Monday, August 23, 2010

Tubless. IMO

Opinions are like aholes - everyone has one. Here's mine. Why post it you ask? Cause I have awesome multimedia accouterment including a new life form. Click on the pics for larger versions in all their glory (or horror).

Tubeless systems are pretty commonplace now. You don't need UST rims or special tires. You can just get a special rim strip with a valve included from Stans.

Tubeless is great cause you can run lower tire pressure without fear of pinch flats. It is potentially a little lighter than a tube system (unless you're running those really light conti tubes) and the goo totally fills up small holes and tears.

Here are some things you may not know about them.

The "Burp". If you are running a lower tire pressure, (which is the best reason for this system), you can actually pop the tire off the bead if you do a fancy maneuver that puts a lot of pressure on the tire perpendicular to normal travel. This is the "Burp". It's usually cool because the tire re-beads almost immediately and you only loose a tiny bit of pressure. It can be decidedly uncool if you Burp in a technical section and that new lower pressure causes you to loose some traction or flip or tank your rim. This past weekend I Burped on a ledgy downhill in the Greenbelt. The result was a graceful endo and a big missing chunk of skin from my finger. Gross.

Stan's Stalagmites. This is a rare occurrence but does happen. The Stan's will become it's own sentient organism and party hard in your tire until you set it free. This is pretty fun and it's good practice for being a dad, but at speed that 3 oz critter plastered against the inside of your tire makes it feel like you've been drinking...

The phenomena wherein impermeable substances become permeable and then, inexplicably, become impermeable again. OK - not really but this Stan's stuff is pretty volatile and subject to an almost unbelievable level of evaporation - it'll evaporate inside your tire (!!). Every few months you'll need to reapply the 2 cups of goo. Where did it go? Lookie here, Stans Schmeg...

Beading a tire without an air-compressor. This is the sux part of this system. You must have some way to quickly put air into the tire. Bike shops are all set with their compressors, but regular schmucks like me have to blow 3 bucks a pop on threaded CO2 cartridges? Nope - get a superflate or something similar that uses the Crossman 12oz bbgun cartrigeds. .50 a pop, and if you have the right device you can bead 2 tires with one.
The big hint (read this bit) to bead is the get the tire evenly centered between the rim edges, forming an "as tight as you can make it" seal between the narrowest part of the rim (red arrows) and the bead of the tire (green arrows). Following this super accurate image, you'd want to try to make the green and red arrows touch ALL THE WAY AROUND THE RIM The easiest way I've found is to hold the wheel by the hub or spokes and gently manipulate the tire with your other hand. I've had the greatest success beading a tire by keeping it suspended vertically. This will allow the compressed air to expand the tire in all directions all at once with minimal air escaping.

FYI - the mental block I have with this technique is that if you already have one side beaded (you're patching a sidewall or adding more Stans due to evaporation) you have to un-bead it. It seems like 2 steps back, but it is necessary. Also, a pertinent note is that once you've done this, the second, third, etc time become easier and easier. And, if you are careful when un-beading to not damage the Stan's Schmeg on the bead itself you may have great luck just re-beading with a pump.

These may seem like a real P.I.T.A. but seriously, I've only put air in my tires for the last 3 months. A little endo and a strange little boogerish friend are a pretty fine trade for all the tubes I haven't bought or changed...

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