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Basic tubeless questions

Morning

I run clinchers/tubes at the moment but on tubeless compatible wheels so considering giving it a go when I need to replace my tyres. A couple of basic questions I have - interested in actual experiances.

1) For various reasons I often end up not riding one or other of my road bikes for a few weeks at a time. I beleive for extended periods of non-use that the official line is to remove sealant, but how long can a tyre sit and still be useable? Does the sealant leak, clog, become useless etc?

2) When you pump a tyre and a little air escapes (from the tyre, not me!) do you get covered in sealant every time?

Basic I know!!

Cheers

If you're new please join in and if you have questions pop them below and the forum regulars will answer as best we can.

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34 comments

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Hirsute | 9 months ago
3 likes

Well, that was fun. Got new valves as one was clogged up.

Could not remove one of the old valves, the outer lock nut was solid on and with 2 paris of pliers still no movement.

Google suggested this tool would help https://rydercycling.co.za/

but in the end, I used a dremel to cut it off !

Lessson - once all is working, after a week, loosen lock ring.

 

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Cugel replied to Hirsute | 9 months ago
1 like
Hirsute wrote:

Well, that was fun. Got new valves as one was clogged up.

Could not remove one of the old valves, the outer lock nut was solid on and with 2 paris of pliers still no movement.

Google suggested this tool would help https://rydercycling.co.za/

but in the end, I used a dremel to cut it off !

Lessson - once all is working, after a week, loosen lock ring.

If you loosen the lock ring you might let the air and sealant out. A better arrangement is to put a squishable rubber grommet between the lock ring and the rim. Many tubeless valves are sold with such a ring included for the purpose.

Finger tight is then enough to keep the air and sealant inside the wheel-tyre; and you can usually get the lock ring loose again with your fingers. The rubber ring conforms to any wee gaps left between rim and valve lock nut.

Rubber grommets of many sizes, including a dozen that will fit bicycle valve stems, can be bought in boxed sets of around 100, from many places, for about a fiver. They include sizes for all sorts of purposes, from rim-valve lock nut squishers to preventing your garden hose from leaking at the tap connector.

If you're a rubber fetishist, you can use one of your rubber ring collection as an engagement ring to your equally excitable partner. Also for other related purposes (or so I have heard).

A Dremel to remove a locknut! You must be butch as a fitter's cat!!   1

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hawkinspeter replied to Cugel | 9 months ago
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I'm surprised Hirsute got it to seal properly without a rubber grommet. Good call on the box of o-rings; I got one from eBay to replace a busted o-ring and it did the trick: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/153103461760

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Miller replied to hawkinspeter | 9 months ago
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It's no big deal without a grommet under the valve locknut although that's a nice touch. The airtight seal is the one at the base of the valve against the inside of the rim. If that's good you only need finger tight on the locknut, indeed if you remove the locknut entirely the valve will remain sealed because air pressure is pushing it against the rim bed. The trouble with locknuts is they get done up a bit tight, and sealant seeps into them, and they get ignored for ages (I've done all this) and then you find they're an absolute b@stard to remove when you need to. 

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Hirsute replied to Miller | 9 months ago
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The locknut was 6mm high and sat on a plastic concave washer. With 2 pairs of pliers I could not shift it. As it was blocked, hacking it off was ok.

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IanMSpencer replied to Hirsute | 9 months ago
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I had success at the roadside with another cyclist's valve when the tear in the tyre wouldn't seal (Schwalbe 1's again). They couldn't shift the locknut until I pressed the valve from inside the rim. That relieved the pressure and therefore reduced the friction so then it undid without fuss.

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hawkinspeter replied to Miller | 9 months ago
1 like
Miller wrote:

It's no big deal without a grommet under the valve locknut although that's a nice touch. The airtight seal is the one at the base of the valve against the inside of the rim. If that's good you only need finger tight on the locknut, indeed if you remove the locknut entirely the valve will remain sealed because air pressure is pushing it against the rim bed. The trouble with locknuts is they get done up a bit tight, and sealant seeps into them, and they get ignored for ages (I've done all this) and then you find they're an absolute b@stard to remove when you need to. 

I was definitely getting air coming out though the locknut/rim interface so my valve wasn't quite sealing correctly, but after replacing the busted o-ring, it stopped that leak and allowed the tyre to inflate fully. Presumably the gap around the base of the valve got fixed by the air pressure and sealant.

