The cutting-edge technology of tubeless tires has kept the world of cycling in awe. There was a dire need to act on the puncture issues that is a headache for cyclists.
With the innovation of tubeless tires, this problem seems to be resolved to a certain extent. And you probably have heard enough good things about the tubeless system.
But are you familiar with the drawbacks of this technology? The manufacturers and advertisers will not necessarily open up about these difficulties.
Although it’s in your best interest to be well informed on these matters as you will certainly encounter these adversities of the tubeless tires at some point if you are planning to get one.
Aside from being expensive than normal tube tires, there are plenty of other disadvantages of tubeless tires further elucidated in this post.
1. Higher Price
Starting on a positive note, tubeless tires are efficient in escaping from timely repairing of punctures. The liquid sealant oozes out and dries on the holes and seals them.
It facilitates riding with low pressure and more stability as well. But you need to pay the price for that. The sealant is also quite costly.
As the tubeless tires are produced by recognized companies offering top-notch quality, a higher price is expected.
2. Complex Fitting and Time-Consuming, Requires Professional Help
Fitting an air-filled tube in a tire is way easier than fitting a tubeless tire. Apart from being complicated, the procedure is lengthy too.
Many things can go wrong if you do not follow the procedure carefully. Setting the tire bead on the rim correctly can be proved challenging during the installation of a tubeless tire.
To function properly, you have to make sure that the seal is air-tight. The sealant and then the air needs to be filled in a short time.
Even with the acquisition of installation instructions, you may have to consider reaching out to a professional. This adds to the overall expense as well.
3. Timely Topping up Sealant
The same sealant is not able to sustain for years. The sealant is a liquid that eventually dries out.
You need to ensure that there is an adequate amount of sealant in the tires. The time for topping up the sealant depends upon the usage time, environmental factors like heat and humidity and, other sealant-consuming events like a puncture.
A tubeless tire can hold sealant for a longer time than a tubeless-ready tire, as per the experts. Generally, it is advised to top up the sealant every 6 months to work to its fullest potential.
In the scenario of a completely flat tire resulting from a huge hole that releases the sealant, you might need to fill it up immediately.
The tires demanding a quick air refill is another sign to top up the sealant.
Please adhere to the official guidelines and instructions provided by the sealant and tubeless makers.
Injecting sealant via an injector
You can follow these guidelines to learn step-by-step details on how to top up the sealant.
4. Not Able to Plug all Holes
You heard it right! The technology gives the feeling of abandoning tubes for life. But you may be wrong.
The sealant is not as invincible as it is thought of. It is surprising yet recommended to carry a spare tube in case the sealant fails to plug a hole.
Normally, the holes up to 6mm can be of no problem for such tires. But in a bigger size hole, the air rushes out quickly, which can be overwhelming for the sealant to work on.
So, don’t forget to pack a backup tube when you are going on a long ride.
According to experts, it is best to carry a repair kit when you are going on a tire risky adventure or a long ride.
Inserting rubber compound to seal a large hole
5. Clogged Valve Cores
Valve core plays an important role in maintaining the airflow for the tire. The cleanest and simplest way to inject sealant is through the valve using an injector provided by the manufacturer.
But firstly, the valve core should be removed. A lever is required for this task. Improper handling may damage the valve permanently, which will cost you.
Besides, the liquid might deposit around the valve core, which can interrupt the airflow. At the same time, you can clean the area covered by the sealant.
But there are times when the valve is too clogged by the dried sealant difficult to get rid of. You may need to throw in a few bucks and get a new one.
Side by side comparison of the clogged and new valve core
6. Compatibility and Lack of Standards
So much of the problems and it is mainly related to fitting issues. This issue is the sole outcome of the lack of standard and common guidelines for the tubeless system.
The compatibility between tires and rim is the chief factor that impacts the fitting.
The problem is the variation in tire size and rim and the bead stiffness that decides the tire’s grip on the rim. Getting the tire in and out of the rim can be frustrating when the tire and rim come from different brands.
A tube makes it easier by pushing the tire bead to the inside of the rim, but it is not the case in a tubeless system. The best fit is crucial to the working of the tubeless system.
However, the manufacturers are putting in joint efforts recently in formulating guidelines for standard tire and rim designs to ensure compatibility.
7. A Hole in Tubeless is a Dirty Business
You might not be aware of the horrors of spilling sealant. If you love messy things, it will certainly be okay for you. Otherwise, you might end up having a bad day installing tubeless tires.
When the seal is not tight, the frames and tires can be disgusted by the leaked sealant. And you probably have to do something about the grubby floors of the workspace.
Likewise, it is inevitable to come out clean from a pinch flat tubeless tire. The sealant oozes out with pressure through the hole, and you are going to have sealant sprayed all over the frame and your clothes.
And if it is the back tire, the person sitting behind is also a victim of this messy act. The stains, if not removed in time, can damage your clothes and frames as well.
A tubeless repair went wrong.
8. Lightweight Tubeless can be Heavier
The lightweight feature of the tubeless system can be overshadowed by the supplementary materials required for it. For a tubeless-ready wheel, rim strips must be attached to cover the spoke holes, which adds to the tire’s weight.
Similarly, tubeless valves and sealant (50-60g) also make up the tire heavier. Plus, carrying a spare tube or two for worst cases equals the weight of a tubed tire, falsifying the idea of reducing weight in a tubeless system.
9. Choice Constraints
Almost all known bike companies have designed wheels to accompany tubeless tires, whereas there seems to be a shortage of tubeless tires.
Lately, the issue has been dealt with as well-known companies like Continental and Vittoria have started producing tubeless tires.
Even with tubeless tires from reputed brands, the exorbitant price is a little bit concerning for the consumers. Thus, it would be great to have access to affordable and quality tubeless tires shortly.
10. Potential Risks to Rims at Lower Pressure
The trend of riding on lower tire pressure is skyrocketing with the origination of wider tires along with tubeless tires. It gives more room for stability and smooth riding.
The dark side to this is the prospect of damaging the rims. Riding on adventurous rocky roads or off-road with lower pressure can be a curse for soft aluminum rims.
11. Difficulties in Breaking the Seal
The sealant dries off, thereby sealing the tire to the rim. You may start to hate the tubeless tire when you get on to removing the tire for maintenance or replacement.
The fit is too tight that it may require professional help. Even the professionals state that getting the tire out of the rim can be tricky.
Some people have even shared the experience of clamping the tire into a stand to get a crack on the seal.
The internet and cycling forums are flooded with this issue. But again, the industry is working towards a standard that hopes to solve the issue soon enough.
The tubeless technology is somewhat dubious by the cycling community, where even the professional riders have not adopted it unconditionally.
This fact can be a setback for those in the dilemma of switching.
However, it is not quite right to ditch the tubeless tires completely. If you are well aware of the concerns and have been exhausted riding on a tubed tire, then don’t get off on the idea of buying.
Just make sure your bike wheels are tubeless-ready, and you are good to go.
In another scenario, where you want to replace your tube tire with the tubeless, you may have to change your wheel plus the tubeless tire, which can be a real expensive upgrade.
On the bright side, pros like the ability to low rolling resistance, escape from pinch flats and lightweight features outbalance the drawbacks by quite a margin.
You can learn more about the advantages of tubeless tires from my article: 11 Advantages of Tubeless Tires.
With the industry progressing towards new standards and guidelines to make tubeless tires accessible and affordable, it can be a gift to the cycling community.