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Why or why wouldn't you go tubeless on a 20" BMX or DJ bike?

Got a lot of pinch flats recently and was look for a better solution than having to buy a tube every day/

I was considering doing the gorilla tape method on my 20" single wall BMX... is this a bad idea?

From my research, I've found:

Tubeless Cons

  • Sidewall takes a beating in BMX / DJ causing the tires to burp (more dangerous, could cause crash)

  • Sometimes you want higher tire pressure (BMX street riding) and tubeless is not good for high pressures

Tubeless Pros

  • Lighter (by a little)

  • Easier flat maintenance

  • Better against thorns than a tube

  • Is able to run lower tire pressure for more grip

  • Cheaper in the long run (tubes are ~$10 a pop)

I mostly dirt jump with my BMX, so I see more pros than cons. Any experience or thoughts?

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    Not easier flat maintenance. You go flat you walk home. A field pump does not have the volume to seat a tubeless. – paparazzo Oct 24 '17 at 14:48
  • @Paparazzi Most of the time BMXing, I have a car compressor, (the kind that plugs into the cigarette lighter) available because I drove to the bike park. Or I could throw a C02 cartridge in my B-Pack? – Kolob Canyon Oct 24 '17 at 14:50
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    One CO2 cart negates any negligee price savings you might have had. And many tubeless tires just won’t set with CO2. – RoboKaren Oct 24 '17 at 14:52
  • @RoboKaren Good point :\ – Kolob Canyon Oct 24 '17 at 14:52
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    On mountain bikes, the big overriding reason to ride tubeless is the ability to use very low pressures and not worry about pinch flatting. That is neither here nor there in dirt jump or street BMX. You need moderate to high pressures to keep from destroying your rims. – Nathan Knutson Oct 24 '17 at 16:18
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Your pros list for tubeless is highly debatable.

Tubeless are less likely to puncture and more likely to self seal if they do puncture, so you have to fix less often, but.... Fixing a tubeless puncture that did not self seal is a workshop job, not a field job. MTBers running tubeless carry spare tubes so they can get home if they puncture.

Weight - much less a concern for DJ and BMX bikes. In reality, most riders could afford to loose 100 times more weight than the difference tubeless makes.

Cheaper in the long right - very doubtful. Tubeless require a slime top up every 3 - 6 months. Tubes are a one off lifetime cost.

As is you cons list. Maintenance - 3-6 monthly slime topup vs an occasional squirt of air into a tube.

Cost - slime is not cheap.

IMHO tubeless for a DJ or street BMX makes little sense as the single big advantage - running lower pressures to get more grip cannot be utilized.

  • Could you explain why running lower pressures cannot be utilized? To protect the rims? – Kolob Canyon Oct 24 '17 at 19:53
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    Yes. MTBers run lower pressures to get better grip. BMX and DJ don't tend to need to run as low pressure. The decision to go tubeless would be worth it if you are suffering pinch flats at desired pressures though. – mattnz Oct 24 '17 at 19:59
  • @KolobCanyon Can you explain how running at a lower pressure protects the rims? – paparazzo Oct 24 '17 at 20:30
  • The only reason I was interested in tubeless was because I was losing grip on dirt badly. That's probably the street tires fault tho - I have a Maxxis High Roller coming in the mail – Kolob Canyon Oct 24 '17 at 20:30
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    This is important information that should be in the question. Were the flats 'snake bite' (caused by from low pressure), or punctures? – mattnz Oct 24 '17 at 21:06
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Better off using tubes and making sure they line the rim properly / are seated properly and you have inflated them enough. For SS / DJ you need air. Like 60PSI or more not uncommon to avoid pinch flats. Also it helps to learn how to not smash curbs and things will full velocity.

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I've run tubeless "ghetto" style before. Meaning on rims and tires not specifically designed for tubeless. It's not that hard, other than getting the beat to seat, but that's a pain anywhere. I used STAN's rim strips that have the valves built in, and a ring of gorilla tape. I would always have wet beads, but not enough to drip out. It will function.

That said, like others have said, this isn't really solving the problem you want. You're supposed to run high pressure for BMX and DJ stuff. If you are having traction issues, maybe try better tires? I don't know what's available for BMX size, but on a 26" DJ you could try pretty much anything. I use Maxxis Holy Rollers on my DJ (again, a 26") and I get very good dirt traction. One place I have had traction issues is in indoor skate parks, particularly when they haven't cleaned the ramps recently. But lower pressure is exactly what you don't need in situations like that.

One think you could try is putting STANs sealant inside your regular tube. It should sell seal punctures. You would build up a lot of sealant between your tube and tire over time. I don't know what effect this would have on anything.

But it sounds like the best bet here is better tires, "double thick 'DH' tubes, if they have such a thing for 20", and high tire pressure.

If the harshness of high pressure is what's making you want to drop the pressure, gif a 26" mtb-type DJ bike for a spin.

  • Agree, gorilla tape is your friend. You can line your rims with it, no downside really. – jamescampbell Oct 28 '18 at 23:17

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