Tubes or Tubeless Mountain Bike TiresGone are the days of 1.8 tires filled up with 50 psi just hoping that you do not pinch flat your tubes and have to tear the tight tires off the v-brake rims. With wider and lighter tires, wider and lighter rims and a wide variety of different options for mountain bikers, you can enjoy the benefits of more rubber in more ways than ever.

Running a set of tubeless tires used to mean heavy rims and heavy tires, but with systems like the rim and sealant, many mountain bikers in the lighter categories are finding weight benefits as well as on trail ride benefits of ditching the tubes in favor of tubeless systems. Now…anyone from sprint xc racer to full on DH can get more traction and better rolling resistance with tubeless systems. However, this does come at a price as installation and removal can prove to be a pain with everyone’s favorite white goo.

With all of the options on the market today…are you running tubes or tubeless?

[poll id=”27″]

Hit up the comments section below and let us know why.



ch May 12, 2011 - 3:34 pm

I just ordered tubeless tires by mistake…will they run ok with tubes in them on non ust rims?

hoghopper May 9, 2011 - 2:00 pm

After a year and a half with standard Continental tires converted to tubeless (20″ bmx tubes as a rim strip, Stan’s goop) I went back to tubed set-up because I didn’t have any tubeless supplies when I flatted by tearing out a sidewall on a large rock. I’ve had 6 flats in the three weeks since gong back to tubes — 5 more than in the year and a half I rode tubeless!

Den September 10, 2010 - 9:21 am

Have been asked time and again why my wheels are never tubeless. But for my weight at ~165 and running big tires, I do get away from having too many flats despite running what some would consider ridiculously low pressure.

Rides every weekend and there is less than 10 flats in the last 3 years running 2.35-2.5 tires at anywhere from 16.5-30 psi. Most time its in the low 20 psi range. Have seen friends on tubeless tearing away at the tire cos the holes don’t seal, leaky rubbers etc.

If u get a good whack on the rims and they dun seal up nicely–u still need to be carrying a spare tube. With tubed wheels I can get away with carrying just a patch on lazy days.

Justind August 26, 2010 - 9:33 pm

Another vote for tubeless. I now run UST rims and tires but have run a combination of Strips, UST & Non-UST tires since I did my first conversion. Find that the UST tires and rims work very well and while I do have a compressor, I can now just swap tires over with nothing more than my track pump.

Flats are pretty much a thing of the past (had one since running tubeless and that was just too large to seal) and the ride is so much more tuneable. So happy with the tubless system that I converted my roadie too (initially with Stans tape, now with tubeless rims) which sees many of the same benefits (no flats the biggest one)

brassy August 26, 2010 - 9:19 pm

I ran tubeless a few years ago and had nothing but issue after issue after issue. Now ive gone back to the old school style and had a hell of a lot less problems, and for some strange reason im spending less now … so work that one out.

RURC August 26, 2010 - 5:08 pm

There is no place for those of us crazy enough to run tubes in our tubeless tires.

SS August 25, 2010 - 4:10 pm

Robb – what would be interesting to know is out of those running tubeless how many are using UST tires and how many are using a Standard/normal tire or a Tubeless-ready tire.

Personally I find UST tires useless. They are more costly, heavy(ier), less compliant due to the thick sidewall, harder to mount and still require the use of some sort of sealant for puncture protection.

tinsley August 24, 2010 - 7:28 pm

Rob’s ringing endorsement or 72 engagement-points, and curiosity, finally made me try Chris King hubs with Stan’s rims. i was skeptical, but the grip and control are way better! Gonna go tubeless with my bombproof Neuvation MTB wheels next

Thelonius August 24, 2010 - 3:48 pm

I am currently running tubeless. I’m sure there are benefits, but honestly I run them because the bike came set up that way. I have a few sets of UST tires and when I eventually switch them out I’ll give it the old college try, call Tweety, or just give up and put in tubes. It’s all about the laziness.

Arnie August 24, 2010 - 2:52 pm

I started with tubes, read al the hype and advantages of tubeless, so I tried them – for about a month – then switched back. I really didn’t want to deal with all the sealant business, so I went with UST rims and tires. I had varying degress of success pumping up the tires manually and getting them to seat/seal properly. Once I was able to get them pumped up, I was never confident that I had them installed correctly, and found myself feeling anxious while out on the trails, wondering if they would pop out of the rim on a drop, and stressing about leaks from improper seals. After several attempts and different tires, I was finally feeling like I had it dialed it over several rides. However, when I returned from a 2 week vacation (sans bike) and checked on the bike, both tires were flat…that was it – I reinstalled my trusty tubes and am feeling good again.

The weight advantage of tubeless is meaningless to me. I like the idea of improved rolling resistance and traction, but as someone posted, those differences are marginal. In the end, I just went back to what I trust and can ride with confidence – with a lot less hassle.

greg August 24, 2010 - 12:55 pm

tubes in all our bikes. until there is no amonia in sealant, and a sealant that gets better reviews sans amonia based i will be running tubes. i see no reason to subject my sweet crank brothers cobalts to any more abuse, yes stans works, and works well i just am not a fan of the rim pitting. ust tires are heavy, i am able to run tirew and tubes and be ahead of the weight game.

SS August 25, 2010 - 4:15 pm

The Caffelatex is amonia free. I haven’t tried it so I can’t say how well it works.

Get on with it Robb – how about a caffelatex test!!

Neilbarstow August 24, 2010 - 12:46 pm

Pleased to see tubeless seems to be running ahead.

Why do I like it?

