schwalbe-the-one-road-tubeless-on-shimano-dura-ace-rims

Part One of our Road Tubeless series seemed to spur a lot of discussion, especially around the statement that a Road Tubeless standard does not exist. Most of us believe if a product says “Road Tubeless” on the side, it will work with other items that say the same.

Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily the case, and a lot of this confusion has come from the companies themselves, using the common term -either with caps (Road Tubeless) or without (road tubeless)- to market dissimilar products. So we checked in with the producers of the most common products and asked them about the future of Road Tubeless. Do they see standardization coming? Is there any standard now?

Take a look inside for a comprehensive exploration of where Road Tubeless stands today…

Hutchinson fusion 3 tubeless 25 road (2)

We’ll start this off with Hutchinson, arguably the originator of the idea.

BIKERUMOR: Your Road Tubeless method with Shimano – is this an industry-wide standard that anyone has access to?  How would one gain access to the technical documents that would outline the standard?

HUTCHINSON: The first system was collectively developed by Hutchinson and Shimano in 2006. Obviously the rim by Shimano and the tire tech by Hutchinson. The specifications for the rim have been administered to prospective manufacturers by Hutchinson. If a rim or wheel manufacturer wants to produce a compatible wheel, Hutchinson handles the technical details with the rim developer.

American Classic's tubeless ready rim profile sports a bead shelf design very similar to those on mountain bike rims.
American Classic’s tubeless ready rim profile sports a bead shelf design very similar to those on mountain bike rims.

IS THERE, OR WILL THERE BE A STANDARD?

BIKERUMOR: An overall Road Tubeless standard does not exist in the industry. The closest thing to it appears to be Hutchinson’s certification process:

EASTON: Hutchinson has established a specification for critical rim dimensions and tolerances that allow the rim and tire to work together. These dimensions and tolerances allow the tire to be easily install and removed, as well as seated with relative ease. It also allows the bead to lock into place so the tire does not burp and to pass the leak down test required for the Hutchinson road tubeless.

HUTCHINSON: Regarding standards, there is not an official standard like there was at the beginning of MTB with UST. But the (numerous brands we’re working with) obviously demonstrates that there’s been enough collaboration with wheel manufacturers and Hutchinson to establish a standard via technical participation. Although there are other manufacturers participating in the Road Tubeless sector, we can imagine their involvement began after inspecting and dissecting the first Hutchinson Road Tubeless tires from 2006. In terms of compatibility, there are certain materials and technical attributes required to produce a road tubeless tire, angular bead profile, carbon beads, etc. Although there may be some shared materials and technology between brands and systems, Hutchinson advises using the approved rims and wheels (Ed. – There is a list of Hutchinson’s approved rims at the end of the article) with their tires to insure the highest standards of fit, function and performance.

BIKERUMOR: Basically, that means it’s more likely a rim will see any sort of “certified Road Tubeless” claim than a competing tire brand. Tire companies can always reverse engineer a certified rim’s shape into the desired tire bead shape, they just wouldn’t necessarily be able to use the Road Tubeless logo found on Hutchinson’s tires. Beyond that, though, has there been any chatter amongst companies in creating a standard?

IRC: There has been no such movement. We always refer to major wheel manufacturers for safety.

ENVE: While there does not appear to be any attempt for an industry wide adoption of a single road tubeless system, we work closely with the best tire companies in the industry to ensure that our rims meet the dimensional requirements of their tires.  The Hutchinson certified specification is the closest thing to a standard that we have in the industry at the moment.

TREK: We definitely have our own internal quality standards for road TLR and are really confident in the user experience and quality (of) our system. The flexibility to chase ideas that come our way, without having to worry about formal standards, or having to develop new ones is nice as we are continually refining and improving products. Taking cues from the MTB world, you see a UST standard, you see some complaints with it -heavy with manufacturing difficulties- and you see some issues with adopting it and a sort of half use of the standard coming out of it.  Flexibility is nice when you are refining and improving products, especially when you have wheel and tire designers working in tandem.

SCHWALBE: Unfortunately, I do not see an industry wide standard ever happening as most wheel manufacturers seem to have different philosophies in making a TL wheel, i.e. Stan’s. We also see this type of philosophy on the MTB side. Road TL tires are all fairly similar in their construction. As a fairly new technology I expect Road TL tires to continue to change, improve and innovate in the coming years. This is a similar process to what we saw on the MTB side years ago after Hutchinson first introduced UST as a design guideline. At first it was the standard and now you are hard pressed to find many companies still making UST tires.

