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I have been using tubeless for about five years now (mostly road, but also gravel and MTB) and between working on my bikes and my friends' bikes as well. I can usually get tubeless tires seated and inflated. Every now and then, however, a job comes along that is frustrating as it defies complying with the techniques that usually work. Can anyone offer a list of suggestions, tactics, and tools I could use on getting the most challenging tubeless tires to inflate and seat the beads on the rim?

I am most interested in tactics used for road tires as I find them a little more challenging than wider tires to install, but I am interested in any advice.

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    Note 1: I did search for a similar question and only found one. It provided a few good, general tips, but I am looking for those experiences where just those tips were not enough to get the job done.
    – Ted Hohl
    May 22 at 0:59
  • Note 2: In order to promote a wide range of input, I will post at least a meager 50-point bounty on this question in a couple of days (it takes that long before a bounty can be posted), and I plan to let this question cook for about a week before awarding the bounty to the best answer (so, not a rush to answer, but don't delay too long). The more inputs, the merrier. I hope to learn something from the vast wealth of experience and of course, everyone who uses this exchange or comes across this answer in a search can benefit as well.
    – Ted Hohl
    May 22 at 1:00
  • I plan to increase the minimum bounty if enough users upvote the question in the first two days prior to setting the bounty. If I get ten upvotes, I will set the bounty at 100. 15 --> 150, etc. Bounties increment in units of 50.
    – Ted Hohl
    May 22 at 1:01
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    "I am looking for those experiences where just those tips were not enough to get the job done." But which tips? You are very likely to get the same tips here. What kind of approach did you even do? Did you use a floor pump? A compressor? A boost air bottle? Did you put any special liquid on the tyre }soapy water or some special purpose thing)? May 22 at 17:44
  • When confronted with an “impossible” tubeless setup, an innertube always works. Some tubeless rims and tyres just don’t work together.
    – JoeK
    May 22 at 17:49

2 Answers 2

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I bought an adaptor for Presta valves to fit into Schrader chucks. With that adaptor I can use the compressed air lines at service stations (ie those places where drivers refuel cars).

The compressed air lines are connected to rather large reservoirs, which allows large air flow.

However, at the place I've been to there's bit a lot of fine control. Just an on/off button. At first I remove the valve core and loosely put the chuck onto the empty valve stem. That way the air goes into the tyre as long as the bead isn't seated, and no pressure builds. As soon as the bead snapped into place, pressure builds and the chuck blows off.

Next I replace the valve core, connect adaptor and chuck, and carefully toggle the compressed air button. Using short bursts. By that time usually the bead is partly unseated already. But it seals enough for pressure to build despite the valve, and thus seat the bead again.

With the filled tyre I proceed home, and top up the air a couple of times over the next hours. All tubeless tyres I tried stayed in the rim or were easy to seat after being seated for a couple of hours. I'll deflate then, remove the valve core, fill in sealant, replace the core and inflate again.

By the time I bother with a service station, I've already spent a few hours of fruitless attempts at mounting the tyre with a track pump. To make that possible in the first place I do the following:

  • Leave the tyre inflated with an inner tube, for a fortnight or so.

  • Put a few drops of sealant at the valve stem and let it coagulate

  • Push the bead carefully against the rim's shoulders

  • Wet the bead with soapy water

In my experience, tricks with a length of webbing (ie those nylon bands used to secure cargo) spun around the circumference of the tyre do not work with supple narrow to medium tyres (<40 mm).

I repeatedly tried a barrage of expletives directed at the tyre. While it appeared to be exactly the right thing, it did not do any good. Threatening the tyre was hardly more useful. Nonetheless, I highly recommend doing both.

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  • Put a few drops of sealant at the valve stem and let it coagulate Why do you do this?
    – Paul H
    May 24 at 21:52
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    I found the valve stem doesn't seal well enough around the hole in rim and layers of rim tape. At one rim it was so bad the tyre lost all it's air within 5 min. A little sealant closes that gap well enough. This also has the advantage that sealant isn't squirted at pressure into the rim's inner chambers when filling the tyre with sealant and inflating again.
    – gschenk
    May 25 at 8:20
  • Ohhh at the valve stem. Not in the valve stem. Self-induced bafflement has been abated.
    – Paul H
    May 25 at 15:00
  • @gschenk Thanks for the comprehensive, well thought out answer. I will let the question bounty soak for another day to see if there is any additional input but you covered a lot of potential solutions for me and the users of the exchange.
    – Ted Hohl
    May 27 at 20:53
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After several years on lightweight clinchers, I eventually got fed up with untimely punctures and decided to put back good old first gen Pro Ones, even though these make the bike heavier.

Things didn't go as smooth as I'd like, the tire refused to seat, here are the steps that worked:

  1. Put a tube in and let the tire seat for several hours or overnight.
  2. Carefully, unseat a single bead and remove the tube.
  3. Lube the bead, I used liquid soap.
  4. Make sure the free bead stays in the rim well.
  5. Remove the valve core to increase air flow rate.
  6. Pump the air in. I used a Schwalbe Tire Booster and a pocket pump. You can use a proper air compressor, any tire shop has one. Or make a ghetto air tank out of a Coke bottle.

With this procedure, I managed to seat both tires in no time, on the first try. Before that, I gave up after 5-8 attempts per wheel. Steps 1-3 were the key.

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  • Thanks for the answer. It addressed similar items to the other answer, If I could split the bounty, I would have done so, because this answer is also deserving of that recognition. I learned a lot from both answers.
    – Ted Hohl
    May 29 at 3:43

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