I originally posted this on an old blog of mine almost exactly three years ago. It also happened to be on a Tuesday. Turns out it is just as applicable now as it was then and since it’s a really useful tip, I thought I’d re-share it (with some edits)!
Tubeless rocks! Especially tubeless with sealant. Not only does it get rid of annoying flats like goat heads, glass, and small rocks, but it allows you to run lower tire pressures without risking pinch flats. Personally, I run WTB TCS (Tubeless Compatible System) tires (26 PSI front, 28 PSI rear), but as long as you’re using sealant, you can run most tube tires tubeless if you have tubeless-compatible wheels.
My one issue with tubeless used to be installing the tires. I always had to find a gas station or bike shop with a high-pressure air compressor. But at the Sea Otter Classic in 2009, Joe, the Giant team mechanic, taught me a trick to install tube tires on tubeless rims with sealant and a floor pump. Since then, I’ve almost always installed my tires with a pump instead of an air compressor and it works like a charm!
Things you’ll need:
- Tubeless wheel – In the video I used Crank Brothers Cobalt wheels. I now use Stan’s Notubes wheels and they are even easier to install with a floor pump!
- Tire – In the video I used a WTB Nano Raptor. I still use (and love) these tires.
- Stan’s Notubes tire sealant – It’s the best.
- Floor pump – Genuine Innovations Top Dog Legend floor pump. Still use it. Still love it!
- Tire levers
Here is a video of how to install the tire (and as it has had almost 40,000 views, I like to think it’s rather informative…). If you don’t like videos or prefer step-by-step instructions, keep scrolling.
- Clean your wheel.
- Install one side of the tire.
- Shake the tire sealant. (It helps if you dance).
- Pour in the sealant. Refer to bottle for correct amount.
- Finish installing your tire.
- Using your tire lever, seat the tire 2/3 – 3/4 of the way around, or until it becomes VERY difficult to move the lever. Note: for some wheel/tire combinations, my Notubes/Nanos for example, you will not make it 2/3 of the way around. That’s okay. The most important thing is that the tire is seated on both sides of the valve and is tight.
- Remove the tire lever by pushing on the opposite side of the tire to keep the tire from un-seating.
- Seat the other side of the tire as far around as you can without knocking the first side off.
- Remove the tire lever. DO NOT push from the other side or you will unseat the side you already did, instead, push from the center CAREFULLY.
- Check both sides of the tire to make sure that it is seated as much as possible. The tire should be VERY close to the rim wall on both sides and should NOT have fallen into the rim well and it should be tight.
- Connect a floor pump. I recommend the Genuine Innovations Top Dog Legend because it is a high-volume, metal pump. Cheap plastics ones don’t work nearly as well…
- Pump up your tire. Most likely you will hear some air escaping. If so, pump faster! Eventually, you should hear some pinging noises. This is your tire seating and is a good sign! I do not recommend inflating the tire higher than 40 or 45 PSI. It can blow off the rim. This is scary and not fun at all! If you hit 45 PSI without the tire seating, let some air out, massage the places that haven’t seated (roll the tire up and out towards the rim) and pump it up again. After a time or two, it should seat.
- Check both sides of your tire to confirm that the bead shows evenly. This tells you that you tire has seated properly. If it has not, refer to the previous step.