12 May, 2017

New Wide Rims, Not Tubeless Compatible (And I Like It That Way...)

by Igor


These prototype triple-box section rims have an outer width of 28mm, inner width of 21mm, and are suitable for tire sizes ranging from 40mm to the mid 50s. Basically, they are made for the meat n' potatoes of touring, commuting, and gravel riding. Not only can they take floaty tires, they are also the widest rim you can use while still being able to implement a normal rim brake setup.


We'll be testing them on our Polyvalent Disc prototypes in the months to come. Wheel building and tire installation was a breeze with the bead seating perfectly the first time. I picked double-butted DT Swiss spokes with brass nipples and Velox 22mm Rim Tape. Right now they are wearing the new WTB Byways for double-duty road and trail use. When inflated to 55 40psi (I should have had my afternoon coffee, max for these tires is 50psi), the tires measure true at 46.8mm while 56ft above sea level.


Ok, so are they tubeless compatible? No, and I prefer it. It's not because of any retrogrouch tendencies. I'm more than happy to accept new technologies when they provide a genuine better level of cycling enjoyment. Electronic shifting is nifty, pinion gearboxes are snazzy, and disc brakes are the bees knees.

But tubeless doesn't really do it for me. You still need to carry a tube, pump, and extra fluid if you're out for longer adventures. Carrying these things negates the argument that tubeless is lighter. Heck, I just carry a basic Rustines patch kit on daily rides and an extra tube for longer treks. Yes, you can run lower pressures with tubeless, but you have to watch out for burping in tough corners.

In addition, a rim standard hasn't been widely adopted yet, so not every tubeless tire and rim combination is compatible. I feel like I'm seeing "standard hasn't been widely adopted yet" more and more nowadays in the cycling industry.


If you want to run a heartier setup but you don't want the hassle of tubeless, you can remove your valve core, dump some sealant into the tube via an injector, swish around, and inflate.

Do you use tubeless? What sort of conditions do you think tubeless is 100% necessary?

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

I, too have been resisting tubeless, but am considering it at present as a way to handle the goat-heads out west.

Philip Kim said...

i like tubeless set up for much bigger tires, like schwalbe dirt tires. the weight difference can be really felt on the '+' tires that are closer to 2.8-3.0 range.

i switched back to tubes on the more ~supple~ tires, as the sidewall is so thin and can absorb a lot of the sealant. i had to add more sealant every month or so. however, the WTB tires are great for tubeless set up, as well as a lot of the schwalbe mtb tires.

if i were going on tour or multi day rides, tubes would be the way to go, mostly to keep myself from getting sealant all over my clothes (that stuff is hard to wash out!)

Unknown said...

I tubeless, hard. On wide rims the risk of burping is waaaay reduced, and I've run it on mtb and gravel both with Stan's rims. On less than 30mm tires, I am not 100% sold on it though. The pressures are still a little high unless there are additives to help with clogging. What I will say though, is that the weight isn't negated by carrying a tube. You only need to carry one (and sealant to be safe), and it is not rotating weight so it matters a whole lot less.

Brian Walbergh said...

Been commuting on WTB Horizons, tubeless, for about a year in Portland, they are a revelation. Have yet to get a puncture that didn't quickly seal, including a big gnarly drywall screw I yanked out. Run them low pressure never burped. I really don't worry about them at all, yes I still carry a pump tube and patch/boot kit, But I always do, no matter what bike I am ridding.

My dirt tires (2.1" Vittoria Mezcals) took dozens of goat heads this fall on the last 12 miles of a 2 day tour, They sealed after a mile, my buddy with tubes was not so lucky.

On tires wider than 28mm that see dirt or bad roads, I think the tubeless is a serious asset.

Julian said...

I'm puzzled by your comment about these being the widest rims usable with rim brakes. That is not the case -- it really depends upon the frame -- there are lots of bikes running rim brakes with wider rims -- like the 32mm+ Alex DMs, for example.

