Air Travel with Tubeless Road Tires?

What to people think about flying with tubeless road tires? Do you just lower the psi (to what level?) before packing?

My concern is about losing the seal at the bead and having to go out and buy CO2 cartridges to seal up the tire again, not to mention having to buy the same sealant in a foreign country, if you lost some sealant. Although I’ve successfully installed more than a dozen tubeless mtb tires, I’ve failed in trying to run my Schwalbe Pro 1s tubeless so I wonder if tubeless road tires are more finicky than mtb tires. Maybe just running tubes are better for air travel.

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Jonathan totally disagrees with me on this one.

I fly with tubeless tires pumped up. I also dread losing the seal and having to find an air compressor or go to a bike shop.

I’ve never had a problem. I’m also not pumping up to absolute max air pressure. I’m like 25 for MTB and 90 for road.

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Just lower the pressure by some 10PSI and you will be fine. Given that at altitude cabin pressure is only reduced by about 3-4 PSI, I don’t see a real need to deflate tires at all.
I had several instances where due to a small hole in a tire, all air leaked out over night, but it never lost a bead-to-rim seal.

I fly with all wheel configurations, tubeless or not, pumped to 80 psi. Unless you are right at the limit of your setup there’s no chance your wheels will explode while flying. 15-20 psi below the maximum allowed for your setup (rim or tire, whatever is lowest) is safe.

Edit: Simple science addition (please correct me if I’m wrong). Air pressure at sea level is 14.7 psi. Air pressure in space is ~0 psi. If your tires are pumped to 14.7 psi below their maximum at sea level, your wheels will not blow even in space. However, if the airplane you’re in ever enters space you shouldn’t worry about your wheels :blush: Air pressure at 50.000 feet, which is about the maximum cruising altitude of regular airplanes, is 1.61 psi. For simplicity I just keep them pumped at the pressure I ride at, as the maximum for my setup is 130 psi.

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I’ve flown a few times with tubeless Schwalbe Pro Ones pumped up to 80psi with no problems. The guy at check in sometimes asks if I’ve deflated my tyres and I tell him I have. The pressure difference when flying is too small to have any significant impact on tyres.

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Have the same issue . I recently traveled with schwable pro ones but I had to deflate them dummy to fit in my case … I got the deal back on one but needed bike shop assistance with extra sealant and a air compressor for the other.

What travel case are you using that fits the tires, inflated ?

I let some air out of my tires, both mountain and road, but don’t completely deflate. Has worked well for me.

For road bike I used an Evoc Pro bike bag and put my wheels into Evoc wheel bags for a little extra protection.

For mountain bike, I’ve used the Evoc Pro bag as well but this year tried the Scicon AEROCOMFORT MTB TSA MY19 bag which accommodates Boost spec’d mountain bikes. It works well but I don’t use wheel bags. Only issue is it doesn’t roll straight and always wants to spin when you push or pull it.

American Airlines recently dropped their mandatory fee for bike BUT there is a big caveat. Your bag must be 50lbs or under, just like any other piece of luggage. My 20.5 hardtail Air 9 RDO plus the weight of the bag is right about 50 lbs, so this limits packing extras in your big bag. Most full suspension bikes will be over with the Scicon bag.

Leave them inflated, the pressures are generally low enough to not have any issues with exploding but I dropped my pressure by 10-15psi and and they popped of my rims on a recent trip to Mallorca and had to ride them with a tube in it as I was unable to re-inflate them. Only recently got them back to tubeless.

I leave them inflated at ~80psi. I have a Post Carry transfer case (Amazing bag. Similar to an Oru airport ninja) and the wheels fit without issue into the sleeves inside the bag. I’ve flown with my bike 6 times this year and never had a problem, nor do i expect to have one.

I have a Bike Box Alan and I have to deflate my wheels to get them to fit in the case. I don’t run tubeless so doesn’t bother me but I did wonder if they made the box that size deliberately because as @stevios said airlines do ask if tires are deflated. If you can’t fit an inflated tire in the box perhaps it gives BBA a plus as far as airlines are concerned.

There must be a YMMV here since i’ve never had this asked of me in countless flights with my bike. The most asked question is usually “Do you have CO2?”.

One thing I’ve learnt is airlines don’t have common policies! I’ve flown with the same airline and on one trip been told co2 is fine in hand luggage not hold and on another flight its not allowed anywhere. Totally depends who serves you on the day, how long they’ve been on shift and whether they actually understand the items they’re talking about. One flight they treated my co2 like medical oxygen canisters and said something like limit was 13kg for that so a few gram canister they weren’t fussed about!

This is the problem I have with the Scicon AeroTech case, the tires have to be fully deflated to fit. The next generation of hard cases are going to have to allow for the tires to remain partially inflated to keep the beads sealed, the current crop of boxes are not tubeless friendly. I’ve been able to reseat the beads with a hand pump, but that might not work all the time and it’s too easy to burn through CO2’s if for some reason the tire isn’t quite on right after being fully deflated.