Road Racing on tubeless or with tubes - which is best?

I have been cycling now for about 3yrs and just started racing this year and have always ridden and raced with tubes. I have seen guy go down with blow outs in races and take out others but just thought that was part of racing and thought “Well i hope that never happens to me or i hope i can dodge it if i see it happen in front of me”…But then I think i heard in one of your podcasts you guy talk about road racing tubeless so the blow out doesnt put you on the deck it will just slowly leak and you will have time to move to the side…Is this true?

Just asking because i was thinking of getting a set of wheels just for racing and one just for training. That way i could set them up differently.

To race tubeless or with tubes is the question.

The only reason to road race tubeless is puncture protection. If the roads are rough enough to justify tubeless (in order to avoid pinch flats) then go for it. If the area you are racing in is infested with tribulus terrestris, then go for tubeless.

Otherwise just put in latex tubes and race. Unless you roll the dice and use some vanishingly small amount of sealant, latex tubes are the same/better rolling resistance as tubeless on the road. And a lot less pfaff. And probably cheaper? Maybe not anymore…

Tubular tire users often claim that sudden loss of tire pressure is less dangerous on a tubular than on a clincher (tubed or otherwise). That sounds reasonable but having never ridden tubulars before I dunno.

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I was thinking about safety really…Hadn’t thought of rolling resistance but that is something i can also look in to

One advantage would be that you may get a puncture, it seals and you never know it and you keep racing.


True, I’ve experienced plenty of that when commuting (found small sealed punctures later on), but I have also had punctures where the white tire juice sprayed all over the bike and myself and would not seal (at least twice now). Granted, they were larger, nail-sized. It’s super annoying having to clean all of that up. Overall, to me it’s a toss-up and not sure how to approach it for a race though, whether road or a triathlon.

I was in the LBS and one of the guys was pulling out some small thorns out of his tires and he was saying that he rode 10 mile to work with them in his tires. I guess in a Road race or Crit if you had a major blow out your are pretty much done either way. But how do they deal with a pinch flat on rough pavement?



I think tubeless makes a ton of sense for most of us amateur racers. Even a “Tour” level tire change time and car drafting back to the pack still has dire consequences on their finishing time and they have tons of miles/kms. to make up that deficit. The idea of getting wheels from the neutral car and getting back into the pack is pretty unlikely for most of us so preventing the flat from ever happening in the first place is the ticket.

Think about all the time, effort, expense and chips you cash in at home in order to get to that race a couple hours away? Maybe there’s a hotel room involved, etc. If the hassle of setting up and dealing with the occasional spray of sealant means I get to finish all the races that I start then it’s well worth it to me.

Oh and it seems to me that more tire tests are being done to show both tubeless and non-tubeless rolling resistance numbers and at least in my tire’s case, it comes out faster when setup tubeless.


Everything Ryan says above +1

My A race was a qualifier for the Gran Fondo world champs and I knew a puncture would ruin any chances.
I went tubeless with the new Continental 5000s, excellent rolling resistance and decent puncture resistance, faster than the old GP 4000s I was running.

Check out for a comparison or to look at other options


I agree with Tubeless but then why is Tubular the common choice for CX racing?

For CX, tubulars on muddy courses can be run almost flat, 14 psi depending upon your weight. Also are very supple so offers more scope on cornering fast.


true, but tubeless is way more of a pain IMO

I’m assuming you mean in terms of inflating a new tire. I use the method of seating completely with a tube and then carefully removing the tube while keeping one side completely seated. This requires a lot less air not to inflate. Remember to remove the core and set your pump to high volume!

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I have been racing/riding on tubeless for well over 9 years now and I wouldnt change them. I would not go back to tuebed. In that 9 years i have taken part in Marmotte sportives, Dolomites, Majorca camps, races and had 6 punctures. One was a complete blow out after hitting a pot hole but i was able to put a tube in and limp to the nearest cycle chop. As for speed and rolling resistance I find them far superior. A thumbs up for tubeless here


Tubeless. Its one less thing to worry about (or two if you count both tires). Another thing to consider is the repair kit for tubeless is much much lighter than a tube and a CO2. get some dynaplugs and one or two CO2 cartridges and you’re set. if you’re super OCD you can top up 50 ml of sealant a week before and skip the spares entirely during the racing day.

Its very comforting knowing you dont have to worry about punctures so you can focus on racing.

Call me old school, but I still run tubular wheels, which are essentially like having a really nice tire + latex tube, for racing. Tubular rims are lighter than clincher rims and you can put sealant in the tubes to seal up small punctures.

Tubeless seems to be the obvious choice for racing (and perhaps more types of riding). For reference, our race team is 100% tubeless (they buy GP 5000 TLs in bulk).


I have been using standard GP 5000s on my S-Works Tarmac that has CLX50 Rovals that support either set up and have not yet transitioned to TLs.

  1. One suggestion a race team member had for me was to take out the valve core and use sealant in the tubes (the upcoming race has lots of goat head thorns in the road). Anyone have experience using sealant in tubes?

  2. How hard is the transition process/learning how to use tubeless? Suggested URLs? Suggested sealant?


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I’d actually consider doing the opposite of your theoretical example

If you flat in a road race you’re done - tubeless with sealant reduces the chances of a flat (pinch flats go away and anything else that punctures a tubeless tire would’ve also punctured a clincher and tube)

The downside (for me at least) to tubeless is it is nearly impossible to get the tire on the rim without some extra tools - so if I flat a tubeless and the sealant doesn’t catch I’m pretty much resigned to getting a ride home. In races this doesn’t matter but when you’re on your own having the ability to swap a tube and reinflate makes a big difference

So…clinchers are maybe slightly preferred for non-supported events but I still run tubeless everywhere I go and haven’t had a catastrophic call for a ride type event yet

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I was thinking of just running a set of tubeless wheels for just Races or events and then training tires and tubes on a set of rims for around town rides and group rides.

On good road surface, especially crit races, I use Bontrager R4 with Latex tubes. Perfect match.