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Tubeless -- When does it make sense?
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My new Zipp NSW wheelsets are tubeless ready. Prior to purchasing the wheels, I wish someone would have told me that "tubeless ready" also means "royal PITA to mount standard clinchers." I broke a damn Pedro lever trying to stretch a fresh Conti GP4K on one and pinched two tubes. Nuts. I'm usually pretty skilled at mounting tires quickly.

Anyhow, I figure I may as well order a set of Zipp tubeless tires (I've been told they are a good pairing with the Zipp wheels) and give them a trial. But before I get too far down the rabit hole here, I'd like to better understand if/when it makes sense to run tubeless at all for triathlon.

For example: my opinion has always been for sprint/oly distance, it's better to run a GP4K than something with lower RR but more fragile like a Supersonic. But for Ironman, running the faster/fragile race tire actually makes more sense, because the time savings is so large that it's enough to "pay for" a potential flat and still be faster.

How should I thing about tubeless? Is there a certain type or length of course where it makes more sense vs less. I'm going to give tubeless a trial this winter running the 404s on my road bike either way, just out of curiosity, but I'm kind of curious how to start thinking about whether to run them or non on the 808s on TT bike in races.
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Re: Tubeless -- When does it make sense? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Did you have both tire beads in the center channel before trying to mount the tire?
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Re: Tubeless -- When does it make sense? [jimatbeyond] [ In reply to ]
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Yes. It's still significantly harder. And perhaps more importantly, it's harder to get the tube into the center channel and out of the way so I don't rip the tube when trying to jack the tire on there.

With the GP5K being available tubeless, and seeing some data suggesting its actually faster than the tubed version with a latex tube, I'm starting to wonder if tubeless is ready for primetime, and when it makes sense.

It seems like the advantages are:
1) No pinch flats
2) More puncture protection for minor punctures
3) Same (or maybe slightly better rolling risestence

The disadvantages:
1) Sticky latex bukkaki mess if you have a major flat
2) Slower/harder to add in a tube if you flat? This might require some practice? But do you even need to add a tube, perhaps use a plug?
3) Learning curve?
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Re: Tubeless -- When does it make sense? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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I run tubes for TT/Tri (enve/turbo cotton) .. I'm running tubeless on my Groad bike currently and yes depending on tire/rim combo = PITA.. anything Enve/Schwalbe is PITA.. I dont know about Zipp... HED was cake.

I pretty much only do sprint/oly... and plan to stay with tubes.
Last edited by: spntrxi: Dec 10, 18 13:57
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Re: Tubeless -- When does it make sense? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Tubeless Decision Tree
  • Are you a track or cyclocross racer?

    • Yes: TUBULAR
    • No: continue on

  • Are you a pro road racer?

    • Yes: probably TUBULAR, so you can ride flats until you get to your team car. But tubeless will be better/faster otherwise and some of the new ones you should be able to ride when flat, so maybe TUBELESS.
    • No: continue on

  • Do you need to be able to change a flat in your event?

    • No: TUBELESS or CLINCHER, depending on your tire preference and whether you want the peace of mind that a tubeless + sealant offers. Note this scenario is something like a 20K/40K time trial. You flat, you quit.
    • Yes: CLINCHER (if you are living in the present) or TUBULAR (if you are a retrogrouch). Exception for TUBELESS if you are running one of the new systems like Mavic where changing a tire on the side of the road is feasible and will not cause you to curse your bike and promise to quit the sport.

  • Bonus round: When you flat, do you tend to get small punctures (e.g. goat heads, staples, etc) or large catastophic slashes (e.g. razor blades, caltrops, etc)?

    • Small: TUBELESS, the tire will seal itself and you can keep riding/racing
    • Large: CLINCHER or TUBULAR (see considerations immediately above)


Race Director, Velo Club La Grange (http://www.lagrange.org)
https://www.strava.com/athletes/337152
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Last edited by: refthimos: Dec 10, 18 16:03
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Re: Tubeless -- When does it make sense? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Interesting as I had thought Zipp was known for making rims that actually are easier to mount tires on. Wasn't sure if that applied to the new NSW rims though.