When run tubeless, tyres are more flexible and roll better.
(I run standard or “tubeless ready” rather than UST).
e.g. Stan’s “the Crow” tyres are amazing on hardpack and way smooth over grass, gravel etc. very compliant, run all the way down to 18 pr 20psi.

Running tyres at lower pressures helps grip and tubeless allows lower pressures.

Of course you may also save weight. I always run sealant, almost always rim-strips.

Almost zero po punctures has to be an attractive proposition, although I do still always carry a spare tube in case of big cuts.

It’s amazing at the end of the season when removing a tyre that’s been run with Stan’s sealant, just how many thorns etc. there might be in there, none of which ever caused significant air loss. Pre tubeless i once had 7 punctures in a few miles as there are a lot of thorns around here at times.

I prefer Stan’s rim-strips and standard tyres, UST tyres are pretty bulky and can feel stiff.
A rim-strip and sealant system makes the system less likely to “burp” out air at low pressures.

Also it’s much easier after a big puncture or tear to remove the rimstrip and add a tube. It can be a bear to get a UST tyre (or even a standard tyre on a UST rim if it’s tight) to re-seat as the rim has a “bump” the tyre has to go over to seat fully so it runs true. I’ve sat at the trailside too long trying to avoid the ride home with a “clown (wobbly) wheel” due to an unseated tyre.

Downside, you might need a compressor, but it’s a pretty useful thing to have – great also for blowing out contaminants when cleaning parts.

Hope this helps those thinking about making the change.

Nigel snape August 23, 2010 - 8:13 pm

I’ve been running tubless tyres on two bikes for over three years.I ride approx 60 miles a week in the peak district and lake district. I’m lucky enough to live on the edge of the best riding in the uk.I have not had one puncture in three years,while my riding buddys ,who ride tubes, have had countless. They are slowly making the switch to tubless, when money allows. Point Made !?

tenbsmith August 23, 2010 - 5:46 pm

Everything I read says tubeless is better–and I believe it to a degree. As with most things in cycling, I believe any advantages are marginal. Though a marginal advantage can make a big difference when you race.

After decades of running tubes I can change ’em quick and I’ve got my tire pressure dialed in. I use light tires and tubes, so this reduces the weight advantage of tubeless. Not a lot of thorns or puncture flats on the trails I ride. Maybe someday I’ll try tubeless, but for now I’m sticking with the tired and true tubes.

Krista Park August 23, 2010 - 4:52 pm

I have not made a messy “tubeless repair” since I started carrying Genuine Innovations plugs, just plug and go. I change my tires out weekly depending on conditions and races and since I run NoTubes wheels (26″ Podiums and 29’er Race) there is no mess/effort/CO2/air compressor required, I can easily pump them up with one hand. The “tube-type” tire bead fits so well to the rim that it just slides up as you add air till it is fully seated.
To swap tires I pull the old tire off, pour the solution into a container, wipe down the inside of the old tire, install the new one, sloshing the solution around in the tire before adding air. Sometimes I drip a little solution in the transfer, but not usually.

Epringle August 23, 2010 - 3:26 pm

have been running tubeless for the last year. They are great when they are working, but a complete PITA when you actually do have to make a repair.

Anonymous August 23, 2010 - 2:51 pm

Follow up poll: Are you running UST with your tubeless system, or regular tires?

Philip August 23, 2010 - 1:07 pm

I have not yet changed to the tubeless on my new bike but will be shortly. Ran tubeless on my old bike forever using ghetto style with the 20 inch tubes. Now going with the gorilla tape method on the new one when I get to it.

Kevin Collings August 23, 2010 - 1:07 pm

I run tubeless; Iike you Rob, I change out my tires quite a bit (one bike and wheelset for both gravel and XC race), but I’ve gotten used to it :). The benefits of fewer pinch flats, more confidence over rough terrain, and less weight (depending on the tire) were noticed and appreciated from day one.

Fiona August 23, 2010 - 12:23 pm

My cycling improved tremendously which I converted to tubeless especially climbing. I go for slightly heavier tires because of our conditions which are hard on tires. Did a 2300km mtb race and plugged my tire once despite riding through every single type of terrain possible. I could never have carried enough tubes and it would have been incredibly expensive. I’m still on the same tires.

Michael September 9, 2010 - 10:31 pm

WOW Fiona! I did a search and I think you must be referring to the Freedom Challenge ( What tyres did you use? How many days did you take to complete the race?

Robb Sutton August 23, 2010 - 12:01 pm

I actually run tubes in my tires because of how frequently I change tires out. I really like the added benefits of tubeless, so if they stayed on longer…I’d be running tubeless on my personal rigs

Flynlefty August 23, 2010 - 1:08 pm

I’ve been tubeless with non UST tires for over 5 years now and I would NEVER go back. The ride quality alone makes it a no brainer IMHO. Much like the MB Action magazine quick review, I have had no luck getting the foamy sealant to actually seal even the smallest cactus needle hole in my tires. Stan’s sealant is the best I’ve used to date. The only time I run a tube is when I put a gash in the sidewall with an AZ rock and need to get home, which tubes are unable to survive either.

SS August 23, 2010 - 2:23 pm

Just use the little red scoop that comes with the Stan’s goo and scoop out any excess when you are changing tires. I change mine around quite frequently (on 2 different bikes) and scoop the sealant out of one tire and add it to the next with a little new from the bottle. Once the removed tire dries out you can peel away the dried up sealant very easily if you want to.

Robb Sutton August 23, 2010 - 11:59 am

I actually run tubes in my tires because of how frequently I change tires out. I really like the added benefits of tubeless, so if they stayed on longer…I’d be running tubeless on my personal rigs.


Leave a Comment

Related Posts