Upgrade To Tubeless For Less Than $60|
Monday, September 06, 2004
By now, youíve no doubt heard about tubeless mountain bike tires. Likely youíve even ridden with people who have them. Perhaps youíve even contemplated making the switch yourself, but balked at the idea of forking out the big wads of cash. For many itís too frigginí expensive to buy a new tubeless wheelset and re-stock your supply of tires with the tubeless variety.
Well, if youíve been holding off, congratulations. If youíre already riding tubeless, read on and start kicking yourself. Because now you CAN have your cake and eat it too. Stanís Tubeless System allows you to convert standard rims and standard tires to tubeless for a measly 57 bucks. YES you read correctly. You can use normal tires and normal rims (a.k.a. what youíve already got). Stanís Tubeless System is the ultimate upgrade. Itís cheaper and better than the real thing.
My tests were run with two different rims. The Ritchey Pro OCR Disc wheels and the Mavic X717 Disc wheels. I then paired these up with a variety of tires including the Ritchey Excavader, Ritchey Zed Race, Continental Explorer Pro, and Bontrager Revolt SS. I tried brand new tires and heavily-worn tires. It didnít matter what I used they all worked perfectly.
The Ritchey Pro OCR wheels inflated with ease on the first try. But the much narrower Mavic X717 wheels were a bit more of a challenge. After a few failed attempts, I tried applying soapy water to Stanís rim strip before installing. This allowed it to fit better into the narrow rim cavity. Once I discovered this, it was smooth sailing.
The key to the system is the rim strip and the tire sealant. Rather than seal the tire to the rim like a true tubeless system, Stanís system seals the tire to the rim strip. This is why itíll work with any rim and tire. You could use tubeless tires too but Iím not sure why you would want to pay more money for a heavier tire when you donít need to.
Because you can use lighter standard rims and tires, you can get all the benefits of a tubeless system (lower psi and better traction) without paying any of the weight penalties you get with a traditional tubeless system. In fact, Stanís system weights just a hair more than most tubes.
Another side-benefit of Stanís system is reason enough to make the change. The tire sealant not only seals the tire to the rim strip but it also seals any punctures instantly. Watching a guy punch hundreds of holes with an ice pick into a tire filled with Stanís sealant is a mighty impressive demonstration. More impressive has been the virtual elimination of any flats on a ride since I went tubeless. I say "virtual elimination" because I did manage to get a flat when a freak incident ripped the knob off a tire creating a hole much too large for the tire sealant.
If youíre already riding a traditional tubeless system, the tire sealant will eliminate your flats as well. Many tubeless users have also found the sealant handy to get a better seal when installing tires and eliminating slow leeks that plague most tubeless users.
Installation of the rim strip is as easy as installing a tube. Installing the tire on the rim is the same as always and as easy as ever. Where the challenge comes in is if you are using standard tires and standard rims, getting that initial seal can be tough. In fact, with most tires itís near impossible to do without an air compressor. I found a trip to the gas station to use their air compressor was necessary for all my tires. With the air compressor the process is as follows: 1. Wet the bead of the tire with soapy water 2. Pour in a small cup of tire sealant. 3. Inflate.
If youíre the kind of person who likes to change your tires based on the dayís terrain then you may find this process a bit cumbersome.
Yeah, yeah, but how does it ride? I honestly expected some compromise in the ride. After all, my tires werenít designed to be tubeless. But that couldnít be any further from the truth. The tires gripped better running tubeless at the same pressure as tubed. That alone is reason enough to do it. But when you want a little extra grip, you can drop the pressure and be confident that youíre not going to pinch flat. This doesnít mean youíre going to drop your pressure to 10 pounds but you could if you wanted to. The tubless advantage comes into play when you just want to drop 5 or 10 pounds of pressure for that extra traction.
So whatís the bottom line? Honestly, Stanís Tubeless System is the best upgrade for 60 bucks since the first tire hit the dirt.