Andy Squirrel said...

Tubeless is fantastic, sorry to hear you've caught the retrogrouch disease.

Why are you inflating those tires to the ungodly pressure of 55psi?

rusty said...

you know you can put a regular tube/tire combo on a tubeless ready rim? Why not have let the customer decide...

Rod Bruckdorfer said...

I tried tubeless with Stan's system in 42 mm X 650 tires. It works, if you like to check your tires ever time you go on a ride. In addition as you must periodically add Stan's to the tire, the latex builds up in the tire which adds to the weight of the tire. We switched back to tubes, after I removed all the hardened latex from the inside of the tubes - PITA. Occasionally, we get a flat. I replace the tube on the spot then patch the holed tube at home with Rustin's. Oh, I have patched the tire on the spot then used it, no big deal. For me, it's all part of the adventure.

VeloOrange said...

@Julian,

In our testing, a 28mm outer width is the outer realm of using normal brakes and normal setups. Not to say you can't run wider, just that above that, you can run into some weird pad angles and arm adjustments.

@Andy Squirrel,

I like old cars, too. It's spreading! 55psi feels good to me. I've ridden plenty of tires at 35-40 psi and prefer the feel of a bit more road feedback.

John Thurston said...

"Tubeless compatible" does not mean one must use them with without tubes. It just means one _might_ use them that way. I don't run without tubes, but I like options. I've had no problems running my A23 "tubeless ready" rims with tubes inside either "standard" or "tubeless" tires.

I'm looking forward to your new rim, even if it isn't "tubeless compatible". When you are working on the profile for your new rim, please (pretty please, with sugar on top) don't make the well as deep as the Diagonales. I can count on about 40 minutes of inflating, spinning, cursing, tugging, deflating, cursing, tugging, inflating, etc to get a consistently seated tire on my Diagonales. I've tried many different tires, from several manufactures, and have yet to find any which are easy to mount on those deep-well Diagonales. Please don't perpetuate that deep-well :(

VeloOrange said...

Thanks for the input, John. I usually stick with one tire and just go with it for pretty much all of my rides. The Campeur with 38s can comfortably take on so much! If I anticipate a lot of rough stuff (singletrack, big chunky rocks, lots of roots) I have a Piolet.

Interesting about your experience with the Diagonale. We've mounted loads of tires up to those with no issues from Fairweather, Panaracer, Conti, Michelin, Kenda, and many others without issues. It'll be something we consider with this rim.

We tried Pari-Motos, Horizons, and the Byways on this rim. Installation was 100% painless and had an even bead all the way around the first time.

Tony Hunt said...

I just get a kick out of the part where I pass people on gravel events on the roadside w/ blown tubeless set-ups. But hey, y'all do y'all.

Dan said...

Tubeless can be annoying with all the "standards", refreshing sealant, tight tire/rim combos, etc, but here in Utah the thorns have been a nightmare to my tubed wheel while my tubeless shrugs them off. On my commuter I find it a necessity.

jkruse said...

Tubes vs Tubeless is probably a choice determined by geography and riding style. I live in southern New Mexico and ride primarily off road. I would never consider heading out into the desert on a bike with tubes. If you are looking to *really* hone your tube patching skills you might enjoy yourself though.

Andy Squirrel said...

"55psi feels good to me. I've ridden plenty of tires at 35-40 psi and prefer the feel of a bit more road feedback."

Yikes! Well, as they say: you do you. If you like the feeling of every road crack and bump why not just convert back to skinny 28mm tires at super high pressures? That is essentially what the 47mm WTB feel like at that pressure. I usually roll my Horizons at around Seattle at 25psi and they feel amazing like riding on a fast cloud. Yesterday I experimented with 35psi and suddenly every crack, pothole and bump in the road was channeled up into my hands and butt. It was a terrible experience and I immediately let some air out once I reached my destination. I can only imagine how unyielding a 47mm tire at 55psi would be.

