I know what your thinking, this is the internet…here’s another guy going off on some opinionated rant about why tubeless is the next mustache. Sorry to disappoint but I’ll leave that to the forums. I’m just going to explain the easiest way you can actually make it work.
Just chuck your tubes in the ute, grab your favourite tyre sealant, yellow tape, some fancy valves and get ready to never run a tube again
The first step is figuring out what combination of rim and tyre you have. Most likely you have one of the following three options:
- UST (Universal Standard Tubeless)
- Tubeless Compatible
- Standard Tyre/Tube Rim
Setting up a UST System
Back in the 1990’s, Mavic created the first accepted standardised tubeless system. Tyres and rims that carry the official UST badge go through specific testing, are very reliable and hold the best seal often needing no added sealant. A quick check of your rims and tyres will tell you if this is a feature. If it is then your rims probably came with a special rim tape (some requiring no tape at all) and a UST Presta (French) valve.
Step 1: Install the valve making sure the locking screw and the valve core are tight.
Step 2: Seat both sides of the tyre onto the rim. Work the bead into the middle channel of the rim. Make sure the valve is inside both tyre beads.
Step 3: Use a compressor or pump to get the bead to “POP” onto the rim. Be careful not to exceed the maximum pressure of the tyre.
Step 4: UST tyres/rims don’t always require sealant, but you may choose to add this to heal small punctures while riding. The easiest way to add it at this point is to release all the pressure then remove the valve core. Inject the appropriate amount of sealant, replace the valve core and re-inflate.
SUPER TIP: Use some soapy water to help the tyre fully seat onto the rim.
Setting up a Tubeless Compatible System
A lot of major bicycle brands now spec their bikes with Tubeless Compatible wheels and tyres. The rims often come with preinstalled special rim tape and the appropriate valves. They will usually be set up on the shop floor with tubes but the process to convert is quite simple. Most shops may convert to tubeless for you if you ask during the sale (there may be a small set up cost involved). Tubeless Compatible systems will require sealant. In my experience most sealant brands work but advise purchasing the one your local shop recommends. Most important is always refill (this needs to be done every 4-6 months) with the same stuff.
Step 1: Remove tyre and tube from the wheel and check the rim tape. If the wheels don’t come with special tape already then purchase tubeless conversion tape. This stuff is like thick scotch tape and is usually yellow or orange in colour. I usually do two layers for mountain bike wheels.
Step 2: Poke a small hole at the valve hole and push the tubeless valve in. Tighten the little nut as tight as your fingers will allow.
Step 3: Fully seat one side of the tyre. Start to seat the other side leaving a small bit off the rim to easily pour in the tyre sealant. (You can also fully seat the tyre, remove the valve core and inject the sealant too) Follow the amount recommended on the sealant bottle for your size tyre.
SUPER TIP: To reduce the chance of sealant spilling, rotate the tyre so the pool of sealant away from the opening before you finish seating the tyre on the rim.
Step 4: Use a compressor or pump to get the bead to “POP” onto the rim. Be careful not to exceed the maximum pressure of the tyre.
Step 5: Spin the wheel repeatedly until you no longer hear any leaking air. Pressure may slightly leak over the first night but the more you spin and ride it the better it’ll stay sealed.
Setting up a tubeless conversion kit on standard wheels
Back in 2001 a man by the name of Stan Koziatek created a system for tubeless conversion without the need for UST certified rims/tyres. These days there are a number of companies proclaiming conversion systems for stock and standard mountain bike wheels. While I’m a user and believer that nothing can beat the original, most conversions systems you find in your local bike shop will work effectively. The key to getting it set up proper is selecting the right type of rim strip and using a newer tyre. I’ve seen some very interesting “Ghetto Tubeless” ideas attempted in shops and home garages that can work, but I’ll keep things simple for this article and describe the most common and reliable way to convert.
Step 1: Purchase the correct conversion kit (Stan’s No Tubes, Joes Tubeless…) for your rim width and diameter. Get the one that has the thick rubber rim strip with integrated valve.
Step 2: Tape your rim first with the same tape described in the Tubeless Ready set up. This will ensure an air tight seal at the spoke holes.
Step 4: Fully seat one side of the tyre. Start to seat the other side leaving a small bit off the rim to easily pour in the tyre sealant. (You can also fully seat the tyre, remove the valve core and inject the sealant too) Follow the amount recommended on the sealant bottle for your size tyre.
Step 5: Use a compressor or Pump to get the bead to “POP” onto the rim. Be careful not to exceed the maximum pressure of the tyre.
SUPER TIP: A great alternative to a compressor is the Bontrager Flash Charger. This type of pump allows you to pre-charge a chamber then release high volume at high speed into the tyre simulating a compressor.
Easy as right? It should be and the best part is you can do it at home without any special tools. Or if you’re strapped for time and want it done professionally, just pop into your local bike shop for a quick set up at an affordable price.