A Guide to Traveling Tubeless

Considering a tubeless tire setup for a big international trip? Or just dreaming of flatless bikepacking outings in your own backyard? Here’s our guide, tips, and kit insight for traveling tubeless.

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Many bikepackers and bike tourers remain ‘cautiously hesitant’ to convert to a tubeless setup, especially for big overseas trips. We get it. For folks who haven’t performed their own tubeless conversion, it can seem like a daunting task. To some, it remains a dark art… or at least, a complicated operation that requires special skills, a compressor, and general mechanical savvy to successfully complete.

We are writing this to tell you otherwise. In our opinion, tubes are dead. Just go for a long dirt road tour in South Africa. Or spend a few days out on the Arizona Trail. Or bomb down a rocky trail in backcountry Peru. Never having flats rules… period. Combined with the ability to run lower tire pressures for a more compliant ride – especially given the popularity of larger volume tires and wider rims these days – everyone should give traveling tubeless a go.

9 Tips for going tubeless…

To help demystify the whole process, here’s a list of tips to get you started. So give it a try; experience is more valuable than anything. Further down the post, you’ll find a suggested tire repair kit, and even advice on setting up your tires from the comforts of your hotel room…

1. Use rims that are truly tubeless ready.

Although many companies tout their rims as “Tubeless Ready”, make sure the rims you choose have a TR promise that holds sway. As fans of ‘plus’ size tires, we’ve experienced two such wide rims over the last year. On both the WTB Scraper and the new Easton Arc, the rim bed features bead-locks (aka bead-hooks), or small ridges in the rim profile (see WTB cutaway below), that help prevent burping – when the bead momentarily breaks and air is burped out. Meanwhile, a properly designed center channel makes a loosely-mounted tire ‘grab’ air and snap over the bead locks. The latter is the key to their ease of tubeless tire installation. Other rims to consider include Specialized’s Roval line and Stan’s Grail, a gravel specific rim that we recently had a chance to try.

  • WTB Scraper Rims
  • traveling-tubeless-01

2. If you can’t get new rims, Split Tubes work great too.

Again, we say this because we’re fans of ‘plus’ and fat tires. If your wide rims have cutouts, and aren’t officially TR ready, consider the Split Tube approach – a Google search will turn up plenty of tips as to how to perform this task. Which, contrary to popular belief, is also far easier than it sounds. Broadly speaking, simply split open a tube that’s smaller than your wheel size (24in for a 29in rim, 20in for a 26in rim), lay it out open across the rim, seat your tire over it, and trim off the excess rubber with a sharp blade once inflated. Some rims and tire combination may need a few rounds of tape first, to help create a tighter fit. For overseas travel, we’d recommend drilling your rims to fit Shraeder valves. Not only will this make your life easier with compressors found en route (vulcanizing shops dot the edges of every town in the developing world), but by removing the core, you’ll also have a larger opening in which to pump air for a home or trailside installation too.

  • Surly Pugsley with split tube conversion
  • Tumbleweed/Maxxis split tube conversion

3. Get the right tires.

Although you can often use standard tires for a tubeless setup (note, converting them will doubtlessly void your warranty), a Tubeless Ready (TR) model will most likely seal better due to an optimized bead design. You’ll appreciate this all the more when installation conditions aren’t optimal – as with the classic ‘Hotel Room Conversion’ below. TR specific tires also tend to have reinforced sidewalls; given that a tubeless setup is run at lower pressures and can be more susceptible to sidewall cuts, this is especially welcome. If TR models aren’t available to you, we prefer tires with lower tpi counts (especially in Surly’s range, where the 120 tpi models can be papery thin), for long distance travel. Note that inflating tire with an inner tube first, and leaving it overnight, can really help with the initial setup.

WTB Trail Boss 3.0, 27.5+ Bikepacking, B+

4. Do a really good tape job.

Start by cleaning the inside of the rim; use rubbing alcohol or a degreaser to get any residue or factory finish off the rim. This ensures that the tape will stick. Use the widest tape possible to fit in the face of the rim. As for brands, WTB TCS tape works well and comes in several widths. With the disc rotor facing you, tape the rim in a clockwise rotation, this allows the force of the tire sealant liquid to not agitate the tape seam (the clockwise rotation of the wheel will generally allow the liquid to flow over the seal and not against it). Start the tape on the face opposite the valve stem hole and allow a 1-2″ overlap. After taping, carefully cut a smooth hole for the valve stem using a sharp blade. Then remount the tire with a tube inside. Inflate the tube to the typical pressure recommended for your tires and let sit overnight prior to setting up. This assures a nice tape seal. Plus, this helps the tire create the ‘memory’ of its shape, which helps with the initial setup. Here’s a nice and clear how-to video from WTB for reference.

