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Tubeless woes

I started using tubeless (road bike only) 10 years ago before I had to bin my (at the time, only) tubeless-compatible wheels. Impressions were that although tricky to set up, it was worth it.

I took the plunge again to tubeless around 2019 and, until around 2 years ago I was very happy with all punctures sealing effectively and losing minimal pressure from my preferred pressure of 80psi (for 25 and 28mm tyres). However, since then, things have gone very flat in this respect – literally and figuratively. After repeated sealing failures (even with very small holes) featuring massive losses of pressure and sealant, I changed sealant and am now on my 4th brand but still I still have the same issues. I run Continental tubeless tyres (GP 5000 series) and I am at a loss as to what is going wrong. I follow all instructions and yet this remains a problem.

Does anyone else have these issues or can anyone make any recommendations please (apart from going back to tubes)?

If you're new please join in and if you have questions pop them below and the forum regulars will answer as best we can.

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14 comments

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Jimnm | 1 month ago
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I've never tried tubeless and I don't intend to. The reason is if you're plagued with flats, I'd suggest that the best way to go is TPU tubes with alloy valve stems in a Continental 4 seasons tyre. You'll get that feel of tubeless and far less chance of punctures. I have 25mm tyres. I've also got some latex tubes to try when I get around to it. The tubeless sticky mess set up puts me off tubeless. 

 

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Steve K replied to Jimnm | 1 month ago
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Jimnm wrote:

I've never tried tubeless and I don't intend to. The reason is if you're plagued with flats, I'd suggest that the best way to go is TPU tubes with alloy valve stems in a Continental 4 seasons tyre. You'll get that feel of tubeless and far less chance of punctures. I have 25mm tyres. I've also got some latex tubes to try when I get around to it. The tubeless sticky mess set up puts me off tubeless. 

 

Having previously run your set up (tpu tubes in 25mm conti 4 seasons) and now running tubeless (28mm) - and at the massive risk of tempting fate - I can say I have fewer punctures now.

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Chris Harris | 1 month ago
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I recently added Mariposa Vitamina CL (a powder) to my tubeless sealant. The difference is amazing, the tires hold pressure far better than before, just like a tube. (Of course, that begs the question, why is this powder not already added to the sealant by the manufacturer ?)

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hawkinspeter replied to Chris Harris | 1 month ago
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Chris Harris wrote:

I recently added Mariposa Vitamina CL (a powder) to my tubeless sealant. The difference is amazing, the tires hold pressure far better than before, just like a tube. (Of course, that begs the question, why is this powder not already added to the sealant by the manufacturer ?)

For a minute, I thought you'd been adding Vitamin C powder to your tyres so that you'd get a refreshing orangey smell when you punctured. Then I remembered that I was looking at that stuff the other day and wondering if it was worthwhile.

I don't think they can add it to their sealant as it'd block the valve and so it needs to be mixed inside the tyre.

I've now ordered some (Swinnerton Cycles) to try it out myself.

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kevgravelkev | 1 month ago
2 likes

High (road) pressures, small volumes and liquids do not work for me. I've gone to TPU tubes with non tubeless ready tyres. Brilliant.

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mike the bike | 1 month ago
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About four years ago I was also at a loss Mr Grumpy, and for the same reason.  My "Covid" bike build had been a great success with everything performing well and when the first lockdown ended I set off on a three-hundred mile tour.  The first half-an-hour went swimmingly but then a tiny pinprick of a puncture completely defeated the Stan's sealant and I was forced to put a tube in the front tyre.

A fortnight later the rear tyre collected a 4 - 5mm gash and the Stan's couldn't cope with that either.  At this point I deduced that, to suit this particular sealant, punctures have to be exactly 2.66mm in diameter, perfectly circular, precisely in the centre of the contact patch and it must be the third Friday in the month.

I went back to tubes the same day and have had perhaps three flats since.  I won't get burned again.

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peted76 | 1 month ago
1 like

Hey Mr Grumpy. 

I'd say from my experience, this is just bad luck on sealants. Not all sealants are the same. I run 23/25/28mm tyres at 80ish PSI and have been tubeless since schwable annouced their Pro-Ones years and years ago, I had a pair off a rep before they were in the shops. Anyway, I've made all the mistakes, I now use (and have done for years) two brands which I know work 1) Effetto Mariposa Caffelatex Sealant  and 2) Bontrager TLR Sealant. 

