Friday, April 24, 2009

the tubeless experiment

For a couple of years now I have heard from several of my friends about how great tubeless tires are. Not really having trouble with flats and the lack of desire to spend the money to upgrade has made me content to continue running tubes until recently. It started with a killer deal I got on a set of tubeless tires. I mainly picked them up because I couldn't pass on the deal and I wanted to get rid of the ridiculously heavy Kendas I had been running. The wheel set that I was also running was not bad but also not the greatest. Last month I sprang for a new wheel set with tubeless rims, another deal too good to pass up plus between the new tires, wheels and the absence of tubes the Mamasita lost just a hair over 2 lbs. on the bathroom scale. I was more concerned with the upgrade in components and the weight loss so going tubeless to me was just a plus. I actually had the new wheels just before the 6 Hours of Warriors Creek but I held off on using them because of the bad luck, racing on new untested components usually brought on. After that I was just either too busy or the weather was too bad and I just never got around to setting them up until this week.
Mounting up the tires to the rims went smoother than expected but I had alot of good advice to follow. After allowing them to set at max pressure to ensure the bead was set I decided to hit my local trailhead for the maiden voyage. Moonshine and Jackson were ecstatic about going to the trails, as soon as I started getting dressed and filling up water bottles Jackson started barking at me with excitement in the kitchen. It can be hard to concentrate on making sure I don't forget anything when there is a 100+ lb. dog on your heels barking like a maniac. Flat Stanley noticed the commotion and immediately started gathering his stuff for a ride but I told him he wasn't invited after he threw that beer bottle at me. He apologized but I didn't give in, I made him stay home and clean house.
At the trailhead I put 30 psi in each tire as a starting point, I had always heard going tubeless would allow you to run a lower psi but I ran 30 with tubes when most folks ran 35 without. As I rode the first trail I could feel somewhat of a difference in the new wheel set but I've never been one to really analyze the difference in components hence my lack of gear reviews here on the blog. After spending some dog time on the trails we headed back to the truck to put them in the back so not to over run them. I gave them some water and shared a granola bar, got them situated and headed back out for some more trail time. About 3/4 of the way through the trail I noticed my rear tire going soft and washing out in the turns. I stopped and noticed a some of the Stan's had leaked out around the rim, not much but enough to make me worry. I figure I must have burped the tire or else it may have just not completely seated itself on the rim. Having not brought a pump or anything I headed back to the truck and pumped the tire back up to 30 psi. I wasn't back on the trail 3 or 4 minutes when all of the sudden I could hear what sounded like air escaping my tire. I stopped to find a small puncture in the tread but nothing sticking out of it. I waited to see if it would seal up like everyone claimed it would and it did but not until the tire was too soft to ride any further. I turned around once again to air up the tire. I pumped it back up to 30 but it immediately started leaking out of the small puncture again. Realizing there was nothing more I could do I loaded up and headed home in disgust.
When I arrived home the leak had sealed off but as before the tire was too soft. I put it in the stand and rolled the wheel puncture side down hoping the sealant had just not had time to completely cover the insides of the tire. After about 30 minutes I pumped it back up and it held, well at least for the time being. I had to leave for work so I won't be able to check to see if it sealed permanently until I get home.
From talking to a few friends I think I just need to give the sealant a little more time to take effect and that the set up process was a little slow. I was told once you got past that point it worked flawlessly. I plan to get out for another ride tomorrow as long as the tire held, if not I'll be calling the oh so faithful Karate Monkey into service. I very seldom get let down by the Monkey.
Strike one for tubeless tires. So far I've not been impressed but I have a feeling they will come around and I just need to be patient.


Alan said...

you said "ridiculously heavy Kendas" lol

Joshua Stamper said...

Rim Strips?
How long had they been setup TL?
going TL is a learning experience, and I never needed TL until I moved to a part of the country where there was so many goatheads, puncture vine, and cacti. Its learning curve type thing.

Riding with dogs said...

UST, Bontrager,& Bontrager
the tire finally held, I've had it set-up about a week now