Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Going Fatbike 4", 5", and 29+ Ghetto Tubeless ...

An ongoing blog post of my early attempts and recent success in going tubeless on Fatbike and 29+  `Non Tubeless` spec wheel rims and tyres using the `Ghetto Split tube` method that will be updated with progress and if it works well on Fatbikes. Hopefully this post will be of use to people thinking of giving this a go...


In the last 2 months i have replaced 3 pairs of tyres for my 4 pairs of spare wheels i have built up over the last 3 years for the `Pumpkin` Surly Pugsley;

Pair of 4" Maxxis `Mammoth` tyres on Surly 65mm `Large Marge` rims (Beach)
Pair of 4" Surly `Nate` tyres on Surly 65mm `Large Marge` rims   (Trails/mud)
Pair of 29+ 3" Maxis `Chronicles` on Surly `Rabbit hole` 50mm rims  (29+)
Pair of Maxxis 2.5" Minion` MTB 29er tyres on Surly Rabbit Hole 50mm rims (MTB 29er)


So why the need to go tubeless with these bikes i ride?;
Because of the thin rubber and wide contact footprint area of Fatbike tyres and the amount of roadside and field boundary Hawthorn and Blackthorn hedges here in East Lothian i have had a real problem with punctures from the thorns from these hedges that get scattered every time landowners cut them. Because of the weight issues there is no puncture resistance tyre thread as you find in some road touring tyres  to prevent thorn punctures.


Why not just juice some inner tubes with tubeless sealant like that by `Stans` or `Joes` then?;
Well i have for the last 6 years on my Pugsleys and more recently the 29+ wheels but it is still not ideal and reliable. after sometimes a short period of time (sometimes as little as 2 months) from a fresh top up of tubes with sealant you get a thorn flat that refuses to seal up. One answer to this is you have used up all the crystals in the juice-who knows how many thorns could have pierced your tyre and come out in a half mile of riding alongside a cut hedgerow?, another reason is thorns that do stay in the tyre and pierce the inner tube are constantly moved by the squirm of the inner tube and again all the sealant crystals get used up real quick.

Here is a perfect example of a ride where thorn flats resulted in a push home; Here...

Then again when i rode a Pugsley into work so i could go for a play after work, Curses!... Link Here...
So the answer is a tubeless set up where the thorn is not moved about by a tube and acts as a plug preventing the tyre deflating, and the sealant works doing it`s job far longer.


Trying a tubeless set up with non tubeless specific tyres and rims?;
This can be done and many people have and had no problems but i like many have had failure after failure and the result is a trail behind or puddle of sealant and another £6 wasted, not to mention the time...
I had no luck at several attempts and even after advice from friends who have had success each attempt has ended in failure. You can read about the failed tubeless attempt then success split tube set up Here...
And here is the last attempt when  i took the 29+ KramPug wheels into work to have a go at setting them up properly tubeless...



The new rim tape had been fitted and Gorilla tape wound as instructed by folks and with a tube fitted to compress the tape i rode these wheels like this all week.

So deflated i carefully popped the bead on one side and removed the tube...

Then fitted the `Joe's` tubeless Schrader valve, i used a hex nut to tighten it securely...


Next i soaped the bead and inflated it with the compressor...


It popped up nice and had a small air leak only at one point near the valve...


Aired down removing the valve i added 160ml of `Joe's No Flats` juice-The Joe's sealant is in a OKO bottle as has a better pourer...



Valve refitted it inflated up at 30 psi and some sealant started to weep through the rim tape until i deflated it to 20psi...


And i then gave it the `Stan's Shake` Hokey Cokey when it then sealed...


With both wheels done i left them on their sides and turned them later in the day...


Home time on Friday on the KramPug and the 29+ wheels still held air ok as i detoured home and i met Francis for a cycle alongside the horses and dogs...


And then the  front started leaking through the rim tape!....

I removed the wheel and removing the tubeless valve completely i fitted a tube and was soon rolling again, After all the failures and disappointments or recent attempts at this proper tubeless malarkey on non tubeless ready tyres and rims i was deft forgetting about the proper tubeless set up from now on with non tubeless!...