The only tubeless ready rims I own are the HED Belgium plus and the DT Swiss R460s. Both I could generally get tires on with a tube in them without using a lever. I've never run them tubeless though. A friend of mine has the new Enve 3.4's that are also tubeless ready and I set his GP4000's on his wheels for him with tubes without issue.

There was a small learning curve though on actually getting the bead in the center, and effectively "pulling the slack" towards the last bit of tire that needs to get over the bead. I think everyone who first experiences mounting a tire onto a tubeless rim struggles the first few times. As with most things...practice usually helps.
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Re: Tubeless -- When does it make sense? [Jason N] [ In reply to ]
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Jason N wrote:
Interesting as I had thought Zipp was known for making rims that actually are easier to mount tires on. Wasn't sure if that applied to the new NSW rims though.

The only tubeless ready rims I own are the HED Belgium plus and the DT Swiss R460s. Both I could generally get tires on with a tube in them without using a lever. I've never run them tubeless though. A friend of mine has the new Enve 3.4's that are also tubeless ready and I set his GP4000's on his wheels for him with tubes without issue.

There was a small learning curve though on actually getting the bead in the center, and effectively "pulling the slack" towards the last bit of tire that needs to get over the bead. I think everyone who first experiences mounting a tire onto a tubeless rim struggles the first few times. As with most things...practice usually helps.

yeah but Zipp true "tubeless ready" is quite new.
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Re: Tubeless -- When does it make sense? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Your choice to run tubeless in my opinion really comes down to your rim/tire combo and ease or difficulty of mounting. I run tubeless and much prefer it over standard and tubes but really only because my wheel/tire combo is easy to mount and remove. If it wasn’t, I’d find a standard tire/tube combo that worked. I want to be able to fix a flat out on a ride and not be stranded. Heck, I just bought new tubeless tires for my mountain bike.....and they were impossible to mount so I returned them and found a different brand that were much easier to mount.
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Re: Tubeless -- When does it make sense? [refthimos] [ In reply to ]
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Regarding flat repair: (setting aside tubeless has sealant protection for minor punctures) if you do get a puncture flat, isn't the process of inserting a plug and re-pressurizing much faster and cleaner than a tube replacement (even discounting time it takes to locate the puncture so you don't immediately flat again).
For catastrophic tire damage that isn't repairable with a plug, you're facing the same problem of replacing a tire (if you brought one).
Last edited by: Nonojohn: Dec 10, 18 20:48
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Re: Tubeless -- When does it make sense? [Nonojohn] [ In reply to ]
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Nonojohn wrote:
For catastrophic tire damage that isn't repairable with a plug, you're facing the same problem of replacing a tire (if you brought one).

In my experience I wouldn't call plugging a complete alternative to tube replacement. There are some cuts that just don't seem to plug effectively that a tube + boot, etc, an get you going again. It's close. I'd say that sealant + plug can get you around 80% of the way there. But I still carry a spare tube with my plug kit.
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Re: Tubeless -- When does it make sense? [trail] [ In reply to ]
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Do you find you can generally tell whether a plug is going to work?
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Re: Tubeless -- When does it make sense? [trail] [ In reply to ]
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trail wrote:
Nonojohn wrote:

For catastrophic tire damage that isn't repairable with a plug, you're facing the same problem of replacing a tire (if you brought one).


In my experience I wouldn't call plugging a complete alternative to tube replacement. There are some cuts that just don't seem to plug effectively that a tube + boot, etc, an get you going again. It's close. I'd say that sealant + plug can get you around 80% of the way there. But I still carry a spare tube with my plug kit.

Agree, most of the flat's I've personally had that would not seal with sealant are cut's that a plug would not work on either. Duct tape and a tube will always get me home.....so personally I want my tubeless tires to be possible to remove from a rim. I'll look to get the new Conti GP5000 tubeless.....but if they are too much of a PITA on my rims, I'll just stick with the Pro One's.
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Re: Tubeless -- When does it make sense? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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wintershade wrote:
My new Zipp NSW wheelsets are tubeless ready. Prior to purchasing the wheels, I wish someone would have told me that "tubeless ready" also means "royal PITA to mount standard clinchers." I broke a damn Pedro lever trying to stretch a fresh Conti GP4K on one and pinched two tubes. Nuts. I'm usually pretty skilled at mounting tires quickly.

