Saturday, March 04, 2006

Ghetto tubeless

I decided to try out the Ghetto Tubeless System. So last night I brought my bike home (I have been keeping it at work lately) and installed the tubeless system.

I learned a few things: It is easier to put a little air in the 20" tube and cutting it down the middle before putting it on the rim. If you do it the way the instructions say you end up having to fiddle around with the tube to keep it centered while cutting it.

The Stan's no tubes system says to enlarge the valve stem hole. I didn't want to damage my rims so I didn't do this to start with. However when I was trying to get the bead to seal it just would not do it even when using an air tank to get a large volume of air. The valve stem kept the tube from going into the rim far enough to get a good seal.

It is a lot easier to get the bead to seal if you slosh the sealant around in the tire first. I couldn't get the bead to seal just using soapy water. However when I put the sealant in and sloshed it around so that it got all around the bead it sealed up quite easily. In fact it went so well on the first tire that I decided to try and do it with a hand pump on the second tire. I couldn't get that to work but it did seal up nicely when using the air tank.

If you can find a 20" presta valve tube it would work better. I used tubes bought from Walmart. With a presta valve I could have put the little nut on the valve to hold it in place while trying to fill the tire. Of course since most high volume compressors don't work with presta valves you would need one of those adaptors. With out the presta tube I found I needed a pair of pliers I could use to hold the valve out while inflating with the air tank in order to keep from pushing the valve into the tire and messing up the bead seal.

I think new tires would have been easier. I used the old tires that were already on my bike. They don't have more than a month of riding season wear left in them. But I wanted to try it out on my old tires before messing up some new tires. Anyway my old tires are a bit stretched out and therefore a bit loose on the rim which made getting the seal a bit difficult. I think new tires would work a bit better here.

Old tires have a lot of microscopic holes in the side walls. After sealing up the bead on my front tire I sloshed the sealant around in the tire and in a few seconds everything was sealed up and it kept its pressure. However the rear tire after getting the bead sealed had latex foaming out all over the side walls. Looking at a new Smoke (the rear tire I'm using) it seems that it would work a bit better, but the used tire has a lot of miniature holes in the sidewall. I did this in the middle of the night and couldn't really go out and ride right after installing. The next morning the front tire still had the 50lbs of air in it that I had left it with the night before. The rear tire basically had no pressure. So I put more air in sloshed the sealant around, observed more bubbles coming out the side walls and left it to do my morning chores. When I got back to the bike the rear tire was flat again. I pumped it up again and this time it seems to be holding air. I took it for a ride (the numbers above) around the back yard to get it broken in. Looks like it is holding air fine now.

So far it looks like I am going to like this. After a while I will have to try bunny hopping up over a curb and see how it works. Every time I have tried this with tubes, I snake bite the tubes. I always land hard on the edge of the curb with the back tire. Even with full suspension and high pressure I still snake bite the tubes. If this ghetto tubeless system can pass that test I will figure it is a success. However there are no curbs around my house and I don't think I will push it much while riding with my buddies because I don't want to be holding everyone up while I convert back to tubes.

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