Tubeless tires are synonymous with mountain bikes, but they have penetrated the industry. Even lovers of road bikes are adopting tubeless tires to taste their purported advantages.
Nevertheless, things are not 100% perfect with tubeless bikes; you will need to deal with various challenges. This article highlights the pros and cons of tubeless bikes to help you make a better decision on switching from tube tires.
Read on to find out the pros and cons of tubeless tires.
So What Are The Pros of Tubeless Tires?
Here are some advantages of fitting tubeless tires on your bike:
1- Tubeless Tires Provide Better Traction
Tubeless tires offer you comfortable and smoother rides even with rough terrain. You can keep your tire on the ground without bouncing off objects. Although suspension often does major work in absorbing landing impacts and grounding the tires, tire pressure also plays a role in maintaining traction.
High traction means maintaining contact with the ground, which will help you ride your bike even at lower tire pressure. It means you can wrap around objects without experiencing a puncture.
Low pressure makes technical climbing fun because the tire’s treads can effectively grip obstacles. The tires can absorb the impact better to keep you on the road.
For instance, if you have a 175lb tubeless bike with a 2.2” 29er tire, you can ride with a tire pressure of 20 PSI without losing speed or control around rocks or tree roots. Tube tires will require high pressure of about 35 PSI to achieve a similar experience; otherwise, the pike will be slower, or you could lose control in rough terrains.
Since the tubeless tires can firmly hold on to the objects, you do not lose the power you put into climbing. This allows you to maintain form, traction, and momentum. Of course, you should exercise caution since too low pressure can damage the rim.
2- Reduced Tire Weight
The common tubeless tire weighs approximately 200 grams, while Latex-filled tubes with a similar tubeless setup can weigh 400 grams. Since you may include sealant in the tubeless tire, the average weight ranges from 150-650 grams.
Reducing weight from the tires and rim significantly affects the rim’s rotational mass. You will need more energy to paddle a heavier wheel. Since mountain biking requires frequent acceleration and braking, the overall effect of a heavier wheel will leave you exhausted.
The weight difference may seem insignificant, but when you need to power through tough terrains or trudge through climbs, you will realize the difference.
3- No Pinch Flats With Tubeless Tires
Flat tires are not the best experience. It can bring your ride to a halt, forcing you to walk your bike long distances before you can fix it. A pinch, famously known as the snake bite, causes a fearful two holes in the tube. The tube is pinched between the rim and the tires leading to silly punctures.
It is frustrating when the two things that are supposed to protect the tube from punctures are the ones causing them. The frustration is even higher if you caused the pinching when removing or returning the tube after fixing it.
Even with a standard patch kit, it is challenging to fix pinch flats. It may take an extra tube to help you resolve the issue. Now, if you are racing, the time spent fixing the problem could deny you the chance to finish on the podium.
A bike with tubeless tires does not have to pinch flat problems. Even with major punctures, you only have the rim and the tire to fix, no tubes.
4- No Need For a Patch Kit
Needles, thorns, and cactus can easily pierce through the tires, making sizeable holes into the tube. It may take minutes to discover the puncture with the tire getting flat and the ride stopping.
You may take time looking for where the puncture is, and even if you find it, you are not certain that the patch will hold. Locating minor tube punctures takes up the ride time, thus affecting your chances of winning the competition.
On the other hand, tubeless tires are fitted with automatic sealants that correct minor punctures without patches. The inside pressure pushes the sealant to the affected areas before the tire flattens. You do not need to dismount the wheel or take off the tire.
I am not suggesting that tubeless tires do not fail. You may land on massive objects that could bend the rim and prevent sealants from working properly. Nevertheless, the failure frequency is limited, and you can easily fix minor challenges with the tubeless systems.
5- Safe Or Risk-Free
Air leakage from a tubeless puncture is slower, thus reducing the chances of a mishap. You have enough time to slow down from a high speed and stop to examine the problem.
Tubes can let the air out immediately depending on the size of the hole, which could severely damage the rim or cause an accident. You could lose control of the bike in rough terrains and fall. Therefore, tubeless tires are considered safer.
6- No Undesirable Friction
Tube tires cause friction with the tire when you ride at high speed. The friction could increase the tires’ temperature and cause a burst.
This may not be a good experience for any rider. Tubeless tires do not pose this threat.
Here Are The Cons of Tubeless Tires
Tubeless tires are not all rosy; they also have their shortcomings. Let’s consider some of their drawbacks.
7- Tubeless Tires Are Costlier
Although the prices depend on the brands, tubeless tires are generally costlier than those with tubes.
The cost is often justified by the expensive component used to make them. Some brands are more expensive than others because of their quality.
8- Tubeless Tires Are Not Always Easy To Fit
Tubeless tires are not easy to fix. It requires skills and experience to remove or fit a tubeless tire to the rim.
Tubeless tires also need replacement when they wear out, and you need skillful hands to fit them; otherwise, you will take hours to accomplish the task. If they are not correctly fitted, the bike’s wheels could wobble, causing instability.
9- Tubeless Tires Need Special Tools
You need special tools when fitting the tubeless tires, which are not accessible to everyone.
Sidewall puncture- Tubeless tires are susceptible to sidewall punctures that could damage the tire and the rim. Although the tubeless tires are often tough, they sometimes get sidewall punctures which will require experts to repair.
Deflating Tubeless-Related Myths
When tubeless technology hit the market, many people were concerned about the overall weight and reliability of the tires and their sealants. However, technology has advanced in the past decade, which has improved tubeless tires.
Some people may defend tubes and dismiss tubeless as a gimmick unworthy of consideration. However, when you take tubes and tubeless tires for mountain and trail riding, tubeless is by far more reliable, lighter, and cost-effective to set up and ride.
Like any other system, tubeless also need regular maintenance. For instance, hot temperatures and conditions can dry up the sealants, forcing riders to add small doses to maintain the system’s proper functioning.
Adding sealant is easy; you only need to remove the valve, deflate the tire and then add the sealant before re-inflating. However, if you realize when all the sealant is dried up, you may need to remove the valve core to address any clumping present before adding sealant.
You can avoid quick drying of the sealant by keeping your bike indoors out of dry conditions, especially if you do not ride a lot. However, if you frequently ride, start considering replacing your tires because of the normal wear and tear.
Are Tubeless Tires Better?
Tubeless tires are better as they offer a better ride. If flat tires interfere with your rides, you know why tubeless tires are valuable. Nothing is dreadful for a cyclist like constant tire punctures and pinches in an important race. Spending excessive time repairing a bike instead of enjoying your ride with friends is frustrating.
Tubeless tires can overcome these challenges, providing you with ample riding time. Although they have their share of shortcomings, including being costlier, tubeless tires are a gem.
They ensure you are comfortable even when you ride with lower tire pressure. If you ride a tube bike with a 90-100 PSI, the rod vibration transmitted throughout the bike can become inconvenient to the rider. However, with tubeless tires, you can experience smoother and more comfortable rides even at lower pressures.
Tubeless tires have better performance levels on rough terrains since the tires have closer contact with the road surface. The resulting road drip could enhance traction and benefit your trail riding.
Although some defenders of tube tires may argue that it is difficult to fix tubeless tires, the frequency of fixable problems is minimal with tubeless tires. Therefore, you will have limited repair time, especially if you regularly conduct maintenance for your bike.
Tubeless tires are undoubtedly a game-changer in the industry. Technological advancements have significantly improved their design and ability to fit them to the rims.
Tubeless tires are here to stay and will continue to improve. Several manufacturers make versatile tubeless tires that can fit different wheels.