My local bike shop owner said to me "I would never use tubeless tires for a Gravel Bike". Where I ride in central Iowa, we only seem to have the large clunky gravel with fairly sharp edges. I have been getting the pinch type flats, like a snake bite. So I started reading and have viewed a number of "experts" who swear by tubeless, especially GCN presenters I follow. I am a fit Superclydesdale rider, so not a featherweight person, and all my bikes must be very sturdy. Who to believe?

  • 1
    Did this person say why they recommended against tubeless tires? It's not just the GCN presenters, tubeless is very highly recommended on gravel by just about all riders. I think that among current model year bikes, it's either the norm to set them up tubeless from the factory, or else it's becoming the norm.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Aug 12 '20 at 17:08
  • That is very helpful because I trust this guy. So my rims are Tubeless ready.Thanks Aug 12 '20 at 17:19
  • 1
    Well, one person's opinion vs a great many people's ... I'd go with the wisdom of the crowd. Aug 12 '20 at 17:33
  • 1
    I've seen too much of the crowds wisdom to trust it.
    – David D
    Aug 12 '20 at 17:37
  • 1
    @DavidD simply going against the crowd in all cases is not a well-founded heuristic, though. In this use case, tubeless tires have a number of material advantages over tubed tires. On the road, I agree that tubeless is not clearly superior to light tubed tires, both in terms of rolling resistance and tire compatibility. On gravel, the lower pressures make tubeless tires a lot less likely to blow off than on the road, and their other advantages (e.g. much less likely to pinch flat) really come to the fore. Hence, if this shop owner recommends against tubeless, I want to know why.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Aug 12 '20 at 17:49

Who to believe?

You can believe that the shop owner believes that tubeless is not for him/her.
But that does not mean that you are in exactly the same situation or have the same needs.

Here are some high level steps for arriving at a solution that works for you.

  1. Read and listen to what others say
  2. Look for information that matches what you intend to do and what you value / care about.
  3. Make your best guess at what will work best for you and try it out
  4. Evaluate your experience and make changes based on what did / didn't work

The answer to almost any "What's better?" question is "It depends"
It depends because what works best depends on your situation and what is important to you.
The shop owner who won't ride tubeless has made a decision based on his/her preferences. Is he/she wrong? No, it's not wrong if it works for him.

Google "tubeless bicycle tires pros and cons" and you will get a variety of results with a variety of lists for and against.
Just two examples:
Pros and Cons of Tubeless Mountain Bike Tires

At the end of the day you can believe your own experience.

  • All you say here is true. Thanks Aug 12 '20 at 17:35
  • Good information, am now leaning towards tubeless Aug 12 '20 at 18:21
  • For what it's worth, I practice "enduro" MTB and the difference between tubes and tubeless tyres is amazing. I've gone from one flat every 3 or 4 sessions to one flat a year when the tyre is worn out. I don't see why it would be any different on a gravel. not to mention you can decrease tyre pressure a lot (probably not very important on gravel though) Aug 13 '20 at 12:45
  • Fantastic news..Thank you Aug 14 '20 at 16:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.