Anyhow, I figure I may as well order a set of Zipp tubeless tires (I've been told they are a good pairing with the Zipp wheels) and give them a trial. But before I get too far down the rabit hole here, I'd like to better understand if/when it makes sense to run tubeless at all for triathlon.

For example: my opinion has always been for sprint/oly distance, it's better to run a GP4K than something with lower RR but more fragile like a Supersonic. But for Ironman, running the faster/fragile race tire actually makes more sense, because the time savings is so large that it's enough to "pay for" a potential flat and still be faster.

How should I thing about tubeless? Is there a certain type or length of course where it makes more sense vs less. I'm going to give tubeless a trial this winter running the 404s on my road bike either way, just out of curiosity, but I'm kind of curious how to start thinking about whether to run them or non on the 808s on TT bike in races.

never, just use latex tubes
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Re: Tubeless -- When does it make sense? [Nonojohn] [ In reply to ]
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Nonojohn wrote:
Do you find you can generally tell whether a plug is going to work?

Generally, yes. If it's a cut that's longer than a few mm, plug unlikely to work.
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Re: Tubeless -- When does it make sense? [sebo2000] [ In reply to ]
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sebo2000 wrote:

never, just use latex tubes

I just uninvited you from the #tubelessmafia Christmas party.
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Re: Tubeless -- When does it make sense? [trail] [ In reply to ]
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trail wrote:
sebo2000 wrote:


never, just use latex tubes


I just uninvited you from the #tubelessmafia Christmas party.


Wasn't going anyway :) #latexparty sounded way more exciting :)

If anyone gets pinched flats on TT bike it means one of 2 things:

1. too heavy
2. riding at wrong pressure

latex eliminates pinched flat issue, you almost can't pinch latex.

tubeless are awesome for MTB.
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Re: Tubeless -- When does it make sense? [sebo2000] [ In reply to ]
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sebo2000 wrote:

latex eliminates pinched flat issue, you almost can't pinch latex.


I call BS on that. I experimented with 85 PSI when I switched to 25mm tires (latex) and after reading the Poertner/Anhalt thing on tire pressure and rough surfaces. I started pinch flatting a ton (on the terrible SoCal desert roads).

Maybe you call that the "wrong pressure." But I call it the "right pressure" and the "wrong technology" based on the data. That's what motivated my switch to tubeless, and boy am I glad I did. The peace of mind is great. Time spent at the side of the road has decreased by ~90%. I don't like spending time at the side of the road, training or racing.
Last edited by: trail: Dec 11, 18 7:23
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Re: Tubeless -- When does it make sense? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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I haven't looked at the rim tape that comes on the NSW, but rim tape is one of the biggest factors in ease of installation of tires. The tape from Stan's or Silca is really thin, and that allows additional wiggle room over some of the competitors. Maybe the NSWs already have that though.

To answer the question, I think it makes sense on gravel and MTB for sure. MAYBE for "all-road" events and training. For me, I'm not ready to switch to tubeless for road racing or tri.
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Re: Tubeless -- When does it make sense? [trail] [ In reply to ]
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trail wrote:
Nonojohn wrote:
Do you find you can generally tell whether a plug is going to work?


Generally, yes. If it's a cut that's longer than a few mm, plug unlikely to work.

Sometimes, more than one plug is necessary if the cut is larger...I give up usually after trying to insert 3 next to each other and it's not working.



http://bikeblather.blogspot.com/
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Re: Tubeless -- When does it make sense? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Most if not all of the pros and cons have been mentioned. The only thing I can add is that, if you do decide to go tubeless, you will probably want to own a compressor or at least a "flash charger" type of floor pump sooner than later. Factor that additional equipment/purchase into your decision.
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Re: Tubeless -- When does it make sense? [vjohn] [ In reply to ]
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vjohn wrote:
Most if not all of the pros and cons have been mentioned. The only thing I can add is that, if you do decide to go tubeless, you will probably want to own a compressor or at least a "flash charger" type of floor pump sooner than later. Factor that additional equipment/purchase into your decision.

Most can fill with a regular floor pump, if not another cheap option are CO2’s and inflator. I’ve been able to seal even severely loose 2.25” MTB tires with a single CO2. (There are some tricks to know to make is easier). A box of 40 CO2 at a local Walmart is like $17.
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