IRC Roadlite Road Tubeless bicycle tires review and actual weights

IS THERE ENOUGH DEMAND TO JUSTIFY FURTHER DEVELOPMENT?

BIKERUMOR: Do you see enough demand for Road Tubeless to put more R&D into this area and build new products?

HUTCHINSON: Road Tubeless sales have always been an important category of our overall tire sales. Since their launch in 2006, RT tire sales have doubled year over year and now constitute about 60% of our (700c) road tire sales, which is about 70% of Hutchinson’s total North American bicycle tire sales. We currently sell every Sector 28 we can get our hands on and this tire has definitely become a “halo” product for Hutchinson…and has converted many a previously RT skeptical cyclist to a Road Tubeless evangelist. But at the same time, there’s a huge amount of brand loyalty between cyclists and their tires that sometimes needs to be overcome in order to try a new technology that your current tire may not offer.

ENVE: Absolutely. We have customers asking us on a daily basis what our opinion is regarding road tubeless and when we will bring it to market. We have both Sales, R&D, and Marketing departments working closely together to better understand the use cases for road tubeless to ensure that when we launch a road tubeless wheel, it will check off all the boxes that are currently preventing road tubeless from taking off. The ultimate goal is that road tubeless becomes as ubiquitous in the optimal road applications as it has for mountain bike.

TREK: Yes! The safety offered by TLR systems and the puncture protection, durability, and riding performance that it allows will see this category grow. Road, fitness, and city are all huge opportunities for TLR.

IRC: Yes indeed, in fact we are planning to develop many more varieties in the road tubeless model.  IRC also has three models in cyclocross tubeless tires with market’s attention.  IRC is foreseeing more needs not only in racing bicycles but also in commuter and urban bikes market since the tubeless concept is more safe, comfortable and practical.

2014-HED-Ardennes-lightweight-road-tubeless-alloy-wheels03

WHICH TIRES WORK WITH WHICH RIMS?

BIKERUMOR: There are a lot of different options on the market…what works with what?

TREK: We are always going to recommend setting them up as intended. There is a huge advantage of using products that were designed to work with each other. We have put a ton of time, research, and testing into our TLR wheels and TLR tires and the simple solution for best user experience is to stick with what is designed to work together.

SCHWALBE: We worked on developing our system with many different wheel manufacturers, not just DT Swiss. The purpose of this is to make sure our tire works with all TL wheels, not just one company as many other TL tire manufacturers have done. Our construction of a road tubeless tire is very similar to that of Hutchinson, but we use a proprietary bead core material that is extremely strong and flexible compared to the fragile carbon bead core materials used by some other brands.

IRC: IRC road tubeless products are well recognized and acknowledged by major wheel manufacturers and working very well with their “Road Tubeless Wheels”. (Editor’s note: We’ve been testing them and they work great on a variety of tubeless ready road rims)

DT SWISS: From MY2015 forward all DT Swiss wheels are tubeless compatible, meaning tubeless tape and valve are added to every clincher wheel. DT Swiss wheels (offer the) highest flexibility when it comes to the use of different tires; after mounting the tubeless tape and installing the tubeless valve, wheels can be ridden with tubeless tires or – after removing the tubeless valve – with standard tube-type tires, too.

bontrager-r4-tubeless-road-tire02

WHAT’S SPECIAL ABOUT THE CONSTRUCTION OF A ROAD TUBELESS TIRE?

BIKERUMOR: What makes a Road Tubeless tire? What changes are you making to the tire over a traditional tubed tire?

SCHWALBE: Our TL road tires is comprised of a few very specific parts that differentiate it from a standard clincher tire. To begin with it utilizes a very specific bead shape with a larger flat area at the bottom of the bead where it contacts the rim to help prevent burping, it also utilizes a much stronger bead core material than our typical clincher tire and tire also receives an additional layer of butyl liner inside the tire, essentially welding the tube and tire together into one component rather than having two separate components. This reduces the friction loss between tire and tube greatly reducing rolling resistance.

IRC: We put the highest priority on safety. The bead must stay and sit firmly on the rim under high pressure and the air leak must be minimized, and not only on the road safety, we also much care about safety on its mounting process. IRC has developed the IRC Tubeless Lever. It is important to make sure that tires should be mounted without damaging rim and tire itself.

