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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.
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.
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.
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.
4. November 2021 — 17:57
Looks like you got crappy tires. Leaking out the sidewall is a DEFECT in my opinion – Schwalbe owes you.
My back tire (Bontrager R3, DT SWISS Rim tape Aeoleous wheel) is amazing; looses 1 PSI or so a week MAYBE. Have ran it for 2k miles.
My front less so (Continental tire) . But I’ve discovered it was leaking at the valve. Have since replaced the valve. Inflates & holds air “OK” but I haven’t put the “juice” in it yet.
11. October 2021 — 11:27
Tubeless is the best. Sealant does the job, but you need proper tires. I use Goodyear. And you need a puncture kit. It is easy to use. To mention that I ride 22 miles everyday.
8. September 2021 — 04:11
Tubeless works. You just have to know what you’re doing. If you have problems, then take it to your bike shop and see if they can show you what you did wrong. Your constant leaking is likely due to your rim tape being too high up on your rims. Or the other problem, your rim tape just isn’t installed properly. Obviously, some poorly made tires or rims won’t help the problem. Too high of a pressure is actually bad for tubeless. If you’re running over 80 psi on tubeless then that isn’t helping the problem. Sealant is meant to seal small punctures. Like thorns. It is not meant to seal nail holes, or glass cuts in the tube. At that point you need a plug kit and a little patience. If you’re somewhere where you have a lot of glass road debris, then you’re better off just going to some heavy duty commuter tires. Tubeless will be useless. But, any standard tubed road tire is going to puncture just the same. You’re only having to put a tube in instead of a plug. You can’t use CO2 with most tubeless sealant. You have to shake the sealant before you inject it into the tire. The particles that actually seal the tire settle in the bottle. A standard tube patch kit will fix a tubeless tire. Take the tire off, clean the inside around the puncture, apply patch and let it sit overnight. You DO NOT have to throw out a tubeless tire simply for a small gash or hole. I usually patch my plugs after a few rides. However, my plugs easily last 500+ miles of riding without too many issues. If you can’t handle tubeless, then enjoy replacing your tubes. I haven’t replaced a tube in over 4000 miles.
4. November 2021 — 19:55
Why can’t you use C02 with tubeless? I use it for initial inflation to get the tire set. Then use a pump for maintenance.
22. August 2021 — 09:17
I was about to give up on tubeless for mtb and road bike after basically discovering that tyre sealant dosen’t fix punctures. I had to resort to tyre plugs and on a couple of occasions put a tube in. I gave it one last go using Stans race sealant. It’s fiddly to use as you have to put it directly in the tyre as opposed to through the valve. I can tell you that I’ve not had to fix a puncture since. That stuff would seal a bullet hole! It’s totally unacceptable that some tyres I had (Bontrager and WTB) don’t seal properly and leaked like a teabag through the side wall (not sure why sealant dosen’t fix?) I was refunded with no hassle so it’s probably a common problem. Only tyres that seem to be genuinely tubless and perform as the should are Maxxis and Specialized.
14. May 2021 — 11:32
Glad google took me to your article. Everyone raves about tubeless but this is my experience as well 100%. I’m going back to tubes as well.
17. May 2021 — 08:56
Thank you John. It’s good to get a confirmation. In the magazines they start currently another try with tubeless for roadbikes. But nothing really changed from my point of view.
8. July 2021 — 06:56
The only way to deal a tubeless hole is to dismount clean the area , and use a patch on the tire.
Dismounting usualy means new tape unless you have tubeless rims with no holes , but if you have dimpled tape it’s not going to seal .
I use orange sealant it comes with glitter in it and helps .
But in the end tubeless road is just terrible..