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I am about to replace the worn tires of my Cube Acid 29". My question is what to choose among:

  1. tubeless tires with sealant liquid, or
  2. normal tires, with inner tubes with sealant liquid?

My most important factors are:

  1. puncture proof, and
  2. total kilometers and time resistance of the tires.

Let's put aside all other factors (grip, cost, ease of use, rolling ability etc), as my style of bicycling is low rhythm, no trails, but on unpaved roads with stones, thorns, roots, everything you face in a forest road.

3

In your case I would go with tubes. The Tubeless evolution comes from the advantages you list and some disadvantages.

The only one that is of interest to you is puncture resistance. By putting slime in tubes, you gain that without most of the the disadvantages of tubeless.

As the slime dries is needs topping up, if using tubes and neglecting this maintenance won't induce a leak as can happen with tubeless.

You will need to source tubes with removable cores in there valve. This not only allows you to insert the slime (without puncturing the tube), it allows you remove the vales when it gets gummed up by slime for cleaning or replacement.

To be clear, the disadvantages of tubeless over slime filled tubes are small - initial seating of the tire and burping. You probably won't have a problem with burping as you won't be running low pressures over rough ground, so really once the tires are mounted, there is not all that much difference in it.

1

In your case I would go with tubeless.

If sealant is used in tubes, it must plug two holes every time there is a puncture. These holes can move relative to each other, making it harder to get a good seal. The tube is much harder to plug with sealant, and if not perfectly sealed, air can also potentially escape from around the valve stem (or other whole in the rim if no rim tape is used). Furthermore, tubes can pinch flat if run at too low pressures or if you hit a sharp bump. Sealant cannot seal pinch flats easily as they occur on the part of the tube closest to the rim while the centrifugal motion makes the sealant end up on the tire side.

From my personal experience, going tubeless has been great. I've yet to have a flat on my mountain bike since I set it up tubeless despite running much lower pressures. I like it so much that I plan to set up my road bike up tubeless soon.

  • 1
    Why does the sealant have to plug two holes with a puncture? There's no need to plug the hole in the tyre for a small puncture like a thorn – Chris H Sep 19 '17 at 9:03
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The fact that there are two opposite answers, each with two upvotes shows that there is no clearcut best answer to this question.

You need to think about how and where you ride, and pick the one with the advantages that match your needs.

Also consider how self-reliant you need or want to be - no more than 10 minutes walk from transport, or multi-day rides in the back country should have bearing on what you choose.

Any level of self sufficiency requires you to carry spare tube(s) and tools to change a flat, and have the mechanical aptitude to do so alone.

Price comes into it too - if you need new rims to go tubeless then I wouldn't contemplate at all.

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