No more tubeless

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No more tubeless with the road bike. After almost a year of tubeless cycling I’m done. From now on I am cycling with a tube again. I had to deal with a lot of problems that you don’t read about on the Internet. Maybe I’ll come back one day when tubeless can really be handled by anyone.

My initial enthusiasm for cycling with tubeless tires on the road bike is completely gone. The best way to show why is to describe my latest experiences. Those are symptomatic of a year of cycling with tubeless tires.

A while ago I really struggled to get the rear tire mounted. But then it kept the pressure quite well. It was the slightly older Schwalbe Pro One.

But I had to replace the new Schwalbe Pro One TLE on the front wheel with a new one. The replaced one I had to send back to the dealer. It continously lost air through the tire walls in lots of tiny holes. All the TLEs I used lost air through small holes in the tire flanks. These holes were not sealed by the milk even after several trips.

No more tubeless - holes in the sidewalls - iamcycling
No more tubeless – holes in the sidewalls

Tubeless is expensive

I tried several times to find information in the internet about how to deal with a hole in a tubeless tire. There is hardly any clear statement that the milk is only there to come back home. My experience is that it is very unlikely that you will have to fix a tire on the way. But at home the damaged tubeless tire needs to be replaced. And thats what makes things expensive.

The last tubeless mounting on the front wheel

The mounting of the Schwalbe Pro One TLE was again fantastic. Put on the rims, inflate it, done. Just great. I was thrilled again. But only until the next morning. The tire had lost a good two bars overnight. In the water you could see many small holes on the tire flanks again. Doesn’t matter, I thought. It works.

Holes everywhere in the tyre sidewall, which the milk doesn’t seal

A couple of tours later, the front tire leveled off in a pressure drop of one bar in two days. Quite a good value for a tubeless tire.

Uncertainty escorts the rides

Now the rear tyre lost clearly too much air. Reason was that I have had a hole in the tire which I didn’t notice. But I clearly saw the dried milk at the inside of the frame. Great. That’s Tubeless! I hadn’t even noticed that while driving. Again I was amazed by tubeless.

But fact is that the milk is simply not sealing permanently. The pressure losses remained constantly high. Before going on the next tour I inflated the tire to 6 bar. The high pressure opened the sealed hole and the air came out. I moved the hole to the bottom and the milk closed it. During the ride the same thing happened two more times. No problem at all. The milk seals it. Not permanently but it works.

No more tubeless - hole in the tire - iamcycling
No more tubeless – hole in the tire

But at some point the question comes up: How much milk may be left in the tire? Will the milk be still sufficient to seal the hole again?

There was a lot of milk on the frame. On the way the milk sealed twice. Maybe it’s better to fill more milk in the tire. I don’t really like want to have a problem with the stubborn tires while I’m out on the road.

No more tubeless for the rear tire

Refilling milk is risky. Will the pumping work after refilling? But it had to be done. Quite a lot of milk had leaked out. So I decided to let the air out. The tire popped out of the rim. I filled some milk in it. But I had no chance to pump it up. I tried the Schwalbe Tire Booster. I tried it three times. The sweat was on my forehead again. Again these problems with pumping.

That’s been it. I had enough. Once and for all. I took the old tubular tire out of my inventory and put it on. Not even ten minutes effort with minimum stress. Awesome. It was that easy!

No more tubeless also on the front wheel

The front tire had also caught a small crack. It didn’t just loose the usual air over the flanks, but now also over a real hole. Two bar pressure were just left. And my nerves were at the end. In my experience, the TLE can only be inflated during the first assembly without any problems. If it was already used, it’s hardly possible without compressor. Despite all promises, the tire booster helps just a little. However, without it it’s more or less completely hopeless. The tools Tire Booster, hairdryer, a lot of power, sweat and even more patience for many attempts usually made it. But I had enough of all that. Also the front wheel got back the usual tubular tire.

Quite a relief

And it was a good feeling. And a relief. Finally all problems with the tubeless tyres were solved. All the worries whether the tyres would survive the trip, if there was still enough milk in it, were forgotten. All the fears about the next mounting were over. What’s the issue of a small hole in summer? You stop, you search for the hole, you put a new tube in the tire, pumpit, done.

Tubeless? For me not any more. At least for the time being. Basically, tubeless is a great thing. But only when the problems with assembly and pumps are manageable without professional tools at home. Until then, I’m done with tubeless.

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