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I love my new gravel bike (Jamis Renegade Expat) (I do club rides and touring), but its tubeless compatible rims (WTB UST Tubeless) make it impossible for me to change a flat roadside by myself, which I can easily do on my conventionally rimmed other bike. I don't have the finger strength to break the seal, but even once that's done, it's easy to trap an edge of tube under the bead (even pumping it up a bit to get it out of the way). IME it takes at least 2 people (usually my husband and me), 3 tire levers and a half hour to change a flat on my TCS rim. So I'll probably change to tubeless since I've lost the upside to tubed tires: easier roadside repair. Yet everyone says tubeless compatible rims can be used tubed easily. Is anyone else having this problem?

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  • What tools are you using - normal tyre levers? Might help to try a quickstik or a x lever like trademe.tmcdn.co.nz/photoserver/full/1481017427.jpg
    – Criggie
    Mar 7 at 0:12
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    I have not had that problem, but some rim/tire combinations can be really tight. A tire jack can be really helpful.
    – Adam Rice
    Mar 7 at 1:18
  • Rub soap on the bead and beat seat before installing the tire. Once you do that once, it acts as a lubricant and makes the install much easier.
    – MaplePanda
    Mar 7 at 1:54
  • Note that inserting a bacon strip or worm is a very easy roadside repair, if you have a tubeless setup.
    – Vladimir F
    Mar 7 at 9:42
  • Readers owning a tubeless-ready rim should also be aware that UST is somewhat special and likely different.
    – Vladimir F
    Mar 10 at 12:31
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Yes, breaking the bead lock is a common problem these days.

The biggest single trick to it is that pushing the bead straight in laterally doesn't do what you want. The design is trying to be very good at resisting that. Instead, try to drive it down and into the center of the rim well, and then give it an upwards scooping motion once you have some purchase. It still requires some hand strength.

Using your feet is fine if you have good technique and judgment, and on at least somewhat tough tires. (Basically any mainstream tire, but not something like a Herse/Compass). It's all about making sufficiently broad contact with both the tire and the rim, and being careful that you're not sideloading the wheel. You have to understand what will and won't hurt the wheel. There is probably always a nonzero chance of cosmetically scuffing the rim. I know it can sound unfortunate to have to think about doing this, but it's also a path to dealing with the tougher bead locks that most people can accomplish regardless of hand strength.

Other than dealing with the bead lock, installing and removing most tires on most tubeless compatible rims is almost always very easy and doesn't require great force or more than one tire lever. What is required is an understanding of how large the difference is in the diameter of the the rim well and that of the shoulder, and how to use the fact to your advantage. Once you have the two beads meeting in the middle all the way around the tire, you typically have plenty of slack to start one bead up and over the rim. But the nature of a tubeless rim shoulder area is that if you're not deliberate about getting the two beads into the middle, they won't sink into it naturally under force like on a non-tubeless, so it's something you must do on purpose. The same is true for installation; it's easy to get the last bit of bead popped over the side if and only if the rest of it is sunk into the middle.

Tubelessing the bike is fine if you want tubeless on its own merits, but I wouldn't recommend doing it on the basis of having a hard time dealing with getting the tire on and off. You probably will still have to do that sooner or later anyway.

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  • All great advice. Yes I do have Herse Compass tires, so while the X lever looks like it would work, I'd have to be very careful. I'll definitely try the soap trick on the bead--never heard of that. With my lack of finger strength, I need to try everything! Thanks.
    – Teri
    Mar 8 at 22:18

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