Tubeless Component Selection

Components are of course, subjective and a can of stinkin’ worms. In this tubeless section, we’ll talk about what we here at Analog know, use and trust. It’s a semi short list, but it’s proven to work well. It’s important to talk to your wheel builder (hey that should be us!) before you build anything up. For instance, certain riding styles, tires, and riding locales can require alternatives to what is proposed here. Don’t just look at this list, and say, “Now I know everything Analog knows, I’ll just build a wheel and put a tire on it and it will be perfect!” It might, but let’s make sure, first!

Tires:  Make sure you get a tubeless-ready tire. Different manufacturers have different names for this, but they all mean the same thing. Tubeless Compatible, Tubeless Easy (2bliss EZ, obvs), etc. If a tire is not tubeless compatible, that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t work, but it might not. Tubeless ready tires typically have a smaller diameter tire bead, which makes for a tighter fit on the rim. Additionally, the interior of the tire is made of a rubber that can resist the chemicals in sealant. Some non-tubeless compatible tires will convert, but it is often a pain in the — to make the conversion, and you are not guaranteed success. There are so many good tubeless tires out there now that there is very little reason to take a chance with a non-compatible tire. We’ve been there, done that (and it’s usually not worth it), so you don’t have to.

  • Gravel, Road, Touring and Commuting tires: Availability is always changing but as of right this moment, we recommend the Panaracer Gravelking Tires (SK version if there is gunna be more dirt than pavement, and they just released a SS tread that is super smart!), which comes in a range of sizes. We’re also fans of the WTB Horizon and Byway 650b tires, as well as their 700c offerings. These tires offer a good blend of nice ride quality, decently low weight and durability. Are there more supple tires out there? Yes, but for the kind of riding we do, we want a bit more cut protection. If you are running your tires tubeless, you can use less pressure, which results in a nicer riding tire.

You don’t need a tire with sidewalls made of the finest flimsiest threads to get a good ride quality. Claims to the contrary are just that, claims.



  • Bikepacking on a mix of wet single track, fire roads and a bit of road: look no further than the WTB Ranger with the light and grippy compound. They wear out fast, but the traction is fantastic and performance is solid in pretty much all conditions.

  • For riding gravel or commuting on a bike packing rig without fenders, check out the Schwalbe G One 27.5 x 2.8 tire. Fast rolling, good traction, great for anything except muddy mountain biking or loose shale/sand.
  • Commuting on a bike packing bike with fenders:  Schwalbe G One tires, 27.5 x 2.35.  Fast rolling, cush-monsters that hook up well on the pavement and dry dirt roads
  • Teravail also makes a nice selection of mountain-y tires that will do fine on dirt roads too.


Rims: Rims used for tubeless set ups should be tubeless ready. You can sometimes convert older rims to tubeless, but it’s rarely worth it. You’ll spend hours trying to figure out how much tape to use, only to find the end result is less than reliable in the field.  Our favorite rims combine durability, functionality, stiffness, ease of wheel building and, of course, they oughta be sharp lookin’. Rims designed for rim brakes should have machined brake tracks, and those tracks should be tall enough to allow for a small degree of slop in brake pad alignment. Things get jostled. You don’t want a brake track that has no margin for error when it comes to brake pad alignment. That’s a good way for a pad to dive into the spokes or into the tire. Seen it, not fun.

Good tubless rims

should also be able to easily accept tubes if the need arises

Good tubeless rims should also be able to easily accept tubes if the need arises. This caveat removes a few, otherwise good, rims from the running. WTB’s rims are great for straight tubeless, but they are terrible if you have to (or want to?) install tubes. The rim bed is designed in such a way that you will constantly pinch flat the tube and/or break tire levers if there is a tube in there (which we know from awful past experience).

Rims should also be able to take hard hits and hold their tru. That means they should be wide and tall. The nipple bed should be strong enough to support high spoke tension. Many popular rims have low spoke tension recommendations, and others that have a higher tension rating can not actually take those higher tensions without destabilizing the rim. This is a problem because high spoke tension is the best way to build a strong, stiff, and long lasting wheel.


Lastly, a good way to tell if a rim is an under-built waste ‘o money is the dreaded max pressure rating.  If a rim has a pressure rating that’s under 60 psi, it’s gunna build up to be a flexy, wet-noodle ova rim. Some rims don’t have a pressure limit listed, but that doesn’t mean they don’t secretly have one. The manufacture just doesn’t want to advertise it, which is probably a bad sign. When you go to inflate certain brands of tires, even to a low PSI, the tire will blow off the rim with a spectacular bang followed by a fine rain of sealant, leaving you soaked, your ears ringing, and your heart in a flutter.

Our rim recommendations take all of this into account. The rims on our list are not the sexiest, lightest or hippest, but we reckon they’re the best for the kind of bikes we like to build.