5. Carry a big [mini] pump.

In the event of a broken seal, or for setting up the tires, be sure to pack a pump that can push a fair volume of air – so ignore those dainty, gram-saving nano-pumps. We’ve had most success with Topeak’s Mountain Morph and Lezyne’s Micro Floor Drive (HV or HVG rather than HP/HPG model). Given the choice, we’d choose the Micro-Floor Drive as it’s extremely hardwearing, with replaceable seal kits available. Lezyne also recently released a fat tire version which we haven’t had the opportunity to test as yet. The HVG version (shown below) has a built in pressure gauge as well as the ability to switch between Presta and Schrader valves.

Lezyne Micro-Floor Drive Pump

  • Lezyne Micro-Floor Drive Pump
  • Lezyne Micro-Floor Drive Pump

6. Find a sealant that works.

Given the wide variety on the market these days, there’s some debate as to which works best. We’ve had success with both Stans and Orange Seal; the latter’s Endurance formula has proved especially effective on our past few big trips (The Altravesur, Trans-Uganda, The Congo Nile Trail, and currently, the Ruta de Las Tres Cordilleras in Peru/Bolivia). The ‘Endurance’ compound seems to ball up less and stay liquid for some time, even in dry climates, without creating the dreaded ‘Stanimals’ – the balls of solidified latex that end up ricocheting inside your wheel when the compound dries out. Search online and you’ll find there are homemade formulas too, a world we have yet to delve into. Sealant is slowly becoming more popular overseas; in South America, for instance, head to the fanciest shop in any capital city and you’ll most likely a few bottles, albeit at an inflated price. In the countryside, we’ve even found sealant sold in recycled Coca Cola bottles for footballs!

Orange Seal Endurance

A Maxxis Chronicle 29+ with Orange Seal Endurance after 2,000+ miles in Africa.
  • Orange Seal Endurance for bikepacking, tubeless sealant
  • Traveling Tubeless, bikepacking and bike touring on tubeless tires

7. Don’t let skinny tires fool you.

Adventure gravel/cx (cyclocross) bikes are becoming increasingly popular for dirt road and pisté bikepacking, as well as off-tarmac touring. As such, there are an increasing number of Tubeless Ready rims and tires, especially in the larger volume 35c, 40c and 45c sizes. Schwalbe’s G-One 35c – shown below – snapped into Stan’s Grail rims with a floor pump and an ounce of Orange Seal. Also check out WTB’s 40c Nano TCS tires, as well as Clement X’plor MSO, available in 35c or 40c.

Traveling Tubeless, bikepacking and bike touring on tubeless tires

8. Know how to repair a sidewall.

This is a useful skill to acquire, given that tubeless tires are more prone to sidewall failures than regular ones – especially when planning a desert adventure, where jumbles of razor sharp rocks that are often to be found. Tire plugs will repair most cuts – use them with the tool provided to blot a tire wound. To fix larger cuts without unseating the tire, carry a heavy, curved needle and a length of dental floss to sew the cut up first. A dab of superglue over the dental floss is recommended too. For longer, 2-3” gashes, add a section of sidewall cut out from an old tire, using Shoe Goo (REI has small containers) to glue in the boot after sewing the cut. Let the glue dry overnight with an inflated tube in place to hold pressure on it – it’s rare to have a cut so bad that you can’t wait till night to do this. If your repair won’t hold, make sure you have a couple of inner tubes – just be sure to remove all the thorns from the casing before you fit it.

Traveling Tubeless, bikepacking and bike touring on tubeless tires

9. Yes, carry a spare tube, but baby it.

Although one tube is often enough, we’d always recommend carrying at least two spare inner tubes if heading overseas, especially if running an unconventional tire size. Generally speaking, your spare tubes can be ultralight models, as it’s unlikely they’ll be needed. Just make sure you baby them! It’s easy to leave them languishing in the bottom of a frame bag, where they’re prone to abrasion. We wrap one in tape and attach it to the bike, and store another in a thin sock for protection. Some use a ziploc bag with baby powder – legend has it that a little talc allows the tube to move inside the tire, and may help eliminate pinch flats from twisted during installation. If and when they are needed, be sure to check your tire thoroughly first – most likely, it will be riddled with thorns. In a pinch, you can always run conventional 26in tubes on a 29er, or even a fat bike.

