Tubeless tires are becoming more and more popular among road cyclists. However, most of us know very little about the pros and cons as well as what it takes to convert. Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions.
- Can you set up any wheel as tubeless? No, your wheel needs to be tubeless-ready.
- Can I put a clincher tire on a tubeless-ready wheel? Yes, you can install an inner tube and clincher tire on a tubeless-ready wheel. However, you can’t make a clincher tire tubeless.
- Is there a difference between the number of flats you get with a tubeless tire versus a clincher tire? Yes. First of all, you don’t have a tube and won’t get a pinch flat. Secondly, small punctures will be closed by the sealant.
- Do you need an air compressor to fill a tubeless tire? Yes and no. As long as you have a good wheel and tire fit, a hand pump should work just fine.
- Other than being lighter without the tube and being puncture-resistant, are there any other advantages? Yes. Without a tube, you have better rolling resistance. Also, you have better traction and increased comfort due to lower pressure requirements.
- If you have a puncture that the sealant can’t fix, are you “dead in the water”? No, sometimes you can patch the tire and refill it with air. Also, you can install a tube and treat it like a clincher tire.
- Once you have the sealant installed, are you all set? Yes, as long as you ride regularly. If the bike is stored for a few months, the sealant can dry out. At that point, the old sealant needs to be removed and a new sealant installed. Many riders replace their sealant annually.
- I have tubeless-ready wheels. How do I install a tubeless tire? First, remove the rim strip and install tubeless tape. Install the tire, insert the sealant and pump it up. See below for a more detailed procedure.
Here are a couple of videos that explain these answers in more detail and describe how to go tubeless the first time.