Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Not as easy as it looks, going TUBELESS

I knew about a lot of the things it would take to swap out tubes in my mountain bike for tubeless.  The right tires, the right rims and valve stems. I took all in consideration before taking on this task. 

Continental's Mountain King 29 inch tires 

I've used a few different brands of sealants.  Placing them inside my tubes to get the most life out of them.  Not being bothered by small thorns or pieces of glass I may come upon while riding on the road or trails. The straw that broke the camels back and made me want to do the conversion of my mountain bike tires, was after getting two pinch flats in one evening while riding. The ride ended up with me walking back about two miles to my vehicle, just as the sun was going down. 
Orange Seal is the brand I am using and sticking with.

I ordered a nice set of new tires that are compatible with being tubeless, Continental's Mountain King 29 inch tires. I found a set of Presta valves, with the removable core, so if you want to initially put the sealant in that way you can, or down later on add more sealant if needed without compromising the seal created at the rim.  Also with the core removed, you can get that full blast of air needed to seat the rim. I knew that in order to inflate to tire, an air compressor would need to be used to seat the tire on the rim. My first attempt, I thought I had all the right components to make this transition. I measured the rim and cut a piece of Gorilla Tape to seal off the spoke holes. This was pretty easy. I started the tape about 3 inches on one side of the valve hole and wrapped the tape two times around. Then installed the Presta valve, with the washers and seals it came with. Tested the tires on the rim, just to make sure it would seal later on when the sealant was placed inside. With an air compressor and some dish soap to help the installation, I couldn't achieve the right seal. 

I used another air compressor later on to achieve the "blast"of air needed to seat the rim. A seal was achieved except for where the valve stem was. Leaking was occurring near the Presta valves I had installed. The hole already in the rim was larger, as the rims originally had Schrader valves in them.  I got the tires to seat and the sealant to take hold, but not for long. I had a good ride out on the trails with my daughter and was amazed at how good the tires where contacting the trail. It wasn't until about a week later that the front tire came off the rim.  I ordered a set of Schrader valve stems which should solve the leaking around the valve stem.  I think I have it figured out, but it has kept me off my mountain bike and has me out riding my road bike for the time being.   


Note: Not all rims are tubeless compatible nor are all tires. 

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