The Trans-Uganda Bikepacking Route, Bike Touring Uganda

The Repair Kit

We’ve posted a full-blown bikepacking repair kit in the past, but here’s the tire repair kit of the future… Start by thinking less about tubes and more about being able to repair your tires and keeping them sealed.

Bikepacking tire tubeless repair kit

  • Tire Sealant: Although this may vary depending on tire volume, we recommend carrying at least 4oz of sealant for every a trip up to a couple of weeks; for a 1-2 month trip, make it 8-12oz. Orange Seal comes in handy 4oz injector bottles.
  • Tube(s): Always carry at least one tube; to be ultra safe, two.
  • Gorilla Tape: Roll 10 or so winds around your pump; Gorilla tape can be used to help with a tire tear in a pinch.
  • Patch Kit: In the event of using a tube, a patch kit is necessary. Make sure the cement isn’t dried out and the sandpaper is in good shape. Also, we’ve found one useful for patching small cuts, some 1/8-1/4″ in length: 1. clean interior area well; 2. apply patch inside of tire over tear; 3. apply larger piece of Gorilla tape over patch coat edges of gorilla tape with rubber cement (to prevent sealant from aggravating and lifting the tape).
  • Super Glue or Shoe Glue: Either super glue or shoe glue can help aid in the repair of a tire tear in the tread area or sidewall. You can even put glue on the adhesive side of tape and create an ultra strong bond as well.
  • Tubeless Plugs: These work well for punctures that are too big for the sealant but not so big you need a boot. It should provide a permanent repair.
  • Curved Needle and Thread: Useful for fixing larger cuts without unseating the tire.
  • Piece of old tire sidewall: For 2-3in gashes, this can be glued into place.
  • 1 Spare Valve: It’s easy to damage a valve, have one clog up, or even loose the core while working on a trailside repair. So carry an extra – they’re small enough. If using a Split Tube setup, we recommend including an extra valve core.
  • Valve Core Tool, or Leatherman: Although a dedicated valve core removal tool is best, the pliers on a Leatherman work fine. The spoke wrench on your multitool may work to remove valve cores too. If you lose your valve core tool… then whittle one from wood! (see top image)
  • Bikepacking tire tubeless repair kit
  • Bikepacking tire tubeless repair kit

DIY Tubeless… a hotel room how-to.

Away from the comforts of your workshop or local bike shop, the biggest mental hurdle to traveling tubeless is the initial tubeless set up – after landing at your destination. With the right rims and tires, and a little pre-flight preparation, it’s actually pretty easy:

Preflight checklist

For the most part, you can set your bike up tubeless beforehand, and simply add a little extra sealant and inflate your tires upon landing. But given that this doesn’t always work out, here’s the full step-by-step guide:

  • Tape your rims: See tip #4 for our method (or refer to this video).
  • Add about an ounce of sealant per tire: You can either fully mount the tire on the rim, remove the valve core and use an injector to add sealant, or install the tire leaving a 6″ section of the bead out of the rim to allow sealant to be poured directly into the tire. If you choose the latter method, after you pour the sealant, rotate the wheel 180° before moving the bead inside the rim; this will help prevent spillage.
  • Work the bead towards the hook: Rotate the rim and tire around to try and work each bead outward towards the bead hook. This will help ensure that the tire will ‘grab air’ and inflate without too much of an aerobic workout, if using a floor pump rather than a compressor.
  • Inflate: Do this with a floor pump or compressor; add max pressure for the tire. Check the bead is straight and seated; usually there will be a couple significant pops. If the bead isn’t seating correctly, and there’s a section where it hasn’t popped into place, you may need to let the air out, work the bead with your hands a little (soap helps too), and inflate again.
  • Go for a ride: Since you only have a small amount of sealant in each tire, just for for a short neighborhood ride. This will help spread the sealant and set the bead.
  • Let it marinate: If you have time, allow the tires to remain inflated for a day or two; take it for a couple more neighborhood rides as well. This will help establish some tire memory and allow a nice seal to form at the bead.
  • Pack it up: Let most of the air out of the tires; this is required by the majority of airlines. Be sure not to completely deflate the tire though, to both protect your rims, and minimise the chance of the bead breaking.
  • Align the valve: When you box your bike for the flight, rotate the wheels to make sure the valve is facing upwards – this will prevent sealant from settling in the valve and clogging the core.
  • Pack extra sealant: As an example, for two 29 Plus bikes, we found that one 16oz bottle of Orange Seal, one 4oz injector kit, and two empty 4oz bottles did the trick for both adding sealant upon arrival and ensuring enough backup sealant for a two month trip.


