I’ve been riding a tubeless conversion on my main road/rando bike for most of the summer season. At this point, I can comment on a few aspects that I really like about this setup.
First, let’s talk about the wheel build. I have Pacenti PL23 rims with Stan’s tape (wrapped double) and used a Stan’s conversion kit to get a valve stem and goo. The tires are Gran Bois Hetre Extra Leger. The PL23s are not normally a tubeless rim, but they are compatible without much work. The big thing is to have a sealing valve stem (don’t need the conversion kit, just get some replacement tubeless stems) and make sure the spoke holes are taped tight. You may also need to put an extra layer of tape if your tire fit is too loose.
I used the Stan’s general instructions to set these up, but found that my floor pump wouldn’t push enough air to get the tires to seat/seal, so I set up my compressor with a presta valve so I could pop these guys on. I’ve heard that some are able to do this with a floor pump, but not I.
Once I got the feel for what needed to happen, I put a scoop of the goop in the tire while it was partly off the wheel – just dumped it in the side, and then carefully pushed the wheel onto the rim. At this point, you just do a quick inflate, and spin/bounce the wheel a couple times to get the sealant dispersed around the wheel, and leave it. I was able to ride these immediately.
A myth that I found to be untrue was that the Hetre ELs needed to be run at higher pressures than normal. Not so. I actually run them at 25 front and 35 rear which is about 5 psi lower than normal. Anything more and they don’t feel quite as compliant, but at this pressure, they feel just right.
Now on to the good stuff. I don’t worry about flats much anymore. Lower pressure, fat tire, and sealant take care of that worry. I still try not to willfully ride over glass, but I’ve had zero issues/flats since this conversion, and these tires are thin and super compliant. I also love the lower pressures – wow are these tires comfortable!
There are a few minor downsides. I have to add air about once a week now, whereas before it was every other week or so. I also still carry a spare tube, in case of a bad flat requiring a boot. The requirement to have a compressor to initially seat the tires is the last bother. Pretty small potatoes, however.
I plan to do more road tubeless builds going forward. I’d love to have all the bikes tubeless, and just need to gradually replace my rims with tubeless friendly guys.
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Jason Hansen said:
I had the pacenti rims and standard hetre when I ran tubeless and, like you, my pressures were lower. In fact, it was a bit of an adjustment to look at the gauge and see a pressure that should have been too low.
I currently have tubes in both of my randonneuse with Compass extralight. I have A23 rims on both wheelset instead of the pacenti. (I’m too heavy for the pl23 – I cracked my rear rim and decided to go with A23 instead of risking another failure).
One of these days I might switch back to tubeless, but the issue you mention with the compressor and the increased maintenance requirements put me off the tech for the time being.