An Old Dog Learning New Tricks………. A Tubeless Convert.

My love of cycling is always tested when it comes to mending punctures on the road and the ongoing quest to discover what tyres are best for my needs. There is a tradeoff between heavy puncture proof tyres that roll like treacle or lightweight faster tyres with very limited puncture protection. Over years I have tried most makes but have not found as yet found satisfactory solution.

To date I have used Continental GP4000 IIs in Summer when the roads are predominantly dry and clean before changing to a heavier Schwalbe Durano Plus in winter. These tyres both have their limitations mostly when it comes to Hampshire Diamonds, very small sharp flints that penetrate even the toughest protection.

Over the last couple of years I have read of more and more long distance and Audax cyclists going over to tubeless tyres but I always considered it a dark art so after a lot of research this old dog is finally going to give them a try.

The advantages are listed as speed, grip, puncture protection and comfort as they can be run at lower pressure and punctures reseal themselves with the puncture protection fluid, well thats the theory.

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One major factor in my decision was that my research revealed that my present wheels were already tubeless compatible so there was no outlay required there. Rims need to be marked as either TLR, tubeless ready or TCS, tubeless conversion system.

The next step was to assemble all the equipment and this was selected as a result of reviews read on the subject. The tyres I selected were Schwalbe Pro One MicroSkin TL-Easy, Stans no tubes tubeless rims tape, Stans tubeless valves with removable cores and Stans tubeless fluid. I also bought a valve core remover and syringe for injecting the fluid through the valve.

Following the instructions and putting all this together was relatively easy, first the rims were cleaned with brake cleaner to get ride of any dirt and oily residue. The rim tape was as recommended 2mm wider than the internal rim width, the was applied starting one spoke away from the valve hole and overlapped by one spoke hole over the circumference, keeping it well tensioned. A small cross headed screwdriver was used to poke through the tape at the valve hole. The tubeless valve was then inserted making sure it was properly seated and the valve retaining ring and sealing washer tightened to complete an airtight seal.

Schwalbe Pro One Tubeless
Schwalbe Pro One Tubeless
The tyres were now put on the rims and that is when the fun started, the front tyre went on easily, I connected the track pump, a few strokes and it located the bead groove and inflated to 100psi. I did everything exactly the same on the rear wheel but with no success. I turned to the compressor thinking a forceful blast would work but no, so I tried a little soapy water to lubricate and ease them into place. This did not work either so I asked to Google for advice.

One suggestion was that as the Schwalbe Pro One tyres were the folding variety and putting them on the rim with an innner tube for 24 hrs would “straighten” them, several opinions suggested this was a good fix but it did not work for me. Another suggestion was that a second layer of rim tape would keep the tyre from sinking too far into the rim well and this and a liberal application of soapy water eventually worked.

Now both tyres were inflated so a quick spin on the axle to make sure the bead was seated true around the rim.

Once seated the tyres can be deflated and 60ml of puncture protection fluid injected through the removable valve core. The tyres are then inflated with the track pump and the wheels rotated and turned to spread the fluid.

The rim seal can also be checked with soapy water and once proved the tyre can be inflated to your chosen working pressure.

The theory now is that any small penetrating hole will be sealed by the fluid. Using this system an inner tube can be carried so in case of a hole too big to be sealed by the fluid you can remove the tubeless valve, clean the fluid off the inside of the tyre checking carefully for any foreign object that might have pierced the tyre carcase, insert the tube and run as a tubular tyre.

One point worth mentioning that I had not realised is that C02 cylinders should not be used on tubeless tyres as it has a negative effect on the puncture protection fluid.

If like me you have never used a tubeless system before it may seem like a leap into the unknown.

Now for the big test………………..

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