sounds like you need a compressor not just a hand pump but again maybe I'm making to big a deal out of it. Sounds like flats are a lot less frequent so maybe I'll give it a try. I can always go back
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Old 09-21-21, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by LifeNovice1 View Post
You are right. I don't know. Getting a tubeless tire SOUNDS like it's harder to get the bead right without a compressor. You need a lot more pressure to get bead to seat right, sounds like you need a compressor not just a hand pump but again maybe I'm making to big a deal out of it. Sounds like flats are a lot less frequent so maybe I'll give it a try. I can always go back
For every person who tells you how easy tubeless is, one will tell you what a pain-in-the-butt it is. Some tires seat easily with a floor pump, but some are difficult to seat with a compressor. Some punctures seal so quickly you don't even know they happened, and other punctures will cover everything with a gooey mess. So, give tubeless a try -- you may love it or you may hate it.
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Old 09-21-21, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by LifeNovice1 View Post
You are right. I don't know. Getting a tubeless tire SOUNDS like it's harder to get the bead right without a compressor. You need a lot more pressure to get bead to seat right, sounds like you need a compressor not just a hand pump but again maybe I'm making to big a deal out of it. Sounds like flats are a lot less frequent so maybe I'll give it a try. I can always go back
Seating tubeless tyres is the only slight difficulty in the entire process. The easy solution is a boost chamber track pump or compressor. Then it's all easy.
I find dealing with flats out on the road much easier with tubeless. Small holes self-seal and larger ones can usually be sealed with a Dynaplug in literally a few seconds. Fitting a tube is very much a last resort, which I've never had to do.
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Old 09-21-21, 10:45 AM
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Also remember to mount and dismount tubeless tires opposite of tubed versions. When removing the tubeless tire, start at the valve stem, and when mounting the tire finish at the valve stem.
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Old 09-21-21, 10:46 AM
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If you don't currently have an issue with flats, please don't go tubeless - you'll be increasing the amount of work that you do and receiving little, if any, benefit. Then you'll be back here, one more voice kvetching about how worthless tubeless is and ain't nobody got time for that.

Buy the bike. Put new tubes and tires on it. Have fun.
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Old 09-21-21, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by LifeNovice1 View Post
Seems like if I get a flat on the road it WOULD be a pretty big deal to me. Trying to remove a presta stem AND putting a tube in a tire not meant for it AND trying to get a tubeless tire to go back on.
Seems like there is a big misunderstanding. You buy tubeless because they self-seal when you run over crap, whereas on a conventional tubed tire, you will have to take the tire off the rim and either replace the tube, patch it and sweep the inside for the tire for debris.

I rode 7 miles with a nail in my tubeless and lost 2 lbs pressure. When I got home, it took two minutes to plug the hole with “bacon” and re-air the tire. I have since ridden 500 miles on my plugged tire with zero issues, and this was my first attempt at plugging a tire.

The only time you will need to remove a tubeless is when you have a catastrophic cut to your tire like a sidewall, (and how often does that happen?) or when you replace your tires. Besides greater riding comfort of tubeless at lower pressures, you should ultimately do LESS tire removals than with tubed. And the a poster wrote above, it takes only a couple of minutes once or twice a year to top off the sealant and it can be done with virtually no mechanical skills.
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Old 09-21-21, 11:09 AM
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I am disappointed with the tubeless setup I had done recently, yet I'm determined to make them work. Had the LBS build me a wheelset with tubeless rims and install tubeless tires. They've set them up twice now and they will not hold air more than a few minutes at a time after the tires came "unstuck" from the rims from the weight of the bike pressing down on the flat tires as the bike leaned against a wall in the garage. I'm so frustrated about it that I'm just not riding it. Eventually I'll quit being stubborn, but I just can't deal with them right now. I've spent too much time pumping them up in my garage over and over when I wanted to go riding on the weekends. They either won't "stick" at all, or do for a short while but then go flat in the ten minutes it takes me to run inside to put on my bike shorts, fill a water bottle, and put on my shoes. Everyone says, "they aren't supposed to come off the rim, even when low on air" but they do.
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Old 09-21-21, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Squeeze View Post
I am disappointed with the tubeless setup I had done recently, yet I'm determined to make them work. Had the LBS build me a wheelset with tubeless rims and install tubeless tires. They've set them up twice now and they will not hold air more than a few minutes at a time after the tires came "unstuck" from the rims from the weight of the bike pressing down on the flat tires as the bike leaned against a wall in the garage. I'm so frustrated about it that I'm just not riding it. Eventually I'll quit being stubborn, but I just can't deal with them right now. I've spent too much time pumping them up in my garage over and over when I wanted to go riding on the weekends. They either won't "stick" at all, or do for a short while but then go flat in the ten minutes it takes me to run inside to put on my bike shorts, fill a water bottle, and put on my shoes. Everyone says, "they aren't supposed to come off the rim, even when low on air" but they do.
That sounds super frustrating and in this instance I would just slap a tube in there and be done. In my case I wasn't even aware that my bike had a tubeless set up until for some reason the rear went flat and I noticed there was no tube. The rear tire bead was off the wheel and I was looking at sealant in the bottom of the tire. I soaked it up, bought a tube and then decided what the heck and bought sealant too just to give it a shot. Tire aired up and reset with just a floor pump, added sealant. Re-inflated and have been good ever since. Not sure why the rear went flat in the first place.
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Old 09-21-21, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by mtbikerjohn View Post
I have never seen a tubeless ready tire you couldn't put a tube into. Removing the tubeless valve stem is no big deal...
I am also investigating tubeless and have seen the youtube videos of trying to seat the tire with/without compressor. But what about the other question - can you re-seat the tubeless tire out in the field without the possibility of needing a compressor? Or does adding a tube remove that issue?
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Old 09-21-21, 11:49 AM
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The question is, Why are they running out of air?

The two main reasons (assuming they ever held air at all) is bad rim tape and bad valve sealing---the valve tot eh rim, not the valve core or head (though I would check both.)

I double tape my rims so I know they are fine,. When I had tubeless tires losing air, therefore, I knew it must be the valve. Apparently cranking down too hard on the valve doesn't seal them better, but causes leaks, through ripping the tape or damaging the gasket or however ..... I replaced the valve, installed it more carefully, inflated the tire with a hand pump, added sealant (it stayed seated) and it has been holding up fine since.

They haven't all been that easy but i have to think that as I improve my technique they might.

Again ... if the rest of the bike is worth it, you can just drain the tires and add tubes and never think about it again.
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Old 09-21-21, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by kahn View Post
- can you re-seat the tubeless tire out in the field without the possibility of needing a compressor? Or does adding a tube remove that issue?
If I could not re-seat the tire I would add a tube. I cannot imagine the tire would unseat anyway ... that is one of the supposed "tubeless advantages," that if it goes flat it doesn't come off. But if it did .... that much easier to sling a tube in there.

With a tube there is no issue of "re-seating" because there is no issue of re-sealing .... the tube takes the pressure, the tire works like any other tire ... unless you have the high-tech hookless rims .... then ... break out the phone.
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