Going tubeless is all the rage – and it's an easy process that just about anyone can do.
There are two very good reasons for changing your tubed MTB tyres to tubeless: Volume resistance and puncture resistance. You will decrease the total weight of your tire by up to 300g, which in turn decreases volume resistance. Also, there will be no tube to puncture and any tiny holes will be filled by fluid –making it puncture resistant. It's a win-win situation and will only take a few minutes to complete.
There are two ways to go tubeless: Using a conversion kit or a dedicated tube. The dedicated tube is from UST Tubeless. If you are going this route, the rim should be marked UST Tubeless on it. It should've come with a valve stem as well.
For this dedicated tube, the tires you would use are tubeless ready or UST compatible. This route is very expensive and you are out of luck if you don't have a UST on your rim. The easiest and most often used route is with a conversion kit. You can use almost any tire and rim.
This cuts your expense by not having to purchasing tires or rims – just the kit.
So, to get started you will need the conversion kit. Usually this kit will come with latex solution, rim strips, and rim tape. You will need to supply an air source – a manual pump or air compressor or even a CO2 cartridge.
You will also need: Safety glasses, Tire, Rim and a bucket of soapy water.
Step 1: Remove tire and tube from rim. Apply a layer of rim tape all the way around the rim. Be sure to find the valve stem hole and make a cut through the tape where it will be.
Step 2: Now the rim strip. Dip the rim strip in the soapy water to lubricate it – helps to have it slick when stretching it around the rim.
Step 3: Now you will do a dry run with the tire. Put your valve stem in and put the tire on like you normal. Inflate it. If you have big gaps or holes and it isn't holding any air, you will need to remove the tire and add another rim strip layer. It should hold the air you pump in, though there will be a tiny bit of leakage around where the rim and sidewall meet. Release the air.
Step 4: Remove the tire. Take a sponge with wet soapy water and wipe down the inner rim and the bead of the tire to help it slip on easier.
Step 5: Shake liquid sealant for at least 1 – 2 minutes – it needs to be well mixed. Using the cup that came with the kit, fill up the cup with liquid and pour it into the well of the tire. Carefully reseat the tire.
Step 6: Put on your safety goggles and inflate the tire. You want to inflate from 35 to 45 psi.
Step 7: Once it is inflated fully, bounce the tire on the ground then rotate a half turn. Bounce again, rotate again. Do this for a couple of minutes to disperse the latex inside.
Step 8: Lay the tire on top of a surface where it can lay level. Leave for a minute. After a minute, flip the tire. Let rest again for another minute.
Step 9: Now you need to do a visual check for leaks around the rim and sidewall. If you see the latex material bubbling, you need to continue to disperse the material. Go back to bouncing and rotating the tire – followed by resting level.
Step 10: Check sidewalls and rim area. If there are no bubbles, you are done.
Step 11: Repeat with remaining tire.
Now, just to clarify, this isn't a difficult thing to do nor is it very time consuming. It's a cost effective way to change from tubed to tubeless and to do it quickly.
Once you go tubeless, you need to add a couple of things to your gear. Keep a small bottle of sealant with you. This way, if by chance you start to lose air, you can replace the sealant and re-seal the rim/tire back like you did the first time. You will also need to keep a CO2 container to re-inflate the tire.
If you have looked over the tire and see a bit more of a problem, like a bigger hole than what a bit of sealant can handle, be sure to take a tube along.
This will in no way mess up your tubeless system, but, it will save you from being stranded with a flat. Just remove the valve stem from the tubeless set up and put in your tube, and inflate.
This will get you back on the trail until you can spend the time re-doing the steps of the tubeless tire. Tubeless tires rarely fail unless they are underinflated and the sidewalls are allowed to pinch or bend or if you rip a sidewall.
Either case can leave you flat.
Over all, most would agree that going tubeless is a time saver, cheaper and easier than dealing with replacing a tube every time you get a little hole.
Riding off road is a recipe for tire punctures and problems and the smallest hole in a tube can have you flattened and stopped in a heartbeat.
Making your tires tubeless is the smartest way to go. There are more expensive options, such as the rims and tires made to be tubeless (the dedicated option mentioned at the start), but, there really is no need to go through the added expense.
If you are unsure if you are doing the conversion correctly, check the manufactures label for website information or hop on to YouTube where you will find dozens of videos on converting your tires from tubed to tubeless.