Setting up tubeless tires can be a complicated process for some cyclists. The tires can be stubborn to mount and seat, and sealants spilling all over the floor are some of the common reasons why cyclists stay away from tubeless tires.
It doesn’t have to be that way. It’s pretty straightforward once you know the proper techniques and use the right tools.
Tools needed :
- Tubeless pump (or air compressor)
- Rim tape
- Tubeless sealant
- Tubeless valve core
- Soapy water
- Tire levers
How to install tubeless tires
- Tape the rim. If your wheelset doesn’t have one, or the existing one is damaged, then install a new rim tape first. The majority of new wheelsets today come with rim tapes installed.
- Insert the valve core through the rim. If it’s a freshly installed rim tape, use a knife and poke a tiny hole in the rim tape to insert the valve core. Make sure to use the correct valve core length.
- Coat a layer of soapy water on the rim and tire bead so that it’s slippery and easier to install the tire.
- Mount the tire as you would with a clincher tire. Starting on the opposite side of the valve core, insert one side of the tire bead into the rim bed. Then insert the opposite side and end at the valve core. Use tire levers if needed.
- Make sure both sides of the beads are seated in the middle of the rim bed. Depending on the tire and rim combination, it can be hard to mount the final bit of the tire.
- Check the valve core is not exposed. It should be inside the tire.
- Inflate the tire. Use a tubeless pump or air compressor (if you have one) to inflate the tire. You’ll hear popping sounds as the tire beads seat on the rim. A regular floor pump will not work in most cases, as you’ll need a large quantity of air to push the beads to the rim.
- Inspect the tire. Once inflated, visually check the tire sidewalls and rim. Hold the wheel at the hubs and give it a spin. Make sure the tire is seated correctly and has no bulgings. If it’s not seated completely, deflate the tire and repeat step 7. You’ll need to repeat several times until the tire is seated completely.
- Add tubeless sealant. Deflate the tire, remove the valve core and add the appropriate amount of sealant. Inflate the tire again and spin the wheel to distribute the sealant inside the tire evenly.
- Let it sit overnight and top up the air the next day. Some air will escape for the first few days until the sealant completely seals the tiny holes.
Common mistakes when installing tubeless tires
- Adding sealant before seating the tires can be a messy affair, especially if it’s your first time setting up tubeless tires. If you’ve tried everything (check valve, tubeless pump, correct rim tape installation) and still can’t seat the tires, then consider adding sealant to seat it.
- Not having the valve core inside the tire. Visually inspect and ensure the valve core is between the beads (inside the tire) before inflating. Otherwise, all the air will escape.
- Not checking the rim tape condition. If you see bubbles forming underneath the rim tape or it’s not sitting correctly on the rim bed, consider changing it.
- Overinflating the tires. Tubeless tires are usually wider (28mm and above) and require lower tire pressure. Anything between 60 to 70 PSI is sufficient to seat the tires.
- Not using a tubeless pump. You’ll need a lot of air to push the tire beads onto the rim during installation, and a regular floor pump will not be sufficient.