Tubed and Tubeless systems explained

Tubeless systems are becoming more popular and the technology is improving but when to use tubed and when to consider tubeless? Paul explains all of this as well as the simple tips to be aware of when moving to tubeless. Find out how pinch punctures can become a thing of the past!

Video Transcript

Tubed and Tubeless systems explained

Hello, and welcome to this tutorial where we’re going to talk about tubeless tyre systems. We’re going to tell you the difference between a tubed and tubeless system – sounds obvious, but it’s worth explaining the pros and cons between going tubeless or non tubeless and common mistakes that people make with cheaper systems. So let’s get right to it.


Okay, so firstly, the difference between a tubed and a tubeless system is the obvious one really, which is your wheel and tyre in a tubed system has an inner tube installed inside the tyre that holds the air and that’s what the bike tyre rides on.


The tubeless system completely gets rid of the tube and replaces it with a tubeless tyre sealant, which rolls inside a tubeless specific tyre. Now the difference between a tubed tyre and a tubeless tyre is quite a lot. It’s very much using car type technology in the bike industry.


Now, what’s really important and this is where a lot of the common mistakes come is that you’ll see a lot of YouTube videos and things out there with bike hacks and ghetto tubeless systems. To be perfectly honest with you, I have never ever used one of these systems and it be 100% foolproof. If you want to go to tubeless, you need to ensure that your wheel is a proper tubeless ready wheel. It will either be in the manufacturer’s specs or on a lot of the wheel systems, it will say TLR, which is tubeless ready, or it will have tubeless ready written on the rim. And the tyre also needs to be a proper tubeless ready tyre. Again, it will have on the tyre TLR or tubeless ready. And you then know that when you put that tyre on that rim, that the manufacturer has specifically designed that wheel rim and that tyre to work in a tubeless configuration. In the 10-12 years I’ve been running tubeless using the proper systems, I have never, ever had a failure through standard riding. So that’s really important to understand.


So fundamentally, what are the benefits of rolling on tubeless versus tubed. Well, they are numerous really. The first one is you can run a lower tyre pressure. Why is that beneficial? Well, a lower tyre pressure not only gives more comfort to the ride, you can run a slightly lower tyre pressure, it’s going to then give a little bit more suspension, a little bit less fatigue in the way that bike rides right. So that’s one benefit. The main benefit, however, is no more pinch flat punctures. A pinch flat ultimately is when the tube pinches between the rim and the sidewall of the tyre. If you don’t have a tube to pinch, ultimately, you then pretty much don’t get any punctures and most punches that we see are due to pinch flats as opposed to sort of foreign objects coming through the tyre sidewall itself. So that’s a benefit.


The other thing is, is that when you’re running a tubeless system, if a foreign object does go through, such as a thorn, a bit of glass and that sort of thing, then inside, you have, as we’ve said before, a latex based sealant in there, which is got tiny pieces of latex, that within probably quarter to half a wheel rotation will find that air hole, meets with the air on the outside and seals instantly. So it works really, really well.


So those are the benefits of using a tubeless tyre system over a tube system. What are the negatives? Well, the negatives are ultimately running tubeless requires a little bit more maintenance in the fact that if you have the bike laying for a prolonged period of time, you must make sure that you rotate the tyres on a regular basis. And that will ensure that the tubeless sealant itself doesn’t pool in the bottom of the tyre and eventually go off so it allows the latex to rotate around the tyre.


You will periodically have to top up the tubeless sealant of which will be a video for that. And we’ll also do a video of how to set up a tubeless system as well. This will be using the Bontrager tubeless system which is phenomenal. So those are really the negatives. You have a little bit more maintenance to do with them. But other than that, there’s no downside. They’re very, very good.


So the final thing that I just like to touch on is whilst tubeless is available on road, gravel, and also on mountain bikes, where it all started with mountain bike, we have had in our experience, times where it’s a no brainer to go tubeless. And then other times where it’s still a little bit marginal, it’s still a bit in its infancy. So our advice would always be, if you are running a mountain bike, or a wheel and tyre system, say on a gravel bike, of sort of 38 millimetres upwards, it’s a no brainer to go tubeless. The reason being is because those tyres have a huge air volume at quite a low pressure. So if you have a puncture with one of those, if you remember me saying that it takes a good sort of quarter to half a wheel rotation to actually fix the puncture using the latex sealant, the difference in air loss from before the puncture and after the puncture on the low pressure high volume tyre is quite low.


However, if you then take a road bike tire of 25, maybe 28 millimetres, that’s running higher tyre pressures with a much lower volume of air inside, then for the same amount of time it takes to heal, you’re going to lose a lot more air pressure. And we have seen instances where it’s lost so much air pressure, that eventually the tyre unseats and you get a total deflation. So we’re still on the fence slightly for road bikes of 25 to 28 millimetre tyre widths whether to stay tubed or tubeless any bigger sort of 32 definitely 38 upwards into mountain bike, total no brainer.


So hopefully that’s been a good overview of what tubeless is, the pros and cons the negatives and the positives to it. And please have a look at the rest of our videos around tubeless how to top up your sealant how to use a tubeless system. So thanks so much indeed for watching this.