VeloOrange said...

Not sure how I reached the 55psi conclusion as the max is 50psi. Measured them this afternoon and they were right around 40psi according to our pump. Post has been modified. I like the feel of the road's texture and potholes and similar obstacles are simply avoided.

Neil Hodges said...

I went the "sealant in tubes" route rather than bothering with tubeless for a while since most of my rims are known to be either difficult or impossible to set up tubeless. It was fine for a while, but I did eventually get punctures that the sealant couldn't handle on one bike, and full-on pinch flats on both tires on another.

Both bikes are now using more traditional touring tires with 'dry' tubes, and I'm fine with that. The Compass tires I used were definitely more cushy, and maybe added 1-2 MPH on the flats with all the gear I carry, but I'm fine being a bit slower.

Jonathan said...

I just don't get why you didn't opt to have them tubeless-compatible. There is literally (literally!) no downside. Luddites can still use tubes, and tubeless afficionados can do their thing.
All this talk of no official standards for tubeless reeks of Jan Heine's kool aid blog from the last couple of months. Don't judge the efficacy of virtually every tubeless setup just cos Compass don't work tubeless cos of stretchy beads (yes, even on their "tubeless compatible" tyres).

David Dye said...

I would never consider tubes for a touring / adventure setup. U would much rather ride than fix flats. Worst case, you just put a tube in it anyway.

With tubeless as common as it is now, nearly all of it plays nicely together. Sure, it adds a bit of time for initial setup and once a year for cleaning, but I have never flatted on my tubeless commuter and used to get about one a month with tubes.

Anonymous said...

I experimented with tubeless a couple of years ago. Then while on a group ride I ran over a short nail, that punctured the tire and actually very slightly nailed itself into the rim.
I pulled it out, gave the wheel a spin, and the Orange Seal, did it's job. I finished the ride, and checked the tire pressure upon returning home. I lost 3 psi.
I run it on everything. Yes, I carry a spare tube, but it would take a catastrophic failure to require using it. And yes, there is a weight reduction, but the big news is you can drop tire pressure and not worry about pinch flats.
I liken this to when radial tires became the norm on cars.
The ride quality is superior.

Unknown said...

There are those who ride in places where punctures are uncommon, and good for them. But some of use ride where two punctures a day is not unusual, and the benefit of tubeless is often a ride only briefly interrupted - if at all.

I've not run into rim/tire compatibility issues. The biggest problem is that tire manufacturers insist on confusing what's tubeless and what isn't - giving different versions of tires almost identical names. Twice I have paid for tubeless versions and been sent the tubed ones in error. They are not doing themselves any favors.

So while I don't care about e-bikes, nor electronic shifting (at least until it is wireless and runs on batteries I can buy at WallyMart), I think tubeless is the future.

brooke ball said...

Do you guys plan to make any changes to the Campeur frame, to accommodate the wider rims and tires? Or should I just wait on the Polyvalent :)

Unknown said...

I'll second all those mentioning never dealing with punctures... at all. Worst case, yep, I carry a tube same as before. Two tubes in the backcountry. I still carry a patch kit, too. Once, I've had to stop and pump, then the hole sealed. A couple other times I threw in a tube and it was fine.

I rode the entire Tour Divide on tubeless tires and rims. A small number of punctures, but 0 flats. The only time either wheel was removed from the frame was in Salida, where I replaced the tires out of caution.

Having ridden some of my tubeless tires with tubes (new tires, out of sealant), I also buy into the lower rolling resistance idea. They definitely feel faster.

I'm too cheap to throw out good wheels on every bike, but I imagine I'll be going tubeless on every future wheel, unless it's a pure skinny tire (like 28 max) type of thing.

Anonymous said...

