4 tips for understanding tubeless tyre set up

What you'll need and the steps you'll take

Running your tyres tubeless can seem like a daunting prospect, but get it right and you'll enjoy a puncture free life with more grip and better rolling resistance.

Here are the key steps you'll need to follow to ditch the tubes from your mountain bike.

What you'll need

  • Sealant
  • Tubeless valves
  • Rim tape or strips
  • Track pump or charger
  • Tyres (ideally tubeless ready, but some regular tyres can work)
  • Wheels (ideally tubeless ready)

1. Rim tape

Rim tape seals the spoke holes to prevent air from escaping
Rim tape seals the spoke holes to prevent air from escaping

For a tubeless set-up to work, air must be prevented from escaping through the spoke holes in the rim.

Some wheels have sealed rims but most manufacturers use tape to make them airtight.

New wheels often come pre-taped. If not, you’ll need to do it yourself.

Specially designed rim tape from brands such as Stan’s NoTubes is best, but Gorilla Tape works well too.

Wrap it tightly and neatly around the rim bed.

2. Tubeless valve

A tubeless valve will need to be fitted
A tubeless valve will need to be fitted

To get air into the tyre, you’ll need to fit a tubeless valve.

This is inserted into the valve hole in the rim from the tyre side and then tightened with a threaded collar on the hub side to create an airtight seal.

Note that you may need to poke the valve through the rim tape (carefully) when installing it.

3. Sealant

Sealant will keep tour tyre airtight from punctures
Sealant will keep tour tyre airtight from punctures

This magic liquid usually contains latex and small particles.

Its job is to seal up any small holes that your tyres may pick up from thorns, rocks or pinch punctures.

We’ve found Effetto Mariposa Caffélatex and Orange Seal to work particularly well.

Pop 80–100ml of sealant into the tyre before fitting the last section onto the rim.

4. Inflation

Inflating a tubeless tyre can be tricky
Inflating a tubeless tyre can be tricky

This is the tricky bit. Pumping furiously with a track pump should be enough to pop most tyre beads into the rim and make things airtight, especially if you massage the tyre onto the edge of the rim first.

Failing that, try a tubeless inflator, such as this one from Airshot or the popular Bontrager Flash Charger.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Seb Stott

Technical Writer, UK
Seb is a geeky technical writer for BikeRadar, as well as MBUK and What Mountain Bike magazines. Seb's background in experimental physics allows him to pick apart what's really going on with mountain bike components. Years of racing downhill, cross-country and enduro have honed a fast and aggressive riding style, so he can really put gear to the test on the trails, too.
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Steep!
  • Current Bikes: Focus Sam 3.0, Kona Process 111, Specialized Enduro 29 Elite
  • Dream Bike: Mondraker Crafty with Boost 29" wheels, a 160mm fork and offset bushings for maximum slackness.
  • Beer of Choice: Buckfast ('Bucky' for short)
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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