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ktache replied to hawkinspeter | 9 months ago
2 likes

My little hardware shop has several such boxes, managed to replace a leaking seal on my marzochi Z2s and replace a weird spring on the bottom of my Topeka Joe blow delux. Low prices too.

The workshop in microbiology, uni reading had many, I got on very well with the blokes and could peruse and aquire to my heart's content. I was a great "salvager", had to be, keeping equipment going, even repairing stuff people had thrown away. (And running old bicycles too...)

Not meant to be fixing stuff anymore...

 

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Steve K | 9 months ago
2 likes

I switched to tubeless on Friday. Given how mechanically inept I am, I found it amazingly easy (switching the cassette between the wheels was more of a hassle). I've only ridden about 60km since, but so far so good.

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zedthegreat | 9 months ago
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Hi all. I let this sit for a few weeks, but appreciate the feedback and experiences of how it has worked or not in the real world. Cheers!

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Kapelmuur replied to zedthegreat | 9 months ago
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I had o get a new set of wheels recently and my LBS removed the tyres from the original 4 year old wheels to fit on the new ones.

I asked the mechanic whether he had to scrape out solidified or balled sealant and he reported that it was still runny.

I use Muc Off sealant, he says some other brands such as Stans go solid fairly quickly.

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mike the bike | 10 months ago
6 likes

At my age life is too short for buying special gloop, special valves, special tape, special pump, special tyres, special topper-uppers and then getting covered in the gloop?  Not to mention the cleaning out of the special gloop when it dries, the throwing away of the special gloop when it proves to be bloody useless and the very regular pumping of both tyres.  Now, apparently, we have to listen to our tyres in case the special gloop has turned crusty.

Mmm, now let me think .....

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mark1a replied to mike the bike | 10 months ago
4 likes

I'll put you down as a no then...

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Cugel replied to mike the bike | 10 months ago
3 likes
mike the bike wrote:

At my age life is too short for buying special gloop, special valves, special tape, special pump, special tyres, special topper-uppers and then getting covered in the gloop?  Not to mention the cleaning out of the special gloop when it dries, the throwing away of the special gloop when it proves to be bloody useless and the very regular pumping of both tyres.  Now, apparently, we have to listen to our tyres in case the special gloop has turned crusty.

Mmm, now let me think .....

Perhaps you yourself have become ossified to a far greater degree than the tyre gloop ever is? I yam quite ancient myself but enjoy the invigorating effects of learning to use a new technology, especially if it provides a means to avoid having to deal with punctures when far from home with the olde joints getting a bit creak.

That ossification of the attitudes can soon morph into worserer conditions, tha knows! You may find yourself out on the bike with no idea of why you went or where you are!! Or even who you once were!!!

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Awavey replied to Cugel | 10 months ago
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I think tubeless appeals to alot of cyclists as they like to endlessly tinker around with their bikes and so the preparation and maintenance of it hits their buttons, so to speak.

Others of us just want to spend our time riding our bikes instead, and I've never got the appeal of what tubeless actually gives you.

But maybe I've been influenced by watching too many youtube cycling influencers using tubeless, and who all seem to have mates who run bike shops that do all their tinkering for them, who seem to spend an inordinate amount of time plugging tubeless tyres whilst on rides.

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IanMSpencer replied to Awavey | 9 months ago
1 like
Awavey wrote:

I think tubeless appeals to alot of cyclists as they like to endlessly tinker around with their bikes and so the preparation and maintenance of it hits their buttons, so to speak.

Others of us just want to spend our time riding our bikes instead, and I've never got the appeal of what tubeless actually gives you.

But maybe I've been influenced by watching too many youtube cycling influencers using tubeless, and who all seem to have mates who run bike shops that do all their tinkering for them, who seem to spend an inordinate amount of time plugging tubeless tyres whilst on rides.

For me it is the opposite. Tubeless is fit and forget. After about 6 months, l will top up the fluid. One unrideable puncture in 6 years, iirc. I've helped fix loads of other people's punctures in that time.

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Cugel replied to IanMSpencer | 9 months ago
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IanMSpencer wrote:
Awavey wrote:

I think tubeless appeals to alot of cyclists as they like to endlessly tinker around with their bikes and so the preparation and maintenance of it hits their buttons, so to speak. Others of us just want to spend our time riding our bikes instead, and I've never got the appeal of what tubeless actually gives you. But maybe I've been influenced by watching too many youtube cycling influencers using tubeless, and who all seem to have mates who run bike shops that do all their tinkering for them, who seem to spend an inordinate amount of time plugging tubeless tyres whilst on rides.

