I thought I would get better at setting up road tubeless but I feel like I've gotten worse

I have a set of ENVE SES 3.4 TL (rim brake) - the back already had rim tape and the front has given me hell. I’m honestly not sure if I’ll attempt doing rim tape again, at least not on such thin rims (21mm internal width). Oh, Silca sealant plays a role too.

I thought I would be better with some experience. I found my tire wasn’t holding air about 3 weeks after I set it up. Silca sealant is poured in through the side - the rejuvenator goes in through the stem but I figure I probably lost a fair amount of the original stuff. I take a bit of the tire off the rim and pour in a new round of sealant. I attempt to reinstall the tire and my every effort does nothing. I don’t get it. I spill some sealant in the whole effort so I add more and try again. The whole process would have been more efficient if I would have poured the sealant directly on the floor.

I take the tire off and it appears that part of the rim tape had worked its way off one of the spoke holes. I was never going to seat that tire. Now the wheel, tire, my basement floor and myself are all coated in sealant. I spend more time cleaning up sealant than I previously spent mounting a tubeless tire.

Tomorrow I’ll take the wheel in for someone else to set it up. A couple of weeks ago I asked a riding buddy if he was good at setting rim tape - “I don’t think anyone is good at that!” - well, shops are, they do it a lot.

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A good practice after installing the rim tape is to put a tube in the tyre and pump it up. Let it sit for a day to bed the rim tape and help it stick. Then remove the tube and proceed with the tubeless setup.

Also, be careful when measuring out the sealant not to let it settle before pouring it into the tyre. I’ve made the mistake of shaking the bottle of sealant well, then pouring into a measuring cup and letting it sit from a minute before putting it into the tyre. All the crystals/fibres/magic additives settled to the bottom of the measuring cup and didn’t pour into the tyre. All the sealant squirted out of a tiny invisible hole in the tyre like it was water, straight onto my garage floor.

Live and learn. I hate tubeless.

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Well that sucks. I always take my wheels to a shop for a taping job after I screwed it up the first time.

FWIW my go-to is Orange Seal regular thru the valve. I’ve done the Silca sealant install and it was fine until the sealant ate thru the lettering on the factory tape.

Tires pop on easier if I spray water on the rim and tire. And the bead sets easier too. Just spritz plain water. I’ve been installing road tubeless for 5+ years, first on Enve 5.6 disc and then Bontrager Aeolus and then Roval Rapide. A spray bottle of water should be mandatory equipment for tubeless tire installs - slippery when wet!

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Honestly taping a wheel is one of the easiest jobs around. Just put stretch on the tape.

I rarely touch my tape unless it looks danaged. Which my winter wheel’s tape was a few years back. I couldn’t quite get it to hold air overnight with the official tape, so I stripped it and used electrical tape and touchwood that has been good for a couple of years.

I have ENVE wheels and I think they are the most challenging rims to tape and the most challening rims to change tires without damaging the rim tape. The challenge with taping them is the rim’s deep center channel. Stretching the tape almost seems to hurt as the tape sticks to the outer edges before it can adhere to the center channel. And adhering the tape to the center channel is critical. Those rims are challenging to tape. After several failed taping jobs and rolls of rim tape I think I found a way to do it. I use a 1" length of approx. 1/4" O.D. vinyl tubing and held it so it was parallel with and in the center of the tape and used it to press the tape down into the center channel so it would adhere first to the channel before adhering to the higher shoulders. It involved working quite slowly at probably 2-3’’ of tape extended at a time and using my feet to hold the rim steady with each micro-rotation of the rim while applying the tape. No solution yet when removing the tire for replacement as most of the time there’s some dried sealant that has bridged a tire/rim gap, hardened, and when the tire is removed it also pulls up an edge of the tape. The tape edge gets contaminated with wet sealant and will end up being a leak point. Love the wheels. Maybe this taping trick will help. I can lay down the tape into the center bead and it has no wrinkles and looks wonderful and haven’t had a leak with new tape since.

I had a similar issue with the first mtb wheels I was setting up tubeless, the center channel had very square sides. My solutions was to use tape that was only wide enough to seal the bottom and 2 sides, and then I went looking in my shed for some kind of tool that I could force the tape to lay flat in the bottom of the channel. What I found was a 1x2 piece of oak that I had experimented with to craft a mortise and tenon joint for another project…and the tenon on the end of the 1x2 was almost the perfect width. So I trimmed the width so it would fit in the channel, and rounded the edge, and was able to hold a couple inches of the tape over the channel with one hand while pushing it into the channel with the piece of wood. The wood slides really nicely on the tape, so that once I had the tape in all the way around I could use the wood to go back and squeegee out any air bubbles. Took a little practice, as I’m sure you’ll attest.