Tubeless Ready (TR) and Tubeless (TL) are commonly used interchangeably among cyclists and bike mechanics. Most of them are actually referring to a type of tire setup that doesn’t require an inner tube as a clincher tire does.
But did you know that Tubeless Ready and Tubeless are very different in how it’s designed and set up?
Let’s take a look at what Tubeless Ready and Tubeless mean.
Tubeless Ready, or Tubeless Compatible refer to the same thing. Tire manufacturers use other tire marking terminologies, such as TLR, TC, TR, or TLE.
Some brands also label their tires as Tubeless, but they’re Tubeless Ready. The easiest way to determine is to check their website for any mention of tire sealant. If a sealant is needed, the tire is Tubeless Ready and not Tubeless.
For Tubeless Ready tires to work, they’ll need sealant, rim tape, and a tubeless valve.
The Tubeless Ready tires are heavier than its clincher siblings, generally around 10 to 20% more. They can work with an inner tube, but that would defeat the purpose as you’re getting penalized on weight with a heavier tire and inner tube.
Examples of Tubeless Ready tires
Tubeless is the genuine tubeless setup. It’s also often referred to as Road Tubeless or UST. It all started when mountain bikes moved to tubeless tires, and the primary standard was UST.
UST refers to the interface between the tire and rim. UST works by having a defined interface between tire and rim (eg: bead shape, size, and rim hook). This interface forms an airtight seal and thus doesn’t require any sealant to work.
The disadvantage of this rim design is the added weight. Over time, the industry improvised a solution where a rim tape and sealant provide the airtight seal while reducing overall weight. This design is the Tubeless Ready we discussed earlier.
Examples of wheelsets without rim holes
While all these wheelsets are without rim holes, they will work with Tubeless Ready tires.
Genuine tubeless tires (which are very rare for road bikes nowadays) are heavier than their clincher and Tubeless Ready siblings because of the bead design and thicker and heavier sidewalls.
Should you go for Tubeless Ready or Tubeless tires?
There isn’t much choice here. All new tubeless tires on the market today are Tubeless Ready.
The important thing to check is your rim width, rim design (hooked vs hookless), and the tire compatibility chart. Some wheelset manufacturers such as Enve, Zipp, and Cadex publish a tire compatibility chart for their wheelsets.