Most MTB riders these days are shifting to the tubeless way of life. There’s no doubt that going tubeless has many advantages. But if you’re bike isn’t tubeless ready out of the box then you may think twice about going tubeless. Why? Because going tubeless the “right” way can be quite expensive.
To go tubeless you’ll need to get a tubeless ready rim, tire and get tire sealant. That can end up costing a bomb, unless…
Yes, there’s a ghetto way around this situation too. It’s a lot cheaper and fairly easy to do at home. What’s even better is that this hack should work on any MTB tire and rim as long as you do it right. So before we get into it let’s understand why you’d want to do something like this in the first place.
5 REASONS TO GO TUBELESS
- You can run lower tire pressures. You’ll get more traction by doing this.
- Tubeless tires are usually lighter by around 200-700 gms. That is a significant change because it is rotational mass.
- Tubeless tires get fewer punctures. The sealant repairs most trail punctures caused by thorns or nails.
- Tubeless tires give more compliance and a smoother ride.
- No chance of pinch flats as there is no tube.
DISCLAIMER: We cannot guarantee that this method to go tubeless will work for sure but it’s worth a try. The fit will depend on your rim and tire combo. Hope for the best because you can always go back to tubes if it doesn’t work for you.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- Alcohol swabs
- Clean cloth
- Gorilla tape/tubeless rim tape/tubeless kit
- Tubeless valves
- Tubeless tire sealant
STEP 1: RIM PREPARATION
What you need to do first is get your current wheel off the bike. Take the tire and tube off the rim – you want to now get the existing rim tape off the rim.
- Use a Flathead screwdriver to get under the rim tape and remove it.
- Circle the entire circumference of the rim with the screwdriver and remove the rim tape – it should be fairly easy to remove at this point.
STEP 2: CLEANING
- Now you must clean the rim channel that was previously occupied by the rim tape. It may not look too dirty but even the smallest amount of crud will affect the airtight seal.
- Use an alcohol swab or any cleaning agent that does not leave behind any residue. Clean the entire rim channel – remember this will ensure that the tubeless rim tape sticks properly.
STEP 3: TAPING
Once the rim cavity is clean you’re ready to start the taping process. Your choice of tape here can vary. You can opt for either tubeless rim tape, some sort of duct tape (Gorilla Tape) or a tubeless kit.
You’re better off getting tubeless rim tape because it’s purpose-made for this. Not all kinds of duct tape can handle this – get a hold of Gorilla tape if you can, if not, we’d recommend either a tubeless kit or a tubeless rim tape. The advantage with a tubeless kit is that you get the tubeless rim tape along with some tubeless valves.
NOTE: Ensure you get the right rim tape width for the width of your rim channel. If it’s wider then you can cut it down to size.
- Begin applying the tape at least one spoke hole away from the valve. Pull the tape with adequate tension as you press it firmly to the rim surface.
- Be sure to evenly place the tape. If the tape is poorly placed, the seal will not be airtight.
- Pass over the valve hole so the tape is overlapped and properly sealed. You can then cut it.
STEP 4: VALVE INSTALLATION
- Insert the valve through the tape and through the valve hole. Be sure the fitting is properly aligned inside the rim.
- Install the valve nut securely. Also, insert the O-ring if provided.
STEP 5: TIRE INSTALLATION
- Now that everything’s sealed you can begin installing the tire onto the rim. This procedure is the same as on any other rim and is just as easy.
- Before installing the tire fully, slip in about 60-90ml for a standard MTB tire and then pop the bead into the rim.
- With out rotating the rim start pumping in air – you should head a loud “pop” when the tire seats onto the rim.
Don’t worry if you don’t hear the pop immediately. It often takes time to bead in properly. Once the tire is seated properly you can go ahead and rotate the wheel to get the sealant flowing. This will also help you create a proper airtight seal.
That’s it! You’re now ready to ride. Take your first few rides easy and let the the system settle in.
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WHAT I LOVE ABOUT CYCLING
I’m an avid mountain biker and I like riding fast and flowy singletrack. As I keep riding, I continuously work on honing my riding skills. I like to ride whenever possible, especially with friends. I also like to influence folk into getting to ride more often.
Working on bicycles has also been a keen interest of mine for quite some time.
DISCIPLINE: Mountain biking and Road biking
CURRENT BIKE: Merida One Twenty 9.600 & Specialized Allez Elite DSW
DREAM BIKE: Santa Cruz 5010