Author Topic: tubes or tubeless for a cross-country ride??  (Read 1459 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline JuanEstrecho

tubes or tubeless for a cross-country ride??
« on: November 04, 2022, 04:04:58 pm »
So there I was in Rock Island, Texas, a flyspeck between Eagle Lake and Halletsville, with a flat tire.  This was my first multi-day trip on my new Surly Disc Trucker with Surly Extraterrestrial 700x41 tires. They're gravel tires. I was trying to pry the tire off the rim, something I've done 1000 times, to extract the tube. The tire WOULD NOT come off the rim. I called Surly customer service. The guy told me to stand on the wheel and use my insteps to pop the tire bead off the rim. I had flaccid plastic tire tools that were insufficient to the task. I still couldn't get the damn thing off. So I rode on! And every 7-9 miles I stopped and pumped...for, oh, about 115 miles until I got to a good bike shop in New Braunfels. They literally had to use a vice to remove the tire and replace the tube. (The Surly guy told me they've had a lot of complaints about those tires, which run better as tubeless. I tried not to get surly, but why the hell didn't I know that on my maiden voyage?)
        MY QUESTION: I'm planning a 1700-mile ride in the spring. Almost all pavement. I can either get different tires that are easier to change out the tubes. Or I can rip out the tubes and ride cross-country with sealant. What say you, brothers and sisters of the spoke?

very best from Austin,
John

Offline ray b

Re: tubes or tubeless for a cross-country ride??
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2022, 06:19:14 pm »
Huh.

Should be easier to get off now. I would try again before the next trip. If they cannot be easily removed, tubeless or not, these are not tires that are serviceable on the road, and they would be inappropriate for a self-contained trip.

It doesn't happen often, but as you know, a hole in a tubeless tire big enough that a plug will not work, and one will have to remove the tire to slip in a boot and tube.
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline wildtoad

Re: tubes or tubeless for a cross-country ride??
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2022, 09:44:22 pm »
Primary issue seems to be with the tires, not running tubes vs. tubeless. No experience w/ the Surly tires, but if they are typical of many Surly accessories, they are probably overbuilt, over stiff, etc. Good for some things, but not tires. There are better choices in tires that will go on and off properly, deliver a better ride quality, and can provide sufficient flat protection. Running appropriate lower pressures on wider tires that are not overly stiff can also help minimize flats.

There was a pretty thorough thread on this sub-forum last year/early this year on road touring tubeless, worth it or not.  I shared my experiences...tubeless offers benefits in some circumstances, but I didn't find the associated "faff" (British slang term that summarizes my experience nicely) remotely worth it in the road tire/higher pressure environment.  I have gone "back" to tubes on all of my road-going bikes, including touring bike. Had a flat free touring season this year...yippee. Now expecting a flat fest next year.

Cheers

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: tubes or tubeless for a cross-country ride??
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2022, 09:10:02 am »
I don't know about tubes vs. tubeless (still running tubes myself).  But before you leave on tour, you should try to get both tires off.  If the one that didn't flat is problematic, take it down to the bike shop.  But if the one that flatted is nigh impossible to get off, get some new tires of a different model to replace both of them.

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: tubes or tubeless for a cross-country ride??
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2022, 10:49:38 am »
There was a pretty thorough thread on this sub-forum last year/early this year on road touring tubeless, worth it or not.  I shared my experiences...tubeless offers benefits in some circumstances, but I didn't find the associated "faff" (British slang term that summarizes my experience nicely) remotely worth it in the road tire/higher pressure environment.  I have gone "back" to tubes on all of my road-going bikes, including touring bike. Had a flat free touring season this year...yippee. Now expecting a flat fest next year.

Cheers
+1.  Not worth it for road.

As for flats, I have not flatted on tour since 2017, despite doing a decent amount of unpaved surface riding.  Got what appeared to be a tiny piece of wire in the tube.  The leak was so minor that I did not discover the flat until the next morning.  Had to immerse the tube in a puddle to find that hole.

Offline donald.stewart.92

Re: tubes or tubeless for a cross-country ride??
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2022, 08:05:32 pm »
I ride with sealant in my tubes.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Offline driftlessregion

Re: tubes or tubeless for a cross-country ride??
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2022, 12:39:42 pm »
If ride quality isn't a primary factor for you then by all means go with tubes in a Gatorskin type tire. If you hate the harsh ride of those tires like I do then the choice is a little more nuanced. Tire manufacturers are making the tires ever so slightly smaller to accommodate the needs of tubeless set-ups. My arthritic hands simply couldn't mount these newer smaller tires when they were brand new. I went to tubeless because if used properly, and that is a big if, they should reduce the frequency of minor flats.

Offline ray b

Re: tubes or tubeless for a cross-country ride??
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2022, 02:04:11 pm »
And a reminder recently noted elsewhere - if you're headed to goathead country - tubes or no tubes - sealant will markedly reudce the number of stops one makes to repair a flat.
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline OHRider

Re: tubes or tubeless for a cross-country ride??
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2022, 11:07:28 am »
I had numerous flats on a trip last year through goathead country. I'm told that tubeless with sealant would have helped immensely.

