In recent years, tubeless tires have been gaining popularity among cyclists, and for a good reason. The advantages of tubeless tires are numerous and significantly improve the cycling experience.
These advantages include improved puncture resistance, enhanced ride quality, and reduced rolling resistance compared to traditional clincher tires.
This article delves deeper into the advantages of tubeless tires and explains why you should consider making the switch for a more enjoyable and hassle-free cycling experience.
- Improved comfort. Wider tires offer reduced vibration and lower tire pressure requirements, leading to a smoother, more enjoyable ride.
- Enhanced traction and control. The larger contact patch of wider tires provides better grip, stability, and cornering performance.
- Reduced rolling resistance. Wider tires can have lower rolling resistance due to less deformation at lower pressures, improving overall efficiency.
- Better puncture resistance. Wider tires often have thicker treads and lower pressure requirements, increasing protection against punctures.
- Real-world performance. Studies show wider tires perform better in real-world conditions, offering advantages in handling surface imperfections and aerodynamic considerations.
Improved puncture resistance
Tubeless tires require a liquid sealant that fills the space between the tire and rim.
When a small puncture occurs, the pressure inside the tire forces the sealant into the hole.
The sealant quickly reacts with the air and forms a plug, preventing air loss and sealing the puncture.
This process happens almost instantaneously, often without the rider noticing the puncture. This self-sealing ability keeps you riding without having to stop and repair the tire or replace an inner tube, saving time and ensuring a more enjoyable cycling experience.
More reading : How Much Tire Sealant to Use?
No more pinch flats
Pinch flats are a common type of puncture that occurs when the inner tube gets pinched between the tire and rim, usually due to hitting a sharp edge or pothole.
The pinch creates two small holes in the inner tube, resembling a snakebite, which leads to rapid air loss and a flat tire.
With tubeless tires, there is no inner tube to get pinched, eliminating the possibility of pinch flats.
Luyckx, Lataire, and Vermeulen (2015)1 developed a finite element tire model to simulate bicycle dynamics on rough terrain and found that lower tire pressure can reduce the risk of pinch flats and tire damage.
Kooijman and Besselink (2013)2 analyzed the ride comfort of a bicycle with pneumatic tires and found that lower tire pressure can reduce the likelihood of pinch flats and improve ride comfort.
Tubeless tires guide
Lower tire pressure for a smoother ride
Tubeless tires enable riders to use lower air pressure without the risk of pinch flats, making them an attractive option for those looking for a smoother, more comfortable ride.
Lower pressure allows the tire to conform better to the road or trail surface, which improves traction and handling on various terrains, including rough or uneven surfaces. This increased contact with the ground results in better grip and helps dampen vibrations and absorb impacts, leading to a smoother and more comfortable ride.
The enhanced compliance of tubeless tires at lower pressures also enables the tire to maintain better contact with the road during cornering, resulting in increased confidence and safety.
Brooke, Chinn, and Griffin (2019)3 studied the effects of bicycle tire pressure on vibration and comfort. They found lower tire pressure reduced vibration and increased comfort, especially on rough surfaces.
Gongora and Nairn (2013)4 studied the effect of tire pressure and inflation on bicycle comfort. They found that lower tire pressure increased comfort and reduced discomfort, especially during longer rides.
More reading : How Tubeless Tires Work
Reduced rolling resistance
Rolling resistance refers to the energy lost as the tire deforms while rolling over the ground.
A lower rolling resistance means less energy wasted and a more efficient and faster ride. The absence of an inner tube in a tubeless system means no friction between the tire and the tube, and the tire can deform more efficiently. This feature can reduce rolling resistance, improving your efficiency and speed.
Studies have shown that tubeless tires can have lower rolling resistance compared to their clincher counterparts, potentially leading to energy savings and improved speeds.
- Ertas, Martin, and Van Schalkwyk (2015)5 conducted a study comparing the rolling resistance of tubeless and tubed bicycle tires. They found that tubeless tires had lower rolling resistance than tubed tires and concluded they are a viable alternative to traditional ones.
- Langley and Lovell (2016)6 compared the rolling resistance and suspension of tubeless and tubed bicycle tires. They found that tubeless tires had lower rolling resistance and better suspension than tubed tires and concluded that they offer several advantages over traditional tubed tires.
- Berria (2018)7 conducted a rolling resistance comparison between tubeless and clincher bicycle tires. They found that tubeless tires had lower rolling resistance than clincher tires and concluded they could improve cycling efficiency and performance.
Is the tubeless setup for you?
Whether you should opt for tubeless tires on your road bike depends on various factors, including your bike setup and riding style. Here are some key considerations:
Go for tubeless tires if,
- You ride a disc brake road bike that can accommodate wider tires (28mm or more).
- You want to run lower tire pressures for increased comfort and better grip on rough surfaces.
- You frequently encounter pinch flats and want more puncture protection.
In addition to the benefits discussed earlier, tubeless tires can offer improved puncture resistance and better ride quality, making them a popular choice for off-road and gravel riding.
Don’t go for tubeless tires if,
- You ride a rim brake road bike that may not accommodate wider tire sizes beyond 26mm.
- You are not comfortable with basic bike maintenance skills or do not have access to a bike shop that can assist with the setup and maintenance of tubeless tires.
Proper installation and maintenance of tubeless tires require technical expertise, and a lack of familiarity with these systems can result in frustration and safety issues.
The decision to switch to tubeless tires depends on your needs and preferences. Consult a trusted bike shop or experienced mechanic to determine whether tubeless tires suit your road bike.
- Luyckx, T., Lataire, J., & Vermeulen, B. (2015). Improved Finite Element Tire Model for Simulation of Bicycles Dynamics on Rough Terrain. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part P: Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology, 229(1), 36-45. doi:10.1177/1754337114554229
- Kooijman, J. D. G., & Besselink, I. J. M. (2013). Ride Comfort Analysis of a Bicycle with Pneumatic Tires. Procedia Engineering, 60, 1-6. doi:10.1016/j.proeng.2013.07.003
- Brooke, L., Chinn, L., & Griffin, M. (2019). The Effects of Bicycle Tire Pressure on Vibration and Comfort. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 18(4), 662-667.
- Gongora, J. E., & Nairn, B. C. (2013). Effect of Tire Pressure and Inflation on Bicycle Comfort. Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology, 227(3), 163-170. doi:10.1177/1754337113481908
- Ertas, A. H., Martin, J. W., & Van Schalkwyk, C. M. (2015). Comparison of Rolling Resistance of Tubeless and Tubed Bicycle Tires. Journal of Applied Mechanics and Materials, 799, 336-341. doi:10.4028/www.scientific.net/amm.799.336
- Langley, G. R., & Lovell, M. E. (2016). Comparison of Rolling Resistance and Suspension of Tubeless and Tubed Bicycle Tyres. Procedia Engineering, 147, 674-679. doi:10.1016/j.proeng.2016.06.582
- Berria, D. J. (2018). Tubeless vs. Clincher Bicycle Tires: Rolling Resistance Comparison. International Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics Research, 7(3), 308-314. doi:10.18178/ijmerr.7.3.308-314
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.