Going Tubeless on Road Tyres
The only problem with taking the road less-travelled, is punctures. Pinch-flats, thorns and flints become your worst enemy. Going tubeless with tyres, is something that I have been doing for quite a while; on mountain bikes. It is an incredibly effective way of dramatically reducing flats. On my road bike though, I have traditionally remained reliant on inner tubes for inflation. With 2016 being my year for testing out new things though, I've made the change...
Tubeless tyres hold a number of advantages over their tubed counterparts.
First, there's the puncture prevention. You eliminate the chance of a pinch-flat - when you compress the tyre to such an extent that the bead of the tyre pinches the inner tube, causing snake-bite like cuts. You also eliminate the risk of tubes suddenly failing; which can occur around the valve, or after long periods of use. Finally, you can dramatically reduce the chance of cuts and thorns creating a flat, because the latex sealant within the tubeless system not only seals the tyre onto the rim, but also seals around intruding objects to keep the tyre air-tight.
Second, there's the grip and friction factor. Because of the eliminated risk of pinch-flats, you can run tubeless tyres at a lower pressure on rough roads. This means that they conform to the road surface far better, and therefore provide better traction and grip, as well as significantly more comfort. Getting rid of the inner tube also helps to reduce friction, as there is no internal friction between the tyre and the tube, which results in lost energy. The result of these two factors, is that a really good tubeless set-up can feel akin to a really good tubular set-up; with a feeling of comfort, grip and lower rolling resistance, which is almost impossible to get with tubed clincher systems.
Quite simply, tubeless tyres make a lot of sense. It is why they've been used on cars for such a long time. They make even more sense when you have challenging conditions, terrain and a high risk of punctures. So if you want to take the road less travelled, or you just live on rough UK roads, they could potentially be a major asset. I'm certainly converted!
My Tubeless Road set-up
- Campagnolo Zonda Two-Way Fit Clincher Wheelset
- Hutchinson Fusion 5 Tubeless Tyres
- Latex Sealant - Hutchinson Protect'Air or Stan's No Tubes