Unless a seal has broken during jostling and luggage transport, this should be easy.

  • If the seals aren’t broken: It’s simply a matter of adding another few ounces of sealant per tire, by removing the valve core and using the injector nozzle (which also fits on the 16oz bottle). As mentioned above, with 2 Plus bikes and the 16oz bottle, 2-3 additional ounces per tire depletes it to 8-12 oz. This leaves 4-8oz as backup alongside the 4oz injector bottle.
  • If the seals are broken: Repeat the set up procedure, this time using the full 2-4oz of sealant. Inflate with a mini pump (as mentioned above, we highly recommend the Lezyne Micro-Floor Drive HV); if you’re having a hard time getting the bead to push into place while pumping vigorously, try working the bead against the bead-lock lip. Sometimes it helps to have a friend hold the wheel off the ground, while an extra pair of hands can also help move the bead towards the rim while you’re pumping. If such hands aren’t available, we’ve also found that two Surly Junk Strap to cinch the tire into place can really help. Failing this, a trip down a local mechanic with a compressor should do the trick. When the tire is inflated, check it’s seated evenly. Extra pressure will generally encourage it to snap into place. If not, deflate, moisten the bead with soapy water, and try again.
  • Go ride your bike.

The downsides

The only real downsides to running tubeless tires on a long trip is the added work it involves when rotating tires, to even out wear. But given how rarely you’ll need to do this, it’s not a big deal – just wait until you hit a town with a compressor or a bike shop. We’ve mentioned the higher likelihood of damage to sidewalls – so choose a suitable tire that’s tough enough for the long run, and know how to repair they if they get nicked.

Of course, another option is to simply inject sealant into an existing inner tube, as long as the core is removable. This works as a short term solution, but won’t eliminate pinch flats. If your tire does succumb to a puncture, you’ll need to clean and dry the area thoroughly, or the patch is unlikely to stick.

Overall, the benefits of a proper tubeless conversion far outweigh its downsides – and once you’ve made the jump, it’s hard to go back…

If you have a tip from your own experience traveling tubeless, please leave it in the comments below.

  • Ian

    Great article as always.

    Another great addition to a travel tubeless kit would be a plastic pop (soda) bottle cap modified to mimic a compressor reservoir, most 2L bottles meant for carbonation can handle upwards of 100 psi. Drilling two holes in the top of the cap and then placing two tubeless valve stems with one rigged with a stopcock valve and a small hose. The whole package is very light, and as long as you have the stems you can make one with a multi-tool and a brake bleeder hose for a car if you don’t want to carry one assembled.

  • John May

    What not to do… (of course, this held for nearly 200 miles)

  • Michal

    Me and a few friends recently did a trip to Morocco, very similar to Logan’s trip on here. We bumped into him at interbike and his only advice was to not even consider not going tubeless. Several hundred miles later, we finished our trip without a single flat. Upon taking our tires off, we must have had about 20 goatheads each inside our tires. Thanks Logan!

  • Sweet. Good to hear Michal. How was the trip? Pics somewhere?

  • K7

    Stuff like this really helps newbies to off-road cycling. LIke me. Thank you!

  • Good to hear… thanks!!

  • Bruce Banner

    Wouldn’t title it ‘Traveling tubeless’ as you should always travel with spare tubes.

  • Robert Kerner

    Nice article. As usual, you’re presenting information in a clear and accessible way, saving a lot of time searching the web for practical advice. Two questions:
    1) Is there a tire size at which going tubeless becomes impractical because you’d need so much sealant it would be ridiculous? I just bought a Fatboy with 5 inch tires and when I inquired about tubeless the reply was “impractical at that size.”
    2) Where are you stashing that pump? I’m looking for a fat tire suitable, frame mountable pump. The Lezyne gets good reviews but I imagine the hose would take a beating mounted to a bottle cage boss, unless you just commit to carrying it in your frame bag..at which point you’re committed to riding with a frame bag even if you don’t need it for anything else.
    Keep up the great work!

