The most common bicycle tires used today are tubed. Also known as tubular tires if you want to get a bit technical. But we don't want to make it too complicated so lets just go with tubed tires and tubeless. If you are riding on these traditional tires and need to switch to tubeless tires, you may have to change either the tires only or the whole set of wheels depending on the type of rims you are riding on. But why should you change your tires? Why should you switch from the tires you are currently riding that have tubes? Tubeless tires have got several merits over the more traditional tires with tubes. Tubeless tires can run on low tire pressure, they provide a less rolling resistance, and when using tubeless tires, you will experience very few incidences of flat tires. Check out the Blue Sky Cycling tubeless tires for more information on specs.
Since there is no tube in these tires, you are able to run on lower tire pressures without the fear of pinch flattening. Riding on low tire pressure will allow your tires to take shape into the ground and provide you with a comfortable ride. With less air, the jumpy nature of a fully inflated tire is highly reduced. It results in an increase in the surface area of the tire that is in contact with the ground. With more surface area on the road, you get increased grip, hence more traction. When you are riding in a situation that demands good traction such as in a cross-country race, you can run up to 15 percent less air pressure with your tubeless tires and get terrific traction.
The performance of a fully inflated tire on a road bike is different from the performance of a fully inflated tire on a mountain bike. As we talk about the rolling resistance, consider that a road bike uses smooth narrow tires and rides on flat hard surfaces while a mountain bike uses fat knobby tires and rides on rough, bumpy, rocky; even soft, loose surfaces. In this case, we are talking about mountain bikes and not road bikes.
The interaction between the tire and the ground is what causes rolling resistance. Therefore, forgetting about road bikes and its terrain, reflect the picture of your mountain bike tire in motion, on rough terrains. When it hits a bump, the wheel will either move upwards or sideways. This deflection requires some energy, which is snatched from your forward momentum. This will cause you to slow down. Now can you imagine hitting all those rocks and holes on a rock garden; how much forward momentum will you lose?
Using a lower tire pressure allows your tire to deform inwards rather than moving your tires up or sideways, acting more like a shock absorb-er. And thus, you will lose less forward momentum and ride faster over obstacles. This will also result in more stability and balance as you ride over obstacles because there will be less upward and sideways movement on your wheels.
When you are riding a mountain bike with low pressured tubular tires, you will not get a good amount of deformation on the tires when it hits a bump because of the friction between the tube and the tire. You must get rid of this kind of friction to allow the tire to deform properly. By getting rid of the tube; and using tubeless tires, there is no more friction to reduce the energy needed to deform the tire.
First of all, when you are riding on tubeless tires, you never worry about pinch flats because there is no tube to be pinched. Since you will be using a sealant when installing the tire, many small punctures will get sealed up by the sealant without you noticing. And when you get a puncture that is too big for the sealant to repair, you can simply install a tube and use the tire as a tubular tire; at least for the time being as you find better ways of solving the problem. Moreover, many manufacturers will provide an internal liner within the tires that will prevent leaking and constrain damages to the casing. According to IRC, applying a thin rubber coating to the inner wall will prevent leaking and allow the tire to be repaired easily even when you are in the field.
As a mountain biker, getting rid of tubes from your wheels will give you an improved feel of what your wheels are doing on the road. Your ride will get smoother, faster and easier and the tires will also sound differently on the trails. You get all these benefits because you are able to ride on lower tire pressure which greatly contributes to less rolling resistance. You will also experience fewer flat tires. With less tire pressure, you get you tire to mold more into the ground giving you a comfortable ride and more traction. Less rolling resistance will enable you to ride faster over obstacles. Riding on tubeless tires will also present you with the convenience of riding long distances without experiencing a flat tire. If you still want to research going tubeless on your mountain bike check out an article on tubeless cycling tires I found useful while researching. I hope you were able to gain some great information on tubeless tires for your mountain bike or even road bike. As always, please feel free to leave a comment with any questions you might have. Thank you and get out there and ride!
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