Split Tube Ghetto Tubeless for Gravel

I’ve only had the gravel bike a few weeks (2017 Kona Rove AL), and have been running it tubed, with tubeless ready tyres (up to 75km spins, plus some CX training spins).

My rims are not tubeless ready, and I won’t be investing in this bike really at this stage while trying to fund an upgrade in the new year.

I’ve the 27.5 tubes and sealant ready to go. Tyres are Panaracer Gravel Kings SK 37mm (replaced the stock 35mm commuter tyres)

My first official gravel grinder is next weekend - 100km, only 12km back road, the rest forest fire road. So risk a change now, or risk punctures (and tight as hell tyres)? I should get out to test the new set up before the event, on similar surfaces.

I’ve no real experience of tubeless, but I am nervous about pinch flats tubed, as my skills for hopping stuff just isn’t there. I suspect I’m running a higher pressure than necessary due to that, which then feeds into confidence cornering…

Anyone any advice or experience.

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If you haven’t got tubeless rims, I personally wouldn’t do it on a gravel bike. On wider mtb rims, it seems to work (but still depends on the rim-tyre combination), but with the higher pressure involved in gravel riding, the risk is that the tyre will pop off. If your tyres fit very tight (you nearly can’t get them on), you might be ok, but if you’re new to the whole tubeless setup I wouldn’t risk it it. Just take more tubes.


I wouldn’t risk the botched tubeless setup especially if the rims aren’t tubeless ready. I would recommend squirting some sealant into the tubes that are already on, and call it good. Bring two tubes and tire levers/Co2/hand pump.


Yep, seems the more sensible option (must check whether they’ve removable cores).

I rode my gravel bike all over the place with tubes. I rode 118 mile race, 147 mile race, 205 mile race with tubes & no flats. You don’t have to be tubeless to enjoy gravel. Just because you’re tubed doesn’t mean that you will get some flats…just means it might be more likely.

I think you introduce a lot more risk with a ghetto tubeless setup.

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I did the DK 200 in June this year with tubes and didn’t get any flats. I did have nice new Maxxis Ramblers, so the tires themselves were fresh.

We had a fair share of gnarly roads with sharp rocks and I didn’t get a flat.

I did do another gravel race after that and did get a flat with my tubes. But, I was following a guy on a mountain bike and he took a line that I would have not taken. The funny thing was that I was starting to think that this guy was not a good mountain biker and he seemed to just be jamming through things, and I was going to stop drafting off of him, but while I was thinking that he took us through a major pot hole of sharp rocks and I got two flat tires. I used some nice words there lol.

So, the moral of my tangent is that if you are running tubed be careful about following guys on mountain bikes.

Also, just buy good tubes and tires. Make sure your tires are inflated properly and you should really not have too much to worry about.

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Go latex tubes and carry butyl spares. They pinch flat less and ride better(similar to tubeless in feel)

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I’m running Tubolitos with great success, there light, and can run just above normal pressures. Saved nearly 400gms weight off my wheels.

Plus I like to swap between cross tyres, gravel kings etc, so this makes it easier than tubeless.

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Before MTB hookless rims “tubeless ready” or UST whatever was just marketing fluff. I would NEVER run road tubeless on anything but modern rims, but for lower pressure MTB/CX setups it doesn’t matter. Try it, test and if you like it ride it hard. From my own experience I’ve raced on CX/Gravel tires on what would be called non-tubeless carbon rims for years, they’re wider at 25mm, but still just some rim tape and sealant, no issues. On the other hand, I’ve seen tubeless failures in races and on rides, on both ghetto tubeless and “tubeless” rims, so it can happen to anyone. One thing to note, I recommend always running tubeless tires, the old days of ghetto tubeless where the tires were not UST/tubeless were fun and interesting, but not recommended. Rims, meh, who cares, use common sense, but get tubeless tires.

Stuck with tubes, but probably didn’t push the pressure as low as might have been ideal. Having said that, most of the punctures seems to be side wall for people with a tubeless set up - some deep gravel/ freshly patched fire roads.

Anyway, enjoyed it enough that n+1 will be gravel capable to replace the weighty Kona Rove AL, and the limited range of the claris groupset…

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