Table of Contents
- Most Recommended Inner Tubes on Tubeless Rims
- What are the different types of wheels?
- What are the advantages of Tubeless Tires?
- What are the disadvantages of Tubeless Tires?
- Can I use Inner Tubes on Tubeless Rims?
- Do Tubeless Tires hold pressure without Sealant?
- What air pressure should I be running on Tubeless tires?
- How often does Tubeless Sealant need replacing?
- Can I make normal Clincher Wheels Tubeless?
Cycling is an incredible sport that can offer you a huge amount of benefits, from making new friends and joining new social circles to better health and fitness. Bikes come in all shapes and sizes, and in the past decade, we’re seeing more technology than ever before, making it challenging to know what you can and can’t do with your own equipment.
A common question we are asked is if it’s possible to use inner tubes on tubeless rims. In this article, we’re going to tell you all about the different types of wheels and tires, the advantages of running tubeless tires, and answer some of the questions you have asked us.
Most Recommended Inner Tubes on Tubeless Rims
What are the different types of wheels?
What many cyclists don’t know is there are a lot of different types of wheels on the market. We’re not speaking about materials or aerodynamic profiles. We’re speaking about ways that tires are mounted and how they hold air. Here’s what you need to know;
Tubular is a system that isn’t seen often in general day to day riding. It’s more common in races like the Tour de France and is often seen on time trial bikes. Tubular wheels are typically performance wheels and are generally made of carbon fiber. They have an open rim with a light profile which the tire must be glued onto.
The clincher is the most common type of rim currently on the market. They come in all different diameters and different widths, and different materials. To mount tires to these, you have to use an inner tube to inflate the inside of the tire to push the bead onto the side to hold it into place. It’s an excellent system and by far the most popular in the current market.
Tubeless is very similar to clincher in the way it looks and does a very similar job in the way the tire mounts. What’s special about tubeless wheels is instead of an inner tube to hold the tire into place, the tire can sit on the rim itself just with air inside and something you call tubeless sealant. When punctured, the sealant can block small holes 80% of the time, you don’t even need to stop to repair the problem.
Hookless rims are also very much like clinchers and must use a tubeless system. They use a special bead on and are designed to be the strongest, lightest, and best-performing wheels on the market. They are made of carbon fiber and are still very new, with limited options as far as tires go.
Then we have tires, and like wheels, tires come in different materials, shapes, and sizes. The main tires you will find on the market are clincher, tubeless, tubular, and hookless as you can already tell, these are to pair with the wheels above.
Designed to be glued to tubular rims and cannot be used with inner tubes. They are incredibly lightweight, with very little rolling resistance, but challenging to repair when you get punctures and costly to buy and fit. These tires are best saved for race day and not social rides.
Clincher tires are designed to be used with inner tubes, this is called a tubed setup. The most popular types of tires you will find and use inner tubes to inflate them. They are cheap to buy, have excellent puncture protection, and come in a huge amount of different sizes.
Tubeless tires are designed to be filled with sealant. They can be run at very low pressures and have stretch resistant beads to stop the tire from blowing off the rim if you hit bumps or potholes. The tires have the ability to self-heal when they get small holes in and generally are very lightweight and have separate tubeless valves.
Hookless tires only work with hookless rims as they only have a small tire bead. They have a special bead and really can only be run tubeless. They are incredibly light, very strong, and extremely quick. They are still fairly new technology, and we will see more of them in the future, but at the minute, only a few cyclists use them.
What are the advantages of Tubeless Tires?
Tubeless wheels and tires are incredible for so many reasons and have quickly become one of the most popular tires and wheel systems you can get. It has so many advantages compared to the other tire systems, such as;
Lighter than Clinchers
Tubeless tires don’t require inner tubes and instead use a sealant. This sealant typically weighs around 30g on a road tire compared to an inner tube which weighs 150g means you’re saving 300g between the two wheels, which is a huge amount of weight to lose on the wheels and can offer amazing improvements to road performance.
Self Healing Properties
When you use tubeless tires with sealant, your wheels get the ability to self-heal minor punctures. What’s special about tubeless sealant is when it hits the air outside the tires it hardens and seals any small holes and you don’t even need to stop riding. Unfortunately, if the rips are too big, you need to use a plug which we will discuss next.
You can use a plug kit
Unlike a clincher tire, you can use a plug kit when you get a rip in a tubeless tire. A plug kit is a small strip of rubber compound that you can place into the tire, pump it up, and start riding again, and it will seal using the sealant inside the tire. This means you can fix a puncture without even needing to remove the wheel itself.
