QUICK GUIDE TO SETTING YOUR MOUNTAIN BIKE UP TUBELESS
Going tubeless is a must for anyone looking to elevate their mountain biking game over loose, rocky terrain. But many riders put off making the change themselves because they lack the confidence to do it alone. Going tubeless doesn’t have to be a hassle. There are steps you can take to ease the tubeless setup headache and make going tubeless as straightforward as possible.
The first thing that needs to be said is to go tubeless you should have a set of tubeless or tubeless-ready tyres. Loads of riders in the community ride tubeless on tyres specifically designed to have an inner tube. You can get away with it but you won’t get the best out of your setup.
If you are using a brand-new tyre that hasn’t ever been inflated, inflate it with an innertube and leave it overnight before you start the tubeless setup process. This will make things easier later because the tyre will have assumed the correct shape.
RIGHT TYPE OF RIMS
Similarly, a ‘tubeless-friendly’ inner rim profile will also help you mount the tyre. They have a deeper channel in the centre with wider shaped shoulders, making it easier to work the tyre on. If you are using rims which weren’t designed for tubeless use, get some rim strips. The rubber sides will help form a seal.
Start by cleaning the rim and inner rim cavity with cleaning alcohol. Then tape up the spoke holes using reinforced tape. Go for a couple of layers to ensure it is completely air tight. Start opposite the valve and work your way around. You can finish by making a small hole in the tape to push the valve through. Make the hole snug so it remains air tight.
USE SOME SOAPY WATER
Put some soapy water in a spray bottle and give the tyre and rim a gentle spray. This will help you manoeuvre the tyre into position. If you are using a tubeless-ready rim and tyre, you should be able to hear the bead fall into place. Use an innertube to bead the tyre, but don’t go above 40psi to get it to seat.
Once the tyre is seated, deflate the innertube, take one bead off the rim, without dislodging the bead on the opposite side. Remove the innertube and then insert the tubeless valve.
Then you are ready to add the sealant. You should add between 50 and 100ml. You can add this directly to the unbeaded section you used to remove the inner tube or by removing the valve core. Once it is in, refit the bead or the valve core. Spin the wheel around to spread the sealant around and fill any leaks. You can reflate the tyre to 35 psi. The soapy water you applied to the tyre should clearly show any air leaks still open. Bounce the wheel a little to get the sealant applied to the side walls and make sure everything is completely sealed.
MAINTAINING YOUR TUBELESS SETUP
Check your sealant every two to three months. You may need to top it up, particularly if you live in a dry climate. Sealant doesn’t last forever, just top it up when it dries out.
Check your rim tape every 6 months as well. If you are riding regularly over rough and hard terrain, the rim tape could become damaged or come away, and might need changing.
Going tubeless is worth the effort just for the number of punctures it saves. You can virtually say goodbye to pinch flats, which make up the majority of mountain biking punctures. A little time spent setting your bike up with a tubeless setup will save you heaps of time on the trails.
What do you think? Are there any more tips you can add? Share your thoughts through the comments section below.