Tubeless bike tires, or ‘tyres’ to our friends in the UK, first made their way onto the roadbike scene in 2006. However, they were introduced by Shimano and Hutchinson in 2006. They had also been available for a while in niche mountain bike groups. Although adoption was slow at first tubeless tires have been adopted more widely in recent years. The number of tubeless tires on bicycles and in bike shops has really increased, especially since 2017.
We were among those who were initially hesitant about using tubeless tires. We had grown so accustomed to old clincher tires that we were able to change the tubes whenever we needed them. It was difficult to get away from them. As they say, old habits die hard.
We are proud to be part of the wave of tubeless bike tires, and depending on which bikes you look at, you might find us on some tubeless tires.
How do Tubeless Bike Tires Work
Photo credit to Velosurance
Tubeless bike tires work exactly as they sound. The tire mounts directly to the rim without the need for a tube. They have been used for many years by cars and bikes. It is now possible to cycle.
The typical bike tube serves a few purposes, including holding the air that inflates a tire. Tubeless tires do not need a tube. They are designed to sit directly on the rim, creating an airtight seal. A tubeless tire is slightly thicker than a clincher, tubular, or other tire. The lack of a tube, at least for clinchers, may make up the difference.
A tube also provides a safe and secure place for an air valve to rest. Valve placement and quality are important. However, if you do it right, each valve seat will last twice as long as a tube. The valve stem of a tubeless tire is actually part of the rim and not the tube.
What are the Benefits of a Tubeless Bike Tire Tire?
Based on the name of your tire, the first benefit is obvious: no tubes. Your bike shop will have one less thing to stock up on, since there is no need for tubes. The possibility of pinch flats is also reduced by not having tubes. This is something that doesn’t happen with a tubeless or tubular tire. Because of its unique design, pinch flats are an uncommon occurrence on clincher tires.
A tubeless tire will result in fewer overall flats. The reason for the lower number of pinch flats is not the only one. Tubeless tires also come with a sealant built into them that allows minor flats, thanks to the tire’s construction. A tubeless tire may be more difficult to get a flat on, but you will likely have fewer flats overall. There are few things more important than fewer flats.
Gravel bikes are moving more towards tubeless tires, due to pinch flats. Riders want to use lower air pressures to get the best traction and reduce vibrations on gravel roads. A pinch flat is caused by a low tire pressure. It is not unusual for people to rely on lower pressures when riding their bikes.
The third benefit of going tubeless? Manufacturers seem to be investing more in tubeless designs today, so we expect these tires to become increasingly high-tech as we move forward.
We like the fact that a tubeless tire is more likely to experience a flat in the middle of a fast segment. This can potentially be dangerous for the rider. A tubeless tire loses air more slowly than a regular tire, which allows the rider to safely navigate to a stopping point.
Are there any disadvantages to using a tubeless bike tire?
Yes, they are.
First, a tireless tire and the rim that it goes on are more expensive than old-fashioned cement or tubular tires. These tires require a little more engineering and are therefore more expensive. For most gear enthusiasts, however, the price difference won’t stop them from going tubeless.
A tubeless bike tire needs a perfectly seated valve stem. It must seal properly. If it doesn’t, the tire will leak. Compare that to a clincher tire where your valve stem should be in good condition as long as it is a newer tube.
A road flat using a tubeless tire requires a few additional supplies that most clincher riders don’t know about, such as sealant. A clincher is easy to carry, and many of us are quite proficient at swapping tubes quickly. It’s not a secret that you can always put a tube inside a tire without a tube to get you home. This can lead to you having to burn some tube to get to safety but it’s better than being stranded.
You will also likely have fewer overall flats as the pinch flat is no longer a thing.
What happens if you get a flat with a tubeless tire?
You will have fewer overall flats when you ride a tubeless tire. This is due to the tire’s self sealing construction and added sealant. This is not the right answer.
You can fix a flat on your tubeless tire by going trailside or roadside. However, this requires you to bring some sealant.
