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Tubeless tires seem to be an interesting compromise for commuters: they offer a good level of protection for small punctures, and allow to use supple tires at lower pressure, which has comfort benefits for people commuting on rough surfaces (heavy gravel, cobblestones, or through woods where thorny branches can be present...), especially over rigid puncture-resistant tires that are often installed on commuters.

But tubeless tires require additional maintenance: topping up sealant and cleaning the residue inside the tire. While the first step is rather fast with the proper kit, the second requires to remove the tire and remove sealant residues inside the tire.

The question is then: what happens if the sealant is only cleaned on a lower frequency than topping up? I understand some problem that may arise with bikes left in the garage for an entire season, like accumulation of residue in one spot. But the question is more about bikes used on an almost daily basis, so where the sealant wouldn't be stagnating for longish periods of time.

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  • I don't know about larger volume tyres but I'm running 25mm GP5000s and I've only ever topped them up after leaving them unridden over winter. I've only ever cleaned out the old sealant when I've had to change brands. How regularly are you topping up sealant?
    – Holloway
    Jul 24, 2023 at 15:46
  • I’m not sure if this has any scientific validity, but I’ve always theorized that the old sealant may act as a catalyst and lead to shorter lifespan for the new sealant. Chunks of rubber floating around in there might pick up the polymer in solution.
    – MaplePanda
    Jul 24, 2023 at 18:45
  • @Holloway The question is prospective for the commuter. On my fun bike, I'm swapping tires for winter/summer and top up then.
    – Rеnаud
    Jul 24, 2023 at 20:30
  • @MaplePanda I understood that sealant works "at impact", so indeed having irregular blobs can only create such contact when changing speed (I would assume that at stabilized speed, sealant is stable in the tire). But as far as I've seen when changing tires, I don't have chunks floating in the liquid, but the sealant is more brown than white at the end of the season.
    – Rеnаud
    Jul 24, 2023 at 20:33

2 Answers 2

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Nothing happens, you just end up with a very slightly heavier tyre. There is no need to clean the tyre too much. You can often just top-up the sealant through the valve using a hose.

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  • + top up with the same sealant, not whatever's cheapest or available that day.
    – Criggie
    Jul 24, 2023 at 10:57
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With enough time, the residual dried latex might form structures that some have called Stanimals. There is apparently a small Instagram account devoted to them. The image below is an example.

enter image description here

The name stems from the company Stan's (notubes.com) pioneering position in the tubeless space. Earlier on, there were several tubeless standards, and some may not have required sealant. Stans was based on sealant.

Leaving your tires one or two years without cleaning them out should not produce a big clump of sealant. If you are switching sealant brands, you should clean the old sealant out as best as you can, in case the formulations interact in a way that you don't want. Also, some cyclists may feel that cleaning dried sealant off the tire bead is beneficial.

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