How to fit Tubeless Tyres like a Pro
It is now accepted that tubeless tyres offer much better performance than running inner tubes. You are much less likely to get a pinch-puncture, they are pretty much thorn resistant, they shed valuable rotating weight and you can run much lower pressures and still keep a relatively good rolling speed.
A few years ago they were considered as ‘witchcraft’ by some, but even though they are now very popular – people still seem to have some funny ideas when it comes to fitting tubeless tyres. We decided to cut out the bullshit and get some professional advice from Team Factory GT’s mechanic, Pete Michaliszyn.
- Tyre Levers
- Rim Tape
- Tubeless Fluid
- Cleaning Solution
Pete has been with the Factory GT team now for a number of years and certainly is no stranger to working under pressure at the sharp end of competitive World Cup racing. So if anyone should know the most efficient and effective ways to set up your tubeless tyres, then Pete is your man. We popped over to Atherton Racing HQ over in North Wales to get the full lowdown off the top pro mechanic, who usually likes to stay out of the limelight.
STEP 1 – Build up the bead
To prevent the tyre burping, it needs to be seated nice and tight, you shouldn’t be able to fit it with just your hands! Start off with cleaning the rim and the bead, removing any dirt, old tubeless fluid etc, next Pete degreases it, this helps the tape to stick. When applying the yellow tape start it off on the opposite side to the valve and wrap two layers really tightly, making sure there are no big air bubbles underneath it. Keep adding the tape onto the channel of the rim (yellow or gorilla) until you reach the desired height to keep the tyre nice and tight. Use two layers of yellow Stan’s tubeless tape and a Flow EX rubber strip. Depending on the rim you have you might need more layers of yellow tape, or gorilla tape if you’re on a budget.
STEP 2 – Mounting the tyre
Put the wheel inside the tyre, put one side of the tyre on the bead (this should be just doable with you hands)
Give the fluid bottle a good shake and then pour the fluid in, making sure the bottle is upside down, otherwise the crystals will stay in the bottle and won’t seal your tyre. Next put the other side on using a good plastic tyre lever.
Pete uses the least amount of fluid he can get away with for weight reasons, and also because he changes the tyres daily (whilst out on the race circuit) so the fluid never goes off and sets into a hard rubber lump. Obviously this is a bit excessive for your average trail rider so Pete suggests using the recommended amount written on the back of the bottle for everyday riding and checking its consistency from time to time.
Next, make sure the rim strip is not caught by the tyre and still looks evenly spread. Interestingly Pete then pours fluid around the tyre bead, this aids the tyre to seat properly and to get an even better seal, spraying with soapy water will also help it to seat properly.
Now pump the tyre up to 40 psi, holding the tyre above the valve slightly to the side (this helps the inflating procedure when using a track-pump)
Wash the excess fluid off, then Pete does another unusual trick, he bounces the wheel and taps the sides on the floor to make sure the fluid gets into to all the nooks and crannies to fill any possible air leakage gaps.
The last procedure is to check if the bead is even above the rim line and set the tyre pressure to your correct preference. Pete advises to check regularly that you still have plenty of tyre sealant in the tyres and top up if and when required
Big thanks to Pete for taking the time out of his busy pre World Cup DH and EWS bike prepping.
Words: Jim Buchanan Photos: Doc Ward