Considering Going Back To Tubeless (Road)

After 3 flats in less than 3 weeks, I’m considering going back to tubeless tires. I tried tubeless for about six months in 2022 and ended up going back to tubes due to the issues I was having with the tubeless setup (difficulty getting the tires to maintain pressure overnight and tire bubbling). I had the tubeless conversion done at the bike shop and was using the stock tires that came on my Trek Domane.

I’m now considering switching back to tubeless and using the Continental GP 5ks. I’ve never successfully changed a flat tire (yes, I know this is supposed to be easy and that I should learn how to do that but I haven’t) and if I’m not going to change a flat while on the road, I’m thinking I may as well give tubeless another go. Assuming I do that, are there other tires I should think about that folks love besides the GP 5ks?

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The GP 5K is a Tubeless Ready* tire. That means fresh out of the box, the carcass is going to absorb a lot of sealant and used that absorbed sealant to “finish” becoming a fully tubeless tire. People don’t really understand this distinction between a “Tubeless” tire and a “Tubeless Ready” tire. This isn’t unique to the GP 5K. I would say most tires being sold as tubeless today are actually tubeless ready.

The bubbling and loss of pressure people report is usually a result of this process. Mount the tire up, use a good sealant, and put about double the normal amount of sealant in when new out of the box in a TR tire. Give the tire a good spin, inflate to max pressure and leave overnight. Expect some sealant seepage and air loss.

The next day, wipe any sealant on the outside of the tire, re-inflate, give it a spin and listen. If you can’t hear sealant inside, then pop off the bead and add sealant. Repeat this process until you can hear the sealant in the morning (usually just one night but could be up to 3). Now you have an actually tubeless tire assembly.

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Try a different sealant. I usually set mine up at least initially with Stans Race it seems to plug all the gaps so after the first ride or two there’s no loss of pressure over night. I don’t think I’ve ever had a problem with weeping and 5000 TLs or TRs either with Stans Race. The only time I’ve come across weeping was with a Vitoria Corsa and Muc Off sealant.

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Be sure the specific tires you pick are approved by your tire manufacturer and invest in a dynaplug kit and maybe a good seating pump or compressor. You’ll be set.

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I had GP5Ks on DT Swiss wheels with Stan’s not Race lube last summer and had to inflate the tires every time I went for a ride. For this summer I bought another wheels from DT Swiss and a pair of Pirelli P ZERO Race TLRs. Same lube. These hold air a lot better. Now inflating occasionally like I used to do with tubes and not going back to tubes again. I don’t know if it’s just the tires, the wheels or the combination, but they just work.

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What wheels do you have?

When you previously tried tubeless, which Conti GP5Ks? The TL or S TR or heaven forbid the tube version 5000?

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The Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3v wheels that came on the Domane. I don’t remember what the tires were – they were the stock Bontrager tires that came on the Domane. R2s or something like that I think.

Same here! On my old road bike I had GP 4000s and never changed a tire/ tube successfully the first time. The tires were extremely difficult to get onto the rims and, therefore, I usually pinched the new tube before ever getting the tire to seat. I was super happy to go tubeless with my new bike and wheels in 2022.

I’m a big fan of Schwalbe tires in general, and Pro One TLE for road. I have also ridden Maxxis High Road on my road bike with no issues (other than the 3" nail I took in the rear tire, but that’s my fault for riding on $h*t roads, nothing against the tire). Orange Seal has worked well for me. Good luck!

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I had the Pro 3V with rim tape and later the plastic strip. Sealed well.

Those are 25mm internal, you need to be careful choosing a tire size. For sealants I’ve used both Orange Seal and Silca. Orange Seal regular is a lot easier to deal with, but in the summer I need to top off once a month (using a dip stick to measure level of sealant in tire). And also need to top off when installing a new tire (or put 60-80ml in initially), because the sealant makes a layer inside the tire.

For tires I’ve recently used all the “fast” ones from Continental, Specialized, Pirelli, and Vittoria.

From the Pro 3V TLR FAQ:

With my Pro 3V I used 30c and 32c tires, and without looking maybe a 28c front tire.

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I don’t know if it is the tires, wheels or both, but even with levers I just can’t seem to manage the tube change. Glad I’m not the only one.

I’m on 700x32s now. Can I not just pick another 700x32 tire that’s tubeless ready?

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32c tubeless ready tires on those wheels should work fine!

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I have tried other tires and always go back to GP5Ks. They last, they are durable, they are sticky. If you have trouble with tubeless this go round, ask questions. I don’t change flats on the side of the road either, and haven’t had to in 3 years running tubeless (touch wood), despite horrible roads and plenty of cacti, mesquite twigs, and goat heads.

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This is the jewel of the whole thread.

If it were “I’m on 700x25c now”, answer is no.

If it were “I’m on 700x30c now”, answer is absolutely. No reason not to.

If it were “I’m on 700x28c now”, a very endless debate. What a relief :slight_smile:

I’m taking this to mean that since I’m on 700x32s now I should definitely try tubeless again. But that might just be what I want to hear since I’m frustrated with the flats. :slight_smile:

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Tubeless isn’t perfect, here is a tire on the 6th ride and 129 miles:

that was 3 weeks ago.

On the road I tried to seal with 2 plugs. Sidewall kept leaking in multiple spots. Forced to put a tube in. Upon returning home, I discovered the tip of that screw made at least 5 punctures in the sidewall.

Screwed. Literally. :rofl:

But I’ll never go back to tubes.

Tire inserts are another topic.

Lots of success using 25c and 26c tubeless tires on Enve and Roval wheels, but those were 19-21mm internal width.

@bmarum your wheels are 25mm internal and for safety reasons there is a limit to how narrow of a tire you can/should use.

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Yes. That’s is exactly what I’m saying.

And yes, tubeless isn’t perfect. Cars and motorcycles still get flats too :-). And on a bicycle, sealant can’t seal up everything. But larger tire, less chance of issue. And safer.

This bit would be the beginning of the endless debate part. But it’s not. Because you’re running 32s. Awesome :+1:

No debate in my mind, I live where there are a lot of thorns (goat heads) and this area was fastest growing city in the USA for many years, so also a lot of screws and nails and other hazards on the road.

The 25c / 26c tubeless tires saved me from fixing flats on the side of the road about once every 3-6 weeks. I’ve posted my real-world stats in the forum. Been running tubeless since fall 2017, with a brief interlude back to tubes in 2022.

Go ahead and debate, but I’m overwhelmingly convinced by my own evidence.

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Never changed a tube? I’ve repaired 5 flats in a single ride before. One of the biggest reasons I bought a new bike was for tubeless wheels (also disc brakes) because I was tired of flat repairs on my commutes.

I have had a few flats with tubeless: bad luck hitting a railroad crossings wrong in the dark, unexplained sidewall slash, pinch flat hitting a rock on a bike path (in the dark doing VO2 Max intervals), and a pinch flat hitting a massive pothole. But I have also pulled plenty of nails and staples out of my tires now and continued fine (or pumped back up with a hand pump) and probably a hundred thorns by now. I probably would have had 20 flats by now in the past 6 months (roughly once a week), but I’m at 4 now and those may have also wrecked my tubed tires too.

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Do you just check and clean the tyres at the end of the day?