Tubeless conversion

When I built my bike a year ago, for reasons of budget and being a bit slow to take on new things ( I know it's not that new), I stuck to inner tubes but having just gone into the garage to get the bike out and discovered another deflated punctured tyre I may be re-considering. This is about the fourth and due to a wonky knee last year, I've not used the bike all that much.

So researching it again, it seems reasonably straightforward and Stans stuff seems to be the best regarded but I know there are others as well as doing it yourself via 20" tubes stretched on, aka @Panter 's technique he shared with me some time ago. I know you need to top up every few months but what else. Other comparable kits, other methods, what disadvantages are there, is it worth it for only using the mtn bike maybe once or twice a month or should I just get better tubes/tyres.

I really haven't decided yet and it's not the first time I've thought about it.
 

Panter

Just call me Chris...
I can't really add any more, I've not been on the MTB's for a long time now, they're both running tubed tyres.
The "ghetto" conversion did work brilliantly. I literally went from having an average of 1 puncture every two rides (that's a rough average, some rides I'd get 3 punctures, others none) to changing tyres when they wore out and that was the only time they left the rim.
I did. though, have an unpleasant experience with one tyre that let go in spectacular fashion, although that was a dedicated downhill tyre and probably not really suited to the conversion.

When I start MTBing again, I'll probably have a look to see what kits are available now, but I'm out of the loop (no pun intended) as to what's out there now.
Given the budget, I would definitely just go with new tubeless wheel and tyres. OK, the tyres are a lot heavier, but so much easier to set up. But, of course, it's a very expensive option.

Different tubes/tyres isn't really an option where I ride. The problem here is brambles and arrow like flints. I didn't find any tubed tyre that could resist those, there wasn't an M+ MTB type tyre available at the time.

Biggest disadvantage for me of the "ghetto" tubeless was that I couldn't keep chopping and changing tyres. The trails down here vary so much throughout the Year that being able to swap relatively quickly is a big advantage.

Good luck, I'll be interested to see what's available these days as I'll definitely be dusting off the MTB's this Year.
 
Location
Loch side.
Tubeless is fantastic, but there are a few iffs and butts.

Your tyre has to be just right. If you want official "rightness" go for a UST and place that on a UST certified rim. UST - Universal System for Tubeless (or whatever the real French wording is), is Mavic and Hutchins invention and specification that's available to others in the industry provided they play nice and stick to the spec. The standard or spec, calls for a tyre and rim system that will seal without the use of a tube, or tape, or rim strips or sealant. This does not mean that it will not deflate when punctured. That's what the sealant is for. But for UST the sealant is not required to keep the tyre inflated on the rim, sans tube.

Now, many variations of tubeless, other than UST exist. For instance, you can use a UST tyre on a standard rim and just tape up the rim. You could use a non-UST tyre in the mix or, you could use one of the non-UST tubeless tyres/systems which are generally called tubeless ready. The Tubeless Ready guys are the ones that don't want to pay a license to the French to put UST on their tyres or, who won't get UST approval because of one or other issue.

It is a bit of a minefield.

Many tyres work but they must have thick sidewalls that aren't porous. If you can see the cords through the sidewall, chances are good that the tyre will not seal, even with sealant. Some sealant is better at sealing up thin porous sidewalls than others but for a beginner, with so many variables in the mix, this is a no-no. Choose a tyre with a thick, juicy bead, not a thin hard bead. The juicy bead seals better on metal than a hard bead with a thin layer of rubber over it.

When it comes to sealing the spoke holes, you have many options but also issues. You obviously need a tubeless valve, which works a bit like a car valve. Getting these to seal on rims not really designed for them is a book's worth of writing, but generally, you want to make sure that as much rubber on the valve contacts the metal as possible. Sometimes you have to enlarge the rim's inner hole to get more rubber in there. Generally these valves have a conical rubber foot that needs to wedge tightly and seal. Some companies have "systems" of matched rim and valve foot profiles. These are the best, but obviously of no use to our vanilla brand rims.

As for the spoke bed sealing, you have to issues to consider. a) The tape or strip has to resist the force of the air pressure inside the tyre and not stretch and pop through. b) the strip must sit tightly and not come off when the tight, juicy bead slides over it during installation. Here, the Stan's yellow tape is somewhat good, but far from perfect. The problem is that the tape has to be hard and pliable. It must be pliable so that it follows the rim's inner contours but it must resist popping into the holes. It must also resist the sealant sloshing around over it from lifting the ends and causing sealant creep underneath. This is a disaster if it happens. Long story by itself. I have had success with self-vulcanizing silicone tape. The term vulcanizing is a bit misleading because only rubber can vulcanize, But you get my point.

Then, you have to decide on the appropriate sealant. This stuff - horrible, all of it, comes in two broad varieties. Latex-based and glycol based. The former is preserved with ammonia and corrosive to naked aluminium. It seals well, has a short life in the heat (not a problem in the UK) and is incompatible with CO2 inflation. Glycol sealants work best on thick UST type tyres because its sealing mechanism is not a glue that cures but a carrier with rubber crumbs inside that blocks the hole.

Getting the tubeless to seat the first time is quite a story and you need six hands, a compressor and a bucket of soapy water.

The 20" tube method you mention is called the Ghetto method. It seals very well but you have to fit a new tube each time you take the tyre off.

In operation, tubeless is wonderful. It is not perfect though and can burp when cornering or bumping through. In the field, if you have a total deflation, you have to fit a tube. This is messy and tricky because your tyre now looks like an invented hedgehog inside from all the thorns in there. You have to remove them all before fitting the tube.
 
OP
C

Crackle

..
Tubeless is fantastic, but there are a few iffs and butts.

