Stan’s NoTubes Tubeless Setup

10 02 2012

Stan's ZTR 29er Flow rim and Schwalbe Racing Ralph tire...

I’ve been tubeless curious for a while. I was thinking of setting up my Surly Pugsley and Santa Cruz Nomad tubeless, but I’ve heard both really positive and really negative tubeless experiences which made me hesitant to start my tubeless career with a ghetto tubeless setup. In case you don’t know – ghetto – refers to a setting up a rim/tire combo tubeless that wasn’t designed to be run that way. So being a bit cautious I decided to try tubeless on a rim/tires combo designed from the get go to be run without a tube.

Stan's Sealant - click here for some home brew recipes...

My first opportunity was the wheelset for my 29er hardtail mountain bike. I used a set of Stan’s Flow 29er rims because they are wide and strong – plus they have bead seats designed to lock in a tire easily when run without a tube. Some 2.35″ wide Schwalbe Racing Ralph 29er tires offer a nice wide supple rubber carcass without being terribly heavy and they are also designed to be run tubeless.

Here are the things I gathered to do the setup:

Steps I used:

  • I followed the first video about how to install the yellow Stan’s rim tape.
  • I installed a 29er MTB tube for ~2hrs at 40psi to ensure the tape sealed to the rim well before installing the tire tubeless.
  • Deflated the tire and pulled the tube out.
  • Then I installed the Stan’s valve stem and the tire – inflating to 40psi to seat the bead using glass cleaner as lubrication.
  • Once I was happy tire was holding air and seating well I deflated and added 3oz of Stan’s sealant by removing the valve core.
  • Tire was re-inflated to 40psi and rotated slowly to plug any leaks.
  • I had to re-inflate and spin wheels several times and left them overnight then more air + spinning in the AM.
  • I rode the bike the following day with no issues.

The “Help” articles and videos on the Stan’s website are worth checking out before you start.

We don't need no stinking tubes!

Overall the process was fairly painless although I probably spent 3-4hrs spread out over an evening and the next morning doing the setup. I did take my time and checked twice before each step so I’m sure that will be the longest it ever takes me. Using a full tubeless designed setup definitely helped everything click together for me with no problems. I was particularly surprised that I could easily seat the beads and inflate the tire with just a normal floor pump. Sweet!

Benefits of Tubeless:

  • puncture resistance for both sharp objects and pinch flats
  • ability to run low pressures without pinch flatting
  • very supple tire with low rolling resistance and improved traction
  • possibly lower weight depending on specific setup

I like running wide rubber at low pressure and I ride in terrain with poor traction, Being able to use soft tires that really conform to the terrain is awesome and I don’t have to worry about pinch flats. I’ll write up a review after I have a bunch of riding on these wheels and let you know what I think of Stan’s NoTubes tubeless products.

Going Ghetto

My buddy Scott reports having no issues with a ghetto tubeless setup so you don’t need to buy new wheels/tires if you want to try out tubeless. I’ll try my hand at ghetto tubeless on my Nomad next since I’m not spending $$$ on new wheels. I’ll let you know how it goes.


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8 responses

10 02 2012
Doug D

I have run stan’s rim strips / ghetto tubeless in regular rims on most of my 26er MTBs for about 10 years now. Most flats self seal for me, and I have only once had to insert a tube to fix a large pinch flat. I even had a nokian studded tire with wire beads that set up fine. At about -35C the system fails completely unless i have more than 35psi in the tires.

10 02 2012
thelazyrando

Thankfully -35 deg C is no longer part of my reality…=)

10 02 2012
Aaron M

I’m on my second bike with a Stans/ “ghetto” set-up and, for the most part, have had no issues that made me sour to Stans. For the uninitiated, I recommend always starting with new tires that are designed to be run tubeless. Fresh, unworn tires usually have fewer problems such as holes in the tires & bead separation from the rim, or “burping” under sharp compressions. Tubeless rims tend to have a more aggressive bead to latch onto the tire for a stronger seal. As for Doug D’s cold experience, I’ve been snow riding at -30 dg. Cel, had the rubber freeze & crack badly but had no loss of air. This just illustrates how different everyone’s experiences may be.

10 02 2012
Anthony DeLorenzo

I was somewhat sceptical at first but now would NEVER go back to tubes again, except on the Pugsley of course. I’m still sceptical about fat bike tubeless, especially in cold temps.

I learned that if you do the side-to-side shaking/rotating technique and then lay the wheel on its side (as shown in the Stan’s video) it works waaaay better than spinning it around. I can get a new tire fully sealed in about 15 minutes that way and no need to keep adding air.

10 02 2012
DummyDiva

I went with the new WTB XC TCS wheels and Vulpine TCS tubeless on my Vaya. It’s been great and I can seal them with just a floor pump!

11 02 2012
doug d

@aaron, I have had no problem at -30 C (real temperature, not that wind chill B.S,)
@Vik At least you can say that you have ridden in the cold, you aren’t just speculating that you might not like it.

7 09 2012
DB from NJ

Has anyone tried the Flow rims with a true tubeless tire – without sealant? I’m having a set of wheels built on Flow 29er rims, and wondering if – with the right tire – I can avoid sealant. Or, are the benefits of sealant so great that I should go ahead an use it? Thanks. Good rides.

7 09 2012
thelazyrando

@DB – I haven’t tried any tubeless setups without sealant. The thing is even if the tire holds air without sealant they flat like normal tires when you get any puncture, but now you’ll have to either throw in a tube or try and patch the tire. Sealant means no flats unless you tear a gaping hole in the tire. With a really good rim/tire interface you can get away with a small amount of sealant.

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