  • Recommended rim brake rims for road, and gravel: Pacenti Brevet 650b Rims if you insist on a classic box section look. These are not the stiffest or strongest, but they look good and convert to tubeless well. We recommend two layers of Analog tubeless tape. They have a nice tall brake track. Strong enough for riders up to 190 lbs with no load, or 150 and an overnight load. Velocity Quill rims are our favorite lightish rim-brake rim. Stiffer, taller and wider than the Pacenti rims. They Quill rims will provide a noticeable increase in steering precision if you are upgrading from a box section rim. One layer of tape is all you need. The polished silver finish is on point, but expensive. Not recommended: HED’s popular Belgian rims. The brake track is minuscule, and even perfectly set up brake pads can hang off the bottom of the brake track. No bueno.
  • Disc rims for road, gravel, commuting:Our top recommendation is the Velocity Alerion for riders under 190 lbs. It’s reasonably light, quite stiff, and builds up nicely. No problem taking tubes. 1 layer of tape is all you need. If you are bigger rider, and your bike can take a wider rim (and tires at least 38mm wide) get the Velocity Blunt 35 rim or the marginally more narrow Spank Spike . It’s about 60 grams heavier, wider and stronger than the Quill rim. If you have less tire clearance, get a pair of un-machined Velocity Cliffhanger rims or Spank Spike Race 28 rims. The Velocity rims are stronger, so if you wanna sneak in some touring, deal with the 100 extra grams per wheel and get those.
  • Rim brake rims for touring or mountain biking: There is only one option here: Velocity Cliffhangers with a machined brake track. They’re good for any weight rider, and the profile is wide enough for tires up to 2.5”.
  • Disc touring / mountain rims:  There a number of good options here, so we’ll break it down by desired tire width and rider weight:
    • 100-150lbs, tires 48mm – 2.8” / Spank Spike Race 33 if you are a minimalist and don’t smack your bike around in rocks too often. These are as light as you can go and still have a strong touring or bike packing wheel set. Spank Oozy Trail 345 and the Velocity Blunt 35 are very similar rims. They’re both heavier and tougher than the Spike Race 33, and if you are a harder rider, get one of these.
    • 150lbs -250lbs, Tires 48mm to 2.8”/ Spank Oozy Trail 345 or the Velocity Blunt 35 for most riders. If you need or want a wider rim, the Spank Oozy 395+ is great for 2.6-2.8 tires, and a bit more durable too. One layer of tape for any of these rims is perfect.
    • 100-150lbs, Tires 3”-3.8” / Spank Oozy 395+ rims or the marginally heavier, marginally wider Velocity Dually rims are ideal. If you are in this weight range, we recommend narrower tires (max 2.8”) unless you have a compelling reason to go wider. IE, if you ride in the snow, deep sand, that sort of thing. 2.8” tires are plenty wide enough for mountain biking. They handle better, brake + accelerate better and weigh less than bigger tires.
    • 150-250lbs, 3”-3.5” tires/ Velocity Dually rims. Beefier than the Spank Rims. If you need a wider rim or tires, get fat bike rims.

Sealant: We’ve test a number of different sealants, including the big brands out there. For ease of use and hole pluggin’, we think that Orange Seal Endurance is the best sealant going. It lasts about 6 months, it’s easy to refill a tire, and it has a bunch of different sized chunks of glitter in it that help seal up punctures. The glitter sort of forms a dam while the sealant is drying in the hole. Works well for thorns, glass, tacks, that sort of thing. Bigger holes you can use a tubeless-plug in. If you are converting a bunch of bikes to tubeless, get the biggest bottle of it, and an 8oz bottle, which has an applicator hose. You can reuse/refill the 8 oz bottle from your bigger bulk container as needed.

Tubeless tape: There are a ton of tubeless tapes out there. Most of them are a rip off. The yellow tapes, which a number of makers sell, is the worst of the lot. Hard to stretch, prone to tearing, easy to trap bubbles in, and worst of all, not very sticky.

There are other ones out there, like Orange Seal’s tape, which are excellent for stretching and plenty sticky, but too thin, so you go through a roll per wheelset. We searched and searched for an affordable tape that hit all of our marks: Stretchy, easy to apply, nice looking (ok that was low on the list but this is a good looking tape), sticky, durable, with a little more thickness to it. We tried out dozens of tapes before settling on our current tape. We stock it in 1”, ¾” and 3”. You can customize the width by overlapping the tape. IE if you have a inner rim width of 35mm, you can just overlap the 1” tape by a bit and get the perfect width tape. Wrap one side, cut the tape, and then wrap the other.


Valves:  Most tubeless valves work fine. We like the simple ones the best.  WTB valves are good, basic brass valves, and I9 makes a fine alloy valve. I’m not gunna say one works better, and I don’t care that if it’s marginally lighter. I’ll save the dubious claims for the quarterlies. You should get the I-9 valves based on color selection.

Now that you’ve got an idea of which tires, rims, tape, sealant, and valves you wanna run, you’re not even close to finishing your new tubeless wheel set!

You’re also gunna need to figure out your nipples, spokes, hubs, rotors (if yer doing the disc thing), and the back end of your drivetrain (freehub body & cassette). There’s a sea of options out there, and lucky for you James has been navigating the waters for the last 20+ years. Drop us a line to iron out those final choices and get a mighty fine, practical, and tough set of wheels in the works!