For me it is the opposite. Tubeless is fit and forget. After about 6 months, l will top up the fluid. One unrideable puncture in 6 years, iirc. I've helped fix loads of other people's punctures in that time.

As with all new! improved! claims from manufacturers stoking the various fashion cycles, I was very wary of tubeless at first, not least because after decades of cycling on less than resilient tyres and tubes, I was adept at mending a puncture at the roadside in just a minute or seven. However ....

Buying some new wheels from Hunt, about 6 years ago, I took the plunge and added a set of tubeless tyres, fitted by Hunt. These were Schwalbe G-one Speed, ridden many, many miles on the winter bike over some seriously nasty backroads throughout Lancashire, Cumbria and West Yorkshire. No punctures - although the eventual worn tyre change revealed several self-sealed penetrations by bits of glass and thorns, with the offending items still stuck in the tyre but only obvious from inside.

Schwalbe Doc Blue sealant was needed only every six months (and perhaps less often than that, as there was always some of it still liquid in the tyre when I topped them up).

All my tyres are now tubeless. No puntures requiring a mend by me so far in thousands and thousands of miles on four different sorts of tyres. I did have the pleasure of pulling a geet big chunk of hawthorn out of a front tyre then watching the latex ooze seal it in a second, with no obvious tyre deflation.

Once you've got the tyre mounting process sorted (soapy rims or tyre edges is the key for me) the tubeless tyre is far easier to manage than the tubed variety.  They also feel significantly and noticeably better to ride  - less pressure so more comfort & grip; and they seem to roll better (freewheeling downhill faster than others in the group with similar tubed tyres).

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Kapelmuur replied to mike the bike | 10 months ago
6 likes
mike the bike wrote:

At my age life is too short for buying special gloop, special valves, special tape, special pump, special tyres, special topper-uppers and then getting covered in the gloop?  Not to mention the cleaning out of the special gloop when it dries, the throwing away of the special gloop when it proves to be bloody useless and the very regular pumping of both tyres.  Now, apparently, we have to listen to our tyres in case the special gloop has turned crusty.

Mmm, now let me think .....

I'm in my mid 70s and went tubeless 3 years ago because arthritic thumbs make tyre removal difficult. 

The only special kit I bought was an injector which made it easier to top up the tyres.   I didn't know a special pump etc was needed and have survived nevertheless.

I topped up yesterday for the 6th time  in 3 years and having read here about sealant going hard and having to be removed listened carefully and also squeezed all round the deflated tyres, couldn't hear or feel any evidence of hard sealant.

I did find 10 places where tyres had been pierced by thorns and the sealant had done its job.

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vthejk | 10 months ago
1 like

It seems to depend on the tire and sealant. I have run WTBs with Joe's No Flats eco sealant a lot in the past year and they are prone to a lot of sidewall sealant seepage in the initial week or so of installing the tire (most notably on their non-reinforced casing with tan walls). After that period, I needed to top the sealant up once; however, this then didn't occur again until the tire was used up. I got around 5,000km out of my last pair of WTB Byways in 584-47mm and they still had a healthy pool of liquid sealant in after they were removed.

Worth noting as well that the tires sealed up perfectly well when punctured throughout their working life, with only one larger hole needing to be plugged.

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JMcL_Ireland | 10 months ago
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I've been running tubeless for about a year on the "good bike". It's had a couple of periods of sitting for extended periods in that time - I took my other bike to France in the summer (about 1 month all told) as it lends itself to rougher surfaces, I was off the bike for about 6 weeks after getting hit by Covid in late autumn, and it didn't get out very often from November to early March as I was mostly on the turbo (not on that bike). I've never had issues with the sealant leaking or spraying (sometimes get a miniscule amount spraying out of the valve when detaching the pump)

I've topped it up once (tardily - I probably should aim to add a bit every 3-4 months) and - fingers crossed - have yet to get a flat. Following advice on another forum, I'm going to not remove the old stuff until the tires have worn out. I'm probably 1/3 the way there on that though I'm planning more time on the road this year so would probably be looking at replacing at least the rear early next year (I usually rotate front to back as it's had less wear)

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duncanap | 10 months ago
1 like

I have been running tubeless for about 5 years. I don't commute but do ride a fair bit (strava shows 2500km so far this year). I use two main bikes, depending on type of ride and weather (one has mudguard points). I use schwalbe ones or continental GP5000s, nearly always 28mm. I invested in a miltag kit which means I can suck old sealent out with a syringe and add new without taking the tyres off. I am pretty lazy. I woudl say I only take out old sealent to avoid making a mess when a tyre is dead and needs replacing. I add sealent (about 15-20 ml per tyre) if the bike has sat for more than three months, or if I feel like it has dried out - you can actually hear the sealent moving if you move the wheels while in a stand in a quiet place.

