Tubeless Experience?

Yamabushi

Maximum Pace
Jun 1, 2010
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1,083
Tokyo (Nezu)
fudoushin.com
#1
I'm riding Shimano WH-6700's which are tubeless capable, but have only ridden Conti GP4000s with tubes since I've had them. Although I've been curious from the beginning, only now have I gotten to the point where I am considering taking action. There is a very limited tubeless tire choice which is primarily what's held me back so far. It seems Hutchinson is the leading manufacturer in this area producing their own and OEM most of the other brands tubeless as well. Additionally, I need to think about sealants.

I'm not racing, but am looking for a combination of high-performance (handling, road feel, grip) and durability (puncture resistance, long lasting). As a point of reference, currently the Conti GP4000s hits the sweet spot for me.

Does anyone have any direct (or indirect) experience they can share?
 

dgl2

Maximum Pace
Nov 3, 2007
284
48
48
Tokyo - Minato-ku
#2
My Tubeless Experience

I have been using some Fulcrum Racing 1 "two way" wheels, with tubeless tires, off and on since early 2009. The tubeless tires are very comfortable, have good road "feel", corner well, and are said to have slightly lower rolling resistance at the same pressure level as a clincher or tubular alternative (they roll very nicely, but I have no way of actually measuring the resistance).

I was not a big fan of Hutchinson clinchers (as opposed to Vittoria), and the first pair of Hutchinson tubeless road tires I got in early 2009 experienced problems very quickly -- pinprick sized holes in the sidewalls for no apparent reason -- and I was using them w/o sealant so a very small hole was enough to cause a flat. Also, it was a real struggle to get the tires on and off and get a good seal until I got used to it -- definitely need soapy water to form a proper seal on the rim. And when I tried to insert a tube to ride home with a flat, I had trouble getting the tire to sit properly on the rim, so it sometimes had a noticeable bulge, after minutes spent trying to adjust it.

I then used IRC (first and second gen tubeless road) tires for awhile without any problem, and this year have gone back to Hutchinson (various models) and have not had any difficulties and been very happy with their performance. Only one flat, when I hit a big rock on a descent in early March.

Also, some of the Hutchinson tires are finally entering a more reasonable price range and my current pair have lasted several thousand kilometers and look like they still have lots and lots of distance left to roll. I have tried the sealant at times, but honestly could not tell you whether there is any sealant in them currently -- it has been so long since I took the tires off the rim.

While I am a believer in the tubeless system -- and happy that there are more types of tires becoming available this year, I've had problems with the Fulcrum wheels -- with spokes loosening and then the spoke nipple dropping into the wheel -- in an area inside the rim where it is nearly impossible to get the nipple back seated properly and to reattach the spoke -- it takes my excellent LBS mechanic many tries and several minutes, in a warm shop, with the right magnet and tools. I was told to try some Loctite in the threading at the spoke/nipple connection, and that seems to have made the spokes more stable, but still not great -- I had to true my front wheel in mid-ride on the 30th, and I really don't trust the wheels to stay true. I'll probably ask my LBS to true the wheels and add Loctite or maybe some pipe joint compound in the threads to try and solve the issue for good. Otherwise, I cracked the rear rim on the Fulcrum Racing 1's when they were about 4-5 months old in 2009, but that is what happens when a heavy rider like me descends at high speed, hits a sharp edge of a couple centimeters at the beginning of a bridge. And I broke a spoke in May this year mid-ride for no apparent reason. But no tire issues at all.
 

dgl2

Maximum Pace
Nov 3, 2007
284
48
48
Tokyo - Minato-ku
#3
Which tires?

I should add that I've been using the Hutchinson Fusion 2 tires throughout -- both the bad pair I got initially and the subsequent pairs that have been fine. I've got two of the (now cheaper) Fusion 3's and one (lighter, less durable) Hutchinson "Atom" as spares for when I need to change them out ... but they are just sitting in the packaging.

The IRC tires I used in 2009 were IRC Formula Pro Tubeless RBCC (that is "rice bran ceramic compound", I think). They were replaced in shops later in 2009 by a more complex array of choices, at much higher prices than the Hutchinson Fusion 3. Nalshima steered me to Hutchinson when I bought the wheels, and did not recommend IRC at that time ... but I found the IRC tires easier to mount on the rim and with a good combination of grip, feel, and reasonable durability. And IRC sells the tire with a small tube of liquid that helps form a seal when you put the tire on the rim -- I've refilled these with diluted liquid soap, in case I need to change one during a ride.