  • Thanks Robert! 1) I personally don’t think so… 3.8s definitely, but I don’t have experience with big 5″ tires. But I bet someone else who does will chime in. 2) I carry mine on a Lezyne Power Cage HV which has an integrated pump mount… love that thing. No problem with the hose after thousands of miles.

  • Cass Gilbert

    My mates in Santa Fe all run tubeless on their 5in tires. No issues at all. In fact, I’d say the bigger volume the tire, the more reason there is to go tubeless. Airing up a fat tire is no fun… And seating the bead after a puncture can be really hard too. So the less you have to do it the better, in my books.

  • Cass Gilbert

    My mates in Santa Fe all run tubeless on their 5in tires. No issues at all. In fact, I’d say the bigger volume the tire, the more reason there is to go tubeless. Airing up a fat tire is no fun… And seating the bead after a puncture can be really hard too. So the less you have to do it the better, in my books.

  • What’s the consensus on valve choice with the split tube method? I’ve always used Presta but can see some advantages to using Schrader, such as getting a good blast of air into tyre for beading and ease of adding sealant. What’s the thoughts?

  • Lewy

    How long do you normally go before refilling? I just found out my Stans is dry after 2 months.

  • Doh, overlooked your ideas on valves at section 2 till I just re-read properly! A truck load of information here as usual, great work guys.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Both work fine. Right now, I’m running a Scraper fully tubeless, and a Rabbit Hole with a split tube. I kept to Presta, so the two valves are the same. Both set up fine with a pretty basic floor pump – though the Scraper was especially easy. This said, I’d normally go with Shraeder for the reasons mentioned – once you remove the core, there’s a massive opening in which to pump in air, which seems to help if you’re using the likes of a Lezyne Micro Floor Drive. And, it’s nice to be compatible with a local compressor, without the need for an adaptor. Just completed a 1000km+ ride. I didn’t need to touch my setup. My riding companion had a couple of pinch flats – which were stubborn to fix as he was running sealant in his tubes.

  • Cass Gilbert

    I think this depends on the climate, to some degree. From my experience, for instance, I’ve found sealant dries up quicker in super arid New Mexico, where I’ve been based recently. On the last couple of big trips I’ve tried Orange Seal, as I was provided a couple of bottles to sample, given that they support the site. As far as I can see, the Endurance compound doesn’t ball up in the way Stans does. Both seem to do a similarly good job at plugging holes.

  • Lewy

    Mine was in over a pretty warm and dry summer so that’s what probably did it. Just spent an hour trying to get my tyre to re bead with a compressor without any luck. I put a tube in :-)

  • Lewy

    I going to try split tube in my Fatboy soon, but with 4in tyres as my 4.6in Ground Controls have had a hard life.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Some non tubeless specific fat bike rims can be a tricky to air up initially. In the past, people have built them up with thin padding or extra tape, for a tighter fit. I’ve only had experience with Large Marges, Marge Lites and (most recently) My Other Brother Darryls – those have all been relatively straight forward. It’s frustrating when it doesn’t work though!

  • mikeetheviking

    100% AGREED, I have not flatted since going tubeless this entire year (my riding buddy has flatted 10X on the same trails). I also agree w/ Cass that the larger the volume of tire will work even better with tubeless application, simply because pressures are so low, it will allow the sealant to find the hole and begin to work it’s magic under low pressures and will literally seal before your eyes. While having great luck with Stan’s, I have had even better experiences watching Orange Seal repair punctures before my eyes…. As far as tubeless being easy to work with I’d say yes it is VERY easy to do, and I highly recommend DOING YOUR OWN TUBELESS CONVERSION!
    That way you will know exactly how to fix any issue with the system. I am currently using one wrap of the skinny black gorilla tape with American Classic valve stems (i will be converting to dt swiss or stans/wtb style stems in the future, I’m not 100% satisfied with american classics)
    I watched every tubeless conversion video out there…
    This video here by CHUMBA’S Vince Colvin helped me the most.


    I also agree that using the BEST tires money can buy (maxxis/WTB/bontrage tubeless ready tires)
    is important to doing it right!

    I do carry an extra tube in my kit. My (non-tubeless) buddy has been grateful for my extra tube more than once…

    There are 2 types of bikepackers out there….those that are enjoying riding tubeless and those who will!