Tires lately seem much more difficult to remove, even tube ones. It doesn't seem that the tube ones should be such a struggle.  I did get a plier like device called a tire jack that helps to install them.  For removal making sure all the air out and making sure that one tire bead is on the very center helps but it isn't a panacea.

I think I'll keep up with tubes- at least I know how to change them and don't have to mess with sealant.  I have a type of tire levers that are orange plastic with a metal insert for stiffness.  I've still managed to deform the plastic before.  Many curse words are used in these situations.

Offline HikeBikeCook

  • World Traveler
  • *****
  • Posts: 487
  • Touring for over 50 years and still learning
Re: tubes or tubeless for a cross-country ride??
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2022, 02:57:14 pm »
I went tubeless and with 26" wheels really had few options for tubeless tires and wound up with the Surly tires - 26X44. (Schwalbe does make anything tubeless for 26"). A lot of road noise in my opinion but they handle a load great. We do a lot of rail trail so on gravel you do not notice the noise. I have had a slow chronic leak in the front and I need to tear it down to find the issue. I had new wheels built with Velocity Cliff Hangers, could just be a bad tape job on that wheel. I will let you know how hard it is to break the bead.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline John Nelson

Re: tubes or tubeless for a cross-country ride??
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2022, 12:01:21 am »
I toured this spring with a guy running tubeless. This problem doesn't exist much for day trips, but for long trips, you may need to consider adding more sealant. This guy's first flat was sealed fine by the sealant, but so much of the sealant escaped on that incident, there wasn't enough sealant left to seal the second flat. Not to mention that the guy riding behind him was covered in spots from the sealant. So are you going to carry extra sealant? My friend was lucky in that we were within a few miles of a bike shop when he got his second flat.

Offline staehpj1

Re: tubes or tubeless for a cross-country ride??
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2022, 07:42:59 am »
I toured this spring with a guy running tubeless. This problem doesn't exist much for day trips, but for long trips, you may need to consider adding more sealant. This guy's first flat was sealed fine by the sealant, but so much of the sealant escaped on that incident, there wasn't enough sealant left to seal the second flat. Not to mention that the guy riding behind him was covered in spots from the sealant. So are you going to carry extra sealant? My friend was lucky in that we were within a few miles of a bike shop when he got his second flat.
The need to add sealant is something to think about for very long tours where you might pick up lots of thorns or something, but blowing out all the sealant on one flat probably isn't a very common occurance if my experience with tubeless is typical at all.  I've never seen it happen.  My experience is limited to my mountain bike, but I have worn out one set of tires since I went tubeless on it and the sealant must have sealed dozens or even scores of thorn flats by now.

For something like a coast to coast ride, I think if it was me I'd start with more sealant in the tire than the recommended amount.  Maybe as much as twice as much if I expected lots of loss of sealant.  I'd keep an eye on how the tires held pressure and carry a tube just in case.  IME, as the sealant gets low flats start to take longer to completely seal.  So if you are paying attention you will see that a tire might be bleeding air overnight or maybe slowly losing air during the day in time to start looking for a shop to get some more sealant before it really lets you down.

I guess you could carry a little bottle with just enough sealant to fill one or both tires to the required level.  After you use it you could buy enough to refill the bottle at the next shop that had your brand or have some sent from home.  Some brands actually come in small bottles.  I use Stan's and they sell 2oz. bottles.  So throwing in a 2oz. bottle when packing might be prudent.  A 2 oz. bottle or even two wouldn't bust even my minimal weight budget.  Having some more at home ready to be mailed via general delivery would be a pretty convenient solution if you have someone at home who is willing to mail you stuff.

I have found that I don't need to carry the syringe.  It is easy enough to pop a bead off and put in the sealant that way.  Better to get a look inside and see how much is left.  Fortunately I have no problem getting the bead pop back on with the setup I have used.  Maybe not with a mini pump (I have not tried), but I have done it with a floor pump with no problem.  I also did it with co2 with no problem, but found that co2 kills the sealant precipitating out all the solids.  So I recommend emptying the tire of co2 and refilling with air if you use co2 to seat the bead.

Offline ray b

Re: tubes or tubeless for a cross-country ride??
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2022, 01:35:01 pm »
Fortunately I have no problem getting the bead pop back on with the setup I have used.  Maybe not with a mini pump (I have not tried), but I have done it with a floor pump with no problem.  I also did it with co2 with no problem, but found that co2 kills the sealant precipitating out all the solids.  So I recommend emptying the tire of co2 and refilling with air if you use co2 to seat the bead.
All excellent advice, except the last sentence. The CO2 cartridge kills the sealant through the endothermic process of gas expansion. It's the rapid drop in temperature that can cause polymerization of the sealant.

One proposed solution is to allow the sealant to collect in the 6 o'clock position - away from the valve stem, and hope the temperature of the sealant stays up.

Reducing inflation speed and thereby rate of drop in temperature with the CO2 has also been recommended - but of course, the whole purpose of using CO2 to set the bead is its ability to rapidly increase pressure - so....

One could certainly pump things up a little with an air pump, and then use as little of the CO2 as needed to quickly increase the pressure and set the bead. This has been my preferred on-road technique with hard-to-seat tires.
“A good man always knows his limitations.”