The 5 Common Tubeless Tire Mistakes Among Cyclists

Founder, Mr. Mamil

Recently, tubeless tires have become increasingly popular among cyclists due to their numerous advantages, such as the reduced risk of pinch flats, improved traction, and the ability to run at lower tire pressures.

However, transitioning to and maintaining tubeless setups can be a learning curve for many riders. I’ll discuss the top five tubeless tire mistakes that cyclists often make.

Mistake 1 – Insufficient tire sealant

Insufficient tire sealant can lead to poor sealing performance, resulting in slow leaks or an increased likelihood of flats. Additionally, many cyclists sometimes neglect to pay more attention to monitoring the state of the sealant, allowing it to dry out or become less effective over time.

Here’s what you can do.

  • Use the recommended amount of sealant for your specific tire size and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the product you’re using. Sealant requirements can vary based on tire volume and riding conditions.
  • Check the sealant levels periodically, as the sealant can dry out or become less effective over time. Inspect the sealant through the valve hole or remove the tire from the rim.
  • Top off or replace the sealant as needed, typically every 2 to 6 months, depending on the brand and your riding conditions. Keep in mind that sealant lifespan can be affected by factors such as temperature and humidity.

Mistake 2 – Incompatible tires and rims

Using non-tubeless tires on tubeless-ready rims or vice versa can lead to improper sealing and issues such as burping (air escaping from the tire’s bead) or blowouts. 

The bead of a non-tubeless tire is not designed to create a tight seal against a tubeless rim, and a tubeless tire may not seat correctly on a non-tubeless rim.

Here’s what you can do.

  • Use tubeless-specific tires with tubeless-ready rims. This ensures that both components are designed for tubeless use and adhere to established tubeless standards.
  • Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for compatibility between your tires and rims. Look for established tubeless standards such as UST (Universal System Tubeless) or TCS (Tubeless Compatible System).
  • Consult your local bike shop for guidance. They can help confirm whether your components suit a tubeless setup and provide recommendations if needed.

Mistake 3 – Improper tire installation

Incorrectly mounting tubeless tires can result in a variety of problems. 

For example, if the tire bead is not properly seated in the rim channel, it can cause air leaks or make it difficult to inflate the tire. Additionally, not cleaning the rim surface before installation can lead to sealing issues.

Here’s what you can do.

  • Clean the rim surface thoroughly, removing any debris or old sealant residue.
  • Apply a thin layer of tubeless rim tape, ensuring it’s centered and covers the spoke holes completely.
  • Ensure that the tire bead is properly seated in the rim channel. Use tire levers if necessary to help with installation, but be careful not to damage the bead or rim tape.
  • Lubricate the tire bead with soapy water or a dedicated tire mounting lubricant. This will help the tire bead slide into place more easily.
  • Use a dedicated tubeless tire inflator or compressor with a high-volume setting to quickly inflate the tire and achieve an initial seal.

Mistake 4 – Neglecting to inspect tires for damage

Failing to regularly inspect tubeless tires for cuts, punctures, or excessive wear can lead to unexpected flats or tire failures while riding. Damaged tires can also compromise the integrity of the seal, leading to air leaks.

Here’s what you can do.

  • Routinely examine your tubeless tires for any signs of damage, such as cuts, punctures, or excessive wear on the sidewalls and tread.
  • Consider replacing the tire if you find any significant cuts or punctures. Sometimes, you can use a tubeless tire plug to repair small punctures. However, monitor the repair closely to ensure it holds up over time.
  • Keep an eye on tread wear, as a worn-out tire will offer reduced traction and may be more susceptible to punctures.

Mistake 5 – Overlooking proper tire pressure

Running tubeless tires at incorrect pressures can compromise performance, leading to a harsher ride, reduced traction, or even tire damage. 

Overinflation can cause a harsh ride and reduce traction, while underinflation can increase the risk of rim damage, tire burping, or pinch flats.

Here’s what you can do.

  • Always maintain the recommended tire pressure range specified by the tire manufacturer. This range can vary based on rider weight, tire volume, and riding conditions.
  • Regularly check your tire pressure before rides using a reliable gauge. Tubeless tires allow for a slightly lower pressure than traditional clincher tires, providing better traction and a more comfortable ride. However, too low pressure can increase the risk of rim damage or tire burping.
  • Adjust tire pressure as necessary based on your riding conditions, preferences, and any changes in weather or altitude. This may require experimentation to find the ideal setup and riding style.
Alex Lee at Mr.Mamil

Alex Lee is the founder and editor-at-large of Mr. Mamil. Coming from a professional engineering background, he breaks down technical cycling nuances into an easy-to-understand and digestible format here.

He has been riding road bikes actively for the past 12 years and started racing competitively in the senior category during the summer recently.