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I have a Trek commuter bike (8.4 DS). I bike 5.5 miles to work, and up to 15+ miles home. I’m considering the switch to tubeless. Most of my commute (all but 1.5 miles) is on a well-maintained concrete trail. For that 1.5 miles, I’m in gutters or hugging them on residential and downtown streets. I’ve had no flats in the past year of commuting under those or similar circumstances. But I’ve read and heard that I may get better performance from tubeless tires. I’ve also heard the opposite. My Armadillo (Kevlar™) tires have probably seen around 2000 miles over the past 6 months, and my back tire is going bald (under my weight and the additional 5-to-15 lb. load of my pannier). With that in mind, …

  • Will I recognize any worthwhile performance advantage from switching?
  • Do tubeless tires tend to go bald any faster or slower than Kevlar tires?
  • Could I expect more or less flats with tubeless than with my Kevlar tires?

P.S. In case weather is a consideration, we have little enough snow and rain here in Topeka, Kansas, that I am not worried about weather-related performance issues.

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Bald-ness isn't a problem on tires used on roads. In fact, it's favorable. I'd replace the tire once I start getting flats (or a bit before), or seeing canvas.

The primary advantage of tubeless would let you run lower pressures (since you can't pinch flat a tube if it isn't there) which is useful for running big tires while mountain biking for more grip and comfort, but it won't really make a difference for commuting use (smaller tires at higher pressure).

The best thing you can do is have a properly inflated tire and buy a durable tire (e.g. the Schwalbe Marathon line) -- low inflation can lead to rim damage and increased wear, while overly high inflation can also lead to damage, less comfort and loss of control. A properly inflated tire shouldn't see many flats in either case (road debris will be the primary cause , which sealant may protect against in the case of a tubeless tire).

I'd stick with a tubed tire; tubes are relatively cheap and are easy to replace on the side of the road with slightly less mess than inserting a tube in a tubeless system. Note that you'll likely be paying a bit of money to go tubeless overall (e.g. with the Bontrager TLR kits).

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    Looks like you just saved me about $50. Thank you, @Batman. (That was fun to say.) – David Eldridge Jul 21 '16 at 19:48
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    Good advise, i run tubeless on my MTB and enjoy the flexibility it offers for grip and lower pressures, but my "road" bike i run durable tires and regular tubes, which i would recommend for commuting, it saves you money and like Batman said, they are much easier to repair/deal with on the side of the road. – Nate W Jul 21 '16 at 20:48
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    That being said, some tires are easier to deal with than others -- belted tires are more flat resistant due to debris, but are often harder to fit. – Batman Jul 21 '16 at 21:24
  • I'm trying tubeless on my cargo bike, so I can run lower pressures on the back. I don't think it makes much difference to me. On the mountain bike, however, I wouldn't use anything else. Anecdotally, pressure loss is higher with my tubeless setups, but that makes me check them more often! – Byron Ross Jul 26 '16 at 23:15
  • The $50 you save on a tubeless conversion can go to better tyres... – Byron Ross Jul 26 '16 at 23:17
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I would run tubeless. If you're purchasing $35 tires or more to begin with + tubes then spend an extra $15 for tubeless and its a wash. I rarely flat running gatorskins but recently switched to 38c tubeless gravelkings.

I have run a nail straight into my tubeless tire, and after about 5 miles it felt squishy so I stopped, pulled it out, and spun the wheel a bit to get the sealant in the hole, then pumped tire back up and went on my way. Pumping a tire to 45psi tubeless is much easier and quicker than going to 80psi for say, 28c tire and getting the tire off and on the rim in the middle of a commute.

Yeah its messy if you can't get it to seal back up and have to put a tube in. However, when its 40 degF and dark and you have gloves on and your glasses are fogging up...it is much easier to just pull whatever out of your tire, spin it and be on your way. Can even run the tire mostly flat and still get to your destination. I've run my tires down to 25psi...gets squishy and is risky but I've never had a time where I'm burping them.

Need an air compressor to get them on but its not rocket science.

  • How long does the sealant last? When I tried it last (with Stan's NoTubes sealant) it formed hard, rubbery balls in the tire within 6 months and after a year or so no liquid was left. This is only okay for people who go through a couple of tires per year. – Michael Mar 31 '18 at 9:43
  • @Michael the sealant lasts about half a year. Simply to it up or clean out the tire and fill it up again. One doesn't need to buy a new tire when the sealant is done for. – gschenk Mar 31 '18 at 21:20

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