Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tubeless wheels and tyres

Since my multiple puncture incident in the Carlingford K-Capital race I have switched to using tubeless wheels and tyres for racing. More specifically, I've been using a set of pimping Mavic SLRs and Hutchinson Python Light, Bulldog Lights and Maxxis Ignitor tyres. Initially, I didn't really notice that much of a difference when using them – I felt that they (in general) rolled a little slower (or maybe I was just riding slower) then my old wheels/tyres but after about a two months of use I can give a bit more of a verdict – I love them.

I'm still a long way away from being completely comfortable with finding the right setup per race and it is a pain to change tyres (since I currently only have one set of tubeless wheels) but for racing I find it gives me so much more security. The whole puncture resistance and pinch flat proofness is great but what really gets me is the feel when riding over slightly rocky/rooty terrain. The tyre really molds itself around the ground as you ride over it and the comfort level and grip that I get is so far ahead of the tubed version... Last night was a great example – I went up to the Team Worc club race around Djouce – it was a terrible terrible night, thunder and lightening and very heavy rain. Everything was waterlogged but yet I was very comfortable and secure riding the single track (about 30psi in a front Bulldog and 33psi in a rear Ignitor). The amount of grip cornering and climbing that I got in those conditions really surprised me.

The red hubs worked well with the rest of my bikes paint job

So, go tubeless or not – for me the answer is tubeless – I'm even looking for a set of (cheaper) Mavic tubeless wheels to use for training now. Oh, and thanks to CRC for helping me out getting the right wheel tyre combinations!

3 comments:

Dave said...

I never understood why people would need tubeless. Yes, it's more difficult to get pinch flats (still not impossible), but you're slowed down by: lower tyre pressures and heavier wheelset which both increase rolling resistance; and also, the unsprung mass increases which then begins to affect the performance of your suspension forks... Plus if you do have a pinch flat, as you point out, changing/repairing the tubeless tyres is much more of an issue.

I always thought all XC racers went for 1.8" tyres with latex tubes? The lighter the better...

I run my tyres (2.3") at reasonably low pressures, for the extra traction, but I haven't had a pinch flat in quite a while now... Touch wood. And I wouldn't exactly call myself a 'light' rider!

Ryan Sherlock said...

On my big bike, I have 2.35 High Rollers (with tubes) and I've never punctured em (running about 35psi) and I've ridden two sets to death...

I very seldom get punctures/pinch flats too with the tubes (excepting Carlingford) but I took that race to be the point where I do what every racer has been telling me to do for a while - switch to tubeless. Currently I'm running Lust/Tubeless Light tyres but over time I'll probably move to normal tyres (with good side walls) and a little extra goup to keep the weight down. Hopefully, the best of both worlds... At least, that's what all the pro XC racers are doing at the moment...

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