So you want to go tubeless? Been tubeless for more than a year now – all my bikes. But there are pros and cons when it comes to using it for touring trips. (For MTB rides, tubeless is definitely the way to go).
The positive I can mention are:
- You can use low pressure and get a more supple, more comfortable ride.
- Minor punctures (stapler, small nails, etc) are no problem. A staple wire can easily stop you on your track right away. And its bad if you got it on open road sans any shade or if it’s raining.
- It’s a new technology and probably still improving.
- Inner tubes are sometimes hard to find these days. You don’t worry about it when going tubeless.
Here are some negative aspects to it:
- It’s difficult to seat the tire properly; one needs a compressor or an air tank;
- One still needs inner tube as back up should you get a gash on the sidewall, which the sealant cannot address.
- There are quirks, like the valve core getting clogged by sealant sometimes. So one has to replace it. In a touring trip, one has to bring extra valve cores, just in case.
- When changing tires, sometimes the rim tape gets dislodged, so one has to retape. It’s rare, but it can happen. So in a long touring trip, one still has to bring extra tape – just in case.
- Extra sealant – you need to bring in a touring trip at least 120 ML for the two tires, just in case. And a syringe, and valve core remover, for injecting the sealant.
- Tubeless can be high maintenance. For instance, one needs to top off the sealant every 4-6 months. Sometimes, they dry up. Occasionally, I need to remove the tires and sealant to check if the tires had punctures that sealed. Most of the time I find small wires and sharp objects lodge into the tire. You have to clean them, reinstall, and put fresh sealant. If the rim tape is dislodged, you retape.
So which one is better: tubed or tubeless?
If changing of tires at roadside does not annoy you, staying with tubes makes sense. Tubed tires are install-and-forget – until you got punctures or tire blow outs, which is part of the experience of being a cyclist.
The real benefits of tubeless are: 1) you don’t worry about minor tire punctures (staple wire, small nails, small wires) on the road; and 2) low-tire pressure setup gives a more comfortable ride.
So is tubeless worth the trouble? Yes.
I’ve only been riding tubeless for more than year, and had two tire punctures: a 3 inch nails at night time but was able to reach home after pulling it out (sealant worked) and a short wire that I noticed only after I removed the tires for cleaning.