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tube vs. tubeless
Last Post 09/02/2023 02:02 PM by Evan Solida. 4 Replies.
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08/30/2023 09:11 PM
I got a message from my brother this evening that his son spilled after a blow-out flat. He asked if tubeless would be less likely to fail. I answered: "Tubeless is lighter but fussier. Not every rim can accommodate tubeless. You also need a special stem and a sealant which needs to be refreshed periodically. Minor piercing does not cause a flat, but major tears require a tube to get home, so you still need a spare. You can also add sealant to a tube, but it’s not easy to distribute evenly. In my opinion, tubeless makes more sense on a mountain bike than a road bike. " I'm no expert and have no experience with tubeless. . Any suggestions for additional advice I can pass along?
Orange Crush


08/31/2023 05:29 PM
Its a good answer but I'm also noting you are sidestepping your brother's question about whether tubeless it less likely to fail, haha. Separately I was going to comment, I can't recall the last blowout flat I had with a tube ("talk to me about tubeless when its as foolproof as car tubeless") but then I remembered my son's bike that is at home for summer. It had a really weird bulge in front tire for longest time that we kept ignoring. A friend borrowed the bike so we could go on a longish beer ride and he commented how uncomfortable the wobble was but nothing happened otherwise. Next day my son used it and it finally went BANG! No damage otherwise. The previous big bang must have been 20 years ago, it happened while crossing a local bridge. A pedestrian just ahead freaked out so much he almost jumped the railing and into the water but otherwise it was all fine.


08/31/2023 08:53 PM
You are correct; I didn't state which is less likely to fail. I just don't know from my own experience.
This nephew is the same one I had to chase down during an MS Bike Ride to explain drafting etiquette. After he got rested riding in a short pace line, he took off. I told him he needed to take his turn at the front to be fair. His response was quite positive.
Cosmic Kid


09/01/2023 11:13 AM
In terms of "blow outs", I think it is less likely to happen with tubeless. Things that will cause a blowout in a tubeless configuration will cause a blowout in a tube (sidewall gash, etc), but things that cause a blowout in a tube (hard impacts, worn tubes, etc) will not cause a blow out in a tubeless setup.

That said, I don't know if it is worth investing a tubeless setup just to avoid a blowout. That si a thankfully rare occurrence.

Agreed that tubeless is better for off-road (gravel, MTB) than road....even though I have been running tubeless road for ~3 years now.
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!


09/02/2023 02:02 PM
Doesn't matter if tube, tubular or tubeless, you can find horror stories online about tires blowing out, catastrophic loss of pressure, tires rolling off the rim, etc. They all have some inherent risk. It's safe to say that tubeless with MTB has been a resounding success due to the lower pressures and eliminating the potential for snake-bikes. I did hit a rock so hard last year that my tubeless tire blew out so they can't still fail. Still surprised that happened.

As for road, I've tried to not read too much into the online horror stories of tubeless losing all pressure due to burping. And the industry has somewhat settled on some standards when it comes to rim diameters, hook profiles (if they even have hooks), etc. That gives me more confidence and for the most part I don't even think about it. I've had clinchers pop so darn hard that the bead came clean off the rim and resulted in the tube wrapping itself around the hub. Crash ensued.

My point being is that none of the set-ups are immune to flats and even blow-outs. At least with a tubular you can still ride it while completely flat.

If it were me, I'd just stick with clinchers unless going with an all-new bike with disc brakes.
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