Video: Tubeless Inflation Options


Tubeless is cool. But while it is easy for some, it is complex for most and daunting for others.  There are three types of tubeless options.

1) UST rim with UST tire – This is the tubeless standard where the rim profile, bead shape, tire casing are completely sealed. This is the easiest to install and no sealant is required. The downside can be cost, weight and stiff ride quality.

2) Tubeless Ready Rim and Tubeless Ready Tire – This comes under different labels but the basic idea is  specify the rim profile and bead shape and use a tire casing that is lighter but requires sealant to seal any casing leaks.  The upside is weight is lower and the ride quality can be smoother since the tire is not required to have beefy sidewalls. The downside is no standard exists across different brands so not all combinations may work.

3) Tubeless Conversion – This is done using any combination of rims and tires. Pretty much any rim and tire combination can be set up tubeless with sufficient time and effort. Upside is cost is low when using existing parts.  Downside is it can be an utter nightmare with some combinations.

The upsides of tubeless:

  • less pinch flats
  • better ride quality
  • lower weight when using Tubeless Ready
  • seals puncture flats when using sealant
  • better traction.

The downsides are:

  • installation nightmares
  • not easy when switching tires a lot
  • leaking air if seal is not perfect.
  • messy (with sealant)
  • heavier when using UST
  • burping during hard cornering
  • more difficult trailside repair

Mtbr’s choice these days is Tubeless Ready tires and rims.  These are the ultimate setups for weight and performance. But installation can be painful so we recommend that you get a compressor and learn the necessary skills for a better tubeless experience.

Recent Mtbr Poll:

Our advice is: If you are mechanically inclined, flat a lot or care a lot about air pressures, handling and ride quality, get a compressor and try Tubeless Ready tires.

One of the key issues with sealing tubeless is the tire needs to be pressed on to the rim so all the air won’t leak out when it is being inflated for the first time. This tip below is handy  even though the example is not bicycle tires.

Here is another great video demonstrating some of the proper techniques for tubeless. He is using a tubeless conversion kit so it is essential that the rim and tire fit tightly. If it is loose, that combination may not seal or may be dangerous on the trail

Some of the techniques are: ensuring a clean tire bead, using soapy water, pushing the tire sidewalls to the rim, removing the valve core, submerging the tire in water to find leaks.


About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.

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  • Donny says:

    Hey Francis,

    It wouldn’t be a bad idea to wear some eye protection and/or a glove on the hand which is holding the valve-stem. You know, just for safety’s sake! And believe me, I know…! =)

  • Tom says:

    I only had a regular floor pump on hand to get Ardents on Stans Flows – my first tubeless experience. But it was no problem after following one tip. The key with that setup was to pinch the sides of the deflated tire with your fingers, and pull the bead outwards, all around the tire. You can’t seat the bead that way but what it does is greatly reduces the gap that the air can escape through. Then when you pump, the tire and rim catch enough air that it seals itself the rest of the way.

  • Francis says:

    Great advice Donny and Tom!!

  • Major Niner says:

    Just a reminder – wear hearing protection – I have a friend who’s tire blew off the rim after they inflated it and she developed Tinnitus because of this. If you google Tinnitus it’s almost as bad or worse than going deaf.

    • ray says:

      just did my first road trip on my brothers road tubeless OMG what a difference in comfort and effort. As for mtn bike been blessed to be the little brother to Stan..9 years without a tubes

  • Dan says:

    For all the pumping in the world i can’t get any seal with my spesh 2bliss tyres on my new oozy rims…arrrgh. For freaks sake…any ideas – no compressor i’m afraid.
    The bead seems too slack to me. I’m using 2 loops of fratteli tape and spesh valves.
    Any help appreciated .
    Its like shit mtbr’s say…uhhh i can get it to seat,it’ll seat..i’ve added more stans…arrgh why won’t it seat ?

  • Alex says:

    When regular air compressor is overkill, then DIY floor-pump booster helps:

    10″ water filter is working here as air tank. It is enough to create initial “push” to pop tire beads to the sidewalls of the rim.

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