Road Bike - Tubeless With Rim Brakes

Does anyone have experience using a tubeless setup with rim brakes? There are a few manufacturers that sell wheels this way, but not many. I’d love to drop the weight and the hassle of tubes in the road bike, but don’t want to have to upgrade my whole bike to do it.

I ran tubeless rim brakes last year and had no trouble. Could be worth trying out!

Just know that tubeless can arguably have more hassle than tubes – mostly when setting them up (speaking from experience!!). Generally, once the tires are on, though, they’ve worked pretty well for me.

1 Like

That’s funny!

I think of tubeless as the hassle I put up with for the benefit of no flats.

(Probably very lucky and living on borrowed time but I haven’t experienced a flat out on the road in 5 years. I’ve never even had to plug a tire. Using GP5000TLs.)

I have Farsports tubeless rim brake rims. They call them “classic” now. They are 25mm wide with no spoke holes. They have been fantastic and I like not having to use tape.

The only downside, I think, is that you usually can’t go beyond 28mm on rim brake frames and are often limited to 25/26mm tires. I run 25mm tires on my Colnago and it is truely the max tire size for this frame since 23mm tires were the norm at the time. And with narrower tires, you can’t run very low pressures which work better with tubeless.

1 Like

You should not have any problems. I have run tubeless with rim brakes for many years and tens of thousands of miles. I was a very early adopter of tubeless for road use as far back as 2005. In the years since I’ve used both aluminum and carbon rims in old school narrow and modern wide widths. Personally I think tubeless is the way to go. It is can definitely be more difficult to set up but that is very rim dependent but it seems as though manufacturers have gotten a better handle on internal rim shape and the last two wheelsets I bought are very easy to install and inflate tires (Schwalbe and Goodyear).

I tried it and switched back to tubes. There was no weight savings- sealant, tape, and valve stem is about the same weight (maybe more) as a tubolito tube. The hassle was not worth it.

I love tubeless for my mountain bike, but didn’t find any advantage over tubes on the road.

Edit- If you are having problems with frequent flats, it might be worth the hassle to try it out. I tend to run more robust tires to help prevent flats. I would guess most people running tubeless still carry a spare tube in addition to tubeless plug kits.

Tubeless is great around here. Group rides are posted with warnings to bring tubes, and about once a month its common to see a group ride with 2 or 3 people flatting from small wires (radial tires) and thorns (goat heads). The people that don’t generally flat are running tubeless, but of course you could hit a chunk of metal or broken road and rip the sidewall. Even then, its a little messy roadside to insert a tube (I carry wipes to cleanup) but tubeless we avoid all the nuisance flats from wires/thorns and its 100% worth it.

1 Like

Yes, I run my rim brake bike tubeless. I don’t see a reason not to. Haven’t had to use a spare tube in the last 11 000+ kms. (that’s as far back I know I’ve run tubeless).
I have a pair of cheap Vision metal wheels and a pair of Hunt carbon wheels, both tubeless.

You certainly can run tubeless on a rim brake road bike but I wouldn’t really recommend it.

More faff involved, both in installation and in maintenance (you need to periodically check if there’s enough sealant).

It’s not lighter - tubeless tyres are generally heavier, as are compatible wheels, plus there’s the rim tape, valve and sealant to consider.

Finally, tubeless doesn’t work as well at higher pressures. I’d say it works best under 60psi. So if you’re limited in the size of tyre you can use then this might be a factor.

Off road, it’s another matter but in my experience rim brake road just isn’t worth the tubeless hassle but your use case or opinion may well be different!

Edited to add that I get very similar numbers of punctures on both tubes and tubeless. Generally a couple a year in total over about 12Megametres of outdoor road riding.

1 Like

I run tubeless on my Storck rim brake using Zipp 303FC and Conti GP5000 TR in 28. I haven’t measured them but can tonight. No problems.

Edit: measured out to a touch over 29 mm.

