Tubeless wheel set up and sealant top up

Tubeless set up and tyre sealant can appear a daunting task with the potential for a number of wrong turns. But in this video Paul shows how with some straightforward planning and preparation the task can be done by anyone. With perfect results.

Video Transcript

Tubeless wheel set up and sealant top up

Okay, so in this tutorial, we are going to set up this wheel tubeless. We’ve got everything ready. And what I mean by everything ready is tyre is removed, the cotton rim strip is removed so exposing the smoke holes. We have the customer’s inner tube nicely folded up. So the customer is going to get that back as a spare. We have our tubeless ready tyre. We have our valve core, we have our sealant and we have our tubeless rim strips.


So we’ve got everything that we need to make this wheel tubeless. We’re going to do a brief setup and show you how we get the rim ready. But then the fundamental thing that we want to portray on this tutorial is putting the tyre on, putting the sealant in and then what you have to do for periodic top ups thereafter. So let’s get right to it.


Okay, so the first thing that we need to do is we need to install the rim strip into the actual rim itself. So sounds obvious, but the first thing we need to do is find the valve hole in the rim strip and the valve hole which is just here in the rim itself. We know it’s the valve hole and not a spoke hole because it goes all the way through and it’s slightly smaller diameter. So what we need to do first of all, put it round this way is we aligne the valve hole and the rim strip hole together. We get our valve core and we put the valve core all the way through the rim strip and into the actual wheel rim itself.


It’s important to do it this way round and not try and install the rim strip and then put the valve core in later. Because when you do that, sometimes the rim strip can just move a fraction of a millimetre across or a couple of millimetres across at worst case. And then what will happen is there’s no way you’ll be able to get that valve core in, and there’s no way you’ll be able to get the rim strip out. So you’d have to destroy a rim strip and you’d have to then start again. So this is just top tip number one.


So we’ve now got that aligned, we’ve pushed the rim strip into the wheel bed. We get our locking screw that goes on the underside of the valve core. We screw that up, tighten that down, doesn’t need to be over tight at this point. And then what we’re doing is we then just literally need to push the rim strip into the rim bed and go all the way around until we’ve got the entire rim strip locked into the rim bed. So, you’re going to join me after doing that, and don’t worry, the last bit is real tight – you have to pull it over into position. So, so that’s what we’re going to do now. So you’ll join me in a moment. With that finished and set up and ready to go.


Okey doke. So you now find me having installed the rim strips and now we can no longer see the spoke holes and the rim strip goes all the way up the inside of the hook of the rim. So it will now give us a full 360 degree seal for the sealant to sit inside and obviously the air. You install your tyre in exactly the same way as the video saying how to change your inner tube – we’re just simply purely going to install a tyre with no inner tube in there. So that’s the only difference.


Right, so we’ve now got our tyre fitted on to the wheel rim. Everything sat on there nicely. We’ve got our Presta valve open, ready to inflate the tyre. So we now need to get this inflated and seated.


Now for this, we’re going to use one of these. This is a Bontrager flash charger. And what this type of pump does is for tubeless systems to get that initial inflation and that seating. What you do is you have the red lever pressed down and you then pump the pump as normal. And what it does is it charges this massive cylinder here – this cylinder here – and the charges it up to 160 psi. What we then do is we then attach the valve on to the wheel, lock it in place. And then we just pull the lever up and it will unload all of the air that sat in this tank and inflate the tyre and physically push it up onto the rim bed.


Now why is that so important with a tubeless system? The Bontrager system is actually really good and nine times out of 10 you can actually inflate a Bontrager tyre on the tubeless wheel instantly because the tolerances are so tight. On some of the manufacturers where the tolerances are slightly less, what can happen is, is that you can just have a standard track pump and you’ll be pumping away, because you’re not actually pushing air on the upstroke, you’re only pushing air on the downstroke you can get to a point where you’ll you just can’t physically inflate the tyre. Whereas flash charges, the moment we pull this handle up, what it does is there’s no pause in going on the upstroke. It’s just dumping all the air in and that allows it to push up.  So that was a long winded explanation, but you’ll see it in action in just a second.


So what I’m going to do now I’m going to, we’ve got the lever down, we’ve got the pump head attached to the valve, I’m going to finish it’s only about 80 psi at the moment, so I’m going to finish inflating up to 160. And then what I’ll do is I’ll show you in real time pulling the lever up and watching the tyre go up. And then what we sometimes have to do after that is then just carry on pumping to get that tyre to finish seating. So we’re going to do that just now.


So we’ve now inflated the flash charger up to 160 psi. We’ve got our pump head on the valve, we’ve got a totally deflated tyre. And now we’re going to hit this. Now don’t worry as it goes up onto the bead it might sound like a gun going off because of the seating so don’t worry about that. So here we go. There we go.


Okay. So that’s mostly inflated now, and there’s just a few sections that aren’t just pushed up onto the seat at the moment. I’s chasing its way around nicely. So I’m going to give it a few more pushes of the pump itself just to finish seating the tyre, but that is a job well done. So if you do a lot of tubeless installations, you are definitely worth spending the money on a proper sort of flash charger type system. So that’s done. I’m just going to finish seating the tyre using the pump, and then after that, we’re going to put the sealant in.


