Tubeless auf dem Rennrad: Schlauchlos glücklich?

The first tubeless tires for mountain bikes came onto the market before the turn of the millennium. However, it took quite a long time before the technology was also available for road bikes. In 2012, Schwalbe presented a system for racing bikes for the first time. Conventional rims can now also be converted. But is driving without a tube really an alternative? What are the advantages and disadvantages? You read that here.

In 1999, Michelin and Mavic presented the first mountain bike tire that could be ridden without a tube. There are now more and more off-road cyclists using this technology. Note – 16 years after introduction!

It is just as amazing that a version for racing bikes was only introduced 13 years after the first tubeless system for mountain bikes. This time, Schwalbe came out on top and put the tried and tested "Ultremo" on the rim without a tube. Schwalbe justified the long development period with the difficulty of making the system safe and durable even with the high tire pressure that racing bikes require. After all, the tire should sit securely even at around ten bar pressure, the assembly should be user-friendly and the weight should be as low as possible. Finally, the use of new materials brought about the breakthrough.

skepticism among customers

But why are there still hardly any users of tubeless technology, even among innovation and technology enthusiasts (racing) cyclists and triathletes? Manufacturers promise advantages in terms of comfort, rolling resistance and puncture protection - important factors for road cyclists!

Perhaps because the assembly process is still a bit more complex than with conventional methods. A special, tubeless-capable rim is not only required for perfect performance. The side of the tire must also first be coated with assembly fluid, mounting requires caution and tact, to inflate you need a good, strong air pump and finally breakdown milk, which is filled to protect against small holes in the tires.

Sometimes the first inflation becomes a test of patience and you have to use a CO2 cartridge or a compressor to get enough air pressure.

Conversion – tubeless on conventional rims

If you don't want to buy a new set of rims, you can prepare your conventional rims for tubeless use. For this purpose, the wheels are made airtight with special rim tape and special valves are used.

The conversion set is quite cheap and costs 14.90 euros for the rim tape and 19.90 euros for the valve set.

Caution: Here, too, manufacturers limit the use to rims that are approved for tubeless conversion.

The advantages

Once the tire is in place, you really appreciate the advantages: the tires are considered fast because there is no friction between the tire and the inner tube, which results in lower rolling resistance. At the same time, the driving comfort is particularly good. Because tubeless tires can be ridden with lower air pressure - particularly pleasant on rough ground. And certainly more. Because the larger contact surface enables better ground contact. The tubeless variant also proves to be reliable when it comes to puncture protection: Sudden air loss due to tube bursts or "snakebites", i.e. punctures in which the tire is pinched between the casing and the rim and suffers two small holes, are ruled out. The breakdown liquid reliably seals small holes in the jacket.

And if you do have a breakdown? Then you simply pull in a normal tube, which should still be in the saddlebag. It is also a good idea to stow disposable gloves there - the sticky breakdown liquid makes a real breakdown, which is an even greater annoyance.

That's what the bike pro says

We asked Christoph Schwerdt about tubeless. The ex-professional cyclist runs the bike shop “Radsport Duschl” and the shop in Nuremberg.


Hello Christoph! Are you happy with the tubeless road bike, or do you still rely on the tried and tested?

Hello Christine! I've tried tubeless tires on both mountain bikes and road bikes and they offer quite impressive riding characteristics... I haven't converted yet, I'm still riding the classic tube tires.

Why are tubeless systems so difficult to establish themselves both on mountain bikes and now in racing bikes?

I think there are several reasons for this. First of all, the advantage is simply not "noticeable" for most people, there is this "it's not worth it for me, I don't notice it anyway" mentality. Then there is the fact that, despite the better puncture protection, you still have to take a spare tube with you just in case – so you don’t get any more space in your jersey. And the assembly is not that easy - and quite a mess if it doesn't work right away. In the racing bike sector, I see the problem above all with the wheels: those who are attracted by the advantages of tubeless also want to enjoy the advantages of lighter, faster carbon wheels. And to combine these safely and without hesitation with wired tires has so far (even if different claims are repeatedly made) succeeded by hardly any manufacturer, which is why I still think that carbon rims should be combined with glued tubular tires. The bottom line is that the subjectively perceived cost-benefit ratio is not yet right.

I don't want to buy new rims. Is a tubeless conversion a good alternative?

That certainly. If you just want to try tubeless, this offers a good opportunity to keep the investment manageable for the time being. The standard rim tapes (Stan's, Schwalbe, etc.) on the market work reliably and installation is hardly more complex than with tubeless wheels.

Which material do you recommend for customers who want to convert their racers to tubeless?

Since Schwalbe offers what is probably the best tire at the moment, I would also use their accessories straight away, so you can be sure that all the materials are compatible. My personal favorite sealant is the Conti Tire Sealant. With this (but also with most other means) you can also preventively protect conventional tubes and tubular tires against defects.



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