While the inner tube is a wonderful invention, it causes no end of headaches for dedicated mountain bikers. The dreaded flat tire is something you’re always trying to avoid. It cuts into your biking time when you have to stop and change a tire, and if you don’t spot it in time it can actually do a lot of damage.
This is why there are so many people who swear by going tubeless. Having no inner tube means less flat tires, and a whole host of other benefits that you can take advantage of. As with most things though, there is the trade off too. Should you go tubeless? Here’s the pros and cons so you can make an informed decision.
What Does ‘Going Tubeless’ Really Mean?
If you’re thinking of going tubeless, this means that you’ll be relying on your tire and rim to hold air in your tire, rather than an inner tube.
It’s only in recent years that tubeless tires have been taking off for bikers. It’s surprising when car tires have been tireless for decades, and have seen the benefits of it. However, many bikers are now taking on the tubeless challenge and seeing the benefits of it.
This is done by improving the tire on your bike, the seal where it joins the rim, and by making it airtight.
So, why go through this process in order to get tubeless tires? Well, there’s plenty of reasons why you may want to consider it. These include:
- No more pinch flats: If you’re always riding on rougher terrain, then the pinch flat is something that you dread. They happen easily on rocky terrain, or when you go over ledges. If you want to be able to get out there and bike without worrying about your tires, then tubeless may be for you.
- Get more control: When you go tubeless, you can use much less pressure in your tires. This means that you can get a lot more control on your bike. People who use tubeless tires report that they get a much grippier ride, giving them more control and a much more comfortable ride. It also gives you less rolling resistance, meaning you can go faster without the effort.
- Your punctures seal up: This is where tubeless really wins against tubes. If you get a slow flat, the tubeless tire will simply seal itself up, and let you keep on going. If you had an inner tube, you’d have to stop and fix the puncture before you could carry on. If you want to keep going for longer, then you may want to go tubeless.
Sounds good, right? Why doesn’t everyone go tubeless? The fact is, there are some drawbacks to this style of riding. Here’s the downsides that you need to know about:
- The cost: There are different methods of creating tubeless tires, and some aren’t as expensive as others. However, they are still very costly, so you’re going to have to plunk down some serious cash if you want tubeless tires.
- Punctures still happen: Yes, they’re less likely, but you can’t stop them altogether. If you cut your tire on something sharp, you’ll have to patch it or use the spare tire. Sadly, you can’t ditch the spare altogether.
- You’ll need CO2 pumps: If you want to go tubeless, your tire is going to need to seal against the rim. A hand pump won’t give you enough power to achieve this, so you’re going to need to use a CO2 pump to get it done. This is more kit that you’re going to need to invest in if you’re going to do this.
- Sealant goes everywhere: If you’re going to go tubeless, you’re going to need sealant. This is fine when your tire is on the wheel, but sometimes it’s going to have to come off. When that happens, sealant can get everywhere. It’s not a big deal, but it’s something you need to consider.
How To Convert Your Tires
Are you convinced that tubeless tires are for you? Then you have a few options as to going about it:
- UST Tires: These tires are made especially for those looking to go tubeless. You’ll get a kit that contains a compatible rim and tire, that are ready to be tubeless from the start. The benefit of this option is that you don’t have to use sealant in the installation process, although you can still choose to. Sealant can still help prevent flat tires with this system.
- Tubeless ready: This system needs you to have three things: a tire that can be run tubed or tubeless, a rim strip that stops air escaping through the spoke holes, and sealant to pump into the tire.
- ‘Ghetto’ tubeless tires: You can, in theory, use any tire and any rim to make your bike tubeless. It can be done with some hard effort, and maybe a few friends to help. However, you won’t always get the best results. If you’re in a pinch and really want those tubeless tires, you’ll be able to find tutorials online.
Now you’ve heard the Tubeless MTB Tires Pros And Cons. Is It Worth It?
So, with all this information, is it worth going tubeless with your bike? It’s a question you can really only answer for yourself. Both tubed and tubeless tires have their advantages and disadvantages, and it very much decides on your style of riding.
If you ride on tarmac or mostly smooth surface, then it may not be worth switching to tubeless tires. You won’t be at as much risk of punctures or other issues, so your inner tube is going work well for you. If you ride on rougher terrain though, it can be well worth it. It gives you more control, and of course deals with most punctures and flats.
As you can see, there’s a lot to think about if you’re considering tubeless tires. Take all this advice to heart, and made the decision that’s right for you.