Take out the tire as you would with a clincher.
- You should inspect the tire, rim tape and valve stem. If there are no problems, you may have lost your seal. You can re-install the tire with new sealant.
- You can always put a tube in if you suspect that the tire is not sealing properly or the valve stem is leaking. If this happens, you can fix the tire in your garage or workshop.
Many bike manufacturers are releasing lightweight, compact repair kits that can be carried on bikes. The complete Stan’s kit is available on Amazon.
It’s really not that important. Just like when you learn how to change a clincher back in the past, some practice in your garage will help you when you get that first road flat and have to fix it.
Can a tubeless tire be used on any rim?
Technically, yes. Some people need a workaround.
A tubeless-ready wheel is one that can be used with tubeless tires. Tubeless-ready rims will be marked on the rim and the manufacturer will clearly state it in marketing materials. You will pay more for the rim!
You can go if you have a tubeless-ready wheel.
An old clincher wheel can be used, but will need to be modified in order for a tubeless tire to fit. To create a smooth and sealable surface on your rim, use rim tape. Also, cover any spoke holes in your rim bed with rim tape. It is not difficult nor expensive to do this job, but it is important that you take your time and work in a spot free of debris. Stan’s Rim Tape is a favorite (available on Amazon).
You will also need to be able add a valve stem around the rim. It is important to ensure that it seals properly. It’s not a difficult job but it can take some time. We like Stan’s product, the No-Tubes stem valve (here on Amazon).
Best Tubeless Bike Tires
Best for Tri Bikes or Road: Continental Grand Prix 5000
Continental tires are a favorite of ours. We feature the brand in our article on the best road bikes tires. Conti is our current favorite tubeless tire on road and tri bikes.
The Grand Prix 5000 is a fantastic all-round tubeless road tire. It measures in at 25mm. This makes it narrow enough to be used by road cyclists who want skinny, slick tires.
The slick appearance should not fool you. The Lazer Grip technology provides good traction for a slippery tire, which allows you to ride with all the control you need. The tire is easy to install and the bead sets reliably the first time.
These tires are not cheap but they are very good. They aren’t cheap, but they are good.
Maxxis Minion is the best mountain biker:
The Maxxis Minion mountain bike tire is great for all types of riding and offers a great option for tubeless.
You can roll the knob with ease while still getting high-traction when you need it. The tire’s sidewall strength is increased by the design. We don’t want your tire to fail on a downhill.
At 870 grams, the weight is competitive, but with mountain bike tires it all comes back to the grip, and the Maxxis provides the best grip we have found for the tubeless money.
>Find it here.
WTB Resolute is the best for Gravel Bikes
Gravel bikes need a true hybrid tire. It should be able to roll with ease but still have enough grip when you really need it. We love the WTB Resolute because of this.
Although this one is more aggressive than the ones we ride, it is still a great all-purpose tire. The tire will roll well on pavement or hardpack, but it is strong enough to hold you steady on greasy trails.
A gravel tire’s true test is its ability to maintain traction and control while going uphill in loose gravel. These tires pass this test. These tires are 42mm in width, so make sure you match your bike setup.
Best for Fat Bikes: 45NRTH Dillinger
It is difficult to answer the question of which tubeless tire is best for a fatbike because the conditions can be so varied. Do you prefer riding on snowy trails or pure ice? You might not be a winter fatbiker, but prefer to use your bike to ride on the beach sand. Do you want to gain speed in safe conditions or do you seek to be steady on rough surfaces? Every situation requires a different type of tire. We created a more detailed buying guide for fat bike tires.
Let’s say you’re a winter fatbike rider like us. 45NRTH, Minnesota’s favorite and most durable fatbike tire, is our choice. The Dillinger is an all-purpose tire that can be used for any type of riding, including on ice and snow. These tires can cause some drag on pavement but this is not why you should buy them. These tires are loud and can cause some drag on pavement, but that is not why you buy them.