According to a blog focused on road tubeless, 2011 will bring new choices from Specialized, Bontrager, Maxxis and Kenda, ... but the Specialized version looks like a rebranded Hutchinson Fusion 3, and the Bontrager seems to be a rebranded Hutchinson Atom. So the choices may remain limited.
 

AlanW

Maximum Pace
Jan 30, 2007
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Tokyo
#6
I have ridden extensively on Tubeless tyres. My Mavic Ksyrium ES wheels have no holes in the inner wall of the rim (except for the valve) and were an easy conversion to tubeless. Naomi-san has the real-deal Shimano 7850 SL tubeless wheelset.
I am still on my first set of Hutchinson Fusion 2 tyres, and recently fitted an IRC tubeless ("Top Secret Compound...!") to Naomi's bike. I use a small amount of Stan's sealant which lasts about three months before it dries out and needs to be replaced.
Fitting tubeless is a pain unless you have a compressor. I got a small one off Amazon for about 7000 yen. Yes it can be done but it's a struggle to get air into the tyre fast enough to get the beads to seat. Either way, soapy bubbles are a great help in getting the tyre to inflate. They also help in getting the best seal between the rim and the tyre, since the soap lubricates the rubber bead and allows it to take the best position against the bead channel.
One the tyres are on, I have found them to ride really nicely. But you do have to lower the pressure quite a lot to feel the real benefits. I run mine at 625 kPa front and 650 kPa rear vs 700 / 750 for conventional tube-type clinchers. Even at these pressures, the tubeless tyres don't squirm and they roll really well. The grip is good and they soak up rough surfaces nicely.
I have only had to put a tube in to the tyres twice - in both cases I had neglected to replace the sealant before it dried out, and the tyres leaked air slowly. I've never had a rapid-deflation type punctre. I also found it hard to get the tyre to seat properly with a tube inside. It needed a lot of pressure to finally pop onto the bead seats, as the tube slightly prevents this happening.
Durability had been good; probably have 2500km on mine and 3000 km on Naomi's tyres and have ridden over the odd rough gravel rindo in Boso without any problems. With sealant inside they hold air slightly better than standard tubes.

One final comment - do not try to run a standard road tyre with sealant as a tubeless on the road. The beads are not strong enough and the tyre can blow off the rim. Proper road tubeless have carbon fibre reinforced beads which prevent this from happening.
 
Dec 31, 2009
906
87
48
Matsumoto
#7
Tubeless

I have been using the Fulcrum Racing 1 2 way fit for cyclocross and road.I enjoyed not getting pinch flats, but, one time on a descent when it was dark out I smacked a huge pothole head on full bore (enough to knock both water bottles out and have me singing soprano) and my rims subsequently earned huge dents front and rear. not to say this wouldnt happen on a clincher wheelset, but to me it seemed that there is less holding the road back from hitting the rim when you do hit something, however the tires remained full with air. Thats on the road. The problems for cyclocross were little and poor tire selection(dont know if that changed this year) and the tires burp air at any pressure when you hit anything (I am 190 lbs) but no pinch flats, also when jumping on the bike at high speed or landing off of drop offs the tires would burp. For Cross I would say they are better than clincher, but tubular will always rule in cross. The word on the road is to run the tires at 90 psi for a softer feel and more tire contact with the road, though I always prefered to run them at 100psi. I did some uphill test against my tubulars and tried 90, 100, 120 psi and lets just say NEVER go above 110 psi, I ruined a new hutchinson fusion tire by going to 130 psi the tred actually seperated at the seam! Hands down the tubular won on the hillclimb as far as rolling resistance. I used my power meter (i sport power meter, not the most acurate but it was inexpensive and you dont need to have it built into your wheel) at 400 watts with both sets in the same gear on the same hill and the tubulars at matching PSI i could definitly get around the chainrings faster IMO. I eventually really screwed up my front wheel when I was filling it up with my father in laws high pressure air compressor on his farm and completely blew the tire off the rim and bent the wheel as well as opened the distance between the tire beads enough to where after I trued the wheel the brake still hangs up in that spot. I guess if I wasnt a jackass in mosty of these situations they wouldnt be my roller wheelset now!