  • Christophe Noel

    Here’s a helpful horror story. I was testing a bike for a review knowing it had already been set up with tubeless by one of the techs with the manufacturer’s demo team. I assumed it was set up well and did three multi-day rides into the hinterlands with it. Then, I went to swap tires. The tech had wrapped the rims with double layers of Gorilla tape. The result – It made a thick layer of tape in the center of the rims, effectively making an internal bead lock. It took three of us with a combined 50 years of mechanical experience to figure out how to remove the tires. We finally had to cut them off the rims, resulting in two destroyed tires. Had that happened in the boonies, I would have been SCREWED. The lesson – know your bike inside and out before leaving home.

  • mikeetheviking

    I forgot to mention I am running a Velocity Dually up front and a Velocity Blunt out back, both of which I am 100% satisfied with. I also use Maxxis Chronicles.

  • mikeetheviking

    Excellent advice Christophe!

  • Wow, that’s crazy. I’ve also demoed a bike set up tubeless by a tech. I’ll definitely pre-check next time.

  • Skeg

    I find the Prestas can clog up with latex pretty readily. Can be a problem as I had a situation where I had a small side wall cut which wasn’t sealing – went to replace with a tube but couldn’t let tyre down enough to break tyre seal. Took ages to get it off!

  • Lewy

    Did the Dually set up tubeless easily? I am still running a tube in mine with a 27tpi Knard.

  • c.ape

    it’s possible to use another tyre as an air reservoir to blow a deflated tubeless tyre back on the rim. you need a short length of air hose with a connector either end and a shut off valve in the middle. over inflate the good tyre to twice the required PSI. connect up, removing valve cores to increase air flow, then open the shut off valve. it can also be used with car and truck tyres and is very light and small to carry.

  • mikeetheviking

    Yes and no… Here’s my honest experience setting the velocity’s up tubeless… One wrap of gorilla tape,american classic stems, 4 oz or so of sealant, sprayed Windex all over the bead area to assist in seating, busted out the trusty/cheapo Serfas floor pump….and pumped….and pumped…..and pumped…. I cut the hose of my floor pump in half, then attached the pump head to the valve stem then used an air gun with the pointed rubber on the end which I simply shot air stright into the hose and WALLA,,,, POP POP! Since then if have broken the beads and have been able to air up with a floor pump…Note: I have not had to try beading up out on the trail yet:) That being said… the trick of leaving tires aired up with a tube over night would surely aide in easier tubeless set up!

  • Cass Gilbert

    I think the same can happen with Schraeder valves. I remove the core, and poke a thin allen key through, de-clogging the hole. In the past, I’ve replaced the core, and that’s helped too. One reason why I always carry an extra core with me.

  • Nice; I think I’ve seen that video of Vince at work … that’s a good one for RHs.

  • That is an interesting trick; I’ve heard of it, but haven’t tried it. Here’s a good how-to vid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtmatxJG_zg

  • Idle Prentice

    Thanks for this. I went tubeless in February on my 650B+ and not only have i not flatted, i havent even had to add air, which is just amazing. I wondered about back country maintenance though and this really helped.

  • Jules Manatane

    Very helpful article. If it may add two tricks :
    – 1st, zefal z-sealant 125ml kit has a core removal tool that is fitted as a valve cap. see the tool in the demo at 0:55 : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeWSrtxkXmY
    – 2nd, I’m a great supporter of the “ghetto tubeless” (i.e.split tube) but it may be a PITA to blow some air with some tires. Then put some tubular glue all over the rim circuference where the tube overlaps the tire, once you have put them on the rim.

  • Also, lightweight non-tubeless tires will dry out quickly due to increased porosity, as will ultralight tubeless tires such as race worthy S-Works casings. Heavy duty tubeless ready tires such as Specialized Grid, Maxxis EXO, and Schwalbe Snakeskin will keep sealant much much longer.

  • It is possible to remove a presta core and disassemble all of the small parts (3 of them) by forcing the knurled brass nut off the threaded inner, thus allowing access to the smaller core. Force a tool through there and wipe of any gunk on the threaded section as well. Reassemble and it should work like new. Of course, Shraeder valves will still allow more air.