My road bike (Summer Wheels, Winter Wheels and new Summer Wheels) and TT disc are all tubeless with rim brakes (I’ve had the disc since 2017, road wheel since 2018) and other than a short failed experiment (summer 2018) with the wrong type of sealant which was a temporary disaster (avoid FinishLine sealant, it advertised as never dries out but it never dries out to seal anything either, small leaks turn into a complete unseating), its been touch wood no problem.

Rim brake for tubeless doesn’t have any significant disadvantage to me and I split time between road bikes with disc/tubeless, rim/tubeless, and rim/tubed.

Tubed setups have used rim tape as well for years, tubed or tubeless you either need tape (or plugs etc) or you don’t. Valves? All my inner tubes have valves too as do my tubular tires. Clincher wheels weigh what they weigh now, unless you’re riding previous models most of the current nice high end stuff is tubeless compatible, whether you add tubes to it or not is up to the rider.

Road tire pressures required vary according to a multitude of factors but road tubeless works well, including well above 60 psi. From my MTB in the low 20’s to one of my road bikes at ~80 with 25’s on narrowish hooked rims, it works. The pressure just needs to match the wheel/tire/rider system you’re using.

Tubeless isn’t a necessity, depending on where you live, but if you’re riding in the land of the goat heads, or where it doesn’t rain much to clean off the roads a bit, it’s a game changer for road bikes.

1 Like

I’ve been running tubeless on my rim braked road bike since 2018 with virtually no issues (frustratingly the one puncture that didn’t seal properly was on holiday and while we thought we’d fixed it, it failed catastrophically a couple of days later). No real hassle to swop tyres now I’ve worked out how to do it and practiced a couple of times.

Thanks everyone for the quick comments! Super helpful and I’m sold on going tubeless on the road!

For a bit more context, I’m very comfortable with tubeless in general, been running it for cross, gravel, and MTB for a few years.

My main concern with the rim brake would be anything related to heat buildup on long descents and that potentially causing some deformation and thus burping.

Campagnolo WTO 60 rim brake running with tubeless for 3.5 years… no issues related to brake type whatsoever :+1:

Also currently run a set of rim brake aluminium dt swiss 1600 tubeless on my winter bike for a few years no issues - although the brake tracks are a bit concave on those now :thinking:

Previously had a set of aluminium mavics too (kyrium i think?) - no issues releated to them being rim braked but i did crash and dent the rim slightly which meant they would only seal with a tube in.

I don’t have many major descents near here but I had no problems descending down Mt Teide several times a few years back. IIRC I reseated my tyres with CO2 the first night and the pressure lasted 6 days of mountaneous riding, including 3 descents from Teide (circa just under 5’000ft of descending in 16miles in one go) and was good until I deflated the tyres slightly to go home.

I did similar but after using Muc Off clearer (I’m pretty sure any soapy up liquid would do the same) the tubeless tyre sealed.

Think the dent was beyond that :thinking:

Just this past weekend I took my rim braked carbon rimmed bike out on a mountainous ride with a continuous 18 mile descent. Definitely not my first time doing big descents with this bike and can confidently say there were zero problems. Modern carbon rims do not seem to exhibit the same failure mode as carbon rims from the early 2000’s. I’ve had tubeless on my bikes since many years before road disk brakes were even available and not had any problem that ever made me think about going back to tubes. Each has its advantages but personally I believe tubeless is far superior. On more occasions than I can remember I’ve gotten home without even realizing I had a puncture. It can fail but any scenario that will cause a failure in a tubeless tire would certainly be a failure for a tube. I carry a spare tube as well as bacon. Always pays to be prepared but much more often than not tubeless has been great and not even had me need to stop riding.

1 Like

My dent was initially about the same size or worse , so I’m sure your can be fixed (assuming its an aluminium brake track). I used an adjustable spanner to straighten it out and that was fine for about a year. But a pothole wasn’t called out on a paceline and I hit it at speed, circa a year later, it refused to seat after that until I used the muc off and its been fine for the last 5 months (although I relegated them to winter wheels last month and when I restore them to use I’ll have to see if its still good).