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.
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:
- Stan’s ZTR Flow 29er rim [white for max BLING!]
- Schwalbe Racing Ralph 29er tire [tubeless ready]
- Stan’s 25mm rim tape [yellow tape]
- Stan’s sealant [16oz]
- Stan’s MTB valve stem
- Wheel truing stand
- Scotchbrite pad
- Rubbing alcohol
- Round file
- Exacto knife
- 29er tube [to seat tape]
- Tire levers x 2
- Floor pump
- Paper towel
- Glass cleaner [lubricate seating of tire beads]
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.
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.
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.