  • Cass is right, the bigger the tires, the bigger the tubes, the more weight savings gained (along with all other benefits). Ever notice the little rubber balls found on the outside of a fatbike tube? Those are the result of friction between the tube and tires, especially at lower pressures. I rode 5″ Dillingers tubeless this winter in AK and the difference between stock 4.6″ Ground Control tires with tubes was remarkable, an experience I have noticed with any fatbike or plus tubeless conversion I have done. I used a set of carbon Dirt Components tubeless ready rims– my first tubeless ready fatbike rims– and I would be happy never to have to modify non-tubeless rims again. Gorilla tape and split tubes are less than ideal, although they can be made to be reliable. But as tubeless equipment grows, it is worth the investment.

  • GPaudler

    Great article, as always. 4 tips that could help:
    To help seat a stubborn bead, tie some cord around the mounted but uninflated tire – all the way around its circumference – and tighten it with a Spanish windlass, that’s where you put a stick through the loop and twist it. That helps force the tire beads outwards. Inflate till they seat, release the cord and finish inflating. I’ve used that on trucks, airplanes, wheelbarrows and bikes.
    I carry a piece of 1/4″ ID rubber hose, like fuel line, a half inch longer than my longest Presta valve (maybe 2″ (50mm) long. If you slip that over the valve stem, you can blow into it with the air nozzle at any gas station. Pushing the hose against the rim nut, air pressure overcomes the spring in the valve and quickly inflates the tire when there’s no Presta chuck around.
    Ozone is everywhere in varying concentrations and it wrecks rubber. I always keep my spare tubes in an airtight baggie so that they aren’t all cracked when I eventually need them.
    Many dental flosses are waxed which will keep super glue (cyanoacrylate) or Shoe Goo from sticking. If you’re preparing to suture a sidewall, take some #69 polyester sewing thread, instead.

  • Great points… thanks for sharing Gary!

  • K7

    A quick update – my new bike arrived and I did the conversion before I rode it off-road. It came with the WTB i45 Scraper rims and I was able to seat the tires mostly by hand and finish the job with a simple floor pump. First timer – not overly difficult either.

  • K7

    Lewy – rank amateur here but I asked my neighbor that exact question yesterday. He and his two sons are big into mountain biking here in Phoenix AZ. He mentioned that he adds sealant monthly during the summer. Keep in mind that our garages typically heat to well over 100F every day from late May though late Oct.

  • Jana Mansour

    Great write-up! And the comments are also full of useful advice. Keep up the good work, all!

  • Cameron Dube

    awesome! will we hear more about Cuba?

  • Yep. Route, story, etc, coming soon…

  • Jackson Patterson

    Thanks for the nice write up! I’m picking up my new tubeless bike next month and really appreciate the Repair Kit list.

  • Mr. Simon

    I do have my fair share of tubeless setup experiences (with a fatbike) and I think it is superior in some situations including thorny terrain, but for long trips as described here I personally think it is not worth the hassle in terms of puncture resistance.

    When you climb total (system) weight is the only thing that matters. And the benefit of puncture resistance is bought with extra gear that adds extra weight and you still HAVE TO carry inner tubes!

    Unless the bike is a fatbike and the destination is likely to pose a serious risk for serial punctures, I would go with a non-tubeless setup inserting some sealant into the tube and carry 1 spare one just in case.

    This should be lighter and provide the same puncture resistance.

    Why the fatbike exception?
    Fatbikes can offer some benefits other bikes don’t as we know, thought they come with a steep weight penalty, which wants you to go tubeless. If it is really necessary to bring a fatbike and use ridiculous low pressures (unless in snow and some other conditions one doesn’t find too often around the world, such as the CSR) tubeless does make sense, but for 90% of all travel applications an oldschool tire+ inner tube + additional sealant in the tube will do the trick with lower weight penalty.

  • Mr. Simon

    Works like a charm when a floor pump doesn’t do the trick (lack of volume to push the open tire wall enough towards the bead) and no compressor is available.

  • Geoffrey Whitby

    Having use tubeless for over a year and having travel abroad, the advice given in this article is excellent. For those living in the UK, carry a £5 note (new plastic one) to use as tyre boot. Also good for trauma to the chest wall

  • Rebelsatellite

    If you get a big hole which takes a while to seal or maybe just have a fair few punctures you should check your sealant. I put the recommended dose of Orange Seal into my 650+ tire and noticed half way across the GDMBR I was losing air. For some reason I tried to inject more in and then couldn’t seat the bead. If in doubt, always have a poke around when you’re in earshot of a compressor before :)

  • Mark Connelly

    What type of flats is he getting? I only get flats one or twice a year from thorns.