All said I think they are great for training and long distance riding but tubulars offer a lower rolling resistance and much better cornering. You should probably carry 2 tubes JIC. I realize that you are asking if they are better than your clinchers with your GP 4000s. Well I think for durability (if you use tire sealant) you will enjoy the tubeless and the ride is noticably softer, but to some more rigid higher pressures feel faster, and you cant go to a high psi tubeless. I would go for it if I were you, cause you will never know if you like it unless you try! These were just my experiences and I hope I have showed you what to avoid ( high air pressure, potholes, cyclocross tires that burp)
 
Dec 31, 2009
906
87
48
Matsumoto
#9
rollout

I also did a test with where i started at the same point on one hill and coasted down without pedaling to see how far I would roll up the next hill and the tubeless smoked the clinchers by a very long distance. I did not use tubulars in this test and if I can remember correctly both PSI were at 100. Sorry, I did not mention earlyer but I did this when I first bought the wheels 2 years ago. I remember how happy I was beacause any think that helps a 190 lb guy get up a hill easyer is GOLD,

I think you will be impressed over your current setup!

But...tubulars are still the pros choice for a good reason, but they often arent the ones gluing or buying there tyres.
 

dgl2

Maximum Pace
Nov 3, 2007
284
48
48
Tokyo - Minato-ku
#10
Any updates on experience with Road Tubeless?

I started having problems getting a seal on my rear rim soon after these posts 2 years ago, and retired the road tubeless system. I continued to use the Fulcrum 1 wheels as clinchers for awhile, and sold them with a bike/frame last year. ... but I still have 3 spare new Hutchinson tubeless tires (Fusion 3 (2) and Atom (1)).

These days I am determined to build and maintain (true/tension) any wheels I use myself, and as a result have eliminated the wheel problems I used to suffer.

In any event, I do not plan on doing any tubeless conversions, and I don't know if there are rims available for sale to wheelbuilders that are easy to wokr with and result in a road tubeless system ... nor do I get a real sense whether road tubeless has developed any real traction? What say you?
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
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tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#12
I've been mounting IRC's as my 'choice du jour' for a decent, lower cost tubless. A little harder to get the initial seal than worn-in Fusions, but a nice tire overall. I have experience with the SOYO as well. It's made by Hutchinson - but under license from Soyo for the carcass and who knows what else. Anyway - I think it's a little grippier and more supple than the Hutch. Soyo tends to make softer sidewall tires with multiple stranded 'seamless' weavings. Of course the tubless aren't seamed in the classical sense, but they use the same 'Burberry Cotton' on the them (for the high end tires).

We have several models of 'tubeless ready' alloys - and so far (even in CX) no real issues. I prefer the Cafe Latex sealing tape and valve. Obviously if you have 2-way wheels like Fulcrum or Shimano, etc - you don't need the tape. Probably any sealant is fine these days. Stans or CafeLatex I use cause they are easier to order from distributors here in Japan. (FYI, Stan's comes in every Thursday - so they are super convenient) TUFO Extra is insanely awesome - but very goopy and you need to remove valve core to get it in. This stuff could be used to block dam breaches, IMO. I had a gaping pinch wound on a tubular and literally stuffed it with paper from my wallet, gooped in about 50ml of the Tufo Extra and it sealed! Amazing. You can do similar with Cafe Latex, btw - if you use their ZOT activator. One squirt of this into the puncture hole and it will almost immediately 'activate' the latex sealer forming a hard mass of rubber. If your tires are presealed with 50ml of sealer - then this is the stuff I'd carry. PUmping in sealer AFTER you get a punc - especially a sidewall will more than likely just result in a sidewalk mess.

Carry some CO2, please! I've already been on a couple rides with people riding tubeless and they couldn't inflate the tire with the puny pocket pumps. If you don't have CO2 , then at least carry a pump that is longer 20cm, or has enough volume to get the tire on the bead and sealed.

My trick of the day for mounting - use cheap hairspray on the tire and rim. If you work quickly, it acts like a lubricant until it dries, when it acts as a bonding agent. Much easier (and better) than the soap type things. Also - the tire will not slip on the rim bead under heavy braking whcih will sometimes cause 'burps'.

@DL - how did you mechanic use a magnet when the nipples on the Fulcrums are brass / alloy? Is he snagging the small insulation washer? That's the only steel part I know of on those rims. BTW - use some penetrating CA for the front nipples. I use Locktite 290 or just any model /hobby penetrating CA. You're completely correct about keeping your own wheels in true. As long as you mind the tension first, then roundness , then finally lateral, they will be fine forever. I can't believe some of the wheels I get in for repair that have been so poorly built or 'special tuned' and completely wacked out. For a big guy on Fulcrums I'd suggest running at least 100-110kgf on the fronts - and maybe even stepping up the spoke diameter a bit. You want less elasticity at lower loadings and the only way to get that is with heavier material spoke. The rear 'triplets' , like the Shimano's are really bear to get true - same thing applies, just start from 100% perfect tension, then do the DS, get it perfectly round, THEN start tweaking the NDS. If you don't have the target tension set in DS BEFORE you start bringing in the NDS you will just end up with a taco-in-progress.
 

