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I've decided to upgrade to road tubeless. Hutchinson sells both "Tubeless" and "Tubeless Ready" tires. According to Hutchinson' website, Tubeless Ready means that (in addition to having a special bead) the tire's tread is air permeable and will gradually lose air, so sealant is needed, not just to seal punctures, but to slow the loss of air.

Their Tubeless tires, on this other hand, have a butyl lining that prevents air loss. Although a sealant can be used to seal punctures, it's not required.

My question: Do tubeless tires -- the tires that have a lining -- hold air as well as tires with tubes? (Note, my car's tires don't have tubes and they hold air quite well.) I ask because I need my tires to stay pumped up, and not go soft overnight the way they usually do on my mountain bike.

  • Note, my car's tires don't have tubes and they hold air quite well. You car's tires are a heckuva lot thicker and heavier, too. You wouldn't want tires that hold air that well on your bicycle... – Andrew Henle Feb 8 at 15:33
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Proper tubeless (UST) tyres do indeed hold air well, but are also heavy and don't roll as well (due to extra material that needs to deform around objects). Due to the nature of MTB'ing you are also likely to need sealant for puncture protection, as whilst UST tyres are more robust, they can't shrug off all potential punctures.

This is why you see very few UST tyres available for sale now, with most riders (and manufacturers) preferring tubeless ready.

In my experience, a well set up tubeless ready tyre with sealant holds air at least as well as an old tyre/tube combo. I typically lose ~2psi/wk on my tubeless ready setups so usually top them up once a week, but could go 2 weeks if necessary.

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My understanding of "tubeless ready" is different from yours: as I've seen it, "tubeless ready" is used to describe wheels (more specifically, rims), not tires.

In order to mount tubeless tires, a rim needs to have a more aggressive hook to retain the tire's bead than you find on a normal rim; it also needs to have a self-contained valve and airtight rim tape (or a continuous bed). Some also have a deeper center trough to simplify tire mounting.

When I've seen something marketed as "tubeless ready," it means that it has the correct kind of rim, but it's not necessarily set up with airtight rim tape, and it has a conventional tire and tube.

As to tires, people running tubeless tires generally put liquid sealant in them. This is primarily to seal punctures on the fly, but it also has the effect of sealing tires: some lightweight tubeless tires will weep sealant for a while, but (as I understand it), eventually the sealant fills the pores so they stop weeping, and this should retain air.

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    Tubeless or Tubeless Ready or UST? Hopefully this will help: from Continental's website: "In contrast to UST tires, Tubeless Ready tires are lighter and are therefore air-permeable. This is sealed with a special sealing milk." This from Schwalbe: "Tubeless Ready tires are not tubeless tires. By using sealing liquid in a special process they can, however, be converted into tubeless tires." From Hutchinson: "Tubeless Ready requires latex sealant to seal the casing, as opposed to a butyl liner on the inside of the tire as with a normal Tubeless tire." Note that the liner adds weight and stiffness – MrTeff Feb 8 at 4:36
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    UST just is Mavic's name for their system of tubeless rims and tires, which they've specifically designed to work well together--some tubeless tires are very difficult to mount on tubeless rims; conversely, there's the concern that poorly-fitted tubeless tires could blow off. – Adam Rice Feb 8 at 18:28

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