Monday, June 25, 2012

Steve0 goes Road BikeTubeless

Yup..... I no longer have tubes in my tri bike. Going without tubes is nothing new to the mountain bike world, but I don’t personally know a single person that has made the transition on their road bike. So far the experience has been radical. One of those game changers that ups your game significantly (at least it appears this is what’s happening).

My first test ride was up a long hill to the Canmore Nordic Centre. The wheels seemed to move so smooth and effortlessly I had to check and make sure there wasn’t a big tail wind pushing me along. There was a little one, so on the way down and on the protected flats I closely brought my awareness up to see if the same feeling was certainly was. Stan’s NoTubes claims a 12% decrease in rolling resistance. Based on my preliminary ride I can believe this.

It’s been 30 years since I’ve ridden on tubular tyres and have a vague reminiscence of how they feel. Though I remember that smooth feeling, I don’t recall how much faster they seem compared to clincher tyres.

It was a little challenging to install them, but Stan’s Notubes website has some really great video to help you along. I really don’t know how I did anything before the internet (From changing the brakes on my car to horticultural procedures there’s tutorials for everything). Stan’s makes it clear you have to follow the steps closely and not leave out any detail. In doing this I had few problems. Probably my biggest challenge was getting the bead on the tyre to seat properly onto the rim. This is an issue even with tubes, but some of the tricks I’ve picked over the years to accomplish this are compounded with the Stans juice that leaks out if you deflate the tyre and try again.

It’s been 4 days now since I’ve installed the system and the tyres are just as hard as the day I put them on. There a couple other advantages in going this route. First, the most common flat I get on my road bike are pinch flats. But with no tube to pinch my flat rate should dramatically improve. Also, those little wires that break off steel belted car radial tyres that litter the road when they ex/implodes are my 2nd most common flat. Yet, Stans claims that when you pull them out you’ll hear a little psssst of air, then the juice quickly seals it up.

Currently there are only 3 tyres on the market that will work for the tubeless system, because you need a tight, non-stretching bead for the hi-pressure road wheels. You can buy a kit from Stan’s that includes everything (juice, tape, valves, tyres). That’s the route I went and so far it seems pretty great.

I’ll have to blog an update in the near future though after more rides and km’s.

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