I ride a lot of gravel roads in Kansas, and I'd say tubeless is pretty nice. My biggest issue previous to going tubeless was pinch flats (now a complete nonissue). I ride a behemoth of a bike, so weight isn't really a concern, but changing a flat many hours/miles into a ride in the middle of nowhere is no fun. Tubeless pretty much eliminates that. The only disadvantage I can think of is that if you do get a flat on the road, removing the tire can be slightly more difficult and messy, but this is more than offset by the reduced likelihood of a flat occurring to begin with.

I think a wide, rim brake compatible, tubeless ready rim or wheelset (130mm rear) would sell very well...there just aren't a lot of those around!

Will said...

Tubeless on mtb 2.3" tires with rims and tires that are designed to do so: hell, yes. On the 4" tires of my fatbike: for sure, saving a pound per tube.

Tubeless on any of my other setups (Clement MSO 40, narrower Schwalbe ones and Conti 4 seasons): no. I have issues with the mtb tires around 1x per year. I have few enough issues with my tube setups on these other bikes that I don't really see the need there. I ride the Clements at 28-35 psi on 30 - 100 mile gravel and singletrack with Schwalbe tubes and no issues. Can't remember the last time I got a flat. Granted, I live in New England, with few nasty thorns (though plenty of ugly winter road debris!).

Aaron W said...

You're spot on. In 2009 I did a budget-tour in South America. In a few months I patched about 100 flats spread out over 3 tubes. By the tours end, it was 5 minutes from hearing the hiss to being back in the saddle. Those ultra-patched tubes held up for years after.

Caleb Evenson said...

I wasn't aware tubeless existed until just a couple years ago, and until just a few months ago was resistant to such a setup. I grew up riding freestyle bmx, but in more recent years bicycle touring really spurred my love for cycling, so dependability was foremost in my mind before considering tubeless.

Recently opening a shop alongside another mechanic who was way more familiar with MTB stuff is what convinced me that tubeless might be reliable. Back in the winter, after he converted his Pugsley to "ghetto tubeless", I did the same with my Krampus, and completely fell in love with the tubeless concept - so much easier to push them wheels round and round!

So upon putting together a Piolet, right around Easter, I set it up with some tubeless Rocket Ron tires on Velocity Blunt SS rims, and have been amazed at how easy flying over South Dakota's washboarded gravel roads can be. Weight is one thing, yes, but I'm convinced the lower rolling resistance is the real tubeless benefit. For context, my previous gravel experiences were on 23mm tires from the 80's, and 38mm Schwalbe Marathon Supremes. The latter will soon be replaced by some tubeless Compass tires - I'll likely switch everything to tubeless, provided I can afford it!

Justin Hughes said...

This rim will weight north of 600g?

VeloOrange said...

This one will probably right around that mark. But after reading many of the comments, we may reconsider the implementation of tubeless compatibility for this rim.

-Igor

orc said...

I'm not one for fat tires, but I've found on reasonably sized tires tubeless gives a slight but noticeable improvement in ride quality (Hutchinson Confreries go from excellent to "floating on a speedy cloud" & Ritchey Tom Swifts go from bricks to merely dead riding) and let me ride tires that are too small to easily find tubes for (Schwalbe Ones.)

And with fat tires burning off 400-600 grams of rotating mass (per tube) seems like it's an unqualified win. So why not make it easier for people to set up tires tubelessly?

Michael White said...

On plus tires on one of my trail bikes, I use tubeless. It's a no brainer. On other bikes I have gone back and forth. I find tubeless to be sometimes a little problematic . . . I've had leaks that were hard to track, I've had tires that refused to seat, etc. Tubes are by comparison very simple and clean. I like simple and clean. One day this will likely fit into category of "generational differences"

Craig Ward said...

I have a number of bikes, most of which are tubeless now. I haven't had a single flat since making the switch. I took a tubed bike out for ONE ride last fall and picked up two goatheads. Two stops for flats. Two frustrating sessions with a frame pump.

And unlike some of the comments above, I find the tubeless setup process to be ridiculously easy now. It just seems like a no-brainer if you deal with thorns. If you don't, consider yourself lucky and run tubes.