Want to go tubeless? Here are all your options in tyres.
Tubeless tyres are gradually gaining popularity as more riders become convinced that their improved ride and increased resistance to punctures are worth the cost of new wheels and tyres and the sometimes problematic fitting process. If you’re about to make the switch, here’s a look at your tyre options.
When tubeless tyres for road wheels first appeared you had very few choices. Hutchinson made tyres, Shimano and Stan’s NoTubes made wheels and conversion kits and, er, that was it. Now many tyre makers offer tubeless options, though Michelin and Continental are notable hold-outs.
Bontrager offers a range of three tyres badged Tubeless Ready, which means what you need to get them working is sealant and either Bontrager’s special rim strips if you have Bontrager wheels, or other tubeless compatible wheels and valves. In ascending order of raciness, they’re the AW2, R2 and R3. We’ve tested and liked the latter as part of the Bontrager Road TLR Upgrade Kit.
|Bontrager R2 TLR||235g (25mm)||£33.99|
|Bontrager R3 TLR||200g (25mm)||£38.49|
|Bontrager CX0 TLR||395g (33mm)||£44.99|
|Bontrager CX3 TLR||405g (33mm)||£44.99|
Compass Cycles grew out of the magazine Bicycle Quarterly, founded in 2002 by Jan Heine, a Seattle-based long-distance cyclist and journalist. Heine contends that wide, supple tyres perform better in every respect than skinny tyres, and perform better than would be expected from rolling resistance twsts performed on smooth steel drums. And he's put his money on it with a line of tyres that includes tubeless models.
|Snoqualmie Pass TC 44mm||378g/329g||£58/£70|
|Barlow Pass TC 38mm||430g/380g||£54/£68|
|Steilacoom TC 38mm||423g/370g||£56/£70|
|Bon Jon Pass TC 35mm||355g/303g||£54/£67|
|Switchback Hill TC 650B x 48mm||478g/413g||£58/£73|
|Babyshoe Pass TC 650B x 42mm||410g/373g||£56/£70|
|Pumpkin Ridge TC 650B x 42mm||480g/418g||£58/£72|
The newest entry into the tubeless fray is the world's biggest bike manufacturer, which has switched to tubeless tyres and wheels on large swathe of its 2018 models. Giant has come up with a ten-model range that covers a full range of applications from racing to messing about in the dirt.
|Giant Gavia SL 1||300g (25mm)||£39.99|
|Giant Gavia SLR 1||255g (25mm)||£49.99|
|Giant Gavia Race 1||255g (25mm)||£39.99|
|Giant Gavia Race 0||307g (25mm)||£49.99|
|Giant Gavia AC 0||278g (25mm), 302g (28mm)||£49.99|
|Giant Gavia AC 1||330g (25mm), 373g (28mm)||£39.99|
|Giant Gavia AC 2||411g (25mm), 441g (28mm)||£29.99|
|Giant Crosscut Tour 2||553g (30mm)||£29.99|
|Giant Crosscut AT 2||673g (38mm)||£24.99|
|Giant Crosscut Gravel 2||573g (40mm), 705g (45mm), 725g (50mm)||£29.99|
Hutchinson launched tubeless tyres for road bikes back in 2006, so it’s no surprise the French tyre maker has a fairly big range. While most tyre makers have gone down the Tubeless Ready route with lightweight tyres that need sealant to keep the air in, Hutchinson also makes tyres to the original Road Tubeless spec, sealed with a coating of rubber inside the tyre.
Hutchinson's flagship tubeless tyre is the Fusion 5, which is available in a number of variants. There are Tubeless Ready versions that need sealant, and Road Tubeless versions that, on paper, don't need sealant, but that everyone uses sealant with anyway just to be safe. Both Road Tubeless and Tubeless Ready versions are available in Galactik, Performance and All Season variants.
Galactik is the lightest version, intended for racing; Performance is the all-rounder with a slightly thicker tread and All Season is more durable, with a thicker tread and grooves to allegedly disperse water in wet conditions. Road Tubeless Fusion 5s come in 23mm and 25mm widths, Tubeless Ready in 25mm, plus 28mm in Performance and All Season.
All Fusion 5s use Hutchinson's ElevenStorm rubber which provides very low rolling resistance and buckets of grip. Tubeless Ready versions have Hutchinson's Hardskin bead-to-bead protection to reduce cuts and punctures. Galactik Road Tubeless tyres have a light reinforcement under the tread, while Performance and All Season Road Tubeless tyres get extra protection in the form of a Kevlar band.
