Monday, December 16, 2013

Considering Going Tubeless

It's the off-season and I'm engaged in a minor reboot of my top shelf bike, the uber-comfortable and (I think) beautiful steel-framed Gunnar Roadie.  Generally that means seeking out ~one dollar per gram weight reductions, like the obvious choice of a $50 full carbon fork from Neuvation (saving 150g over the current fork) and the slightly harder choice of a $75 Thomson X2 stem (saving only 50g over my X4, but I'm pretty sure I can sell the X4 for at least $25 on eBay or find at least $25 worth of use for it on another bike).  It also means replacing the trusty Cane Creek S2 headset, which still works fine but is now seven years and maybe 12000 miles old and has earned its retirement.

One planned change, which is almost purely aesthetic, is to swap the Grand Bois 28c tires for Schwalbe Ultremo ZX.  But if I'm going that way, how about going a step further and converting to tubeless?  For the Gunnar use model -- lots of miles on road surfaces of varying quality in non-race conditions -- tubeless seems to be a natural fit.  Damon is one of the many who swear by it.

As of June 2013, Schwalbe offers those tires in a tubeless option.  A few other Schwalbe factory links:  (1), (2).  I'm having a hard time finding the 28cs in stock, but I've seen them advertised, and at least this website has them purports to be selling the Schwalbe One Tubeless in 28c, though the pull-down menu lists them as "not yet available."

What's kept me from going tubeless so far?  I'm not willing to buy new wheels just for the purpose, and I'm not willing to do so now either.  But the various work-arounds do not seem obvious -- there are rim strips, glues, valves, sealants; it quickly gets overwhelming.  So here's the question:  what parts/supplies are required for me to make this switch?  Can I just buy the "Stan's Notubes" kit (marketed for Cyclocross) and follow the directions?

There are a few generally helpful videos out there; here is an example.  Any further wisdom in the comments would be most appreciated!


Max said...

Follow-up: I e-mailed with the Schwalbe US distribution HQ in Seattle. 23cs are currently available but 25cs and 28cs are not available until spring.

Max said...

On a second read of the e-mail I received from Schwalbe US distribution, I noticed this legend:

"This email and any accompanying documents contain privileged and confidential information and are intended solely for the recipient. If you are not the intended recipient of this message, or if this message has been addressed to you in error, please immediately reply to the sender by reply e-mail or by phone and then delete this message, including any attachment. Any dissemination, distribution or other use of the contents of this message by anyone other than the intended recipient is strictly prohibited."

I'm accustomed to seeing these, annoying and useless though they be, in e-mails from my buddies in law practice. But in what world is a Sales Associate at Schwalbe USA entitled to claim privilege, and a strict prohibition on further distribution, in his e-mail in response to a cold-call inquiry? Methinks the many cries of "wolf" have by now done their damage!

sam said...

If you have any rims without spoke holes (e.g. Ksyriums), you can do a ghetto install with them.

I tried tubeless, and was sufficiently annoyed by it that I'm going to sit it out for at least a few more years.

For any ride of meaningful distance you've got to carry tubes and other flat-fixing stuff anyway, and dealing with the sealant on road is a real mess.

Better ride quality? I never noticed it, but people claim better ride quality to justify all manner of crap they pay money for, so I've no doubt that the proverbial princesses will claim they can feel the pea.

sam said...

By the way:

Max said...

That's not a good review. Losing the soft feel is a huge penalty.