If you’ve owned a bike, you’ve likely had tires with inner tubes. Which means you’ve also probably dealt with the limitations of inner tubes. You’ve had to replace or patch them after running over something sharp. If you’ve tried to run lower pressure, you’ve probably hit something hard and suffered a pinch flat. The solution? Tubeless tires!
As the name implies, a tubeless tire is a setup without inner tubes. This is done by using tubeless-ready tires, a liquid sealant that makes the tires airtight and seals small punctures, and special rim strips and valves to make the rims airtight. You can shop all of these items here.
One of the most significant advantages, and most appealing to cyclists of all types, is that you’ll get far fewer flats. This is because of two traits of a tubeless system. First is the sealant. It seals punctures almost immediately while you’re riding. So small holes from things like thorns and glass can go unnoticed. Second, when you run a tube and hit a hard object, like a rock on a mountain bike trail or a pothole on the road, the tire and rim can actually pinch the tube, causing a flat (hence the name “pinch flat”). Without a tube, there’s no risk of a pinch flat!
One of the other big advantages of a tubeless system is ride quality. Whether riding a mountain bike, a road bike, or a commuter, you can run much lower pressure in your tires since there’s no risk of a pinch flat. This lower pressure serves several benefits. One, it puts more tire in contact with the ground, which provides better traction. So, whether you’re in the dirt or on the pavement, you can rail through corners with confidence. Running a lower pressure also means that the tire can better absorb small impacts and vibrations, smoothing out your ride.
An interesting advantage of a tubeless system is rolling resistance. You see, when you have an inner-tube inside your tire you have more contact over more area. As the tire rolls down the road, it deforms against the tube. This creates friction which, in turn, creates more rolling resistance. With tubeless tires, you eliminate this friction and thus, reduce the rolling resistance which will make it easier to push the bike forward!
Tubeless tires do require a bit more time and effort to set up. The tires need to be seated correctly on the rim to be airtight, and you have to add sealant to the system. To correctly seat the rims, an air compressor can certainly help, as does a little soapy water. And sealant injectors allow you to push sealant right through the valve. Fortunately, our service departments at ERIK’S are more than happy to take care of the installation process for you.
You also need to remember to still carry a spare tube with you. While tubeless sealant will take care of small holes, which are the most common, it can’t take care of larger cuts. But the good news is, you can handle those with a spare tube just like you would with a standard tire and tube setup.
When tubeless tires first came to the world of cycling, it was primarily restricted to mountain bikes. And mountain bikes are where you’ll still find the largest selection of tubeless-ready tires. But today you’ll find options for mountain, road, gravel, and cyclocross tires. That means that no matter the type of riding you do, there’s likely a tubeless option for you.
And don’t think that tubeless setups are only for racers or the ultra-competitive type. Tubeless tires are an excellent option for commuters too. It’s one less thing to worry about as you navigate city streets that are likely to have glass and potholes abound!
While inner tubes have served cyclists well for over a century, tubeless tires clearly have their advantages. If you’re looking for a way to make your ride faster, more comfortable, and less flat-prone, tubeless tires are a great solution. Check out our great selection of tubeless tires and products on shoperiks.com or stop into one of our stores today!