Hunt Bike Wheels tubeless ready road bicycle wheels with Mason Cycles
You know it’s the future when most upstarts like Hunt Bike Wheels are getting in on road tubeless.

WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT THE CONSTRUCTION OF A ROAD TUBELESS RIM?

BIKERUMOR: What is the actual difference between a regular rim and a road tubeless rim?

AMERICAN CLASSIC: Our Road tubeless rims are a balance of light and strong with great function as either tubeless ready or with standard tire and tube.  (We) designed our rims with a bead barb running along the edge of the bead shelf. When installed, the tire firmly pops into position over the bead barb. The tire bead centers and tightly grips the circumference of the rim creating a sealed environment to hold the liquid sealant without burping.

EASTON: Our Road Tubeless product currently have a sealed tire bed and confirm to the dimensions and tolerances specified by (Hutchinson) Road Tubeless. They also have the bead barb to lock the tire bead into place for a secure rim / tire fit.

ENVE: Essentially there are two major factors that differentiate standard road rims and tubeless rims. For a rim to be tubeless compatible it must be sealed to prevent air from escaping out spoke or valve stem holes, and at the tire rim interface; thus it must be dimensionally matched to those of the tire. Tubeless rims generally feature a locking mechanism that locks the bead of the tire onto the rim so that in the instance of a flat the tire will remain on the rim.

REYNOLDS: For Road Tubeless, the structure of (our carbon rims) is completely different. The way the tire sits in the rim is different than tube type tires – the position of the tire’s bead sits down in the bottom, on the rim bed, rather than pushing up against the bead hook. This is also why it’s not a good idea to try to convert tube-type road tires to tubeless. Tire fit is really the hard part. With tube type tires, you have a wider tolerance for its fit. With tubeless, it’s a much tighter tolerance. Making that particularly tough is that some tire manufacturers have a lot of variance in their bead shapes (from batch to batch), and ETRTO dimensions can be off from tire to tire and brand to brand. So, trying to build a design that accommodates for tire variation is one of the biggest problems for us and the industry in general. We can build a rim with a very tight tolerance, 20x or 30x more precise than tires can be. We did our very best to create a channel design that’s robust and can accommodate as much tire variance as possible.

Bontrager RXL TLR Wheels Road tubeless (6)

BIKERUMOR: (to Trek) You might have the only paired Road Tubeless Tire/Rim. Is being both a tire and rim manufacturer an advantage in this area?

TREK: Absolutely! It is a huge advantage. Our wheel teams and tire teams work together in the same room. They share meeting space, ideas, and spend their lunches either eating together, discussing ideas or riding outside together. To tie the development of both TLR tires and TLR wheels that closely together is a huge advantage. They work together to make a full tubeless system: tire, rim, rim strip, and sealant, owning the whole process and developing it as one. We are really fortunate in that regard to be able to offer a complete system.

IS ROAD TUBELESS GOING TO THRIVE?

BIKERUMOR: Road Tubeless has not really caught on like tubeless has in mountain biking. Any ideas why?

SCHWALBE: The road market is very traditional in many ways and much slower to adopt new technologies than we may see with MTB. A lot of people take on the idea of ‘if the system’s not broken, why fix it’. Also, in the past there have been very few TL road wheels, and wheels are typically the last part someone changes on a new bike. In recent years many OE companies have started spec’ing there bike with ‘dual fit’ rims that make switching to tubeless much easier and less costly for the consumer. We have seen exponential growth in the TL road market due to this fact.

EASTON: It took a while for UST / Tubeless to catch on in mountain biking, (because of the) initial lack of choices in tires and wheels, as well as the increase in weight and cost. We are at the point now where more and more tire and wheel brands are at least offering some Road Tubeless product and others like Easton where the majority of the line is compatible. With more tire and wheel choices and the price and weight decreasing consumers can choose their desired combination with little to no penalty while enjoying the benefits of Road Tubeless. Our EC90 Aero 55 Carbon Clincher Road Tubeless is now shipping and we just launched the EC90 SL Carbon Clincher Road Tubeless wheel and will start to ship production in a few months. This is a full Road Tubeless carbon clincher rim with our Fantom rim shape and 19mm inner width, available in both rim brake and disc brake. At Easton we believe in Road Tubeless so as we develop new wheels we work to make them compatible. Of course our wheels can be used with tire and tube if desired, in those cases you still have a lighter offering as you no longer need a rim strip with is a savings of around 40g per wheel set of rotational weight.

