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Tubeless hints from Utah's experts...
 (Helpful suggestions gleaned from our Forum: these hints and
comments were submitted by experienced Utah tubeless riders.
We haven't tested these hints, so "buyer beware.")
  • To install a brand-new tire on a tubeless system, put an inner tube inside it and pump it to 60 PSI. Leave it a day or two in a warm place, or go riding on it. The tire bead smooths out against the rim and takes the "folds" out of a Kevlar-bead tire that's been in a box. Then take the tube out and inflate the tire with sealant.
  • Consider using a standard UST tire in the back. It's heavier, but more resistant to rim-cuts by rocks and roots, and less likely suffer a split sidewall as the tire gets older.
  • If you're using non-UST (standard) tires as tubeless, don't get carried away with the "lower pressure" stuff. The sidewalls of some tire brands are pretty thin. If the tire is under-inflated, the sidewalls flex and wrinkle under the weight of a heavier rider. This can break the bond between rubber and cords. Result: multiple tiny leaks in the sidewall, or sudden sidewall blowout. If you're a weight-weenie about your tires, but are bigger than welterweight yourself, inflate the tires to 40 psi.
  • Rim strips easily develop leaks around the stem. Be sure to use the little nut to tighten the stem. Otherwise, you may push the rim strip up into the tire (instead of underneath the tire's bead) when trying to fill the tire with air.
  • Every 90 days, pull off your tire, remove the goop and replace with new sealant. If you don't it gets thick and gels up.
  • Thin-walled superlight XC tires (designed to be used with a tube) are prone to failure when used tubeless. Without the support of an inner tube the sidewall is more likely to rupture and you're more likely to get rim-cuts along the bead. If you're heavy and ride rough, go with a standard UST tire. And always take an inner tube with you.
  • Even if you're tubeless with sealant, take a patch kit with you. I've stuck a tube in a cut tubeless tire, only to have an old thorn that was already in the tire puncture the tube. Walking sucks.
  • When you buy a tubeless wheel, take out the valves. They're too short for your pump to fit without an adapter. And you probably won't have that adapter when you flat on the trail. Buy the long valves from Stans. The standard presta head on your pump will fit without an adapter. You can also squirt extra sealant through the valve without breaking the tire's seal.
  • The Stan's system can be replicated on your own. You can buy sealant more cheaply at an automotive store. Rim strips can be made using a smaller diameter tube and a razor blade or sharp scissors. (There's a technique to making the strips, but it can be done.)
  • If you use the Stan's sealant, there's no need to patch small leaks. The initial plug will harden with heat and use. On the other hand "Slime" will eventually come unglued, and the old hole becomes a new hole.
  • When you see the thorn in your tire, rotate the tire so the thorn is at the bottom before you pull it out. The Stan's goop will squirt for a second then the leak will seal. Wait a minute with the leaky spot at the bottom of the tire before you start riding again.
  • There are ways to seal non-UST rims with packing tape and electrical tape that works quite well, so you don't have to buy the Stan's rim strip. Just get a tubeless valve. Packing tape over the spoke holes, then electrical tape to double-seal. Superlight.
  • The rubber on a tubeless valve (where it seats against the inside of the rim) can get mashed down and harden with time. If you have to do more than finger-tighten the ring to prevent air leaks, it's time for a new valve. I replace mine with Stan's valves, because I can get my floor pump to latch on with the Presta head.
  • If you have a UST tubeless wheel, try running a standard tire with 2 ounces of Stan's tire sealant. This is lighter than any other type of tire setup.
  • The bead area on a non-UST tire is rougher than a true tubeless tire, and tends to slowly leak air. Wipe some Slime (or other gooey brand of tire sealer) on the bead of the tire and on the inside of the rim before inflating the tire. But DON'T do this unless your wheel is up away from sand and dirt!
  • Get a bunch of 2-ounce plastic squeeze-bottles from the craft store. Cut the nipple so it has a big opening, but still fits inside the stem of the tire liner. When filling, be sure you get plenty of "chunks" in the sealant -- they help clot bigger holes. Pack a bottle in your Camelbak every time you ride.
  • Buy a mini-pump that doubles as a CO2-cartridge inflator and a standard pump. With bigger tires, the CO2 inflator may not fill the tire hard enough. With a double-function inflator, just use the pump to top off the pressure after the CO2 seals the tire.
  • Look for a CO2 inflator that uses small-necked, non-threaded cartridges. You can buy replacement cartridges at the sporting goods store, for less than half what you'd pay at the bike shop.
  • Buy a small compressor with a reservoir tank to inflate your tires (paint store). Get a cigarette-lighter power inverter, and toss the compressor in your trunk on your biking trips. You'd be surprised how many times it's saved me $3 for a CO2 cartridge, and even the non-tubeless guys love it.
  • Once you're committed to tubeless, consider Schraeder-valve rim strips. You won't need an adapter to inflate the tire, and with the core-removing tool you buy at Checker Auto, you can replace a valve core when it plugs up with hardened sealant.
  • Buy BIG tires with plenty of rubber. Don't be seduced by the lightweight racing slicks. For example, a 1.8-inch tire doesn't contain enough air to keep the rim from pushing the tire hard into rock edges. Because these tires have no tread and are paper-thin, they'll literally slice on the edge of the rock, and you'll walk home.
  • Always take two inner tubes with you. You never know when you'll get both tires punctured.
  • Consider that some extra-lightweight tires with thin sidewalls may require the support of a tube to avoid splitting, and sealant does nothing to hold these flimsy tires together.
  • As we gathered experiences of our readers with Stans sealant, some wrote of their suspicion that the sealant had contributed to tire rupture. This was reported most often with non-UST tires. In the opinion of the UMB website editor, these reports should NOT discourage you from using this product. Click here to read more.

Related pages:  [Tubeless Conversion]  [Fixing a sealant-filled tire]   [Repair of a dry tubeless tire]   [Tubeless valve cleanout]

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