Tubeless "fail" - anything I should have done differenly?

Using tubeless on my road bike which I was riding last night when I had a very sudden rear tyre deflation.

Thankfully going at low speed so stopped safely to find what turned out to be a 30mm long nail fully embedded in the centre of the tyre.

Tyre was pretty fully deflated so I pulled out the nail then rotated the wheel until the puncture was at the bottom to try and fill with sealant.

Then re-inflated with CO2 cartridge. The seal on the puncture seemed to be working but there was air coming out of the rim by the valve which I know from previous experience implies the rim tape has failed.

I was luckily very close to home so at this point I called for a rescue lift home.

If I’d been in the middle of nowhere though my next step would have been to try and install a tube which strikes me as a very messy roadside process.

At home I found there was a gash in the tape where the nail had scraped it but rims look fine. Replaced the tape and all now fine.

Anything else I could have done at the roadside or what next could have been?

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It’s hard to avoid damaging the rim/tape with a puncture from a long object like a nail. :man_shrugging:

This is part of why I like wheels that have a thicker liner designed specifically for the rim like what Trek offers.

This doesn’t mean going out and buying new wheels of course. :smirk:

It sounds like you had some bad luck! I wouldn’t overthink it too much!

Better luck next time! :crossed_fingers:


It’s messy, but not hugely messy from experience, but you do need to leave some sealant on the road side. Based on a recommendation I’ve heard somewhere, I keep a pair of latex gloves in my saddle bag and pull them off inside out when I’m finished.

Thankfully, so far I haven’t had to install a tube since I got a sealant that’s much better for road PSI. But that wouldn’t have saved me from the issue you had. Glad it wasn’t too big a problem for you.

I’ve put a tube in tubeless a few times, it’s not that bad (especially when the reason for the tubeless fail is that the sealant has all dried up :man_facepalming:). That would be your best bet for getting home under your own power in that scenario.

My own experience has also been that it’s unlikely a hole from something as big as a nail will seal on it’s own. Might seal initially if you rotate to the bottom as you did, but good chance that once you start riding on it it will leak. So if the rim tape hadn’t been damaged you might have needed a plug. And annoyingly if you had put the plug in first then discovered the rim leak and decided to install a tube you’d have had to pull the plug out again.

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Vittoria airliners, a pain to install (and remove) but they keep you rolling

I actually moved away from inserts because I didnt feel like i could ride at and purposeful speed when i got a flat that wouldn’t seal and they made fitting a tube impossible because i couldn’t get the tyre off.

I’ve gone back to just carrying a tube.

Counter argument in your case though is that they “might” have stopped the nail damaging your tape?

I only have wheels with no spoke holes so no tape to damage anyway.

I would’ve done the same, don’t see what could, potentially, saved you.

Nothing else you could have done. Reminds me also if you’ve been enthusiastically trying to plug a puncture you can sometimes damage the rim tape if you get unlucky and pierce it with the tip of the plug right where it goes over a spoke hole. That happened to me once. The other mystery I’ve had is when putting a tube into a tubeless tyre as a last resort there was a weird dead spot in the tyre where it looked like it hadn’t seated properly. Any ideas on that one? Hookless rims if it makes any difference.

That happened to me recently, a new Vittoria N.EXT tire that required a compressor to get the bead to seat in one specific spot. Over the last 3-4 years all other tires have mounted with just a floor pump. Just that one tire, as if it was slightly too small or the bead was overly stiff in that one spot.

Out on the road I the tire ‘got screwed’ and it poked 5+ holes in the sidewall so had to put a tire in. Just like in the garage, I could not get the bead to seat on the side of the road. But good enough to get home a thumpa thumpa thumpa all the way home. Hooked rim, although I don’t think it would matter that particular tire.

That was exactly it - thumpa thumpa thumpa - drove me nuts. Maybe part of the bead still in the channel in the middle of the wheel and not properly seated, but fully inflated.

You had bad luck. Not a lot you can do.

But it is possible a plug (maybe two depending on the size of the hole) could have gotten you back on the road in a few minutes.

I had a similar situation, but thankfully the rim tape held. The hole in the tire was too big for sealant to plug but a bacon strip did the job for about a week. I was on a two-week work trip so I kept a close eye on the tire. Plug started to fail toward the end of my trip, and I had already decided to replace the tire anyway. As others have mentioned, a tube may have also worked - just need to ensure both the tire and rim have no sharp edges that would puncture it. I suck at inserting and changing tubes, often puncturing them in the process so, for me, the minor mess and faff of tubeless is well worth it.

Thanks all. Good to know my thinking wasn’t too far off.

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The puncture isn’t a big deal - whack a plug in, done. The damage to the tape is the secondary but main issue, and one reason why I have tape wrapped around all my pumps and carry a cloth on most rides. You could then unseat one side, wipe the area dry and tape over it then hope for the best when sticking air in. The backup plan would be the tube anyway, but I’ll try almost everything else first due to hassle/mess.


That’s a good call!