Your tyre has to be just right. If you want official "rightness" go for a UST and place that on a UST certified rim. UST - Universal System for Tubeless (or whatever the real French wording is), is Mavic and Hutchins invention and specification that's available to others in the industry provided they play nice and stick to the spec. The standard or spec, calls for a tyre and rim system that will seal without the use of a tube, or tape, or rim strips or sealant. This does not mean that it will not deflate when punctured. That's what the sealant is for. But for UST the sealant is not required to keep the tyre inflated on the rim, sans tube.

Now, many variations of tubeless, other than UST exist. For instance, you can use a UST tyre on a standard rim and just tape up the rim. You could use a non-UST tyre in the mix or, you could use one of the non-UST tubeless tyres/systems which are generally called tubeless ready. The Tubeless Ready guys are the ones that don't want to pay a license to the French to put UST on their tyres or, who won't get UST approval because of one or other issue.

It is a bit of a minefield.

Many tyres work but they must have thick sidewalls that aren't porous. If you can see the cords through the sidewall, chances are good that the tyre will not seal, even with sealant. Some sealant is better at sealing up thin porous sidewalls than others but for a beginner, with so many variables in the mix, this is a no-no. Choose a tyre with a thick, juicy bead, not a thin hard bead. The juicy bead seals better on metal than a hard bead with a thin layer of rubber over it.

When it comes to sealing the spoke holes, you have many options but also issues. You obviously need a tubeless valve, which works a bit like a car valve. Getting these to seal on rims not really designed for them is a book's worth of writing, but generally, you want to make sure that as much rubber on the valve contacts the metal as possible. Sometimes you have to enlarge the rim's inner hole to get more rubber in there. Generally these valves have a conical rubber foot that needs to wedge tightly and seal. Some companies have "systems" of matched rim and valve foot profiles. These are the best, but obviously of no use to our vanilla brand rims.

As for the spoke bed sealing, you have to issues to consider. a) The tape or strip has to resist the force of the air pressure inside the tyre and not stretch and pop through. b) the strip must sit tightly and not come off when the tight, juicy bead slides over it during installation. Here, the Stan's yellow tape is somewhat good, but far from perfect. The problem is that the tape has to be hard and pliable. It must be pliable so that it follows the rim's inner contours but it must resist popping into the holes. It must also resist the sealant sloshing around over it from lifting the ends and causing sealant creep underneath. This is a disaster if it happens. Long story by itself. I have had success with self-vulcanizing silicone tape. The term vulcanizing is a bit misleading because only rubber can vulcanize, But you get my point.

Then, you have to decide on the appropriate sealant. This stuff - horrible, all of it, comes in two broad varieties. Latex-based and glycol based. The former is preserved with ammonia and corrosive to naked aluminium. It seals well, has a short life in the heat (not a problem in the UK) and is incompatible with CO2 inflation. Glycol sealants work best on thick UST type tyres because its sealing mechanism is not a glue that cures but a carrier with rubber crumbs inside that blocks the hole.

Getting the tubeless to seat the first time is quite a story and you need six hands, a compressor and a bucket of soapy water.

The 20" tube method you mention is called the Ghetto method. It seals very well but you have to fit a new tube each time you take the tyre off.

In operation, tubeless is wonderful. It is not perfect though and can burp when cornering or bumping through. In the field, if you have a total deflation, you have to fit a tube. This is messy and tricky because your tyre now looks like an invented hedgehog inside from all the thorns in there. You have to remove them all before fitting the tube.
Your post summarises why I decided not to do it last time. I'm only thinking about it again because I'm determined to use the bike more this year. I should say neither my rims or tyres are tubeless ready and the tyres are folding Schwalbe Nobby Nics, rims, Superstar XCX. If I can't make it work with my current combo it's not going to happen.
 
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Panter

Just call me Chris...
What system do you use @Motozulu ? Is yours UST?
I certainly don't intend to remain on tubes, not when I start riding regularly again. Your post reminded me just how much I was blown away by the tubeless conversion, as I thought exactly the same!
 
OP
C

Crackle

..
On the subject of compressors.… I've watched a few vids now just using a track pump, is a compressor necessary?
 

Panter

Just call me Chris...
Speaking purely from my conversion point of view, it depended soley on the tyres.
The first set I ever fitted went up easily with a track pump, 2nd set was far more of a struggle, the 3rd set (Maxxis of some description) were hard work to seal even with a compressor!
I had some success using a CO2 inflator, but it's an expensive way of doing it and a bit of a heart in mouth moment when you have to release the CO2 after its seated and replace with air.

No idea how easy the kits are, I imagine they go up far better than the ghetto conversion (I'd hope, anyway!)
 

Panter

Just call me Chris...
Should add to that, as a bit of balance, my regular riding buddy has UST tyres and rims. He has no problems whatsoever just using a track pump.
 
Location
Loch side.
Should add to that, as a bit of balance, my regular riding buddy has UST tyres and rims. He has no problems whatsoever just using a track pump.
In my experience, only UST systems will inflate reliably (i.e.) every time with a track pump. The trick is to not try, if you don't have it all just right. What happens is that your confidence is too high, you set yourself up in the kitchen, fill the thing with gorilla snot and then fiddle. Usually it is a mess. Then, the wheel that's now full of slime, doesn't transport very well to the garage.

One more trick, the first time you seat it with a compressor, remove the valve core so more air can shoot in and kick the tyre in place.
 

Motozulu

Über Member
Location
Rugeley, Staffs
TBH the bike came with the wheels (DT Swiss m1700) already taped up but with tubes in for transportation. All I did was remove the tubes, pop in the tubeless valves supplied , wipe the bead and rim with soapy water and inflate with a track pump. Once it had gone up and sealed I let em down and added Stans fluid with a syringe, up they both went first time and sealed. Hans Dampf tyres.
 
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