You can run lower pressures
If you’re using inner tubes and clincher tires at low pressure, you run the risk of a pinch flat. A pinch flat is where you hit a bump, and the rim hits the inner tube and rips it giving you a puncture. With tubeless, you don’t have this issue because you don’t have an inner tube to burst. It makes off road riding much easier, and you have less risk of having any issues.
Less Rolling Resistance
Tubeless tires have less rolling resistance. If you’re using an inner tube inside your tires, it actually creates friction. This friction creates rolling resistance and can slow you down. So when you run tubeless and don’t have an inner tube, there’s much less rolling resistance to worry about.
What are the disadvantages of Tubeless Tires?
Although tubeless has a huge amount of advantages, it does come with some disadvantages too. Here’s what we think are the disadvantages of running a tubeless tire system.
Tubeless tires are generally more expensive than your typical clincher tires. You can easily spend $100+ on a set of tubeless tires and then you also have to account for the price of sealant, which will be about $15 too.
Harder to Setup
Tubeless tires are harder to set up than regular clincher tires. They involve using a special boost floor pump, and although some seat themselves the first time, you might find yourself having to be patient and having a few goes at it. Most cyclist get a bike shop to deal with their road bikes, gravel bikes, or mountain bike when it comes to setting up tubeless.
Can be messy
If you’re out on a ride and you get a bad slit in the tire that won’t plug or seal, you will need to install an inner tube. With all the old sealant inside, this can be a pretty messy job, and tubeless sealant is very sticky when it starts to dry. You also can have issues with removable valve cores when sealant leaks into them.
Still need to carry a spare tube
Although the standards for tubeless is excellent and it comes with many benefits, you’re still going to need to take a tube out in case you get a big rip in the tire or run out of sealant for punctures.
Can I use Inner Tubes on Tubeless Rims?
A very common question we are asked is if you can use tubes with tubeless wheels. The short answer is yes, providing they are not hookless rims and are tubeless clincher rims.
Another great thing about the tubeless setup is the fact that you can still use inner tubes if you don’t want to use sealant. This also means if you split the tubeless tire to the point it cannot seal, you can just put an inner tube in instead of using a tubeless repair kit.
Most wheel manufacturers now just make all wheels tubeless-ready, even though many cyclists tend not to go down the tubeless route. It means they have the option to go tubeless but also use inner tubes if they feel more comfortable doing that.
Do Tubeless Tires hold pressure without Sealant?
Many cyclists ask if it is possible to use tubeless tires without sealant and if they will still hold pressure. Short term, they will maybe for an hour or two if you’re lucky, but long term, they will lose air and if you get a puncture, you have no defense against it. You need a tight seal, and the sealant makes it an airtight seal.
You will also find that tubeless tires lose air a little quicker than a clincher tire with an inner tube. You might need to pump your tires up with air every couple of weeks instead of every month if not you might find yourself picking up your bike with flat tires.
What air pressure should I be running on Tubeless tires?
Tubeless tires can run lower pressure, but it doesn’t mean you need to if you don’t want to. The right tire pressure depends on many different things, and the best way to find out is to use a tire pressure calculator. One of the best calculators you will find is the SILCA.
Enter all your details into the form and the types of tires you are using then it will give you a tire pressure that you should run. We recommend using it as a guideline and if you feel better with more or less go where it suits you.
How often does Tubeless Sealant need replacing?
Unlike an inner tube, you will find that tubeless liquid sealant does dry up over time. If you don’t get punctures, we still recommend topping it up every six months. If you have had a few punctures then it’s worth putting a little bit more in just to be sure, if not you might find your initial setup of tubeless might not work as well as it should.
Can I make normal Clincher Wheels Tubeless?
You can make standard wheels tubeless. You have to use a conversion kit, which will consist of tubeless rim tape to cover spoke holes, tubeless valve stem for valve hole, liquid sealant, and you will still require tubeless tires. This can be quite challenging to do, and it isn’t always a successful job, as it can be difficult to get an airtight seal, even with layers of tape. It’s easier to get a budget set of tubeless wheels such as DT Swiss wheels or have a wheel builder install tubeless into a custom set of wheels to make them tubeless compatible.
Yes, it is completely fine to use inner tubes on tubeless rims providing they are clinchers and not hookless rims. Tubeless wheels and tires are an amazing tool that can make your bike faster. It can give it the ability to self-heal and also make your bike much lighter. We highly recommend tubeless systems and feel in the future, that is what most people will be using.