ENVE: Simply put, the benefits of mountain tubeless are more readily apparent to mountain bikers than road bikers. Mountain bike tubeless systems have the advantage of tire volume on its side. Larger volume tires require less air pressure, less air pressure means tires are easier to install, seat, and manage. Mountain bikers were and are more likely to deal with regular flat tires than road cyclists so having a tire that was less prone to pinch flats, and that virtually eliminated punctures from thorns and the like by using a little sealant made a world of difference. With more and more recreational cyclists moving towards high volume road tires, we believe the adoption rates and user friendliness of road tubeless will be on the rise. At the pro level, tubulars are still the name of the game due to their light weight, flat resistance, security, and stellar ride quality. Several tire manufacturers such as Schwalbe are producing a tubeless ready tire that rivals the ride performance of the highest end tubulars and clinchers; this will play a key role in getting road tubeless into the top echelons of the sport. At ENVE, we are working closely with these tire manufacturers to ensure that our tubeless road rims pair seamlessly with these tires to ensure performance that is superior to that of a tubed system.

REYNOLDS: We’ve been working very closely with Michelin, Schwalbe and Continental and they’ve been great companies to work with. That’s made a big difference in the development in our road tubeless rims. I think RT is the future, and I think there’ll be a time when tubes completely go away and there’s a generation that has never used a tube just like there are generations that have never used a record player or a landline phone. We’re investing heavily in it. (Editor’s note: Reynolds’ Paul Lew said Conti was actually an early development partner with Shimano but held off, so read into this what you will about what we’ll see from Continental in the near future).

FOOTNOTE:

Hutchinson Approved Rims:

  • Alex ACF42
  • Alex AT550
  • Alex CX30
  • American Classic Argent Road Tubeless
  • American Classic Argent Road Tubeless Disc
  • American Classic Hurricane Road Tubeless
  • American Classic Hurricane Road Tubeless Disc
  • American Classic Sprint 350 Road Tubeless
  • American Classic Victory 30 Road Tubeless
  • Campagnolo Eurus 2-Way Fit
  • Campagnolo Zonda 2-Way Fit
  • Corima Aero + Carbon
  • Corima Aero + Winium
  • DT Swiss RR 1450
  • DT Swiss R 1700
  • Easton EA90 RT
  • Easton EA90 SL
  • Easton EA90 SLX
  • Easton EC90 Aero 55
  • Easton EA90 XD
  • Fulcrum Racing 0 2-Way Fit
  • Fulcrum Racing 1 2-Way Fit
  • Fulcrum Racing 2 2-Way Fit
  • Hutchinson RT1 Carbon
  • Reynolds Assault SLG
  • Reynolds Attack
  • Shimano DuraAce WH- 7850SL
  • Shimano DuraAce WH-7900-C24-TL
  • Shimano Ultegra WH-6700

Confused? Even from the manufacturers, there is conflicting and confusing information, so we remind users to do their research, and only use products that the manufacturer says are compatible. We don’t mind being guinea pigs here, that’s our job, but we want you to be safe. Our takeaway from all this is that there will likely be a few dominant partnerships and systems from the major players. And most likely they’ll play nice enough with each other but be optimized for their partner brands. You know, kinda like mountain bikes.

46 COMMENTS

  1. I am a believer in tubeless and have run my MTB and CX bikes tubeless for years, literally without a flat. The main reason I have not converted to road tubeless is my power meter(s). I have powertap hubs in my training and race wheels, and changing wheels would either mean dumping the PM, or removing it from the existing rim and rebuilding it around a TL rim. Not an insurmountable task, but cost and trouble that outweighs the 1-2 flats I get every year.

  2. I love my tubeless setup. I rarely have to stop for a puncture other than to check and add a few psi if necessary. It’s a great feeling to ride that way. I ride Hutch Sectors or Schwalbe ONE with HED wheels… Orange Seal for sealant.

  3. I used road tubeless strictly for a year or more. The problem is it might be less prone to flat, BUT, it required more maintenance. You really need to remount and put new sealant in the wheels approximately every 3 months, otherwise the sealant won’t work as it dries out.

