First experience of tubeless tyres

Winter is upon on us. Well, no, if you are a pedant no, it is not - Autumn is - however, if you are out on a bike you may JUST ABOUT noticed the temperature at night down near freezing, the dark, and the mud, filth, the road spray, and bush trimmings all over the place. My tyres have - this much is for sure.

I have recently switched to using tubeless tyres. The hard work was done for me, they came pre-filled with sealant (Doc Blue - apparently rebranded Stans), pre-seated, and good to go when the wheels arrived.

My first impression was the sheer lack of weight. My first pair of disk road wheels were the pushing 2Kg Aksium 2017 disc set. The Hunt 4 season disc set seemed featherlike in comparison. Looked good, rolled exceptionally well, and with a superbly engaging freehub. This also sees me move from the long-trusted Continental 4 Season with a breaker (and grip, unlike the Gatorskins!) to the Schwalbe Pro One - their supposed 4 season tyre designed for use with tubeless. Both of which in 28C - but the Pro One seeming much wider due to its round as opposed to U shaped profile.

So, my first flat there was a BANG! and white glue flailing everywhere. I can hear the rider behind me cursing. It's raining hard and I really have no faith in this working at all. I stop after a bit and position the wheel at the bottom, and sure enough, within a minute - there was no longer a stream of goup emerging, no hissing, it had indeed healed. I was, in a word, impressed.

This continued. With two more that I did not notice, but found the evidence splattered on the chain and seat stays.

Now the key is here that you CAN GET PUNCTURES AND NOT EVEN NOTICE. This is to be fair - amazing. I am living in a future where rockets land on their feet, you can talk to phones, and machines can think!

The problem comes when you run out of glue stuff. Yes. Apparently, it is not everlasting... who knew, right? You get a sizeable puncture - in the middle of nowhere, and it just is not healing. Before you know it all the air is gone, and it's game over. CO2 will curdle the sealant (apparently), and a minipump no matter how hard you bat away with the thing... is not going to keep the seal between the 700x28C tyre and the rim.

In the immortal words of Hudson / Bill Paxton - "Game over man, GAME OVER!"

It is now time to catch up on your mindfulness practice and noticing every damned noise in the now pitch back wilderness and were those eyes... what the hell... THE EYES?! Oh yeah, and it's now started sleeting. #winning.

So yes, I did have a spare tube with me. However, I am aware that one of the issues with continuing after a flat is all the things that are stuck in there need to come out. Its cold, wet, my fingers are numb. Fail.

So yes.

Are they great - STUPENDOUSLY!

Do they roll well - OH YES - specifically this combination of wheel and tyre.

Do you need to keep topping up the filth to keep them resilient - yeah - it seems that you do ... completely my fault.

Day on, daylight, having now found the offending chasm in the rubberwear, I decide to try out another thing. The wheels came with a hole fixing kit. Given how rapidly this went down, spewing the remaining sealant (ridden through the site of an accident with bits of headlamp glassware like bottle bottoms on the road) I had assumed it was a tear.

The device looks like something for threading needles, and what I thought were pipe-cleaner-esque are actually stands of immensely tacky butyl rubber.

The instructions - no words - pictures. Push one through the carcass, remove pusher. Done. Off for tea and medals. Doubled over butyl now like one of those cancer ribbons looped inside, two ends outside. Seemingly melding into a single lump. Impressive.

I at first tried pushing through half of one, and this was no good. It came out as I pulled it out.

So I tried the other 2/3rds and it stayed put.

Sure, it now looks more like a tiny tiny dog poo (WHY BROWN?!) - however, look at that - proper hole now filled.

Lessons learned after standing in the freezing dark with wildlife for an hour -

ONE: Top up the tyre sealant periodically;

TWO: Carry more tools than you think you need you fool, they are not bomb proof.







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