Going back to tubes for gravel

So yesterday on my training ride on my gravel bike I got a puncture that wouldn’t seat, it was a 1cm gash from a sharp piece of glass, tubeless spray all over me and the bike. Ended up needed to be picked up.

And that got me thinking…

I never run low enough pressures for the tyre to give me pinch flats, I do a lot of bike paths to the gravel, and never do anything that requires me to go below 2.1 bar on 47mm.

Is it worth it running tubeless at all? Considering my conditions…

I miss the ease of just putting in a new tube and continuing the ride, and not having to fiddle with tubeless sealant, drying tubeless sealant, plugging tyres etc.

What are your thoughts?

Is tubeless worth it if you’re only doing rowdy gravel with low pressures? I understand the use on MTB running super low pressures etc. but I cant seem to wrap my head around the hype for light gravel and road…

Regarding weight, was planning on using Tubolito CX tubes, which are lighter than the amount of sealant I run in the tires today…

I always carry a tube anyway so that I still have the option of just sticking that in if it’s a cut that’s too big to plug or if something else goes wrong. I wouldn’t bother trying to plug a cut that big, though even with a tube you’d probably also need to cover it with a patch or a bank note or something to stop the tube bulging through it.

I think tubeless are still worth it for the punctures that do seal or can be plugged, saving you all the hassle of taking off the wheel and tire. I do think there’s a bit of a learning curve in terms of figuring out what will seal, what needs plugging, and what needs a tube. I certainly wasted some time when I was first running tubeless trying to get things to seal when I should have gone straight to a plug or tube.


Makes sense, I am just in the boat where for me any fiddling is lost time, and I just want to continue my training ride. Hence being inclined to just run tubes, switch tube on puncture, and move on…

Its hard to know how many punctures that the tires have “saved” me from with tubeless…

Type of plugs I found make a bike difference. I finally bought into the hype and paid the money for dynaplugs. So much easier and better than bacon strips.

So far I’ve had several punchers that won’t seal, but none that will not plug.

As for my road bike, I got 4000km before my first puncher, and the flint around here means it was previously every 300-400km….

So I’m sold on both


Assuming that anything that causes sealant and/or pressure loss on tubeless would also cause a tube to puncture, I’d guesstimate that tubeless “saves” me about 75% of the time. I.e. for every puncture where I actually have to stop and deal with it, there are ~3 where it seals and I keep on riding. Often without knowing about it until I stop and notice that there’s dried sealant on the frame and some pressure loss in the tire. Of the punctures where I do have to stop, I’d say that about another 75% of the time I can fix it without taking the wheel off i.e. I can either plug it or I can get it to seal by putting a finger over the cut.

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Aside from the hassle of setting them up (which I’m guessing you’ve already done), and the mess when you have to put a tube in, I see no reason to change back to tubes - at least until you replace your tyres anyway. I’ve only done ~600 miles of gravel tubeless so far, with 2 plugs* and several self-sealing punctures. I did put tubes in when I switched to skinny road tyres recently, but only because I couldn’t get them to seat and I was in a hurry.

*Dynaplugs are definitely worth the extra, I’ve never tried bacon strips but the Dynaplugs are just so easy I can’t imagine why anyone would bother.

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What pressure are you running @Dubadai Ive more tubeless experience with my road bike which runs 80-90psi but I carry a spare tube for that rare eventuality it doesn’t seal or plug. I wouldn’t go back to tubes my self at that pressure. More recently I’ve set up my gravel bike as tubeless and ditched the tubes (again carrying a back up tube though), the guide I found said 70psi feels psychologically faster but isn’t but around 30psi is. So I’ve set them up to that and couldn’t imagine going back to tubes there either.

I run latex tubes on road, but gravel is definitely tubeless. Dynaplugs for the win. Bacon strips don’t work as well and typically work their way out in 10-30 miles. Dynaplugs are a ‘permanent’ solution for the tire unlike bacon strips. Just beware if you get a tear and need to put in a tube, to remember to cut off the heads of any prior plugs or you will tear a hole in your tube within a few miles. I learned this from a friend.

Once you’ve done a plug, it really can be done in less than a minute. This is a great demonstration video - HOW TO FIX A FLAT IN 1 MINUTE - YouTube

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I run 34PSI front and 39PSI rear for 40mm Cinturato 700c.

The setup is no issue, its the whole ordeal of when something happens, how much work its then… Especially since I dont feel that I get lots of the “advertised” plusses of running tubeless if its mainly to be able to run super low pressures.

Since I do a lot of tarmac riding on my gravel bike, and if its gravel its good gravel roads, I am asking more for guidance regarding the tradeoffs… And if its worth going back to tubes for the tube of riding I do.

I could probably do my riding on 33mm gravel tyres, but that would be too little grip in the long run…

I bring tubes with me tho idk if they would help. I would put cardboard on the tire cut and a tube like normal.
I have been running tubeless road 28s for the last 9 months and I love it. I run about 50-60 psi and have a lot of increased comfort. I wouldn’t go that low with tubes tires personally.

The bottom line is that if you got that cut deep enough not to seal on your tubes set up, you would still be in the same predicament. You’d need some cardboard or something to put over the gash bc an inner tube would bubble through the spot


I wouldn’t describe that as overly high pressures compared to a mtb. You sound like you were unlucky with that gash. As few other folk say carry a spare tube for that rare piece of bad luck and enjoy the benefits of tubeless better rolling etc and not having to worry about those more common small p’tures (even on a perfect road they still occur and I suspect that on good gravel it’ll still occur more than on good paved roads) :+1:

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You might be right :wink:

Ill just accept that I might have been very unlucky, and it was super super annoying that it was deep enough to require the whole tube procedure and that it ended with me needing to be picked up :stuck_out_tongue:

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Stans dart or dynaplug, and ALWAYS carry a spare tube/pump.

Will save you a lot more headache than running tubes and swapping them out every time you pierce a tire. If you’re still getting flats and just want to ride more, then get burlier tires.

I only recommend not going tubeless to people who only ride very sparingly. Like a few times a month in the summer. Then I think it can become more of a hassle with making sure it’s not all dried up before you ride, and the added cost of sealant, and usually those people are novices who don’t have a compressor at home or the ability to easily seat a bead.

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