Tubeless once more

Photo montage adding sealant to wheel and finished wheel with tire inflated

When I replaced Kuroko’s troublesome Babyshoe Pass tires recently with more readily available Panaracer rubber, I gave up getting the tires to mount tubelessly after a few tries and set them up with tubes. Today, I had sunny skies and windless conditions to give it another try.

Photo montage: removing the inner tube, inflating bicycle tire with pump
Tube out, air in

I’d read someone’s suggestion to use straps to cinch the tire to the rim to get it to seal, and I got some old-school toe straps to try it. This turned out to be a load of hooey contraindicated in my case: the tire beads sat closer to the rim without the straps. After giving it one try with the straps on, I removed them and the tire seated on the next try with a resounding “pop! pop!”

It was a bit more effort after that to get the latex sealant into the tire, insert the valve core and pump it up again. Amusingly, while my JoeBlow Booster pump worked great to seat the tires with the valve core removed, it wouldn’t let me get any air into the tire once I’d reinstalled the core. I ended up using an older pump I’ve had sitting around to finish the job.

Photo montage adding sealant to wheel and finished wheel with tire inflated
Sealant and done

For the rear tire, I didn’t bother with the toe straps, and it seated on the first try. I’m sure things went easier this time around because the tires have been on the rims for a month now, and I managed to leave one side fully seated while I removed the inner tube and inserted the tubeless valve. I had the same experience with the JoeBlow pump not sealing on the valve after the tire had seated, though.

All in all, it was a much smoother experience than my first go at tubeless tires. I think this is at least partly due to the tighter fit on the rim of the Panaracer Gravelkings compared to the Babyshoe Pass tires. (The Babyshoe Pass tires are still laying on the balcony where I left them after swapping them out last month, coiled up like shed snake skins. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll try to reuse them.)

Final analysis

I got the Babyshoe Pass tires for the large weight savings they gave me over Kuroko’s original WTB tires. So how do the Gravelkings stack up?

Photo montage of bicycle wheels on a scale showing their weight
Weight penalty

With the Gravelkings, the front wheel is 118g heavier than with the Babyshoe Pass, while the rear wheel is 38g heavier. I suspect part of that difference in the front is my finger on the scale — I couldn’t get the wheels to balance. (Real bike bloggers have a kind of cone on a flat base they use to get the wheels to balance on the scale.) If these are in fact 40-50g heavier, but stay on the rim and don’t lose air so they need to be refilled every day, then it will be well worth it.

I’ve got a big ride coming up later in the month, and I’m sure I’ll know after that whether this new tubeless set-up is going to be something I’ll stay with long-term. In the meantime, I’ve run low on sealant so I’ve ordered another bottle, in addition to a couple of spare valves (just in case).

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