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Tubeless Maintainence

Tubeless Maintainence

Tubeless maintenance is pretty simple. Every 6 months you have to add more sealant. Set a calendar reminder when you do the initial set up, or just wing it. Take the valve core out of the tire. Ideally do this while the bike is not on the ground, or flipped over, so you don’t lose the tire bead seal. Drain the air, pump in 2-4 more ounces of sealant (that ya shook first), put the valve core back in and re-inflate. Done. Ideally, you would use the same sealant as before, but we’ve heard tell of folks mixing sealants with success. I’d say: mix non-foaming latex sealants for best results. IE Stan’s and Orange Seal, but not Orange Seal and Caffelatex. Really though, Orange Seal is easy to get.  Just order it from us!  If you are maintaining a bunch of bikes with tubeless tires, get one 8 oz bottle of orange seal, which has a handy applicator hose, and one 32 oz bottle for refilling the 8 oz bottle. You’ll save money that way, in the long run, and create less waste.


 

Tubeless Repairs

Besides ride quality, my favorite aspect of tubeless tires is how you repair them. As a guy who has been working on bikes in shops for 22 years, I’ve fixed a few thousand flat tires. It’s never fun to fix a flat, even in a shop environment. It’s sometimes downright awful to fix one in the field. When I was racing at Seven Springs one year, a hurricane grazed the course. Our tents had a foot of standing water, and the race course became the consistency of that runny hippie peanut butter.  

The rain was intense, and it never let up. I flatted 3 times in one lap, and fixing that flat in those conditions, while the open tire filled with mud and water, was something I never want to repeat. With tubeless, I wouldn’t have even gotten those flats, but if I had, I could have fixed them with a tire plug.

Bike tire plugs are just like the plugs that you can jam in your car tire. Easier to use, but the same principal. You take a tiny tool that’s a cross between a needle and a screw driver, and lay a piece of rubbery bacon looking stuff across the eye of the needle. Jam that into the hole in the tire that’s bubbling sealant out. Re-inflate. Done.

 

We carry the cheap but functional Genuine Innovations tire plugs, and Dynaplug’s sexy DynaPill , Racer, and Mega Pill which is bigger and great for extended touring because you can fix a wider range of hole sizes.   These will fix 99% of all tubeless flats. You don’t take the wheel off the bike. It’s beautiful.

For sidewall cuts, generally relegated to those leading the #supplelife, you have to get more creative. I wrap a couple few feet of Gorilla tape around my pump handle. I also throw a small tube of super glue gel (because it’s less runny) in my tool roll. If you get a gash in your sidewall, don’t take the wheel off the bike. Clean the gash with your riding partner’s shirt, then, with the bike on it’s side and the gash facing skyward, smack a piece of gorilla tape on the hole, big enough to cover it by at least a centimeter in all directions. Rub the tape, making sure the edges are mushed down. Then run a thick, goopy bead of super glue gel around the perimeter of the tape. Wait for it to set. Reinflate. Back on the road again. This works for cuts up to two inches. For bigger stuff, take the tire off, and sew it back together. We like dental floss and a big embroidery needle, which we store wrapped around tire levers. Clean the tubeless goop from inside the tire as best you can using your riding partner’s spare socks, sew it up and then boot the tire from the inside with gorilla tape. Install a tube. Back on the road!

Tubeless repairs are easier than tube repairs. Just make sure you have a few simple tools on hand, and you’re all set for almost any tire issue!