  • Mark Connelly

    Some pumps fit in a rock bar case at rockbarcycling.com

  • Gerard Soler Mampel

    I have been following this website for years now but this will be my very first post/question :) Great job folks!
    Have you tried the Lezyne Micro Floor XL? Would you recommend it over the HV/HVG? I believe it was introduced after this article. Would you stick with the HV/HVG because of weight/packing volume? The bigger volume can help seatting a tubeless setup on the trail. I am planning a trip to Peru and I am considering this upgrade in my kit.

  • Welcome to the comment section Gerard – I hope it’s not your last! That Lezyne Micro Floor XL looks like a great option for larger tires and as you mentioned, seating tires. I think if you know you want that added oomf than it would be worth the small weight penalty and size – it’s not too much!

  • Mirosan

    Eeeeeeeexcellent article, thank you. I’m a mewby to tubeless but recently a couple of Mavic ust 2.1 wheels came my way complete with tyres so I am learning and trying to decide if to go back to tubes with them for touring duties. A question if I may …… why the goo? Car tyres, billions of them are pretty much all tubeless and other than a bit of soapy stuff on beads they run no goo ever. And no probs. Motorbikes too. On my dirtbike once I added goo to fix a small puncture and the resultant mess left me with a situ that no patches would stick….and a very looooong push to base. Ugly as sin. Since then I swore of goo. Many mates found them selves in similar predicaments. That was motorbikes. So, I am very, extremely, hesitant to use goo. Is it possible to be gooless on a pushbike setup? Another question… how does one clean up a rim/tire once it had goo in it…maybe to do a traditional patch or to use a tube?

  • Gerard Soler Mampel

    It won’t :) I’ll go for it! Thanks Miles!

  • Jim Thompson

    Hi, great article. I have limited clearance for thicker tires and am wondering if you need more clearance for tubeless than for clinchers. The reason I ask is because if you’re patching tires, would that not then make the tire wider? If I put on 35mm tires, I have about 3mm clearance each side (6mm total) on the sides of the chainstays and the sides of the front forks. Clearance at the top of the tire isn’t an issue. Would clinchers be better to use if I’m pushing the clearance issue?

  • Jim Thompson

    Haha that’s good lol

  • Charly Aurelia

    About to pull the trigger on a pump to carry. We use 27.5+ bikes, but may have a fat bike at some point in the future. Has anyone used the Lezyne Micro Drive XL (the ‘fat bike’ pump) ? Trying to decide between that and the HV.

  • I have. It’s very big. I prefer the HV.

  • Thanks. It shouldn’t make a difference, I don’t think.

  • Charly Aurelia

    Ok, thanks. Saw this pic, looks to be about the same height, but about an inch wider in diameter. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0adb254a8306840f51bf8866362e19f2813de2073322cbfb6067672a173acdb7.jpg

  • Another vote for the HV.

  • Charly Aurelia

    For size reasons too? The HV a good compromise between volume and size?

  • It’s smaller, lighter, and still pumps out a good amount of air for plus-sized tires. It’s already good enough in my opinion.

  • Patrick Keogh

    I am confident that tyre sealant is essential for bicycle tubeless. Here’s why:

    1. The seal between the tyre bead and the rim is more problematic for a bicycle than for a car. Narrower contact area and larger diameter mean that a fair fraction of the time you won’t get an airtight seal without some sealant.

    2. More importantly, it is the sealant that allows you to laugh at intrusion punctures from thorns, wire, glass and so on. I have ridden with several cat eyes (three cornered jacks or whatever you call them in your part of the world) in a tyre. Pull one out and you get a puff of escaping air for a fraction of a second and then it is sealed.

    I run tubeless on all my bikes, road, touring and MTB and I would never go back.

  • Patrick Keogh

    One comment on tools/repairs… I never go anywhere without a CO2 inflater. I know they are a pain if you travel by air, but it is just the #1 easiest way to get a tubeless tyre to seat if you don’t have a compressor. For high volume tyres, the 16g standard size CO2 canisters do not provide sufficient volume… the 25g ones are far better.

  • Abhijith Rao

    Learnt the hard way to always carry a spare tube. When you’re stuck at the start of the ride with a mini volcano, it’s just a lost day. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10160656260285243&id=583770242

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