The only thing I absolutley do make sure I do before using is shake the hell out of the bottles as the bits of stuff that fill the holes will get attached to the bottom of the bottles. 

Both are injected through the valve (but I do not use the very thin tubes which can come with syringes as the bits of stuff that fill the holes can often not go through. I use a bit of clear PVC tubing (approx 5 or 6mm) which goes over the presta valve as opposed to in it (cleaner and easier to squirt it in that way also). 

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Hirsute | 1 month ago
2 likes

Never been convinced of narrow tyres and high pressures for tubeless. Wider tyres, lower pressures is best.

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hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
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I've had no problems with GP5000s and Caffélatex sealant, although I do find that the sealant needs topping up every few months to replace any that's dried.

I have had a couple of tricky punctures where there was some glass or debris still stuck in the tyre. It'd seal whilst riding, but would then make itself known when pumping the tyre up to over 70psi, but then seal again with a little persuasion such as spinning the wheel.

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mark1a | 1 month ago
5 likes

I've had some similar experiences to yourself with road tubeless - first tried in 2018 with Mavic's (new at the time) road UST, it was useless, had 3 unsealed punctures in 4 rides, after running (Stans) tubeless on much lower pressures successfully on MTB & gravel bikes. I concluded it was a combination of trying different sealants (Mavic, Orange & Muc-Off) not sealing on 25mm tyres at 95psi in the wet. Plus Mavic tyres seem to get cuts if you even look at them. Went back to tubes at the time on the winter bikes. 

Forward to 2022, I put tubeless again on a winter bike (Hunt 4 Seasons and Schwalbe G-One Speed 30mm at 65psi) and it seems so much better. Get a fair bit of weeping and a lot of sealed holes but minimal pressure loss, and now on a summer bike which I've put Roval CLII on with Conti GP5000S-TR, 30mm front, 28mm back at 70psi, it's been absolutely fine. 

My conclusion is that road tubeless, in my experience, works best with lower pressures, and with Stans fluid, with some Stans Darts in my jersey pocket (not used yet). The higher pressure just doesn't seal in time with the lower volume, particularly in the wet. I asked a mechanic in the LBS what sealant they personally used out of the 6+ they sell, he replied "we all use Stans at lower pressures"

Anyway, good luck!

Also I should add (from personal experience) that when following andystow's advice on a thorough shake, always make sure the lid is on properly.

 

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Mr Grumpy | 1 month ago
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Thanks for comments so far - I will add that has happenned even on brand new tyres (sometimes with less than 100km) and sealant always shaken before adding to tyre. I will also add that I only ever use sealant that you can inject through the valve stem.

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Waleskun replied to Mr Grumpy | 1 month ago
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Try Silca Ultimate Sealant. Best one I've tried so far. Can't inject it through the valve so more faff to install, but worth it imo

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andystow | 1 month ago
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Are you shaking your sealant before adding it? At least a minute of vigorous shaking?

How old are your tyres?

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S.E. | 1 month ago
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Just some ideas... to me it sounds like it might be a case of Murphy's law!

I know many people think tubeless is not worth the pain for road, I guess they just had these issues sooner... I mean, sealant dealers wouldn't make it more fluid than 10 years ago to sell more? and tubes won't help to prevent flats anyway...

I'm thinking 80 psi is not a lot for 25mm, if you lose some pressure while riding it might get even lower, then every small pothole will "pinch" the tyre. Although it's less common with tubeless I know it can happen too, and could fragilize the tyre? Advised pressure vary a lot if you follow the indications on the tyres, wheels, or are using these online calculators (usually these indicate the lowest pressure, at least in my case). Now I'm sticking with the highest minimum, which is the numbers on the tyres, for my equipment.

Or maybe you are using an old batch of tyres? Obviously not all tyres are equal, now I'm chosing mine to prevent flats, not to gain a few km/h, I'm using Pirelli Cinturato Velo, on roads and a few trails. Gators have also a good reputation for puncture resistance. Of course they are almost 50% heavier and much slower than these GP's or fast Vittoria's (I'm not into racing) but they have a good grip... only issue so far, they are ~2mm wider than announced, both 26 and 28 mm, on 19c and 22c rims.

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