Tubeless Test Ride UPDATE

Rolling tubeless

Made it past the 2-minute mark without an explosion on my second test ride with the AClass tubeless. If you recall, earlier in the week, the test ended in a catastrophic failure.

So what happened was, the screw punctured the tire – felt like I hit a rock – it then tore through the bead and BANG. Bead lost, seal lost, and that was it. Inside the rim, it’s all torn up too.

That was a very unusual circumstance. Mark V checked it out, mounted another tire, and I had an uneventful ride. Looking at photos of the Tubeless Incident, Guy Browne asked

For road, was there anything that made you think, “now that’s worth swapping wheelsets and tires for?” I’m just at a loss as to the justification for going tubeless on the road. Is there anything so remarkable about the experience that bears lobbying for such an animal? Road clinchers being what they are these days, I’m not sure I’m seeing a huge advantage. I do understand the tubular angle a bit more, especially for racing, if only for the fact that the tire will stay on the rim making flats rideable for a while, and sudden pressure loss more controllable. You don’t get that with tubeless.

Yes. On the low side of flat karma one wet Winter, I had an epiphany and that was, “no more tubes! (curse words),” and I haven’t ridden a wheelset with tubed tires since. It’s tubeless or tubular. Note this is even after evangelizing Hed’s C2 platform and agreeing with Guy that clinchers have never been better. A set of Ultremo DDs on Ardennes and you’re rolling well with good protection. Remarkable protection, as Pam learned one commute.


Still rideable

The reason is simple, I carry a can of sealant with me for the tubies and a C02 cartridge for tubeless. I’ve spent more time on the side of the road in the Seattle area fixing flats, than Tom Robbins has written sentences about the rain.

And it rained a sickness. And it rained a fear. And it rained an odor. And it rained a murder. And it rained dangers and pale eggs of the beast. Rain poured for days, unceasing. Flooding occurred. 

The path to tubeless started in 09, when Schloss rode the Fulcrums and liked ‘em. For Cross season in 10, Shimano shipped me a set of Ultegra Tubeless with Hutchinson Bulldogs and I raced them at Nationals. All that bad mojo you’ve heard about tubeless and Cross? Didn’t happen. I ran them just under 30 PSI in gravel, rocky, mud slop and had no issues, other than my body shutting down.

Byron gets pulled

A cold, just-got-pulled Suffer Face of yours truly

In 11, a Tarmac SL3 I tested had Dura-Ace Tubeless with Specialized’s tires. Wow. Have you test ridden those? I suggest you do. They’ll change your mind about ride quality expectations with tubeless.

I met the Hutchinson and AClass reps at PressCamp and brought home the AX-730 with me. For pre-built Taiwan wheels, these are on the upper-to-high end scale. Bearings feel smooth in the hand, they accelerate well, and don’t move around like a shopping cart underneath me. White? Well, there going to get covered in road grime soon enough. The Intensives are for training and ride like tough tires do. Toros and Piranhas are on test too for Cross and the upcoming mud.

Back to Guy’s “why?” Here’s why

We didn’t see a car for miles and then abruptly hit gravel. Pam’s tubeless tires, with a tread as soft as a pencil eraser for road racing, did puncture on the gravel and we used a can of Hutchinson Fast’Air.

No problems since, except for the “screw” this week. David’s long-term review of his Fulcrums?

A few k miles, work better than tubes, only have to refill the tires every few weeks, still holding strong.

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