Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Road Tubeless, sure, why not?

Here's a good  blurb on Road Tubeless that's worth a read.

Road Tubeless Revised Review - Everything you need to know


Having been on tubeless tires for a couple of years now, I agree with Clive's comments on ride quality and performance. There are more wheel options now than 2008 when tubeless was launched and while the tire selection appears to be limited, I'm a huge fan of the Fusion3 and Intensive 25c tires by Hutchinson Bicycle Tires


Tech note right out of the gate regarding all clincher tire mounting- soap the bead when installing any tire. It's a good habit to get into, ensuring that the bead is 100% locked/ snapped into the channel regardless of standard clincher or Road Tubeless tires.

I came upon a Road Tubeless wheel set a couple of years ago, the A-Class ALX-730. This a 1545 gr wheel set that utilizes DT Aero blade spokes paired with alloy nipples, 21mm rim width, a 3 paw freehub that's easy to service and super smooth cartridge bearings. I like the wheel set so much that it immediately became my winter training wheel set, donning a pair of Hutchinson Intensive Road Tubeless 25c tires. The 25c have been reliable, comfortable and provide just enough performance grip to keep the base mile rides fun. 




I know there's a bit more grip than expected by the Intensive tires, this requires running a lower air pressure in them. I discovered this in 2012 when I was faced with the decision of running my Road Tubeless front wheel during the Race Avenue Criterium. I sliced a tire on a ride and a replacement wasn't available until after the event.  Running a Kysrium SR on the rear and the Road Tubeless on the front at 80 psi, the wheel cornered beyond my exceptions when mid-race I chased down a guy for a prime which required forcing the bike through the sketchy 3rd corner of the 4 corner crit, 10% beyond my comfort level. 


A couple points about the A-Class wheels and Road Tubeless rubber which should transfer to other Road Tubeless/ 2-Way Fit wheels-- the bead channel section of this Road Tubeless rim is square as is the bead on the tubeless tire. Call me lucky, but this square interface along with the rim's little ridge (in photo above, w/tubeless valve resting between ridges) acts as a lock for the tire bead and has done an outstanding job when paired with Challenge Grifo tires during cyclocross season. With a liberal amount of baby powder on the tubes, I've been able to run low air pressure during wet cx races. Low like, 26psi front, 28psi rear, not burp a bead and I weigh 1180 lbs. A wide rim profile (21mm or more) plus a Road Tubeless rim equals surefooted cx bike traction. (ed: note- using a road tubeless valve stem like the ones from A-class wheels and Shimano, will seal up the wheel much better than using the WTB/ Stans version- as shown in the photo above.)

Secondly, unnecessary removal of Road Tubeless tires can compromise the structure of the square tubeless bead. I've removed my tubeless tires as to switch from base miles to 'cross racing season. If you have anything remotely close to a 1.5mm tear in the bead due to leveraging the bead on the rim via tire lever, the tire will loose air daily. The tear doesn't have to be on the outer portion of the tire casing, just on the inside where the square bead locks against the rim's inner ridge along the rim channel. Set it and forget folks.  


There is supposedly a 28c tire arriving soon by the French tire manufacturer; I haven't seen any in stock but I'm salivating to get my hands on a pair. note:The 25c Intensive rubber actually measures out to be 23c when I measured them with a set of calipers so size up if you like chubby tires.


As mentioned in the blog entry by Glory Cycles, you can use a couple of methods to seal the tires via liquid sealant. Personally, I run mine dry and when out on rides, keep a bottle of Hutchinson Fast'air in my jersey pocket just in case.


My summer project will be the installation of Stan's Rim tape on the A-Class wheels, sealed up tubeless with Clement LAS tires. I'll post a review on this closer to the end of summer. 
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