Road Tubeless Myths Debunked
Much the way it took over mountain bikes, road tubeless is becoming the choice for an increasing number of riders logging big miles on the road. From gravel riders to the pro peloton, the word is out that tubeless has some major advantages. But most riders still have a lot of concerns and questions. We asked the Vegan Cyclist, also known as Tyler Pearce, 32, about his perspective as a first-time road tubeless rider after he got in nearly four months of riding on Stan’s NoTubes Avion carbon road tubeless wheels this summer and fall.
“My experience with these wheels has been amazing! Tubeless is the future,” said the Californian road rider, a father of two who hates getting flats on the road, especially at the beginning of road races after driving four hours to get there. “I think tubeless technology is ready to be embraced on the road.”
The Vegan Cyclist shared with us some of the myths about riding road tubeless that he heard as he made the switch to tubeless.
Myth #1: You will get a similar number of flats on tubed and tubeless tires.
Not true! Assuming similar riding conditions, a properly set up tubeless tire will experience fewer flats than a typical tubed tire. This is because the sealant works to seal most minor punctures as they happen such that you may never even notice that they occurred.
“Ninety percent of the flats you get while riding road tubeless get sealed while your ride. You don’t have to do anything to fix them,” said the Vegan Cyclist. “You’ll rarely get a flat for which you have to do anything but just keep riding. Months may go by between significant flats.”
Myth #2: You can put any tires on a tubeless rim when making the switch to tubeless.
Not true! The Vegan Cyclist learned this the hard way firsthand. You can’t just expect any tire to work when set up tubeless. We suggest buying tires that have been designed for tubeless use. Different tire brands have different names for this; for example, Schwalbe uses “Tubeless Easy”, Hutchinson and Vittoria say “Tubeless Ready”, and Panaracer and Maxxis simply go with “Tubeless”.
Myth #3: You will need a compressor to set up your tubeless road tires.
Not true! Most tires can be mounted and sealed to Stan’s wheels using only a standard cycling floor pump to inflate and seat them. If you’re having trouble getting your tires to seal, try coating the tire at its interface with the rim with soapy water.
Myth #4: You have to run the same pressures for tubeless that you do with tubed wheels.
Not true! You can ride tubeless road tires at much lower pressures than tubed tires. For example, Vegan Cyclist typically rides his tubed road tires at 110-120 psi, but rides his tubeless road tires at about 80-90 psi. Exact ideal tire pressures for each rider depend on rider weight, road conditions and the specific tires used.
“One time, I got a few flats while riding and did nothing to ‘fix’ them. By the time I finally got to pump them up, I discovered that my tires were down to 25 psi, yet I hadn’t even damaged my rim. That said, I don’t recommend riding your road wheels at 25 psi, but you can if you have to.”
Myth #5: If you get the kind of tubeless road flat which requires repair by putting in a tube, it will be a nightmare.
Not true! “I tried it just to see, and yes, there is some liquid (the sealant) that splashes around as you put in the tube, but it’s no big deal,” said Vegan Cyclist, who also noted, “It’s true that sealant may not be able to seal your tire if there is a big gash causing your flat, but that would have been an issue, too, if you had been running tubed tires.”