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I am using 27.5 x 2.1-2.4-inch tubes in tubeless rims on a hard tail trail bike. Mostly riding trails. I keep getting small punctures on the spoke side of the tube. Could be the same spot but it's hard to map. I thought spokes were sealed on tubeless rims so they shouldn't be able to penetrate the tape/seal. Thought it might be that I'm inflating to 60 psi but never was a problem for years, just now. Can't conceive how it could be anything but a spoke but...

2 Answers 2

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You got the next step nailed already. Use an "offset" from the valve to figure out exactly where on the rim is the cause.

Then feel around that area for a sharp point or a sharp corner of some sort. If you have spoke-nipple access holes then the corner can be burred, or it might be some irregularity at a butt-joint.

Once you find anything sharp, file it smooth with a needle file or a de-burring tool, or accurate sanding with sandpaper.

If you find no cause, look for any kind of edge. Hard rim tape can even cause punctures through abrasion. Small pebbles or bark or similar debris can do the same.


One "workaround" for you is to try going tubeless, and store the tube in your bag for an emergency.

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    Agree with this. If you're set up for tubeless, I encourage you to go tubeless. For $6--less than the cost of a quality tube--you'd have enough sealant till next year and very little risk of flats, especially the silly, irksome ones like you're experiencing. The lower pressures of a tubeless set up only add a positive in terms of increased comfort and grip on trails without a great deal additional rolling resistance. No tube would actually improve things in that sense.
    – Jeff
    Aug 13, 2023 at 20:16
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    You'll be amazed at the greatly improved ride quality and grip on the trail if you went tubeless and had 25-30 psi or less in the tires. If they're 2.3" wide or more, even lower pressures are advised for max comfort and traction. You should have rims with an internal width of at least 25mm to run wide tires with pressures under 20-25psi. You could still go tubeless with narrower rims
    – Jeff
    Aug 13, 2023 at 20:23
  • @jeff Tubeless is an option that avoids the underlying cause, its not a perfect solution and has its own drawbacks. The rim might not be air-tight and the tyres might not be tubeless-compatible. Personally, I prefer tubes, was only mentioning as a possibility.
    – Criggie
    Aug 14, 2023 at 1:40
  • My own tubeless experience is less than 5 years old, and I'm the type to resist change--gimme a loose ball Shimano hub with a quarter turn of a cone nut window to hit for a perfect preload any day--however, the advantages of tubeless I allude to in my comments above are so dramatic to the ride quality that if it seems like the pieces are in place to go tubeless, that's what I must advise. While the OP doesn't specifically mention tubeless ready tires, they do state the rims are (arguably the more important factor for tubeless set up and tubeless was a thing prior to "tubeless ready" gear).
    – Jeff
    Aug 14, 2023 at 7:40
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The tube could abrade on any sort of irregularity, even something that got loose inside. The first things you should do are: map the location - this should not be hard if you are patching or at least keeping the damaged tubes - and remove the tire and tube and carefully inspect the rim interior and the tire interior. Something stuck low in the sideway could be causing the problem and looking as if it were spoke side.

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