Recently you may have seen one of Ali C's blogs on going tubeless on his Inspired Arcade. In the last few weeks it's been getting some attention and a few street trials riders have given it a try.
If you can't make your way through a text article because it's 2017, jump down to the end for my synopsis along with the Negatives.
So we decided to take it a step further and try Tubeless on a 26" pure trials, rim brake bike. Last weekend I took my Crewkerz Desire and successfully converted to tubeless using an Echo double wall rim and a Continental Trials Queen tire. It managed to make it through some really sharp corners on urban riding, in areas that definitely would've resulted in a pinch previously.
Here's my tubeless setup in action.
Why Go Tubeless Anyway?
It's really simple. No pinch flats. If you are prone to pinch flats, like I am, the idea of getting zero flats is a tantalizing one. For years I have been running Continental Der Kaiser tires, mostly for their pinch resistance. But still, all it takes is a moment to revert to a sack of bricks, before I am walking back to my car for another tube.
Sharp corners like this were not a problem on this ride
My hopeful expectations
- Run a few PSI lower. Typically my fear of pinch flats, couple with the very sharp urban edges on my riding zones, results in me running 2-4 psi higher than I like. My goal is not to run crazy low PSI, which would probably result in damaged tires and bent rims. A touch lower PSI results in a much more dynamic feeling tire.
- The potential to run a lighter tire. I have been running a Der Kaiser for years, but what if I could run a lighter tire without fears of pinch flats? For the purpose of this test I am using a Continental Trials Queen, which is significantly lighter. I loved the way the Trials Queen felt riding, it had a great rebound, good grip, and was significantly lighter, but was too prone for pinch flats.
- Zero Pinches. Really this is the biggest reason why, do you need more?
What you'll Need
- Tubeless Sealant. We used Stan's No Flats, there are a lot of options here, and I am not taking any brand loyalty.
- A roll of Gorilla Tape. Gorilla Tape makes a great air tight rim strip, is readily available, and lends itself nicely to DIY spirit.
- Tubeless Valve Stem
- Tire levers and a pump
How it's done
Step 1. Remove old tire, and rim strip.
Step 2. (Optional) Grind your rim. If you grind, I recommend doing this now. One of the negatives of a tubeless system is it is not as friendly to grinding. MAKE SURE to clean off all the dust and metal fragments well.
Step 3a. Start the Rim strip. Because most "pure" trials rims have ridiculous giant holes in them if you put the Gorilla Tape on straight it'll have exposed sticky sections to pull up dirt, etc. and look like crap. Your options are twofold.
Option 1. Buy a Trialtech Carthy Signature 26" Rim. They don't have stupid giant holes.
Option 2. Make your first strip of tape around the rim facing sticky side towards the tire, non-sticky side towards the rim. This strip should be just barely wider than the rim holes, so the layers over it are wider and stick to the rim.
Step 3b. Build up the rim strip. First figure out what width of tape you need. The tape should be exactly as wide as the horizontal sections of the rim. If it is too narrow the tire bead won't sit on top of it, and too wide it'll ride up the rim wall creating leaks and other issues. Every few layers put the tire on and see how it fits. The goal is to use the Gorilla tape to build up the rim strip until the tire bead has a tight fit. It should be too tight to put on by hand, but still doable with tire levers.
Gorilla Tape is easy to get to the right width. Figure out what width you need,
make a small cut or tear in the right spot, and the tape will pull off the roll that way.
Step 4. Insert the valve stem. Use a box cutter or exacto to make a small "x" shaped cut and insert the valve stem, tightening as recommended.
Step 5. Inspect. Check the rim sidewall all the way around where the bead will engage. Gorilla tape can easily ride up, or leave gummy residue behind. Clean it off first, anything between the rim and tire will make a good seal difficult to achieve. Similarly wipe off any dirt or grime from the bead of your tire.
Step 6. Put on the tire.
Step 7. Insert sealant. There are two ways to do this. You can remove the valve core and put it in through there, or put it directly into the tire from a section that isn't seated and then finish seating the tire. I did the 2nd method. Use the amount of sealant recommended, better too much than too little.
Step 8. Pump it up. It'll be a lot easier with a C02 cartridge or compressor. But it can be done by hand. Once you get about 30psi, spin it a bit to distribute the sealant, then pump it some more, then spin it, then pump it. You will hear it leaking in a few spots, maybe sputtering some sealant.
Tada! You've done it. If you aren't using a tubeless ready tire, it'll take a few hours for the sealant to fill in all the micro holes in the tube. I had to fill mine up a few times in the first 24 hours before it continued to hold air properly.
What I found:
- Leaked tire sealant acts like wax on the rims, and is not rim brake friendly. Leaking a touch of sealant is going to happen, especially around the bead on a DIY conversion. I just had 2-3 spots where the sealant sputtered a bit when inflating. Those spots killed the brakes, not a just a little. By dragging my brakes for awhile I was able to get the latex off and get back to normal. However, in retrospect I should've cleaned off the rim while the latex was still wet, and maybe given it a secondary clean with alcohol
- Grinding is not convenient. If you grind often, this is not a good choice. I only grind once every 2-3 months, so it isn't a big deal. However, any rim shavings / crap is going to cause a big issue, and I expect to have to take the whole tire off and replace the sealant entirely.
- NO pinches on a lightweight tire at a PSI well below where I would normally flat. When I used to run the Trial Queen, I ran it at 32 PSI and still got flats every ride. This time I started at 29, and dropped it twice with no negatives. Go team.
- It's cool.
There you go. Have fun. Enjoy. Go tubeless.
What are your thoughts? We'd love for you to share them below. Unfortunately I do not have any good natural near me and would love to hear how this works for someone on weird, angled, natty.