The team is lucky enough to have the ultimate tire and wheel setup this year. We have lightweight carbon fiber wheels that we’re going to set up tubeless. It doesn’t get any better than that!
We’re going to be rolling on all new hoops from Token Cycling, the C38s. These wheels have it all. They weigh less than 1400 grams, they’re wide (26.3mm external width), they have CX-Ray spokes, and they can be set up tubeless. For tires, we’ve got a whole host of options from IRC, one of the pioneers of tubeless tire technology. Our race wheels will get set up with the rad 25c Formula Pro RBCC tires. In this blog post, I’m going to talk about my experience setting up tubeless tires on our wheels. But first, a quick explanation of what tubeless is and a plug for why tubeless clinchers are so cool.
Here’s the deal. Your bike probably has clinchers on it. This is a tire with a bead that seats into the rim with an inner tube that you pump up. It probably works just fine. If you’re old school or especially racey, you may have tubular tires. These are an all-in-one tube and tire that you have to glue onto your rim. These are cool and all…but they’re messy, expensive, and a pretty big pain to deal with when you flat.
A tubeless setup has a removable tire that on a special clincher rim that is designed with a center channel so the tire locks on to the rim and makes an airtight seal. Most people add some tire sealant to reinforce the rim and tire seal and plug up any small punctures. These wheels are basically flat proof, allow you to run lower pressure safely, and have lower rolling resistance. Tubeless clincher tires are the jam!
Here’s what I used to set up the tubeless wheels.
1) Token C38 tubeless compatible wheels
2) IRC Formula Pro RBCC 25c
3) Stan’s 19mm rim tape
4) Stan’s valves with a removable core
5) Stan’s latex sealant
6) Tire lever
7) Floor pump
Important note: only set up tubeless on tubeless compatible rims. Tubeless compatible rims have a raised bump alongside either side of the center channel of the rim. This bump is necessary to push the bead snuggly against the edge of the rim. Without this, you could lose pressure suddenly while riding.
Step 1: Take off the rim strip that came with your wheels. I use a thin little screw driver to get under it at the valve and pull it right off. This rim strip is porous and won’t hold the sealant.
Step 2: Add a layer, or multiple layers, of Stan’s rim tape to the center channel of the rim. This can sometimes be a trial and error experiment to get the right amount. You want to add enough rim tape to build up the center channel so the tire fits on tight. When I say tight, I mean that you definitely need a tire lever to get the tire on. If you can get the tire on with your bare hands, you need to add more tape. When you install the tape, start 2 or 3 inches before the valve hole, go all around the rim, and go past the valve hole another 2-3 inches to make one complete layer. For our team setup, I only had to do this once because the fit was tight enough right away.
Step 3: Use little punch (like the tip of a pen) to cut through the tape. Push your tubeless ready valve through the tape, and make sure you screw on the nut on the other side of the rim to keep it securely on. Yes, I know that on a clincher you have always thrown away that little nut. Don’t do that. You need it on there for a tubeless setup.
Step 4: Mount up one side of the tire. It’s going to be snug, and you’re most definitely going to need to use a heavy-duty tire lever. A Pedros tire lever is good and solid. Even better are the super-duper IRC tubeless specific tire levers. Those things are worth their weight in gold. Make sure you get the bead of the tire into the center channel of the rim to give yourself a little more space to work with. Then take a deep breath, gather your strength, and mount up the other side of the tire.
Step 5: Once the tire is on, you can pump up your tire. When you get to about 80 psi and above, you’ll start to hear a nice and satisfying pop occasionally when you’re pumping. This is good! What you’re hearing is the bead popping securely into a snug fit with the rim. We call this getting the bead “seated”. I was able to pump it up with a floor pump with our particular setup. Sometimes you need to use an air compressor to get a big burst of air to get everything seated.
Step 6: Let out all the air in the tire, and then unscrew the valve core. Use the Stan’s injector, or the little bottles of Stans, to put 60mL of Stan’s latext sealant into the tire. Replace the valve core, pump up the tire, and you’re all done!