So here’s the deal. The last few times I’ve gone out for a ride, I’ve gotten flat tires. Multiple times on the same ride! Sure I carry a spare tube, but just one. That second flat means I have to call Stef, who is not always super excited to stop what she’s doing to come rescue me… Our answer to this problem was to ditch the tubes entirely! We partnered with Trek Bicycle Salt Lake City to bring you this video that shows the entire process:
Mountain bikes have been running tubeless setups and enjoying fewer flats for quite a while now. But going tubeless has recently become more popular and accessible for road bikes, so we finally jumped on the bandwagon. If you’re not familiar with tubeless setups, basically, you set up your bike wheels and tires similar to what you have on your car (or RV!). The system consists of only a few components:
- Tubeless compatible wheels. Ours were the Bontrager Paradigm Elite TLR Road Wheels.
- Tubeless rim strips. This is more substantial than the rim strip tape you may be used to. It has to be, as it forms part of the airtight seal.
- Tubeless compatible tires. We used Bontrager AW2 Hard-Case TLR Road Tires. The two main differences in a tubeless ready tire are the tighter fit and the bead that interfaces with the rim to form a good seal.
- Tubeless valves. They look like a regular Presta valve, only with no inner tube attached.
- Sealant. Naturally, we used Bontrager TLR Tire Sealant. This milky goo is added to the tire and seals up any imperfections or gaps. It also seals punctures as they happen! For months! This is really key for us, and it’s why we expect fewer flats (that we even notice) with this setup.
You can see the whole process in the video. We ask LOTS of questions, and Andy was a great sport in answering all of them for us while still trying to get work done. (I think it would have been a lot quicker if we had just let him work.)
There are also a few products we used and that Andy recommends in the video. Those are:
- The Stans NoTubes Core Remover Tool
- The Dynaplug Tubeless Tire Repair Kit
- The Bontrager TLR Flash Charger Pump
- A Tubless Sealant Injector Syringe
So both Stef and I are riding tubeless now, and we’re really looking forward to fewer flats. (And Stef is particularly excited about fewer rescues…) We intend to come back and update as we’ve had more experience with this setup and report on ride quality, number of flats, that kind of thing. And as we head out in the RV, I’m looking forward to stocking fewer tubes, and being less concerned about what exactly lies down those unfamiliar roads.
UPDATE! IT WORKS!
I didn’t expect to come back with an update so soon, but here I am. On our ride yesterday near Lake Mead, I picked up a construction staple. Heard it tick-tick-tick at first, then saw it when we stopped. We actually had the forethought to make a video before I pulled the staple out! I pulled out the staple, and everything worked and sealed itself up exactly as described. Watch my flat fix itself in this 40 second video:
We rode another 25 miles after that – without even adding air. Is that awesome or what?
Comments or questions? Sound off below. And thanks for watching!