The only problems I have had have been cuts on sidewalls whenI have hit sharp rocks descending. A lot of the hills near me have tarmac roads but they are not open to cars or have very light traffic as they are in a nature reserve (I know - I am super lucky). Worst I had was a 10mm cut on front tyre at speed, which resulted in three broken ribs and a trip to hospital. But I am pretty sure that would have destroyed almost any tyre. The cut was on a newish conti, right across the tread, from a very sharp shard of glass. Other issues have been sidewall cuts. Always made it home with a spare tube and cereal bar wrapper. 

I have done a couple of Haute Route 7 day events and seen plenty of people stuck - opten with pinch/snakebite punctures from potholes. I have never had that with tubeless, you can in extreme situations make them burp sealent, but as long as you add some more later you should be fine. I bought a really nice plugkit but never used it. I have sometimes patched the inside of tyres if I have noticed a larger puncture, more out of paranoia as the descents near me are fast, and I have used my hospital pass already....patching is just like fixing an inner tube with a slightly thicker patch and appropriate glue direct to inside of tyre. Never noticed an issue with valves sealing up. If I do take a tyre off I just wash it out with water and start again. Note CO2 is not supposed to play well with tubeless sealents, ok to get you home but you should empty out the CO2 and reinflate with air when you can. I don't use CO2 myself, but have heard this from many others so beleive it.

So for me it is a really useful technology. I am lazy but like to fiddle. Ride in a rural setting but in remote areas where I can often be outside mobile phone signal areas. I always carry plugs, tubes, and tools. But I would in any case. I have often given my tubes to other riders - hopefully the karma helps me and them.

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duncanap replied to duncanap | 10 months ago
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Last point - if I fly with my bike I do drop the pressure a bit, normal riding pressure for me is 70-80psi, I woudl drop it to 30-40 psi for flying. Enough to keep the tyre sealed, but allow some expansion for reduction in pressure. Again this might be superstition but it seems to work pretty well.

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duncanap replied to duncanap | 10 months ago
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I found this Hunt Wheels guide really useful when I started using tubeless tyres -

https://help.huntbikewheels.com/support/solutions/articles/43000456128-tubeless-tyre-setup

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Oldfatgit | 10 months ago
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I have 2 sets of wheels - tubeless for gravel and traditional for commute.
Essentially, the tubeless are on for one ride a week; my bike was broken in February and they spent the whole month in an unheated metal shed (in central Scotland) with no detrimental effects.

The only thing I have happened in use, was this weekend when a puncture had made the tyre go 'wallowing' soft; the sealant had clogged the valve sufficiently to blow the 'o' ring from my CO2 cannister injector (makes a big bang, BTW), and rendered the injector useless ('o' Ring is interruptance fit, and won't go back in the detent ring without the correct tooling).

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stonojnr | 10 months ago
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Local bike shop posted this picture of how tubeless tyre sealant can go, i think that bike is less than a year old.
https://www.instagram.com/p/Cp4mr_Yo7-y/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

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wtjs replied to stonojnr | 10 months ago
3 likes

Local bike shop posted this picture of how tubeless tyre sealant can go

Wonderful! I just can't wait to sign up for £20 per wheel every 6 months

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mark1a replied to wtjs | 10 months ago
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wtjs wrote:

Local bike shop posted this picture of how tubeless tyre sealant can go

Wonderful! I just can't wait to sign up for £20 per wheel every 6 months

Where do you get £20 per wheel every 6 months from?

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NotNigel replied to mark1a | 10 months ago
1 like

It's what the bike shop from the Instagram link was charging.

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mark1a replied to NotNigel | 10 months ago
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Ah I see, thanks. Seems a bit steep doesn't it? Although I guess anyone who is competent enough to change a tyre, fix a puncture, etc themselves should be able to stay on top of this at home. £16 for a bottle of Stans with enough for 8 wheels works out at £2 a wheel plus some time.

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hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
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The longevity of tubeless sealant probably depends on the tyres. If they're "tubeless-ready" then the sealant will likely dry out quicker and may need topping up every couple of months. It can be a good idea to check every couple of months or so as you might not have noticed a sealed puncture or two that reduced the amount of sealant.

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