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Attack the Singletrack!, Issue #002 -- Are Tubeless Bike Tires Better?
February 17, 2010
Catch the Buzz on Playing in the Dirt
Attack the Singletrack! Issue #002 -- Are Tubeless Bike Tires Better?
Attack the Singletrack brings you mountain bike tips to help you become a better rider and enjoy mountain biking more.
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In this Issue...
1) Tip of the Month -- Click here or scroll down for a great pedaling tip to give you more bang for your buck and prevent you from getting so tired...
2) Are Tubeless Bike Tires Better than Tubed Tires? -- Many mountain bikers are now running tubeless bike tires. Will tubeless tires make you a better mountain biker?
Click here or scroll down to find out if they are a good option for you...
3) What's New on Mountain Bike Buzz -- Click on the links below to learn about new information that has been recently added to the site...
Tip of the Month:
Try pedaling in a circular motion rather than only on the downstroke. This allows you to use your glutes, calves, hamstrings, and hip flexors in addition to your quads. You have to have clipless pedals to pedal this way.
In order to improve my stroke and help me see which muscles I needed to use to pedal in a more circular motion, it helped me to try pedaling with one foot while trying to keep tension all the way around the pedal stroke.
Once you master this circular pedaling technique, shift forward in your seat to work your quads more. Shift back to work them less and emphasize your hamstrings and glutes. This will help you stay strong when certain leg muscles get tired.
Are Tubeless Bike Tires Better than Tubed Tires?
If you are frustrated with the amount of pinch flats you are getting and want an option that will allow you to run low tire pressure without the risk of pinch flats, tubeless may be the way to go.
The major advantage of running tubeless bike tires is that they can be run on less air pressure than tubed tires without the risk of getting a pinch flat. Being able to run less air pressure in your tires allows a larger area of the tire to have contact with the ground, which means better traction and control, especially on loose or wet trail conditions and sidehills.
Even though tubeless tires do not get pinch flats, they are still susceptible to puncture flats.
Tubeless tires are not necessarily lighter than tubed tires, in spite of some manufacturer's claims. The reason for this is because the sidewalls need to be thicker since there is no tube to support the tire.
Tubeless bike tires require no inner tubes and seal directly onto the wheel rim. The tire itself is filled with air like a car tire. Tubeless tires are more difficult to install than traditional tubed tires because an air compressor is needed to seal the tire to the rim. Because of this, you still have to bring a tube and pump on the trail for an emergency fix in case of a flat.
In order to install tubeless tires, the surface of the rim and tire must be clean. Manufacturers do not recommend using tire levers with tubeless tires. Instead, you are supposed to rub soapy water over the bead and manipulate the tire onto the rim. Then, overinflate the tire with a compressor to ensure a good seal is formed. Once it is sealed, let out air to the desired pressure.
UST (Universal Standard for Tubeless) refers to certain standards that companies follow when they manufacture tubeless wheels, rims, and tires. For example, UST tires have thicker sidewalls and beefier beads than tubed tires. Since the tires are heavier, going tubeless does not necessarily mean going lighter.
UST rims are different from regular rims because they don't have holes for the air to leak out and they have a sealed valve stem. They also have deeper ridges to allow the more sturdy bead of a UST tire to have an airtight seal.
A less expensive option than using a UST system is to convert an existing tubed system to tubeless by using a standard tire, a rim strip, and a latex sealant such as Stan's No Tubes. The rim strip seals off the spoke bed and has a valve that sticks out through the valve hole.
Standard tires are generally lighter than UST tires, but they can be damaged more easily because they do not have the reinforced sidewalls that come standard with UST tires. If converting a tubed tire to tubeless, make sure to use one with a thicker sidewall to prevent cuts and tears and provide enough support.
For more tips and information on mountain bike tires and tubes, please visit...
Click here to see last month's Attack the Singletrack! for some tips on winter mountain biking.
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