    The tires are a pain to mount .. some are better than others. The sealant isn’t cheap. Its another consideration in the maintenance cycle. Might be worth it if you ride allot and have the time.

    Bottom line, I like the tech and performance. I just don’t like the maintenance. The performance/cost/maintenance benefit – I’ll leave it alone for now. Tires like the Conti 4000 II are very nearly as good performing on the road and tons easier to maintain.

  4. “We’ve been working very closely with Michelin, Schwalbe and Continental” Michelin and Continental do not currently have road tubeless tires. It would be big for road tubeless if these two enter the market. Vittoria! Time to get off the fence and make a road tubeless tire.

  5. I still think something needs to be done to make tubeless more flawless. Those of us that have been working on our bikes for years forget how hard it is for a new cyclist to change a flat, let alone seal a bead with a floor pump.

  6. Bontragers tubeless is basically idiot proof. Rim strip. Valve. Sealant. Done. I’ve have tubeless since 2010 and have not had a flat since then. On the Mtb and cx bikes. My road bike is tubeless using the same system. It is super easy but there is no point on the road.

  7. Tubeless is not more flat resistant. Sealant can be added to tubes. Most riders just don’t add it. Changing a tube is not that big a deal and it avoids dealing with messy sealant.

  8. I am glad Hutchinson was so eager to do this interview. I only wish they had responded to my 4 inquiries over the past 6 months as to if I should expect my Secteurs to split along the sidewall, or if that is something that I needn’t worry about. Sure could get interesting going down a descent at 30+mph. I’d love to ride those tires, but until they get back to me, they are a $190 investment relegated to the shelf

  9. From my experience sealant in tubes was hit and miss. For commuting to work on the road bike sealant sans tubes has been spot on with punctures now being an extremely rare occurrence (happened a couple of times when all had dried up). An added benefit is how the Hutchison/American Classic combo keeps the tire on the rim and allows some control during a flat (enough so that one can still ride at a jogging pace if need be without the tire coming off the rim).

  10. Sealant does squat in a tube. The tube is too soft and just lets sealant squirt through without ever coagulating. It “may” work in a high volume, low pressure tire because the air will escape much more slowly with a small leak at 30-35psi than a road bike with 80-100psi.

    I tried it in a few different tubes and I’ve always wound up having a wheel that squirts sealant all over while spinning. That doesn’t happen with tubeless road tires because the casing is thicker and the sealant has time to coagulate and you’re likely to only lose 10psi or less with the normal, tiny piece of glass or wire that causes a flat with a tube.

  11. Road tubeless is marketing run amok. The best riding road tire is, and will always be, TUBULARS. Everyone I know that has or currently rides them agrees. The heavy thick casings of road tubeless actually make them worse than normal tires with tubes. A good TUBULAR with latex tubes and hand made casing is SUBLIME. The perfectly round profile improves ride and cornering. A bit more work, you have to deal with the glue, but TUBULARS are worth it!

  12. Sounds like we’re ready for UST2 (or R.UST). The only thing that works and you can sell with confidence is a *deleted* standard.

    A true, matched UST tire & rim works like a (deleted) dream, with no if’s and’s or but’s.

  13. I’ve always thought i knew a lot about tubeless but this has thoroughly confused me. why are stans rims not “compatible” according to hutchinson? stan’s sells hutchinson tires right on their website!

    From what i thought, all these various tubeless tires would work safely on any standard rim, so long as it was sealed using tape and filled with sealant. and rims with a center channel really just aided in mounting and sealing. are “incompatibilities” mentioned by some manufacturers actually just a case of trying to prevent the consumers from mix and matching even if in the real world it actually does work? will i ever actually run into a situation where some combination of tubeless tires and rim shapes won’t work? i mean, the use of an air compressor was mentioned as if it was a bad thing, but i think or compressors make the process easier regardless and i don’t see that as a reason not to go with any particular tire-rim combo.

    im sensing market tension toward Stan’s perhaps for un-standardizing the standard?

    can somebody please explain this to me?

  14. @zeb – I’m with you. All this talk of a standard is puzzling. I’ve NEVER had a compatibility issue across several brands of tires and rims (including Stan’s). And it’s my understanding of the mountain bike tubeless systems, Stan’s was never “UST compliant”. They had their own proprietary design. And I assume the same thing is at play for them in the road segment.

