If you are a mountain biker, you may have heard a particular bit of advice a lot recently—”Go tubeless!” So what does ‘going tubeless’ actually require you to do?
In conventional mountain bike tires, there is an extra lining of the tube that keeps the tires inflated. There are tubeless tires available in the modern bikers’ society where this extra layer of the tube is missing because it is unnecessary. Therefore if you want to go tubeless during biking, you need to use these tubeless tires for your bikes!
What are the benefits of tubeless mountain bike tires? The mountain bikers reduce the chances of tire punctures, which is usually quite frequent during climbing rough and uneven surfaces. Given that, tubeless tires will revolutionize the whole mountain biking experience.
If you have not gone tubeless before, you may have a dozen questions building up in your mind right now—how to install them, what are their benefits when compared to tube bikes, and so on. Without further ado, hop in, and let’s start the ride!
Tube VS Tubeless Mountain Bike Tires
Inner tubes are placed, as the name suggests, inside the tires. These inner tubes have either butyl rubber or latex exterior and are filled with air to keep the tires inflated.
This air layer cushions the tires and reduces puncture chances, especially while riding on rocky or sharp, uneven surfaces. The air-filled tires also make sure that the circular shape of the bike tires remains intact. Additionally, they support the weight of the entire structure of the mountain bike.
Inner tubes in mountain bikes come in different sizes, construction materials, and valve type. The inner tube’s diameter depends upon the wheel’s diameter, but the sizes usually range between 12″ and 29″.
The tube’s width depends on the type of bicycle you prefer to ride but generally fluctuates between 19mm to 4 inches.
The best way to decide the inner tube’s perfect size is to observe the bike tires’ sidewalls. Usually, the size labels are marked on the sidewalls. Look for “700x23c” for regular bikes and “26×1.75” for mountain bikes.
As far as the inner tubes’ valves are concerned, they exist in two major types—the “Schraeder Valves” and the “Presta Valves.”
The Schraeder category is the chunkier types and can be found in entry-level bikes. The second type, Presta valves, which are much thinner, can be found fitted in Ribble bikes and any other good quality wheels. Some Vittoria and Continental MTB inner tubes work wonders for mountain bikes.
What are the downsides of inner tubes? Latex inner tubes are more susceptible to punctures and leakage and need to be pumped up more frequently.
They might also be a little cumbersome as far as fitting is concerned. Maintain caution during fitting–if you force them to fit in between the wheel and the tire, the inner tubes might blow up.
They do not require any form of the inner tube. So how do they stay inflated?
The rim, valve, and tire are designed to remain sealed tightly, thus protecting the tires from leaking and going flat as a result. At times, liquid sealants are used to plug off any possible air-leaks in the tires’ interior side.
If you want to take your friends’ suggestions seriously and want to shift your life as a mountain biker to “going tubeless,” then you could either purchase ready-made tubeless wheels and rims, or you could opt for tubeless conversion kits.
When you go tubeless, there is no turning back. It is an entirely different life altogether. The rim needs to be sealed, and the valve needs to be a tubelessPresta valve with a sealing mechanism. Presta valves come with a detachable core.
The Presta valves and the rim need to be attached. Even the tire needs to go tubeless to be compatible with its tubeless counterparts.
Tires for tubeless bikes are marked with the label “UST,” standing for Universal System Tubeless.” When you combine a UST tire and a UST wheel, the result promises complete protection from air leakage. Even then, careful mountain bikers like to use a sealant to be on the safe side.
Last but not least, once you go ‘tubeless,’ one thing you should always carry around in your back-pack while mountain biking is a liquid sealant. A liquid sealant stays in the liquid form while inside the container but solidifies quickly were applied to the tires.
Benefits of Tubeless Mountain Bike Tires
If you go tubeless, what do you have in it as a mountain biker? Below is a quick list of pros that will help make your mind up—should you stay “tube” or become” tubeless”?
Pro#1: Ride without Flats!
Unless you ride on a ‘road of flames’ or a road laid out with steel knives, with the risk of having your bike tire slit into halves, you can kiss your tire flats goodbye!
At first, the liquid sealant that pairs up with tubeless tires will seal any air leaks to oblivion. You must have heard of pinch flats. They happen when you bump against or run on sharp objects, like rocks.
If you were riding using tube tires, a pinch flat would involve the rim, and the tires get pinched or squeezed together, creating holes in the inner tube. In tubeless tires, the tube is not even there to begin with; therefore, pinch flats are out of the question. This is one of the biggest advantages of going tubeless.
Pro#2: Cut Corners like A Dodger!
When you are riding a conventional “tube and a tire” combo, you need to ride, maintaining a certain amount of air pressure in the tires to minimize pinch flats’ risks.
When tires are firm with high pressure, it isn’t easy to ride corners. In tubeless tires, as there are no tubes, therefore maintaining an air pressure is not within the checklist of requirements. Therefore your tires would be more flexible, and you would be able to cut corners like a pro!
Pro#3: Don’t just climb, fly!
Do you face trouble while mountain biking using tube tires? High air pressure in tube tires will make mountain rides quite uncomfortable.
If you switch to tubeless bike tires, you will experience the benefits instantly. The lower air pressure in tubeless tires would increase the contact patch of your tires. This will enhance the traction between the tire surface and the rocky mountain surface. Thus the tire grip would increase.
With a stronger grip, you would be able to ride on steep mountain surfaces with ease. Ten folds lower the risk of falling or sliding down. The tendency to bounce and make noise would also be reduced dramatically.
Pro#4: Shed some weight!
Needless to say, but tires without tubes weigh less than ‘tube’ tires. The liquid sealant used in place of air-filled tubes makes the entire system light-weight, thus elevating the ease of riding. You will feel as if you are flying, not just riding.
Frequently Asked Questions
To maintain tubeless tires, have a fully sealed interior and use a sealant. The sealant stops air leaking under the tire bead or through the rim tape, and the spoke holes. The sealant stays in liquid form until there is a hole in your tire where it clots up, blocking the hole. You can also have a tubeless inflator to keep your tire inflated all the time.
Tubeless tires do burst, too, but on rare occasions, however, when it happens, the tire may explode. When the tire pressure increases and the pressure exerted is stronger than rubber’s strength, your tire could easily burst. However, for a tubeless tire, air escapes through punctures, so if you regularly check on your tires, you will be warned.
A tubeless tire can handle five punctures or more. However, by the time a tubeless tire has five punctures, you need to replace it since it is now prone to tire bursting. With three or four punctures, you can move around comfortably since the risk of bursting is minimal.
Tubeless tires require to be filled with air just like any other tires. Otherwise, how would it stand without air? For tubeless tires, nitrogen air filling is more recommended since the tire’s pressure will remain the same in all weather conditions. Where nitrogen filling is not available, you can also fill the tires with air.
With tons of benefits waiting for you, why not go tubeless while mountain biking? A MEC MTB Specialist, Luke P, has said, “Tubeless for the win. The pros don’t use tubes; why should you?” This statement alone proves that switching to tubeless tires is the latest trend in the mountain biking arena
If you aim to opt for tubeless biking soon to make mountain riding more fun, you can either go for ready-tubeless bikes or conversion kits. A conversion kit is a combo of sealants, rim tape, and a tubeless valve that can be used to convert a tube tire to a tubeless version.
So, what are the benefits of tubeless tires? Going tubeless comes with a plethora of benefits—your bike tires will suffer fewer punctures, and reduced air pressure will help you glide over rocky surfaces.
In short, going tubeless will give you a riding experience like never before. You should accept your peer bikers’ advice and give tubeless tires a try!