Road Tubeless - Not to be confused with tubular where a complete carcass is bonded to the rim, tubeless is becoming increasingly popular within the road cycling fraternity. We have offered road tubeless wheelsets ever since our inception in 2012 when rim and tyre choice was much more limited. Nowadays tubeless ready is becoming increasingly popular with most of our builds having this option. This article is designed to dispel some of the myths around road tubeless tyres, so exactly what is it?
Simply put it is the same as a conventional tube and tyre set-up but as the name would suggest . . . without the tube. This is achieved by using components which are designed to work together to ensure a perfect seal between the tyre and rim without the need for an inner tube. It is important to note the use of the term tubeless ready, commonly abbreviated to TLR, means you can still use a tube if required, so if you are looking for a new wheelset and don't feel quite ready you can switch to tubeless at a later stage.
So what is different about tubeless components?
Let's start with the rim. If you were to look at a cross section of a tubeless ready rim you will notice that it is U shaped. The centre section allows the tyre to be mounted (in most cases) without the use of tyre levers as it effectively reduces the diameter of the rim at this point. There is a shelf on either side where the tyre bead sits once inflated with hooks on the outer section to secure it.
TLR tyres are specially designed to interface with TLR rims to ensure they form a perfect seal at their maximum stated tyre pressure. They are also specially designed to be used without tubes and remain air tight (with the addition of tubeless sealant). This may make them marginally heavier than a lightweight conventional tyre, but you do not have the added weight of the tube and as you will read later it is not all about the weight, yes really.
Tubeless rim tape - This is specifically designed to be light weight and ensure an air tight seal. 2 layers are applied due to the higher pressures used in road bike tyres. It is also suitable for use with a conventional tyre/tube set-up
Tubeless Valves - As there is no tube obviously you will need a valve. All tubeless valves supplied by PT Cycles feature a removable core to enable the sealant to be topped up without the need to unseat the tyre.
Sealant - A small amount of sealant is required and serves to 'repair' punctures as they happen. Should the tyre be penetrated which would normally result in a flat with a conventional set-up the tubeless sealant acts to repair the puncture 'on the fly'. It is so effective that you may often never know you have had a puncture in the first place.
Now we have covered the nuts and bolts (well rims and tyres) what are the real life advantages of tubeless?
Puncture protection - We touched on this earlier and the benefits cannot be over stated. Whilst we cannot guarantee you will never get a flat the reality is the risk is absolutely minimal. For peace of mind you may wish to carry a spare tube, but since going tubeless ourselves in 2012 we have never experienced a flat, despite covering 1000's of miles.
More comfort - Due to the reduced tyre pressures obtainable with tubeless, which is typically 90% of your 'normal' pressure, a more compliant ride is achieved.
Ride faster - Friction between the tyre and tube generates heat and therefore consumes valuable watts. As there is no inner tube with a tubeless tyre this friction is eliminated. Furthermore, scientific tests have shown that lower tyre pressures result in reduced rolling resistance, again saving valuable watts.
Easy set-up - Some tubeless tyres can be tricky to install. The brands we offer are carefully selected to ensure not only that they offer excellent performance but are easy to install as long as you follow a very basic process. We offer (and ride on) 2 brands of TLR tyres, Schwalbe and Maxxis. For road use we have the Schwalbe Pro One and Maxxis Padrone. If you are seeking a gravel tyre then we have the Schwalbe S One and Maxxis Re-Fuse. We offer a free tubeless set up with any of the above tyres for customers who order a wheelset with the necessary tyres and tubeless components.
Still not convinced? As you may be aware we are massive fans of ENVE products and their take on the matter can be found here.