The answer?- going the Ghetto `Split tube tubeless`  set up!
And first go with a `split tube` tubeless method;
By splitting a tube on a rim and stretching it over the rim it can act as a seal and form a tubeless type set up that will have the same desired affect of resisting thorns loosing air out tyres and also `snakebite` pinch flats...
After the failed tubeless attempt with the 29+ Surly Knard tyres with leaking sidewall cuts, i went for  two pairs of Maxxis tyres; Minion 29x2.5", and 29+ Chronicles as they seem to have thicker sidewalls.
Whatever tyre you use it it probably more important to begin with a new tyre to eliminate side wall leaks from cuts,
So with a new pair of 29" x 2.5"  Maxxis Minions on a pair of Surly Rabbit hole rims i decided to go down the split tube method as it has worked fine with the 2.5 Minion 29er tyres on Rabbit Hole rims have been successful going `Ghetto` tubeless using the `split tube` set up as i was recommended to probably be best to use by friend Allan who swears by this set up...


So a pack of 6 24" Downhill Inner tubes with Schrader valves i bought discounted on line arrived and we were good to go!,
Friday evening and home from work,  and a planned assault on all fatbike wheels and 29+ wheels tomorrow!...


But first it`s Friday night and after watching a lovely sunset was time to light the Chiminea and have a couple of Ciders... tomorrow i would make a day of it and split tube tubeless most of my bikes and wheel sets...





Saturday; Spilt tubeless day!...
Started the day with The Maxxis Mammoth tyres going Split tube less...



Up at work to use the compressor i soon had the tyre off and tube removed...


24" Down Hill Schrader valve inner tube inflated and fitted...


Then cut with scissors down the centre...


Washed down with soapy water the tyre fitted nicely...


And here is a good thing about Split Tube Tubeless is the valve does not need to be that tight, as the tube seals the air space. This also means it is easy to remove the valve core if you do manage to burp the tyre flat.


I have been on a couple of MTB rides where a rider has burped a tubeless tyre on a tubeless specific rim, and trying to remove the tubeless tyre valve was not easy  as the tight valve was corroded tight. His day only saved by one rider having a pair of small vice grips in his tools (me!)...

Some Copper Grease on the threads then wiped clean  before inflating is a good measure or removing later on...



Staying inflated it was time to removed the valve cores and add sealant juice...



Refit the valve, inflate to 20 psi,  and then trim the excess tube rubber with a Stanley knife...


And Vola!,  a tubeless Fatbike wheel that should only need the odd juice top up when required...


Quick test ride from home and all fine...



Next up; 29+ split tubeless...
Back at the Man Cave i decided to removed the failed tubeless Gorilla tape rim tape etc in the KramPug front wheel, and and then also the rear wheel as although it was still aired up fine, i just do not trust trying to seal the machined rims and valve holes with tape and tubeless valves on regular tubed rims...

Washed clean and dried i added the new rim strips, then wrapped a layer of cheap Duct tape to keep the rim tape centred...


Then i inflated and fitted the Nokian DH 24" tubes bought reduced on line...


24" fits a lot tighter on the 29" rims, and in future 26" rims will be done with 20" BMX tubes...



The Maxxis 3" Chronicle tyres ready to be  inflated...


And with just a workshop track pump i aired the front up and it popped on the bead real easy...


So i stripped the rear wheel and washed out the tyre and hung it all up to dry in the afternoon sun...
Hopefully this will be the last £6 of tyre sealant wasted for a while!...




Rim tape fitted and again some Duct tape to keep the rim tape centre...


Then tyre fitted and again it inflated with 10 seconds fast pumping with the track pump...


Sorted...


The protruding inner was trimmed and pressures set to 14psi front 14 1/2 rear,  and i headed out on a wee cycle with the dogs mid morning below a huge blue sky...


With big fluffy clouds drifting over- East Lothian really is the small County with a big sky...


29+ rolling tubeless;
The tyres can now be run a little firmer with no regular tubes as the tyre tread flexes more-so you can also run them lower than before for more grip without the worry of a pinch flat like what can happen when with a regular tube fitted...




Next Up; Surly Larry tyres split tube tubeless;
Back home and time to do another wheel set, the Alfine 8speed gear Hub Pugsley fitted with the good condition Surly `Larry` tyres.
Both Larry tyres aired up  with the track pump too...



I let these sit inflated to 20 psi having giving them a shake and spin to coat the insides with the sealant,  i headed out to walk the dogs again...


Late afternoon and  big skies now with towering clouds of heavy showers passed by missing here...

Remember i set some Duffis Mole traps in the previous blog?, stopped by to check them and caught another Mole At Francis`s paddock...




Back at the Man Cave;
And i aired the wheels down to 9 psi and after another shake i  trimmed the excess inner tube protruding...


Outside a quick shower of hail stones blew past!. still some cold air here for at least another week...


