One of the most often-asked questions among riders who run tube-type tires is whether or not a tube-type wheel can be converted to mount a tubeless tire. After all, tubeless tires provide a few good benefits for certain types of riders. However, the process of converting a tube-type wheel to a tubeless wheel can be a bit complicated for a number of reasons. If you’re considering the switch to a tubeless setup, here are a few things you might want to know about the conversion.
Benefits of tube-type wheels
The most practical benefit of tube-type wheels are that they are easy to repair in case a rider experiences a puncture. This is why tube-type tires are favored among riders who ride into environments where punctures pose a real threat, such as off-road riders and adventure riders. If a tire puncture happens, simply pull out a new tube, dismount the wheel, replace the tube, inflate the tire, and mount the wheel back.
Tubes can be replaced in order to get home even if the damage to the outer tire is significant, which allows you to ride your bike back home in case of an emergency—something that can’t be done on tubeless tires. Tubes are also relatively lightweight and compact which means they can be stored inside small or large bags, and the practical benefits of replacing the tube entirely can outweigh the novelty of owning tubeless tires.
Benefits of tubeless wheels
While tube-type tires are certainly more practical for riders who prepare for punctures along the way. On the other hand, tubeless tires provide a few practical benefits for riders who will experience punctures a bit less. Tubeless tires are relatively lighter compared to their tube-type counterparts, since the only piece of rubber on the wheel is the tire carcass itself, without any need for a secondary tube. This makes a motorcycle feel lighter when accelerating or braking, and more agile when going through corners.
Tubeless tires are also designed with a more rigid and durable carcass, which means that they hold up to most puncture threats with a bit more strength compared to tube-type tires. If a puncture does happen, tubeless tires are relatively easy to fix with a simple roadside repair kit and a small air pump. It’s only with larger punctures that tube-type tires will be more beneficial, however, for the majority of small punctures, tubeless tires will be easier to repair on the go.
How to convert to tubeless
If you’re considering the switch to tubeless, know that the job of converting a wire-spoked wheel from utilizing a tube-type tire to a tubeless tire will require a bit of attention to detail and craftsmanship, since sealing out any potential air leaks areas will be the most important part of the job. If you’re considering the switch, we recommend purchasing a reputable tubeless conversion kit since a vast amount of research and development was put into the final product. However, if you’re curious to know exactly how conversions are done, this is the general principle behind it:
To prepare for tubeless conversion, you will need to make sure your rim is perfectly aligned to the hub since spoke adjustments can break the air seals for a tubeless conversion.
Seal off the spoke nipples on the rim
The spoke nipples on a rim would be the largest hurdle for a tubeless conversion since this is where air leakages are most prone to happen. In order to create a seal here, dismount the tire and tube and apply sealant on each of the spoke nipples found on the outer part of the rim in order to create an air seal.
Create a secondary seal
After each spoke nipple is secured by a sealant air seal, the next step would be to create a secondary seal that spans the circumference of the rim. This is typically done by using a medium-width tape with an extremely strong adhesive which wraps around the rim above the air seals. Just make sure the tape isn’t wide enough to interfere with the mounting bead of the tire since this can potentially cause an air leak if not managed properly.
Purchase tubeless tires and mount
Once the rim is properly sealed off and an air-tight seal is made on the rim, you will need to purchase a tubeless tire for your respective rim. Make sure to purchase a tire with the exact same or similar dimensions to your original tire. After you’ve mounted the tire to the rim, monitor the air pressure for a day or two. If it seems no air leaks are present, you should be good to go.