5 things I hate about tubeless tyres
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5 things I hate about tubeless tyres

Sep 25, 2023

Tubeless tyres have been around for a fair few years now, with the uptake of this technology almost ubiquitous within the mountain bike community. For some the uptake has been slower and not as well received.

Junior Tech Writer

Tubeless tyres have the ability to divide any group of riders when the topic is discussed over a coffee table on that mid ride café stop. Some riders are completely converted to the idea and have had many puncture free kilometres thanks to the tubeless set up.

Others will disagree profusely, arguing there is nothing wrong with a classic inner tube and tyre combination. If you are planning on making the jump to tubeless here are 5 things to keep in mind to make that transition as painless as possible.

Tubeless tyres are a little bit more involved than a more traditional inner tube set up, there is the need to fill the inside of the tyre with sealant. The rim also needs to be taped with a specific tape that creates an airtight seal on the rim bed.


Using a sealant syringe is one way of keeping mess down, if your sealant is suitable.

It is to be expected that the first few times you go through the process you will get sealant on the floor and all over your hands. Some sealants can be inserted in to the tyre through the valve with the core removed. This method is by far the cleanest but make sure the sealant you are using can be inserted in this way.

One of the most likely inconveniences to encounter with a tubeless setup is the clogging of the valves. Regardless of all the technology that goes into tubeless tyres, sealant and valves, it is not smart enough to be able to differentiate between a puncture and air coming in and out of the valve.


The difference between a clogged valve and a new one, cleaning the valve out and replacing the core will have them running like new!

This means that over time, whenever air is released from the tyre by either checking tyre pressures or when attaching a pump a small amount of sealant will get drawn into the valve. Over time this repeated process will start to clog the valve restricting the flow of air ultimately it will require cleaning and typically the valve core will need to be replaced, this is a very low cost item but it is an added hassle over inner tubes.

As good as tubeless is in preventing punctures from thorns, flints or other small debris it will never be able to protect you 100 percent from getting a puncture. The size of the puncture that can be sealed is entirely dependant on the sealant being used with some adding clumping molecules that can help plug a larger hole.


Tubeless tyres will leave a little mark of sealant when a puncture has been sealed but the system does have its limits.

Another thing to consider is the larger the volume tyre being used the more effective tubeless setups are, this is because there is a larger total volume of air to draw the sealant to the hole with. Narrow 23c tyres only contain a very small amount of air this means that the hole has to be plugged immediately otherwise the tyre will fully deflate. With a 32mm tyre the volume is far greater and so the hole can be plugged over a longer period of time without such a large pressure loss.

For a typical road bike setup an effective rate of around 70 percent is likely, which is still a massive improvement over a traditional tubed setup.

This one is undeniable, tubeless tyres, sealant, valves and rim tape is expensive and does add up to more than a similar tubed setup. Tubeless certified tyres have to be built to a higher standard as they need to be completely air tight, this pushes the price up over a non tubeless specific tyre.


Shopping for tubeless compatible gear does come with an increase in price, but over its lifetime it might even out.

Sealant can be expensive and does need replacing every six months as well as the tubeless specific rim tape that has to be used and needs replacing if it gets cut or a spoke needs replacing. Something to factor in to this cost calculation is how many punctures you tend to pick up over six months. With tubeless you would be saving the cost of replacing inner tubes, which depending on where you ride could swing the cost back in the favour of the tubeless setup.

After all of the above, when you do run into disaster and incur a puncture on a ride, what do you do? If it is too large to have sealed on its own there are a multitude of ways to remedy the issue, plugging the tyre or adding more sealant can both be appropriate courses of action.

If all else fails, an inner tube can be fitted inside the tyre much like a traditional set up, this can be very messy and fiddly. When fitting an inner tube it is really important that you check the inside of the tyre for thorns or debris as the tyre may have collected lots without you knowing thanks to the tubeless set up.


If you end up in the unfortunate position of needing to fit an inner tube, make sure that the tyre is free of any thorns or debris first.

You would need to carry an inner tube and also something to help remove the old tubeless valve. If an inner tube is fitted in a tyre that has been run tubeless, the leftover sealant can stick the inner tube to the tyre so a post ride clean up is also recommended.

Tubeless tyres are not perfect but they are definitely the best solution we have as riders. Much like a traditional setup there are quirks and things to be aware of, but the gains far outweigh the potential pitfalls of these issues. Once you have been through the motions of running tubeless tyres a few things it will be as simple and natural as having an inner tube feels.

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