    Everyone has a choice to run their preferences, but I feel like some of the objections to road tubeless based on false assumptions and not actual experience. I have broad experience with RT across multiple brands. I ride gravel, aggressive group rides, road races, crits, and high alpine passes (I live in CO), and I’ve never had a flat or any kind of in-ride issue.

    Set-up: Definitely more challenging than tubes tires. Definitely less challenging than tubulars. But… you do it ONCE and then you don’t touch it again until you need to refresh your sealant. So a little extra time spent upfront saves you time from not having to change tubes.

    Cost: Speaking of savings, the more expensive tires are offset by not having to buy as many tubes. And I can’t complain about a $90 tire when I’m riding a multi-thousand $ carbon frame. Seems hypocritical.

    Rolling Resistance: Really? How many people on this thread are sophisticated enough to truly identify marginally increased/decreased rolling resistance in the real world? Also, the tire itself may have more rr, but is it offset by not having rr from tube friction? Also, what about gains in rr from decreased deflection?

    Weight: Again, a slight penalty is imperceptible to the average rider, and even most above-average riders. And regardless of what wheel system you choose, weight is less important than aerodynamics and ride quality.

    Width: I get that you can reduce flats and increase comfort by using wider tires with tubes. But I use wider tires (Hutchinson Sector 28mm, Schwalbe One 25mm, Bontrager R3 25mm) without tubes and enjoy even fewer flats and even greater comfort. And now that there are wide rim options for tubeless (Hed, Pacentti, and probably others) it is getting better and better.

  15. Road tubeless is here to stay. For all the haters out there, read this:

    http://www.schwalbetires.com/bike_tires/racing_tires/ONE

    Schwalbe say that the tubeless ONE rolls faster than their TUBULARS!!

    While on this conversation: MAVIC!! WAKE UP!!! Countless riders are running your road wheels tubeless with great success. ..and make your rims wider too. You completely lost the mtb rim market to a tiny upstart from upstate NY.

  16. The main obstacle is preconceptions about tyre pressure and its effect on rolling resistance. (on real roads, NOT on steel drums or a velodrome) Most of people still believe that they need to put 100PSI in their tyre in order to go fast. Try running 80/60 or less if you can and you’ll quickly realize how wrong you’ve been all this time. Once you accept that in most of scenarios, fewer PSI = more mph, you’ll understand the benefits.

  17. @ Robo, I think your point about width is pretty smart. Hutchinson actually has been a little “ahead of the curve” with their 28s, and I wonder how many TL converts tried tubed 28s before they went TL.

    I also think the brand loyalty issue is bigger than the single sentence it received. I happen to like Vittoria tires and think they have great puncture resistance. I have no motivation to mess with sealant and all that BS on a daily basis, even though I have a pair of Bontrager TLRs with tubeless mounted Michelin Jets right now sitting right next to my the bike that currently has tubed Vittoria Rando Pro 35s.

    I’m happy with both for what they are and what I need. Why change?

  18. I get the lower pressure = lower rolling resistance, except for out of saddle efforts, when low pressure makes the whole bike feel like soft poo, while those soft tires suck a bunch of energy on each mash as the tires deform into the ground. Perhaps wider rims help with this?

    In years of MTB tubeless experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that tubeless amazingly great, until it isn’t, then it is amazingly terrible. A tubed set-up has no such extremes.

    Tubeless pluses:
    + can seal thorn punctures
    + can run lower psi
    + lower rolling resistance
    + can be lighter

    Tubeless negatives:
    – casing cut is death of an otherwise good tire = good bye otherwise good $100 tire
    – dried spooge air leaks = 3 month minimum maintenance
    – migrating tape (redo system)
    – some tires and rims might not mount on the bead bench without a compressor = in the wild flat repair frustrations
    – cost of sealant is high and easily matches the cost of tubes (make your own!)

    It’s really a matter of personal preference and whether you want to take on the challenges to gain the benefits.

    Tubeless is better than it was just a few years ago, and is continuing to get better. It will probably become the norm for enthusiasts in the future.

    P

  19. I’m tore on road tubeless in general. All I hear is that you can run lower pressure and get a smoother ride. OK, let air out of your regular tires. Less flats? BS – depends on rider, where you ride, etc. I can go a year with no flats, then 2 in a row, then nothing for months.

