Going tubeless-only for road

There are endless guides, deep-dives into whether tubes or tubeless are faster, and in addition to some of the roadside repair ‘cons’ of tubeless there has recently been an update that tubeless tyres might actually cause a spoke-tension drop.

… but I’m interested in what’s actually out there in the real world.

Tubeless-only road wheels. Yay or nay?

I just haven’t been able to bring myself to take the plunge. I know it’s probably worthwhile, but hearing/reading Iain’s horror stories (including here) just made it all feel a bit too-hard-basket. I will at some point I’m sure, but at the moment, tubes have been working fine for me.

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In three years I’ve been on 28s and now a season on 32s. I’m really happy with them. Running 60psi instead of 95psi. One plug.

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Been doing it for 5 years, love the smooth ride, Zipp 303’s running Pirelli P-Zero 28’s. I carry a plug, small bottle of sealant and a CO2. Have had 2 punctures in the last 5 years where it couldn’t seal itself (conti GP5K sidewalls both times) and it was a call to the wife both times. I’ve also come home from a 200km charity ride with a tack embedded all the way into the tyre that had sealed around it. I didn’t know until i was taking the bike off my roofrack and putting it back in the garage when I returned home. No idea when i picked up the tack, could have been at 1 km or 200 km.

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I get punctures so infrequently on tubes (on my road bike) that it doesn’t seem worthwhile to go tubeless.

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This for me as well. I have gotten one puncture on my road bike in 16 years.

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It just doesn’t seem worth faffing around with tubeless for the road. Tyres are more expensive, goop and everything else.
For gravel or mtb, for sure.

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I had a very good example just a couple of weeks ago - the last bunch ride before we went back into lockdown…
Got a small puncture in the front - so I could see it sitting a little bit of sealant on each rotation - and although it took the best part of at least a couple of KMs to finally seal, I just kept riding with it.
Didn’t have to lose the bunch (or have anyone else wait while I changed a tube) - and was probably only 10-15 psi down when I got home.
I think the faffing about is only marginally greater than what you might have to do roadside - but not so much that it outweighs the benefits!

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I had tubeless for a year (LB carbon rimbrake wheelset, 25mm GP5000 TL) on my road bike and still have it on the gravel bike road wheels (32mm GP5000 TL). I wore out the rear on the road bike and went back to tubes for two reasons:

  1. Mounting a GP5000 TL is the second worst experience I’ve had fitting a tyre (Challenge Strada Bianca are the World Champ, Olympic gold medal winner for the worst). Some combinations of rims and tyres just don’t play nicely together and in my case, both sets of road rims weren’t easy with tubeless, not a problem I’ve had for MTB after over 10 years of tubeless tyre usage.

  2. I had a puncture that wouldn’t seal on a ride and the extra faff of getting rolling again was annoying and probably took twice as long to fit a tube (see above) then repair a second time when I got home. If the tyre had been easier to mount, I may never have experienced much difference during the stoppage on the ride.

In honesty, I don’t race and roads here are good so I’ve not seen much benefit as some do so on the “proper” road bike, I won’t dip my toe back into road tubeless until the next couple of sets of tyres I have on the shelf are used up. My gravel tyres are tubeless, easy to mount so I’ll never go back to tubed there (full disclosure, my seat pack contains two tubolito in case I get a non-sealing puncture).

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Context is important.
I don’t race. I ride with people who, whether they admit it nor not, don’t mind a five minute rest break while someone replaces an inner tube.
I ride on fairly good pavement. I do not puncture often, and when I do, a tube change is easy.
And with 28mm tires, I can run low enough pressures that improve comfort but do not invite pinch flats.

Like some others here, the challenge of mounting tubeless tires, installing sealant correctly, having to regularly top up said sealant, cleaning out dried sealant, dealing with clogged valves, potentially getting sprayed with sealant when a puncture is too large to seal itself, etc etc is too much effort.

So it remains inner tubes for me.

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All my bikes have tubeless tyres other than my really old (>15 yrs) ones that I rarely ride. My Addict RC and Addict CX have been tubeless since I got them, as is my partner’s TCX (road and Nobby tyres.)

