Growing up you probably remember getting a flat tyre on your mountain bike and having to patch or replace the tube. It's safe to say the times have changed. Tubeless tyres now come standard on almost all high end mountain bikes and there is good reason for it. But, what is a tubeless MTB setup and why should you use one on your mountain bike?
What Is Tubeless
A tubeless mountain bike setups is as the name suggests, a tyre on your rim without a tube. Sounds simple but how does it work? You'll need a tubeless tyre (Maxxis tyres marked 'TR'), tubeless rim tape, tubeless valves and tubeless sealant. Installed correctly the tyre, valve and rim will have an air tight seal, perfect! So, what's the tubeless sealant for? The sealant creates a higher quality seal between all components. On top of this it also has the ability to seal punctures you get while riding! 'Joe's Super Sealant' can seal holes up to 6mm while the 'Joe's Podium Sealant' will seal up to 10mm.
With a tube when you hear that fatal 'hiss' of a flat tyre you know it's lights out, you're up for a tube change. With a tubeless setup you're still in the fight! Spin that wheel around as fast as you can, find the puncture and make sure it's the lowest point of your tyre. Just do whatever it takes to try and get that sealant to clog up the hole. Imagine getting a flat tyre at the bottom of pipeline and knowing your car is parked at the Gap Creek MTB car park. In these instances the ability to seal a small puncture is almost priceless!
It may only be a little weight but its in the most critical part of your bike to carry weight, the wheels. When your wheels get turning the weight of your tyre, rim and tube is magnified. When you next have your front wheel off hold your end caps and turn the wheel side to side. Now, spin the wheel and try turning it from side to side. The difference in resistance is huge! This same effect applies when you're speeding down the hill, a lighter setup will make for a more manoeuvrable mountain bike.
A tube is literally another layer of rubber in your tyre and that extra layer provides some added stability as expected. Wind the clock back a few years and DH riders often would complain of tubeless tyre feeling 'squirmish' in corners. With the advancements of MTB tyre technology, particularly in the side wall design, this is no longer the case. Although some difference may be detected nearly all professional riders are now heavily in favour of a tubeless setup.
In summary, we recommend that mountain bikers looking to get the most performance and puncture resistance utilise a tubeless setup. The team here at For The Riders all ride tubeless setups on their mountain bikes, this information is based on first hand experience! So if you're after the best tubeless setup for your mountain bike to take on our tough Australian MTB tracks talk to the team and we'll point you in the right direction.