    I have a buddy that worked for Shimano and he said that the only benefit of RT was when you got a flat and couldn’t get the tire off the rim, you could ride home without the annoying “thump-thump” of the valve. Not worth the $$ if you ask me.

    Lastly, if RT was so HUGE – then why do you not walk into any bike shop and see 50% or more of the road tire section as tubeless? Nope, you see one or two pegs of offerings and the rest all regular tires. If it was so big, Hutchinson would own the tire wall, not be relegated to the bottom corner with 4 tires.

    Having said that, expect everyone to offer something in the next few year, regardless. It’s like a tire cold war: if Conti does it, then Vittoria will have to (and vice versa). Right now, it’s smaller brands, not the big players – they are just dipping their feet in.

  20. I’m not sold on RTL, and I’ve been running a proper approved setup for almost 2 years. When I replace my tires again this spring, I think I’ll just go back to tubed.

    Set up is a total pain and having the beads “pop” in place scares the dickens out of me.

    The cost of the tires themselves is pretty high for an already overpriced but important component. Add in the cost of valves and sealant and it’s a considerable difference over a non tubeless tire. Not everyone rides multi-thousand $ carbon frames, and the difference between tubeless and non tubeless tires can be the cost of entry into a race, or a round of beers after a group ride.

    As for other factors, so much of it is subjective. Weight difference is almost nill, comfort and rolling resistance is too dependent on other factors including just just listening to the marketing too much.

  21. Regarding standards, although there are no set standards there are 2 features that the wheel needs to be ridden SAFELY in a tubeless system.
    The rim must have the inner bead barb that is talked about in this article and the bead shelf and hook must be square.
    These features are needed to lock the tire onto the rim. The tire must also have the square bead shape. Traditional clinchers have a ‘d’ shaped bead that can easily ride over the square edge of a RoadTubeless rim.

    Regarding the slow acceptance…. When UST was introduced the manufacturers had control of the information the consumer got. The message was distributed to the bike shops and the shops educated the consumers. This was PRE INTERNET and that is a big key.
    Now, every whack job on a forum (on other sites, not this one) is an expert in all things cycling related and opinion is quickly misunderstood as fact.
    If Shimano, Hutchinson, Fulcrum and the other initial partners were able to distribute the RT message correctly just like Mavic, Hutchinson and Michelin did with UST there would be a much better understanding of the advantages of the technology and acceptance would be much quicker.

  22. Trek TLR? More like TLDR, amirite?

    My stuff works. Add clinchers to the list of junky old technology I’ll hang onto instead of upgrading to the junkier new stuff. Let the suckers sort it all out.

  23. @JasonRico, UST phase one (strict UST) was a near fail in the market. UST phase 2 (the rise of Stans) is the reason most MTBs are on tubeless today. The market hacked UST to make it viable. The key is that road tubeless has much less improvement over tubed than in MTB, small enough improvement that user have to ask themselves if it is worth the hassle and expense.

    P

  24. For the sealant skeptics out there, I’ve been running it in UST Tubeless (MTB), Tubeless ready (MTB), clinchers (‘cross and road) and tubulars (road). Last year was at least my fifth consecutive without a flat. Frankly, it’s been so long since I’ve had a flat that I can’t remember exactly when the last one was.

    That said, all sealants are NOT created equal. I’ve found Stan’s to be very reliable. OTOH, my experience with Caffelatex is that it’s completely useless (I could probably squirt milk in my tires and it would work as well). I haven’t tried Orange Seal yet, but may when my supply of Stan’s runs out.

    I will eventually go tubeless on everything, since the only thing stopping me is that I simply don’t need any new wheels currently.

    Regarding fat bikes, they’re easy to set up tubeless and for some reason, it seems that most rim/tire combinations work just fine, once you seal the rim. The extremely low pressure used is certainly part of the reason, but there also don’t seem to be issues with rim/tire fit.

    I just built a pair of wheels for my girlfriend’s new fattie with carbon rims from Yishunbike and 45NRTH Husker Du tires. A couple of layers of thin plastic tape over the spoke holes and a 4 ounces of Stan’s and they sealed up perfectly. The tires were not particularly difficult to mount and they seated fine using a compressor (I doubt you could do it with most hand pumps, since the air volume required is simply too great). The one caveat is that I recommend lubing the beads before you mount and seat the tires, as it will make the process easier.

