How to Inflate a Tubeless Bike Tire
Here’s my hack on how to inflate a tubeless bike tire
Why tubeless tires are better for bike riding
Here’s the deal. Tubeless bike tires are better for a number of reasons. The biggest difference is you can run lower air pressure in your tires because you don’t need to worry about pinch flats (where an innertube gets pinched between the bike tire and the rim when rolling over a bump or object). See the photo below.
Here’s my list of why tubeless tires are better
- You can ride faster. Recently, it has been discovered that running lower tire pressures is actually faster due to lower rolling resistance. Here is a video that proves it out from GCN.
- Your bike is more comfortable to ride because you can run lower tire pressure. I don’t know about you, but the roads are not getting any smoother these days. More comfort to me means more fun, riding longer, and overall good things.
- You seldom get flat tires. There are three types of flat tires. Pinch flats, previously referenced in this post, thorns and thin pieces of wire, and larger cuts. A tubeless setup will basically eliminate the first two types of flats. Cuts, by far the least common type of flat will require you to install an innertube to continue so it’s basically a wash.
- Tubeless tires are lighter. Yep, that’s right, eliminating the innertube makes a tubeless tire setup lighter. I’m guessing this will be a very small weight difference, but hey everything helps when you’re climbing that hill.
- Your bike will grip the road better. Running a lower air pressure increases your contact patch (the intersection between your bike tire and the road), and will roll over bump more smoothly. The net effect for you will be higher corning speeds and shorter stopping speeds.
You can a full rundown by reading my previous post Why you Should Ride your Bike with Tubeless Tires or watching my video below.
Why some people don’t like tubeless bike tires
Tubeless bike tires have some inherent problems that can make them difficult to use for some riders. One issue is the difficulty of sealing the tire to the rim, which can result in air leaks. Another issue is the potential for burping, which occurs when the tire loses air pressure from the sidewall of the tire and results in a loss of traction.
Additionally, some riders have reported a tendency for tubeless tires to puncture more easily compared to traditional clincher tires with inner tubes. Lastly, tubeless tires can be more challenging to install and repair compared to traditional clincher tires and may require specialized tools and knowledge. These problems can lead to frustration and decreased confidence in the reliability of tubeless tires, causing some riders to opt for more traditional tire setups.
Tubeless tire basics
Tubeless tires are really pretty basic and straightforward to work with. All you need are proper tools and a little know-how.
What you will need for a tubeless bike tire setup
Tubeless bike tire rims.
It is super important to have tubeless bike tire rims. Do not try to use non-tubless rims! This could cause a safety hazard and get you hurt. Check the side or your rims for any notations or Google your rim’s model number to confirm.
Tubeless bike tires.
Just like rims, do not attempt to run non-tubless tires tubeless. You could get hurt! Check the side of your time or Google your tire model number to check tubeless compatibility.
Other Stuff you’ll need for your tubeless bike tire setup
Tubeless rim tape
You want tubeless rim tape to seal the interior of your tubeless rims. There are many options for tubeless rim tape. It would be hard to go wrong. My go-to on this type of stuff is Competitive Cyclist.
A tubeless setup will require you to purchase tubeless valves. Again., lots of options, and it’s hard to make a bad choice. The only trick thing here is to make sure you get a valve that is the appropriate size for your rims. Again my go-to on this type of stuff is Competitive Cyclist.
This is the magic compound that seals your tire after it’s been punctured. There are lots of brands and I’m not sure which one is best. At some point in the future, I’ll perform a test between brands and post about it. Anyway, I’m going to assume Competitive Cyclist has vetted the sealants they offer.
A way to pump your tubeless tires up
Here’s where it gets tricky. The best way to pump up tubeless tires is with an air compressor. That’s all well and good, but a lot of us including me don’t want to have an air compressor laying around collecting dust and taking up space most of the time. Just so you know, you can get an air compressor at Lowe’s pretty cheap.
Most experts including the video below recommend using a floor pump to inflate your tubeless tires. The problem here is, you need to blast a lot of air in order to get your tire to seat properly. That means superhuman pumping action that may or may not work after multiple efforts.
Now that I have the basics covered, below you’ll find a video from GCN Tech that is a great tutorial on tubeless tire setup.
If you don’t want to buy an air compressor and don’t have a superhuman floor-pumping game, you might want to consider using a CO2 cartridge. It turns out, a CO2 cartridge is a perfect tool for the job because CO2 cartridges are designed to deliver lots of air (carbon dioxide in this case) really fast. The good news is that you probably already have C02 cartridges. If you are new to using C20, here are a few things. You want 20-gram threaded cartridges and an inflator. Best to buy both together as a set if you’re new to this. Amazon has great options.
Below is a video on my handy dandy hack.
That’s all I got about tubeless tires for today. Leave a comment if you have any additional hacks we should know about.