Fusion 3 tubeless tyres

Evilcat

Senior Member
Location
London
I bought some new Ultegrat 6700 wheels a while back and realised when they arrived that they were "two-way fit", i.e. compatible with both normal clinchers and the Huntchinson tubeless system.

For the uninitiated, the road tubeless system relies on a rim with no spoke holes coming through and a special carbon bead on the tyre to create an air-tight seal, plus a separate valve stem. Benefits are listed as overall lower rolling resistance and possibly lighter overall weight, plus the ability to run with some kind of sealant inside. Some even claim tub-like performance benefits. The Hutchinson Fusion 3s have only just come into stock in Wiggle and represent a compromise between puncture protection and weight - for race day the lighter Atom would be preferred.

Fitting
Fitting tubeless is meant to be difficult due to the carbon bead and the need to snap the bead onto the rim. I've seen a number of different YouTube videos with various advice so I went with a combination. First, removal of the old tyres, then seating of the valve stem (supplied with the wheel). The rear 6700 wheel has an assymetric profile so I added another O-ring just to make the seal sure.

Then fitting the first bead which is easy enough, but the second took real effort. Before the final 20cm of bead went on I used Hutchinson's Protect'Air Max, adding this sealant to the open portion then rotating to shift the sealant to the other side of the tyre and using a a couple of plastic tyre levers to finish getting the bead on. Sounds easy, but took a lot of swearing!

Finally inflation. I took the advice of one of the videos and used soap suds around the rim on both sides to add some lubrication, and then the track pump to get the tyre up to pressure. This is easier said than done: if the bead isn't close to the rim then pressure is lost and all your pumping will have no effect. I managed the front OK, but the rear needed me to compress the tyre with my hand near the valve and pump like crazy. Some sites recommend a compressor or CO2 cannister, incidentally.

I did find that the rear deflated overnight, but pumping up again did the trick. You can hear a few loud cracking sounds as the bead seats on the rim, and on the second inflation I head the final noise as I went past 120psi. Of course, I deflated the tyre back down to 90psi afterwards - one benefit of the tyre is to be able to run lower pressures for comfort.

Performance
Took the bike out for 65km on Sunday, then commuted on it on Monday (16km each way). Basic performance seemed no different from normal clinchers but I did notice getting up to faster speeds on downhill sections, so I can infer some improved rolling resistance. Happily no experience of p*nctures as yet...

Overall
Is this the future of road tyres? Difficult to tell, really. I like the straightforwardness of the technology, and hope the tyre will be less prone to p*nctures on London's horrible roads. Certainly I'm not going to have any pinch-flats, and maybe the sealant will do its job. Perhaps a faster rider than myself will see more performance improvements, although I seemed to have some benefits in terms of rolling resistance.

On the down side the tyre really is a pig to get on and off. I did manage to fix a flat on the same rims but with normal clinchers by the side of the road a few weeks back, and even the Pro Race 3 was hell to remove. Plus add the difficulties in inflating and this makes the system rather less attractive.

Still, I'll see how things go over the next few weeks and report back.

EC
 
OP
Evilcat

Evilcat

Senior Member
Location
London
Still, I'll see how things go over the next few weeks and report back.
I've been commuting on the Fusion 3s for 3 months now and all is well. The only slight issue has been hitting a pothole with the back wheel a couple of times which has unseated the bead and caused the tyre to go flat the next day. On both of these occasions I just popped the bead off the rim with the wheel still on, wiped some soap suds round the rim and then pumped like crazy to seat the bead (listening for the sharp retort as it did so) and inflate the tyre. No p*nctures and performance in the wet and dry is excellent. I haven't raced on them, but rolling resistance seems very good, and weight is clearly not an issue.

For those with two-way rims, recommended. I have taken to travelling with a VAR tool, spare tube and CO2 canister, though I've not had to use them as yet.

EC
 
OP
Evilcat

Evilcat

Senior Member
Location
London
3 Months on is there any new opinion on whether these are the future of cycling?
Dunno. I would say that more and more wheel manufacturers seem to be standardising on two-way fit wheels. And they are being fitted as standard (with tubeless tyres) to top of the range bikes like the new Spesh Roubaix SL3. So clearly this is the direction that some manufacturers seem to be taking.

EC
 
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