We are all in the quest for the perfect ride. One that’s comfortable, fast, safe and fun. Our tire choice plays a big part in all of the above. Tubeless tires have plenty of benefits, but there are a few reasons you might want to put a tube in a tubeless tire. If you’re still experimenting and want to change back and forth, you need to keep a few things in mind.
Can I put a tube in a tubeless tire?
You can put a tube into any tubeless tire because all tubeless rims and tires are compatible with tubes. The procedure for inserting a tube into a tubeless tire is similar to changing a flat clincher tire, but there are a few key steps you need to know.
Ideally, once you switch to tubeless tires, you won’t need to go back to using tubes. However, if you are a commuter and you want a maintenance free system, or you want to have a backup plan, you might want to use a tube even after using a tubeless tire setup.
Some of the drawbacks of using tubeless tires include:
- Tubeless tires require a lot of maintenance (the sealant needs to be topped up regularly, like every few weeks or months)
- A tubeless setup is more expensive than a clincher setup
- Regular use of sealant, which can be messy
- Spraying of sealant after you get a flat
- Clogged valves
- Needing an air compressor to inflate the tire, at least for the first time.
- If a tubeless tire isn’t sealed correctly or there isn’t enough sealant, it won’t hold air.
On the other hand, a severe flat may also be a reason to return to tubes after going tubeless, at least until you can get the tire fixed. Or maybe you have tried running on tubeless tires and decided you just prefer standard tubes. These are all significant reasons to return to tires with tubes after trying tubeless tires. You don’t need to get all new tires, you can just put tubes into the tubeless tires that you already have.
It isn’t unusual for cyclists who ride tubeless tires to carry a spare tube for emergencies.
For example, if you get a flat on the trail because you got a puncture that is too large for the sealant to fix, you can save your ride (or at least get home) if you use a tube in your tubeless tire. Although the sidewalls of tubeless tires are tougher than typical clincher tires, they can still break down or get cut open. In this case, installing a tube might be your best choice to keep the air in that tire.
Do Tubeless Rims Accept Tubes?
All tubeless rims are capable of accepting a tube as long as the size, the diameter and the valve type of the tube corresond to the specifications of the rim. To find out the type of tube you need for your rim check the sidewall of your tire for the size, and make sure that you use the same type of valve as the one currently installed in the tubeless setup.
Going tubeless from clinchers is not as straight forward because not all rims are capable of going tubeless.
Clincher tires are the type of tires most frequently sold for road riders, commuters, tourers and weekend riders. These are the tires that require a tube, but they are easy to maintain and inexpensive. If you use a clincher tire, you’ll always want to carry a spare tube and pump or at least a patch kit in case you get a flat.
Tubeless tires are well-known in the MTB and gravel world and they are also gaining in popularity among road riders, but they require more maintenance. A tubeless tire will be more resistant to flats, have a lower rolling resistance, and are lighter and a bit faster. Since you can run them at a lower PSI, they have better grip on the road surface, which can help you take turns more quickly.
The Difference Between Tubeless Tires and Clincher Tires
Clincher tires can only house the inner tube which contains the air, while tubeless tires are the actual chamber where the air is contained. A tubeless setup needs to be completely air-tight and therefore it needs a special type of tire and a special type of rim.
In both clincher and tubeless tires, each side of the rim has a ridge around the edge. The bead of the tire hooks into the ridge of the rim. It will hold the tire in place and form a seal that keeps air in and water out. When a new tire is seated onto the rim, you’ll hear pops and cracks as the tire hooks into place, indicating that the tire is sealing correctly when you begin to inflate the tire.
Tubeless and tubeless-ready rims have a more pronounced ridge along the edge than clincher tires and their center channel uses a special tubeless tape so air doesn’t escape where the spokes connect to the rim. The entire system forms a tighter seal between the tire and the rim because the seal needs to be air-tight. As a result, the wheel of the tire is a bit more robust on tubeless tires, making them sturdier and more resistant to flats but also making them a little harder to put on and remove when needed.
Because the clincher tires do not have as large as a bead, and it lacks the special rim tape, the seal is not tight enough to completely hold air in the tire. So a clincher tire, without some significant modifications, cannot become a tubeless tire. Tubeless-ready tires come from the manufacturer with tubes already in them. However, they have the built-in capacity to be turned into tubeless tires.
It may be a little more challenging to remove the rubber part of the tire and reinstall it on a tubeless because of the stiffer rubber and heftier ridge. However, it will accept a tube just as easily as a clincher tire.
How To Fix A Tubeless Puncture With An Inner Tube?
The procedure for putting a tube in a tubeless tire is almost the same as installing a tube into a clincher tire.
- First, you need to remove the valve stem. Next, unscrew the retaining nut and push the valve into the rim so that you can pull it out.
- Place the tube into the rim just like you would if you put a tube into a clincher tire, making sure the valve is in the correct place. The excess sealant may cause the inside of the tire to be messy.
- Replace the tire onto the rim. It may be more challenging to reseat the bead on a tubeless tire because the tires are typically thicker and sturdier than typical clincher tires. You can use tire levers if needed but be very careful not to damage the tube when doing so.
- Inflate the tube.
- Listen for cracking and pop noises to indicate that the tire is seated on the rim.
- Ensure the valve stem is in the proper position. If not, deflate the tire and start over.
- Inflate the tire to the appropriate PSI for your tire and tube setup. Remember that tubes require a higher PSI than tubeless tires do.
If your bike has tubeless-ready tires, switching back and forth between using tubes and running tubeless isn’t too tricky. However, this can be a messy and time-consuming task.
Tube Alternatives For A Tubeless Tire
If you are already running tubeless and you don’t want to return to tubes, there is one alternative that might save your ride in the case of a flat that sealant can’t fix. Vittoria Tire Inserts can be placed inside of your tubeless tire.
Although they add a little extra weight and replace some of the air, these rigid inserts will maintain the shape of the tire even if it goes flat. This will help you ride back to home even without installing a tube into your tubeless tire.