So you have decided to get out of the dark ages and throw away your pesky tubes in favour of a tubeless setup? Welcome to the 21st Century and welcome to a whole new world of traction, lower tire pressures, less pinch flats and a near complete lack of punctures. We take a dive into how to setup tubeless for the first time in an easy, budget -friendly home mechanic manner. In fact it’s so simple that any idiot can do it!
What you will need
- Tire Levers
- Tubeless Valve
- Stanley Knife / box cutter
- Tubeless tape or Gorilla Tape
- Floor Pump
- Tubeless Ready Tire
First Step is always to make sure you have your tools and kit that you need, have a clear and clean work space. Once you are all setup then grab the wheel you are going to setup, ensure the rim tape has been removed and clean the rim with soapy water or isopropyl alcohol if you have it. Let the rim dry before moving onto step 2
If you are using Gorilla Tape you will have to measure the inside of the rim diameter with a tape measure and then use the stanley knife to cut it to the correct size before applying it to the rim. If you are using purpose made tubeless tape make sure you have the right one for your internal rim diameter. Start at the valve hole and wrap around the rim slowly, pushing down on the tape as you go to minimise air bubbles and improve the adhesion. Generally speakingyou can use one layer of tape, you may like to use just one if you are wieght conscious, but I will generally go around the rim twice to ensure a good seal. Finish just after the valve hole.
Now that you have wrapped the rim it’s nearly all done right? Not quite. Now find the valve hole and with the tip of your Stanley knife just perforate the tape so as to make a tiny whole through the tape, be careful not to make this two big. It needs to be about the size of the end of the valve so you can push it through. Once you have made the small hole, push your tubeless valve through the hole, allowing it to enlarge the hole as you push it through. If you are careful here you will minimise the chance of a leak at the valve, the tighter the fit the better.
Now you have the tubeless tape and valve in situ it’s time to mount the tire. Mount the tire as you normally would, but leaving a small section not yet on the rim, this will allow you to add the sealant. Alternately you can do this through the valve if you remove the valve core and use a syringe setup. Ideally you want to be adding 65-120mls of sealant to the tire with your valve at 8’o’clock. Generally speaking for gravity riding being generous with your sealant doesn’t hurt anyone. For me, I like to put 90mls in each 27.5 tire or a bit more if it’s a 29er.
Fit the rest of the tire and pop the bead with your floor pump. Once the bead is popped, pump the tire up to 35PSI, give it a shake and let the sealant coat the inside of the tire. Fit the wheel back on your bike and spin the wheel around to further move the sealant around.
Your tire goes down in the first 24 hours or so – Ensure you have enough sealant (don’t be cheap) and pump the tire back up, take it for a ride and make sure it stays up.
Your tire has a leak despite having the right amount of sealant in it and the above has been done – Your rim tape could have been placed incorrectly or the rim tape is old and has lifted. The easiest way is to spin the wheel in water and look for leaks, if it is coming out from the spokes the rim tape is toast.
The Final Word
Setting up tubeless can be daunting but it is super simple and once you have done it once then you will find it much easier the next time and so on. It really is a worthwhile investment and for the cost of a set of valves, some tape and some sealant it is a cheap and simple upgrade to do at home. This is a simple guide for a home mechanic looking for a simple solution, there are many other guides that make it more difficult or that may use different techniques, but this method works and I have been using it for years without fail on multiple bikes. See you on the trails….