    My girlfriend runs them at 3-4 psi and loves ’em. I’ll be setting up something similar for the fat bike that I’ll be building for myself next month.

  25. Until you can get the majority of International Road Pros off tubulars and into tubeless expect continued stagnation in the standards department and limited tire choices. Somebody has to win something big like a Roubaix or a Grand Tour on a tubeless set up for mfg’s to really get behind a real standardization move. Nearly a decade of Hutchinson trying to push road tubeless and there still aren’t any real impressive tire choices.

  26. Devout road tubeless convert here (nutter, zealot?)
    Hutchison Atom Galactik on Stans Alpha 340 Disc.
    Prevention is better than cure.
    Bill Shook \ Stan Koziatek & Hutchison FTW.

  27. Tubless road tires, why??? The benefit of tubeless in mtb & cx is that you car run a really low pressure without risking a pinch flat on your tube. This is great for traction on slippery wet rocks and in the mud, but I don’t think anybody is interested in running 1,4 bar on their road bike? 🙂
    A latex tube is not heavier or rolling slower than tubeless.

  28. How can this article almost ignore the existence of Stans?
    The people who generally love tubeless are using stans rims, people who try it and have problems are more than likely on other rims.
    The resounding pop of a tire getting correctly seated on a stans rim fills you full of confidence that the system works.

  29. Over the years I’ve soured on tubeless (road/CX/MTB). The reward just doesn’t outweigh the pain for me. I know many love it, but for me… I see no benefit. I’m changing flat tires no less frequently with tubeless, and you have the added tubeless pain. Messy sealants, tight beads making tires more challenging to mount. Challenges in getting tires (especially if they’re new out of the box), aired up and sealed. Give me a tube any day, way less fuss.

  30. I loved running Bontrager TLR. Until the valve core cracked in my back wheel. In 35 degrees Fahrenheit. And I had to borrow needle nosed pliers off a grumpy auto mechanic to get the tubeless valve off the rim, get my hands soaked and numb in sealant and throw a tube in for the rest of the ride.

    I’m back on tubes.

  31. I’ve run Tubeless on my wife and my mountain bike for 10+ years. Love it and not flats… Road seems to be such another beast, I will never be an early adopter. Tubes for the next couple years I guess.

  32. I ran Hutchinson Fusion tubeless tires on my Zipp 303’s for two years without a flat. I weigh 160 and put the pressure between 80-87psi and the comfort/grip is phenomenal with no noticable performance loss. I’m now running my Roval cl40 discs with Hutchinson sector 28’s and they are amazing. I did have to retape my rear tire once to make sure the tire bead is against the stans tape, and not the carbon, otherwise it won’t seal. I definitely recommend!

  33. Jack,
    Stans rims are shaped to match Hutchinson tires…just like Shimano and Fulcrum and…and…and… Why should they be mentioned? They were late to the road tubeless game and offer nothing special compared to the designs already existing. Couple that with the fact that their first road rims cracked, consistently, at the nipples and you have a company behind the 8 ball on road tubeless in both design and reliability. Even on the mountain side, their bead socket is no longer special as we have found out the bead hook isn’t even needed. Proof of that statement is born in all the new carbon hoops that have arrived on scene lacking a hook. Stan’s makes great aluminum rims for mountain, in my opinion, but for road I would not consider them. They have fixed the cracking issue on the road rims, thankfully. But, they are nothing special.

  34. Hi Trailriver,

    I also want to convert my 303 to tubeless with Schwalbe One tires. I read that the Stans MTB tape at 25mm wide – was best – to ensure the bead engages as you mention here.
    Do you have any other information; did you use Stan’s sealant or Orange Seal?: any particular rim tape work best?, and – how did you manage valve extenders?

  35. I have been running Specialized Roubaix tubless tires with great success, I ride in the desert (on a path) and goatheads make tubeless almost mandatory, just about every ride I pull a thorn and watch it seal instantly. I also love the 28C smoothness from a 25c tire. I did get a pinch flat when hitting a rock on a downhill but other than that, no flats in 18 months.

  36. Paul James, did you get on with the Schwalbe One tubeless on your 303’s? How’s that working out?

    I have some non-TR Vision Metron 40’s that I’d like to go tubeless with the Schwabe One Tubeless, but need reassurance it will work. Anyone have input?

    BongoBennie, are you running TR wheels?

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