To Tube or not to Tube


Ok, so prior to my current bike, I've always ridden with tubes... This bike was built up with tubeless. I've always been skeptical of tubeless because the fix action in the event of a tubeless fail is to put a tube in it. Benefits are supposedly less weight, and the ability to run lower tire pressures. What I've learned though is that the trade off is more maintenance and having to air up your tires every 3-4 rides. When I rode tubes, the only time I had an issue was when I actually got a flat.

  • As to the weight reduction...I'm no small mammal and as a result, climbing will never be my forte anyway so trying to save weight in order to climb faster is throwing money away.
  • As to the lower tire pressures, I've discovered that I can't use that benefit either because as soon as I go below 20ish psi in the front or 25ish psi in the rear the tire becomes unstable when I corner at speed. The front tire starts tracking horribly and the back starts getting loose as the sidewall starts folding over.
  • Maintenance wise I've had to reinstall Stan's twice already...once each wheel, and just got a flat on a ride this past Sunday that resulted in guess what...a tube being placed in the tire. I bought more Stan's in preparation of filling the rear tire, but now I'm actually considering just leaving the tube in, AND getting a tube for the front.

I was never an early adopter to the tubeless movement to begin with because I failed to see the advantage(s) of a system that relies on reverting right back to the technology it replaced in the event of a failure. The reduced weight and lower tire pressure arguments did not prove true for me in practice either. While I'm sure there is a bit of a weight benefit, I feel that all I really gained from this setup was a more frequent, and messy maintenance requirement. I have to check my tires every ride now to ensure they haven't lost pressure. If they have, I have to start worrying about putting in more sealant.

BOTTOM LINE: Tubes are heavier, but they're less of a maintenance chore. Lower tire pressure is overrated and in actuality increases rolling resistance anyway. It also makes for a floppy cornering tire in aggressive trail riding conditions. Lastly, having to deal with all that sealant when you ultimately have to put a tube in the wheel is a pain in the butt.

I'm going back to tubes.