What style of tubeless conversion should I do?
We've come up with 3 different ways you can get rolling on tubeless wheels:
The Proper Way (PW):
- You are about to, or just have, purchased brand new wheels/rims and tyres. You are 4/5ths of the way there. Don't look back now!
- You are currently running a brand's wheels/rims that offer their own tubeless solution. Just like above, you are so close to success you just don't know it yet.
The Hack Way (HW):
- You are currently using wheels/rims that don't have a built-in tubeless solution offered for them.
- You don't have any tubeless tape at home and can't be bothered buying any.
- Your friend gave you some tubeless valves they had laying around.
The Cheapest Way (CW):
- You are running entry-level wheels/rims.
- Your rims have more dings in them than your high school car did.
- You are super low on $$$ but really want to go tubeless.
Here is a list of tools that will need to undertake your tubeless conversion. You will see PW, HW, CW listed beside them, indicating what tools are necessary for what style of tubeless.
- Tyre levers. Decent ones (throw away those dodgy plastic ones you got in that $5 patch kit 10 years ago). The better the tyre levers, the easier it will be on your hands. You will want this, trust me... (PW, HW, CW)
- An inflation device. One or a combination of the following (PW, HW, CW):
- A bottle of soapy water. Nothing fancy, a bit of dish detergent mixed with some water in an old spray bottle will work fine. If you have some bike wash handy that will also work. (PW, HW, CW)
- A presta/french valve core remover or a small adjustable wrench. For the cost of a proper valve core remover, it is worthwhile having one in your toolkit. (PW, HW)
- A sealant syringe. (Optional) (PW, HW)
- Isopropyl alcohol, or even methylated spirits, and it doesn't hurt to have some eucalyptus oil. (PW, HW, CW)
- Sharp scissors and a Stanley knife (HW, CW)
- Rags. You will make a mess. (PW, HW, CW)
- Thumbs of steel. You've already got these. They reside deep in your soul and your will to succeed. (PW, HW, CW)
- Tubeless tape or almost any tape you have laying around in your garage/shed. Any fashion of it will do the job. Some will work better than others. More on this later. (PW, HW, CW)
- Tubeless valves. You actually need to pay attention to this. Rims have different internal profiles; some are dished, some flat, some completely unique in design. Your tubeless valve profile has to match your internal rim profile. The safest bet is to use the same manufacturers' tubeless valve and rim, they've generally sorted the profile matching issue out for us already. (PW, HW)
- Actual tubeless rated tyres. Not all tyres are created equal. Actually, if you've read our previous blog post about all the different layups, casings and offerings of Maxxis tyres you would be well aware of the differences tyres can have. Tubeless rated tyres generally have an additional coating of butyl rubber on the sidewalls to prevent the sealant from seeping out. (PW, HW, CW)
- Tubeless rated rims or UST rims. The vast majority of rims manufactured for aftermarket sales these days are tubeless ready. That means that you can slap some tubeless tape on them, push on some tyres, pour in some sealant and blamo- you're ready to go. Some factory spec'd rims and more cost-conscious options aren't tubeless rated, however. These rims tend to have a slight gap at the join of the rim that can be hard to seal, and they tend to lack the rim bead technology that proper tubeless rims have. UST rims aren't as common as they once were, but these rims don't require taping as they entire inner rim profile is sealed and smooth except for the valve hole. (PW)
- The secret weapon. More on this later in The Cheapest Way. (HW)
Now that you have an idea of what type of tubeless you might want to undertake (or need to), it's time to organise yourself!!
Have a second look at the tools and supplies necessary, collect them, give them a new home in your toolbox or somewhere on your workbench, make them feel comfortable and patiently await Act Two, The Proper Way.