|Hutchinson Fusion 5 Tubeless Ready All Season||260g (25mm)||£38.95|
|Hutchinson Fusion 5 Tubeless Ready Performance||255g (25mm)||£39.95|
|Hutchinson Fusion 5 Tubeless Ready Galactik||240g (25mm)||£49.00|
|Hutchinson Fusion 5 Road Tubeless All Season||325g (25mm)||£33.13|
|Hutchinson Fusion 5 Road Tubeless Performance||315g (25mm)||£49.99|
|Hutchinson Fusion 5 Road Tubeless Galactik||285g (25mm)||£64.99|
|Hutchinson Atom Road Tubeless||270g (23mm)||£49.95|
|Hutchinson Fusion 3 Road Tubeless||300g (25mm)||£44.18|
|Hutchinson Intensive 2 Road Tubeless||315g (25mm)||£41.99|
|Hutchinson Sector 28 Tubeless Ready||295g (28mm)||£34.99|
IRC makes several tubeless or tubeless ready tyres, but they’re very rare in the UK; we’ve only been able to find one source. That’s a pity as IRC has been pushing road tubeless technology to make tyres lighter and faster. The Pro Tubeless tyres have internal coating based on latex rubber rather than synthetic butyl. That makes for lower rolling resistance, just as a regular clincher tyre is faster with a latex inner tube than a butyl one.
|IRC Formula Pro Tubeless Light||285g (25mm)||£62.00|
|IRC Formula Pro Tubeless RBCC||310g (25mm)||£55.00|
|IRC Roadlite Tubeless||340g (25mm)||£45.00|
|IRC Formula Pro Fusion X-guard Tubeless||300g/340g (25mm/28mm)||£55.00|
Maxxis is known for mountain bike tyres, but also offers tubeless-ready tyres in a wide range of sizes and applications, plus a tubeless tyre that doesn't need sealant.
|Padrone TR (ISO 622/700C)||250g (23mm), 260g (25mm), 300g (28mm)||£44.99|
|Radiale TL (ISO 622/700C)||280g (22mm), 305g (24mm)||£84/£105|
|Re-Fuse TR (ISO 622/700C)||390g (32mm), 520g (40mm)||£41.24|
|Re-Fuse TR (ISO 584/650B)||610g (50mm)||£34.39|
|Rambler TR (ISO 622/700C)||380g (38mm/120tpi), 415g (38mm/60tpi), 375g (40mm/120tpi), 420g (40mm/60tpi)||£41.19|
|Ravager (ISO 622/700C)||485g (40mm/120tpi), 530g (40mm/60tpi)||£47.99|
Mavic jumped into the road tubeless sector with both boots in summer 2017, announcing a new standard — Road UST — and a big range of wheels. The accompanying tyre offerings are a bit thin at the moment — the Yksion Pro UST in 25mm and 28mm widths — but Mavic clearly anticipates other manufacturers adopting the standard when it's been ratified by the relevant international bodies.
Mavic still offers its all-purpose/gravel tyre in the old Road Tubeless standard, the 30mm Yksion Elite Allroad.
|Mavic Yksion Elite AllRoad||330g (30mm)||£37.86|
|Yksion Pro UST||NA||£42.70|
Panaracer has joined the tubeless fray with the Race A Evo 3 Tubeless. The Japanese tyre maker has developed a brand new bead which it claims allows the tyre to be inflated using just a hand pump and claims this tyre increases puncture resistance by 24% compared to the previous Evo 2 tyre, thanks to a new Protite puncture proof material. The tread compound is also claimed to improve cornering performance.
|Panaracer Race A Evo 3||280g (23mm)||~£32.50|
Schwalbe says “The future will be tubeless” in its latest blurb for the Schwalbe Pro One tyre, which it claims is its best tubeless tyre ever. We tested the slightly less advanced One Tubeless recently and found it rode brilliantly and, unlike many tubeless tyres, it was easy to get on the rim and to then pop into place on the bead seat.
Schwalbe offers a total of six ‘Tubeless Easy’ tyres, from the Pro One, which is being reliably reported as having a super-low rolling resistance, to the aptly named Big One, a 60mm tyre intended for mountain bike beach racing but which we’ve included in case anyone’s thinking of building up a ‘monster-cross’ bike.
|Schwalbe Pro One||255g (25mm)||£66.99|
|Schwalbe X-One Allround||370g (33mm)||£34.99|
|Schwalbe G-One Allround||400g (35mm)||£37.99|
|Schwalbe Big One||530g (60mm)||£36.99|
|Schwalbe Marathon Supreme||595g (40mm)||£44.99|
|Schwalbe Marathon Almotion||655g (40mm)||£30.78|
Until recently, Specialized has focused on endurance and cyclo-cross riding with its Tubeless Ready tyres, which it spells 2Bliss because — well, who knows. Californians, eh?
Specialized also makes a Road Tubeless version of its S-Works Turbo tyre. The 26mm version of this tyre recently won a rolling resistance test against a range of standard and tubeless tyres, and looks promising as a fast tyre for UK riding.
|Specialized Roubaix Road Tubeless||295g (25mm)||£70.00|
|Specialized Terra Pro 2Bliss Ready||370g (33mm)||£40.00|
|Specialized Tracer Pro 2Bliss Ready||365g (33mm)||£40.00|
|Specialized Trigger Pro 2Bliss Ready||490g (38mm)||£40.00|
|Specialized S-Works Turbo Road Tubeless||240g (24mm)||£60.00|
|Specialized Sawtooth 2Bliss Ready||615g (42mm)||£40.00|
Vittoria makes the big claim that this graphene technology tyre is the fastest ever independently measured, and the lightest tubeless-ready tyre too.
|Corsa Speed (Open TLR)||205g (23mm)||£44.00|
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Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.