Tubeless tyres for road bikes: 10 myths to debunk
The tubeless for road bikes has always been considered a bad idea. Years ago, when the cycling industry tried to impose this standard on road cycling, it was a failure. Not so much because the times were premature, but because the tubeless bike of the time had more difficult technical specifications and installation characteristics than the current tubeless bike.
The situation has changed a lot, also thanks to the boom in the MTB tubeless tyre market, to the point that the most important brands are now producing tubeless tyres and positioning themselves at the top of the market.
Therefore, in this article we will try to put an end to some myths, to be honest and to give you arguments that will allow you to choose the option that best suits your needs.
1. Tubeless tyres are heavier than a road tyre
While this was true for the first tubeless tyres, those of about twenty years ago, the situation has now changed. In fact, the old UST tubeless tyres had more robust lugs than today’s tyres and, in the same way, had a thicker carcass structure: as a result, the weight of the tyre was greater than that of road tyres (although it was still less than that of the “tyre + tube” combination).
Modern tubeless tyres have the same carcass structure as clincher tyres, so the weight compared to non-tubeless tyres is almost the same. In fact, if we subtract the weight of the lower inner tube, the weight savings will be even greater.
2. Tubeless are just as soft as normal tyres
Wrong assumption. Tubeless tyres are even softer than normal tyres! The fewer grams, which we have just talked about, are in the periphery of the tyre and this also produces an advantage in relation to rolling resistance.
What about the sealing liquid? True, it has some weight, but less than an inner tube. It is only about 40 grams.
3. Tubeless are difficult to mount
If this was true with the old tubeless tyres, thanks to the rigidity of their treads, we can now safely say that this is no longer the case.
Today’s tubeless tyres have, as mentioned above, identical lugs to normal tyres: as a result, the fit will also be identical.
4. No punctures with tubeless
Lies, especially with the new tubeless tyres that have the same structure as normal tyres.
We can say that tubeless tyres are less prone to punctures for two main reasons.
The first is that, in the absence of an inner tube, you can’t “puncture” it; the second is that the anti-puncture fluid is able to seal the smallest holes by itself, without you noticing it.
5. With tubeless it is possible to underinflate the tyres
This is a misconception: tubeless tyres should be inflated to the pressure recommended by the manufacturers, especially if we want to avoid sudden pressure loss during riding or structural failure in the sidewall of the rim.
However, it is true that if, for example, we have to pedal on cobblestones, the tubeless tyre allows us to keep the pressure lower, without running the risk of pinching the tube.
6. Tubeless ready rims only with tubeless, not with clincher tyres
The internal shape of tubeless ready rims is designed and engineered to accommodate both types of tyres. There is nothing more to add on this subject.
7. With tubeless it is difficult to fix a puncture
No. It’s exactly the same, except for minor operational differences.
The real problem is that if there is a tear in the tyre big enough not to be “plugged” by the anti-puncture fluid, you run the risk of stalling
On the contrary, with a normal tyre, you often get home even if the hole is obvious (it takes a bit of luck not to get another piece of glass in the same hole).
So my advice: even if you go out with a tubeless, always bring an inner tube with you!
8. With the tight accessories you can also convert your clincher rims into tubeless tyres
What a risk! The sidewalls of a clincher rim have an internal moulding that cannot guarantee 100% watertightness: even if this conversion works initially, sudden pressure losses can occur during the race? Always remember that asphalt hurts!
9. Tubeless lose pressure quickly
And why would they do that? If the tubeless tyre is fitted correctly and the right amount of sealant is used, there is no reason to think that the tyre can deflate quickly, or at least that it can lose pressure more quickly than its most direct competitor, the clincher.
10. Tubeless need little care. When they wear out, they get changed
No! The sealant inside tubeless tyres degrades and/or evaporates over time. This requires the user to pay particular attention to the replacement of the fluid itself. The frequency of fluid replacement is variable: it is directly proportional to the ambient temperature (in summer it dries out sooner) or to the frequency of use (the more the bike is used, the more the fluid tends to degrade). In any case, it is recommended to check the condition and quantity of the sealing liquid at least every 4 to 5 months.