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Going Tubeless on Your Mountain Bike

There have been a few big advances in mountain biking over the last decade and a bit. Suspension is definitely one such advance. Disc brakes is another few people would argue about. Some people say adjustable seatposts are another. Personally, I think that tubeless tyres are another. Tubeless tyres, don’t seem to have taken over the mountain biking world […]
There have been a few big advances in mountain biking over the last decade and a bit. Suspension is definitely one such advance. Disc brakes is another few people would argue about. Some people say adjustable seatposts are another. Personally, I think that tubeless tyres are another. Tubeless tyres, don’t seem to have taken over the mountain biking world though. probably less than 25% of people use them. I mainly mountain bike in northern Spain, the Basque Country to be specific. I guide and run holidays on the Basque Coast and in the Spanish Pyrenees and put in a lot of miles in different types of terrain. I also get to see a lot of mountain bikers, especially during the holiday season, and see what works and what doesn’t. Tubeless tyres, in my experience, are virtually hassle free once they are fitted. In my opinion the hassle of fitting them is worth it for the trouble-free mountain biking you can enjoy afterwards. So whether it is UST, Tubeless, LUST, Tubeless Ready or standard singleply and doubleply read on for my take on going tubeless.
Why Should I Use Tubeless Tyres For Mountain Biking?
Well it’s obviously a personal thing and very much depends on where you ride and how your ride. When I am mountain biking in the Basque Country, Spain, I tend to get a lot of pinch punctures if I use inner tubes. That can be greatly reduced by using downhill or freeride tubes but I still get too many punctures. When I am mountain biking in other parts of Spain, like the Pyrenees, then I find I get a lot of thorn punctures if I use tubes. Switching to tubeless tyres avoids both of these problems.
Which Tyres Work Tubeless: You Are Going to Have To Compromise.
First of all you need to choose which type of tyre you want. I have always used Maxxis tyres, purely because I know that they work for me and which ones I want. You can either use proper UST or Tubeless ready tyres or use non-Tubeless tyres but run them tubeless. I choose to use non-Tubeless tyres because the choice of proper tubeless tyres is limited. Using normal tyres allows you to have more choice for tyre width, tread and stickiness. You are going to have to compromise on several factors, particularly weight, ease of fitting and robustness. You can have light weight tyres which inflate easily but, in my experience, when you try to pump into that rough corner they are going to fall apart!
Tested Tubeless Tyres.
 
How to Inflate Your Tubeless Tyres.
Here are the steps I follow to inflate my tyres, it works every single time for me. There is a short video of me inflating the tyre in step 9 so that you can see how easily it happens.
Step 1: Make sure that everything is clean. Unlike I have in this photo where everything is dirty but please note the token effort with the duster!    
Step 2: Inflate the tyre using an inner tube, make sure that you inflate the tyre enough to get the beads to pop onto the rim. Leave overnight. Note: If you are using doubleply or UST then this probably isn’t required.  
Step 3:  Deflate the inner tube, carefully remove one bead from the tyre. Sometimes I use a tyre lever here to make sure I don’t remove both beads by mistake.  
Step 4: Insert the tubeless valve.  
Step 5: Add on the adaptor to change it to the fatty valve.  
Step 6: Add in a generous helping of tubeless sealant. Here I use Stans fluid. There will be instructions if you want to use the exact amount.  
Step 7: Carefully put the bead back on the tyre.   
Step 8: Very liberally add soapy water to the bead which you removed.   
Step 9: Now, if you use doubleply or UST you might get this with a track pump. I don’t even try any more , I go to the garage.  You need to find a garage which doesn’t over regulate the flow on its tyre inflators. I had to drive around several garages to find one which suited but the good news is that you should only need to do this once. Attach the hose and inflate until you hear the POP! A bit of safety here, you can blow your tyre off the rim if you’re not careful, make sure you don’t over inflate!
Step 10: The tyre will probably go down over the next hour, you need to pump it up again, to around 60psi. The best plan is to spin the tyre to move all the sealant about until everything seals up. You can see where the sealant bubbles out, I generally wipe these areas clean and then you can see if they seal or if more bubbles come out.   
Now You’reTubeless. What Can Go Wrong When You Are Out Mountain Biking!
These are the problems I have experienced and how I have fixed them. If you have had any other problems then why not share them with us in the comments section? Problem: Punctures in Tubeless tyres. Solution: Sadly you can still get punctures in your tubeless tyres. The sealant will stop thorn punctures but not rips or snakebites / pinches. You can buy a tubeless repair kit consisting of a needle and sticky string to repair the tyre without removing the bead. If you can’t repair the puncture on the trail then you will need to put an inner tube in, and maybe a tyre boot as well if the rip is bad. Always check the tyre for thorns before putting in a tube, often with tubeless you will have many, many thorns in the tyre without realising it. Longer term repairs can be done by removing the tyre and superglue a patch over the rip. Problem: Tyre comes off the rim, generally when cornering. Solution: This is generally because the pressure has dropped. I find that if I keep my tyres around 30psi they stay on the rims. Get used to checking your tyre pressures regularly and inflating them if they feel soft. Problem: Sidewall rips after some time. Solution: I find that over time my tyres develop a sort of cross hatching on the sidewalls. Eventually this rips. I replace my tyres when this damage gets very noticeable. Problem: Tyre won’t stay inflated, it gradually looses air over time. Solution: Normally this is because you have run out of latex. Either put more in through the valve core or remove one bead and add more.

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