So, a year ago I decided to see what the rubbery fuss was about with tubeless tyres. It all sounded so appealing; Lower pressures providing more grip and comfier ride qualities, less weight, self healing punctures… Sign me up!
Here’s how my venture into the world of tubeless went…
My Malt G1X gravel build had new tubeless wheels, Pro Build Chosen hubs & Alex Draw 1.9 rims – they seemed a decent way to drop some weight off the bike and go tubeless. Now, the all important rubber choice… I opted for Panaracer Gravel King SK’s. To cut a long story short, they needed a fair bit of sealant, soapy water, bulk air pressure and wishful thinking to get them inflated. The all-important seal to my rims took a while to get right, with other rims, they may well seal much quicker.
So, the tyres and rims started to play nicely – they stayed inflated and rode really well, plenty of cussioning for the loose / rough gravel trails. For a few months of 100% gravel use, all was well. However, as the tyres wore thinner, they developed a lot of tiny holes, the sight of white sealant bubbling out of the tread became a very familiar one. At this point, there seemed to be a lot of messing around with this tubeless lark… Although I really like liked the Gravel Kings, it was time for a change.
For the next tubeless roll of the dice and I turned to Schwalbe G One TLE – Tubeless Easy. At this stage, the ‘tubeless easy’ part of the name was very appealling – I was hopeful. Fitting the Schwalbe’s did in fact seem easier, the industrial loud ‘pop’ noise – as the tyres fitted into the seal ledge of the rim, also seemed more convincing.
After being on the verge of reverting to tubes, the Schwalbe’s were an absolute revelation. Fit and forget near enough, several gravel rides a week and 6 months on, they hold air, haven’t needed sealant top up yet – perfect. On my usual loose, dry gravel tracks, and at a sweet spot 40 psi, they offer a really good mix of grip, cushioning and rolling speed. What could possibly go wrong…
Sealant alone was never going to heal that flipping nail hole…
It has no doubt been said thousands of time before, some tyres do seem to fit some rims better than others. Hopefully as tubeless develops, standards will settle down.
In the meantime, before choosing tubeless tyres, research which tyres work best with your bike’s rims – Google, forums, youtube, Merlin customers reviews and asking real people, could save a fair amount of time, effort and feeling deflated.
Is tubeless for you…
If you don’t mind a bit of trial and error and general tinkering with your tyre / wheel combo, tubeless can drop a chunk of weight. Even nicer, tubeless can also provide a really plush ride feel, at the right pressure they are really cushioned yet still fast rolling.
On the other hand, if you prefer to just get on and ride and don’t mind the occasional puncture, sticking with tubes might be a better option.
Tubeless Gravel Tyres
Tubeless Repair Kit
Tubeless Rim tapes
Tubeless Ready Wheels
Air Tank Pumps