dgl2

Maximum Pace
Nov 3, 2007
284
48
48
Tokyo - Minato-ku
#13
@DL - how did you mechanic use a magnet when the nipples on the Fulcrums are brass / alloy? Is he snagging the small insulation washer? That's the only steel part I know of on those rims.
Well, I do not know the material, but I remember there was a magnet that came with the wheelset, and that Nagai-san was carefully pulling the nipple along the inside of the rim wall by guiding the magnet on the opposite side of the rim wall. These were I think 2009 or early 2010 model Fulcrum Racing 1 "two way" wheels.

I guess it may be awhile before I try road tubeless again -- having no problem with clinchers these days.

Thanks, Tim.
 

jdd

Maximum Pace
Hardest Crash
Jul 26, 2008
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Kanazawa
#14
I just use clinchers/tubes, thank-you. And have been doing fine.

For years.

At 62 I have other priorities than some kind of performance advantage.

Who would like to have HFM's tubbie experience?

How about re-inflating your tubeless out there on the road, after a flat?

No, thanks. I won't be baited into this tubular/tubeless mindset.
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
242
103
tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#15
Knowing Nagai san - I bet he was using his super 'levitation powers' and the magnet was just a prop ! That guy is an amazing mechanic and probably could show Yoda a thing or 2.

Well, I do not know the material, but I remember there was a magnet that came with the wheelset, and that Nagai-san was carefully pulling the nipple along the inside of the rim wall by guiding the magnet on the opposite side of the rim wall. These were I think 2009 or early 2010 model Fulcrum Racing 1 "two way" wheels.

I guess it may be awhile before I try road tubeless again -- having no problem with clinchers these days.

Thanks, Tim.
 

AlanW

Maximum Pace
Jan 30, 2007
1,214
436
103
Tokyo
#18
I've been mounting IRC's as my 'choice du jour' for a decent, lower cost tubless. A little harder to get the initial seal than worn-in Fusions, but a nice tire overall. I have experience with the SOYO as well. It's made by Hutchinson - but under license from Soyo for the carcass and who knows what else. Anyway - I think it's a little grippier and more supple than the Hutch. Soyo tends to make softer sidewall tires with multiple stranded 'seamless' weavings. Of course the tubless aren't seamed in the classical sense, but they use the same 'Burberry Cotton' on the them (for the high end tires).

We have several models of 'tubeless ready' alloys - and so far (even in CX) no real issues. I prefer the Cafe Latex sealing tape and valve. Obviously if you have 2-way wheels like Fulcrum or Shimano, etc - you don't need the tape. Probably any sealant is fine these days. Stans or CafeLatex I use cause they are easier to order from distributors here in Japan. (FYI, Stan's comes in every Thursday - so they are super convenient) TUFO Extra is insanely awesome - but very goopy and you need to remove valve core to get it in. This stuff could be used to block dam breaches, IMO. I had a gaping pinch wound on a tubular and literally stuffed it with paper from my wallet, gooped in about 50ml of the Tufo Extra and it sealed! Amazing. You can do similar with Cafe Latex, btw - if you use their ZOT activator. One squirt of this into the puncture hole and it will almost immediately 'activate' the latex sealer forming a hard mass of rubber. If your tires are presealed with 50ml of sealer - then this is the stuff I'd carry. PUmping in sealer AFTER you get a punc - especially a sidewall will more than likely just result in a sidewalk mess.

Carry some CO2, please! I've already been on a couple rides with people riding tubeless and they couldn't inflate the tire with the puny pocket pumps. If you don't have CO2 , then at least carry a pump that is longer 20cm, or has enough volume to get the tire on the bead and sealed.

My trick of the day for mounting - use cheap hairspray on the tire and rim. If you work quickly, it acts like a lubricant until it dries, when it acts as a bonding agent. Much easier (and better) than the soap type things. Also - the tire will not slip on the rim bead under heavy braking whcih will sometimes cause 'burps'.
IRCs are nice and do air up easily. But they are a TIGHT fit to achieve this. Be prepared to lose some skin off your thumbs.
As for de-mounting and re-inflating on the road - why do this? If there is a huge hole, just bung a tube in there and be on your way. You can fix the tyre when you get home. Alternatively, without breaking the bead seal, undo the valve core, pour in a little extra sealant and inflate the tyre.

I did a conversion of a non-tubeless rim a while ago with Stans tape and sealant. It was easy and I've had no punc since :) fingers crossed.