Monday, June 18, 2012

Going Road Tubeless.. Again

I've been running road tubeless for a year and a bit now with great success e.g. not getting a single puncture!

It all started when I was looking for a reliable lightweight alloy wheelset that I could use for races where I didn't want to be riding carbon tubulars, namely in the rain and in and around town where punctures abound.  I was heading down the custom build route until I was able to land a set of Dura-ace tubeless compatible wheels for under $700 ex UK.

I thought I'd go tubeless right from the start rather confident I guess after years running both standard and UST tyres as tubeless on various mountain bikes with the Stans No Tubes sealant. I selected the Fusion3 model from Hutchinson which had just been released. It seemed like a good compromise in terms of weight, durability and performance over the lighter Atom model.

The result was a fast rolling, light weight, stiff yet energetic wheelset with fantastic cornering grip from the combination of the lower pressure I could run and the 20.8 mm wider rims.  That lower pressure 90psi (for my 77kg weight) doesn't translate to a soft feeling tubeless tyre like it would on a normal tubed tyre.

By the way this was after my wife had taken over the Ksyrium SL2's I had that were running ceramic bearings from Boca. They made a huge difference compared to the standard Mavic bearings and I've subsequently done the same to a couple of pairs of Zipps. Things might have changed but this was pretty cheap at the time compared to the other more well known ceramic brands and they have a simple tool to find the right bearing for the hubs you are using.

Anyway, last week I was looking to replace the tyres on my training wheels so I thought I'd try going tubeless on these standard wheels. I'd read that Hutchinson had a higher volume (25mm) training tyre the Intensive. I'd also watched this video on the No Tubes website and figured that it couldn't be that hard.

Intensive installed on normal rims
And surprisingly it wasn't! All in all it took 30 minutes to switch them over including cleaning the rims under the base tape and laying down two layers of the No Tubes Yellow Rim Tape as per the video and inserting the valve stem.  Compared to the tubeless specific wheels however which inflated with a hand pump I found the Ambrosio Excellight rims had quite deep wells to the spoke bed and as such I needed to use a shot of air from a canister to blow them onto the rim. Half a 16g MTB canister was all I needed for each.

I rode the wheels both days in the wet over the weekend and despite being brand new tyres their grip in the wet was great. The weird thing is though that in the Ambrosio wheels the supposedly 25mm wheels are more like 21s.  I got the verniers out tonight to measure the difference between the two wheelsets.

So called 25mm Intensives measure 21mm on Std Rims

While the 23mm Fusions on wider rims measure 23mm!
All in all I'd definitely recommend making the switch and they seem to roll fairly well for training tyres with all the benefits of the superb almost tubular feeling ride and confidence inspiring cornering.

Here's what I needed:
1 x Stans No Tubes Stan's Rim Tape 9m x 21mm
1 x Stans No Tubes Universal Valve Stem 44mm 44mm Valve - Pair
2 x Stans No Tubes Tyre Sealant
2 x Hutchinson Intensive Tubeless Road Folding Tyre 700 x 25c Black
It's all about $201 on wiggle incl. free shipping.

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