Alright, so that is our tyre fully inflated, fully seated so we can see the bead seat going all the way around so we know that that tyre is now fully seated. And the next thing that we need to do is put the sealant in. Now some people, they leave a little bit of tyre off the rim at the bottom and then just pull the sealant in and then finish going around and putting the tyre on and then inflating and then it’s done. Nothing wrong with that it’s a perfectly okay system. I just find that when you just pull the sealant into the tyre, and that transition of turning the tyre around and putting it on, you do get sometimes quite a bit of mess. You get some drops of sealant there that that otherwise you can avoid.

Now, again, Bontrager have done a great thing with their sealant tubes. The sealant top is actually the perfect size for sitting in to press the valve. You can put your sealant in directly into the valve with very little mess once you’ve done it a few times.


Okey dokey. So the first job is we need to remove the valve core. For that we need to use a valve core remover. This particular one is the Park Tool VC one which is aluminium works really really nice or plastic ones available but as I say you buy one of these once and providing don’t lose it, it lasts forever. So the key thing is that the valve core removal tool, then sits – you’ll feel it as you work around the valve – you’ll feel this flats and the valve core removal will siton. We then unscrew the valve core. We’ve got a deflated tyre now so make sure you don’t unscrew this with air in there otherwise it all it’ll pop off. So we’ve now unscrewed the valve core. We then remove the valve core itself. So that’s the valve core just there. And what we’re left with is just literally the hollow tube of the valve itself.


So we’ve got our valve core, and we’ve got our valve core remover. What we then need to do is we need to take our tyre sealant. Now, this is where so many people make a mistake. The fluid, the blue stuff that you can see is purely like the dry lube in one of our lubricating chain videos. The blue fluid is just a suspension fluid for all the latex that is sat at the bottom. It’s the latex that seals the puncture. And the latex swims in the blue stuff to stop it going off straightaway. So the amount of folk that we’ve seen who pour in a bottle of sealant into their valve and leave and then throw it away all the latex, then get a puncture and all of the blue Suspension fluid just literally leaking out of the tyre, and nothing is there to seal it because all the latex is now in the bin.


So top and bottom of it is you make sure you give it a vigorous shake, there’s still quite a lot of latex there. But we’ve managed to get quite a lot of the latex into the suspension fluid. So that’s job number one, make sure that we give that a thorough shake. Okay, so now we have no latex on the bottom of that tube. All the latex is now sat in the suspension fluid. So that is now good to go into the valve.


Now, the way I always do it is I turn the wheel so that it’s just at the sort of eight o’clock position. And why I do that will become obvious just now. So we take our top off. We then have the seal that we remove, we screw our cap back on. I always just give it another final shake, take the red cap off. And that now is the perfect shape to go into our valve.


So what we now do is put the nozzle into the valve, we can now turn it down and like a cement mixer as you are squeezing – you can hear it going in there – just turn as well. And again, it just makes sure that none of the latex just gets caught in this section here just keeps it turning nicely. Then what I always do, I just put a rag around the nozzle as I remove that and look at that. absolutely zero mess there whatsoever.


So that’s now all of our sealant sat in the tyre, there’s no leakage, there’s no mess, because we’ve seated the tyre first and we’ve then deflated all the air out. That’s now left the tyre still seated on the rim, all of the sealant is inside and we’re now ready to replace the valve core back into the valve, we’ll tighten that down, we’ll re inflate the tyre. And the final thing that I will show you is just how to shake the wheel to just ensure that the sealant itself is all the way around the tyre.

Okay, so that is the tyre installed onto the rim. The final thing that we want to do once we’ve got the sealant in there is just give the wheel a shake. So what I always do is I put it on its side, shake it like so. Then rotate over 180 degrees, shake again, round 90 degrees, shake again, over 180 – shake again. And effectively what that does is that’s got the sealant distributed all the way on the inside of the actual tyre itself, and it just helps that initial setup and that initial seal for the tyre.


Now what’s important once you’ve set up a tyre tubeless and you’ve just put new tyre sealant in there, slightly over inflate your tyre from your normal tyre pressure. So for example, we’d normally run this size of volume of mountain bike tyre setup tubeless at around 25 psi once the tyre is now correctly sealed. However, for its first outing, I’d sacrifice a little bit of grip and inflate it probably to about 28 / 29 psi, because you are going to get a little bit of what’s called burping, which is when the tyre sealant hasn’t fully sealed the tyre against the rim. So, what you don’t want to do is set it up to your usual low psi and find you get a rapid deflation when you go and put a lateral load into the tyre. So just have it about 5 – 10 psi more than you would normally do. If you then have no issues, drop it down to the tyre pressure that you would normally run, you’re good to go.


And the other final tip is that if you are just topping up an already setup tubeless system if the bike has not been used for a while, the chances are is that the sealant might have pooled at the bottom of your tyre. You may need to remove one side or your tyre completely. Because the latex can sometimes end up being like a plaster. It’s like a scab, just literally on the pooled edge of the of the tyre. If you just top up the tyre sealant, what can happen is that effectively, you might have a scab of tyre sealant that weighs quite a lot. It’s about sort of 40 – 50 grammes. If you put 40 to 50 grammes onto your car wheel, and then went for a drive, it’s going to be really imbalanced. It’s exactly the same with a bike tyre. So as I say, if you’ve got a tyre that has got sealant in but it’s not been used forever, you are worth taking that tyre off getting all the old sealant out, pulling that pooled scab off reinstalling the tyre putting fresh sealant in, you know you got to go.


Okay, so that is how to install your tubeless system, how to top up your tubeless tyre. All good. Go and enjoy