I totally agree than tubeless can lead to some infuriating failures, and I’m never buying GP5000TL again because they are just too tight.
That said, my ride buddies all still use tubes and we have to stop at least every 2nd ride for one of them (a group of 4-6 riders) to replace a tube.
Last time I got a puncture on those rides, I had a nail in my tyre. I took it out and stuck a plug in it, then pumped it back up. Way faster than a tube change. I dont like to make a big deal about this because that will jinx me and sticking a tube in a tyre full of sealant is one of my least favourite activiites. I’ll ride 10km on a flat tyre in preference.

I’m a convert. Probably haven’t had the major failure yet that has caused me to question it, but have definitely had a few minor incidents where I’ve had a better experience than if I’d still been running tubes.
On Pirelli tyres with (now old version!) Dura ace rims. Not always perfect to get seated, but certainly not the issues it seems like other combinations can have. No doubt that would definitely influence opinion!

I bought into the Mavic Road UST wheels when those came out. I ran them tubeless for a year or two, but found it slightly too much faff after that.

The tires it came with worked exactly as advertised, with just a floor pump. Not that they had those in stock when I wore them out…
Other tires didn’t seat without a compressor… and were also (in some cases) a nightmare to put on - I still have an unused set of Hutchinson Fusion 5s…
After a very nice riding set of Vittoria Corsa Speeds that got a lot of flats at then end of their very short lives, I just went tubed again.

Tubed 5000’s run really nice on these wheels and I only ever put them as high as 80-85psi, and often let them run low with no problems. Fewer flats than I was having with the (admittedly speed oriented) tubeless tires, and no mess.

Yeah, I completely bought into it and then listened to Zach on the podcast and realised it’s a total faff for my riding. I have two bikes and bought the Mavic UST wheels upon release - first of all the tyres that came with the wheels weren’t great and got a set of GP5000s but they are a total nightmare to get on and off. I realised that if I actually got a flat that didn’t seal I wouldn’t be able to get the tyre off to stick a tube in. Am now running tubed Pirelli P-Zero Race 28s on my CAAD12.

On my Emonda I got a pair of GP5000s 28s and am running them tubeless but once worn out I will swap out for tubed 30mm Corsas. It’s just not worth the hassle and ballache trying to get the tyres on, their more expensive, messy…. I’m done with it.

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Have been tubeless for ~2 years, worn through a front and a back GP5000TL each. On each I had 3-4 “punctures” during that time but never had to stop and deal with it. Essentially problem free for entire life of the tire.

Also setup was as easy or easier than mounting a tire and installing a tube. Only exception is “refreshing” the sealant at ~6 months; which was easier than the effort of switching a tube.

These are 32mm on bontrager aoleus 3v wheels.

“seated” the tubeless with a normal floor pump first try as easy as a tube.

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As a mostly gravel rider, going tubeless for the road wasn’t a big stretch. I carry a spare tube that I have yet to use, and my tires go on without tools.

I’ve been riding tubeless on road for about 3 years now and I can say that I’ve had my fair share of issues from

  1. fitting the tire and getting bruised knuckles
  2. snapping off a tire lever (it was a cheap one, I’ve replaced it with a good one now)
  3. failing to seat a tire after several attempts
  4. getting punctures and not getting sealing itself, ever

but, I still like it. I like the lower pressures I can run with the tires.

In my experience punctures are few are far between these days but the lower air pressure ride quality in tubeless is more cushioning on our rural roads. However more effort to get them set up and extra cost of sealant. If you are not using the wheels regularly then don’t bother as sealant will tend to pool and it drys up. On a gravel bike on rough roads they are supremely better.

I’ve been on tubeless road for 4 or 5 years, and while punctures was no big deal before tubeless, they are an even lesser deal now. Depending on rim and tire there might be a little more work at home, but I trade less roadside work for more home work. Yet to have a wish-I-had-tubes-inside moment. I also run older tires for longer, since the sealant usually takes care of the more frequent punctures when end of tire life is approaching. But in a DI2 vs disc vs tubeless discussion I would rate then as disc > DI2 > tubeless.

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