And finished another Ghetto tubeless set up...






Next up;  Surly Nate 120 tpi folders on Large Marge 65mm rims;
These tyres i new would be more of a challenge to do as they are slack fitting when installed on my rims.
So first time trying two 20" BMX tubes that arrived through the post on Friday.
Aired up and split it was a nice tight fit which was better than when using a 24" tube...




But here you see the slack fit of the Nate tyre...



So i had to pack the rim with some Laminate flooring underlay foam i bought from B&Q,
I had to buy a 10 meter roll for a tenner!, but it will get used for something in the future.
Removing the tyre and tube i trimmed 60mm wide lenghts and wound them around the rim twice securing with a spot of duct tape, made a hole for the tube valve and then refitted the tube...



Remounted the tyre was a tight fit, with the rim tape pulled back through and aligned once the tyre was on i aired the tyre up dry first of all to see if it would go up...


And it popped up fine!, at 20 psi the tyre bead seated ok without any soap, so i removed the valve, added 2x 160ml bottles of juice to these as they are very thin rubber and aired them back up to 20 psi...

Seated fine i shook the juice around and a couple of thorn holes quickly sealed up.
The other tyre was still a bit slack after i wound it twice with foam-possibly because i wound this one tighter, so i added a third layer of foam and mounted up the tyre was tight. it too inflated fine on the bead at 20 psi and was also juiced up with 2x 160ml bottles of juice.

4 wheel sets set up and none have deflated!
Happy to do all this, not a lot of trouble to do and hopefully save any more frustration of flats from thorns in the future...




While i was at it the Karate Monkey 29er MTB also got the split tube tubeless treatment;
I then split some 26" tubes and  did the 29er wheels on my Surly Karate Monkey Drop bar 29er...


Spare inner tubes-loads of them!...
Getting low on sealant juice i hung up all the spare inner tubes i now have and emptied out the sealant...


And got all this! :)



I could not get the 29er tyres  to air up with the track pump so used the compressor to inflate. These tyres started to weep a bit sealant but soon sealed after a shake...

Ready to go...
Another bike that should be better for it...




And lastly the mighty Moonlander!...
This is the bike whose wheels i really want to see how Ghetto tubeless will preform as this is the one bike that i have had problems with pinch flats running low pressures on the coast.  In soft sand the Moonlanders big 5" tyres on 100mm rims can be aired down to 5 psi and provide amazing traction and allow to maintain forward movement over real soft conditions,  how ever venture anywhere near rocks with tyres below 7 psi and you are likely to end up with a pinch flat-or `Snakebite` puncture as the inner tube is nicked between the rim and tyre.
So will a split tube set up on a Moonlander work at 5-6 psi on the coast and not `tyre burp` and flat?,  well i guess time will tell!..

A wee experiment;;
My 3 year old Surly 4.7" `Big Fat Larry` tyres have seen better days and i thought i would have a go running the front split tubeless and see if the tyre will indeed stay on  inflated at these low pressures.
So i removed the tyre and tube and wrapped the rim a few times with the foam underlay to create the needed tighter fitting tyre,  i measured the inside of the rim then marked the foam with a pen and cut it with a straight edge (1 meter spirit level ) and as before with the other wheels wound it round securing each lenght with some Duct tape...


With a valve hole made with the twist of a screwdriver i next inflated and fitted the Maxxis 24" x 2.7 Downhill (DH) Schrader valve inner tube...



Cut down the centre line with scissors and washed with soapy water it was ready to  mount the tyre...



Inflating it with the valve core removed a hissing revealed a leak in the tyre sidewall (red circle) ,
This is why its best to do the Ghetto set up with a new tyre, you will also get a non stretch bead from an old tyre removed and refitted a few times...


How to repair a tyre side wall rip;
With the tyre propped up away from the rim i cleaned inside the tyre with brake cleaner, then roughened the surface with sand paper then applied some patch adhesive and allowed the glue to dry before applying a 2" motorcycle patch...


With the patch dried on and rolled with the wee knurled patch roller tool i threaded some Dental thread through a small needle...


And stitched the patch to the tyre across the cut, then sealed it by smearing patch glue on both sides of the repair...


Good repair but all in vain...
As when i inflated the tyre up to 20 psi there was an almighty bang and the tyre had ripped!
Closer inspection showed a rusted through wire tyre bead, i guess 3 years of salt water exposure had took its toll on the tyre!, better it happen at home in the man cave than fail 2 miles out on the sands at low tide!



Gimme some (new) Skin!...
Fancied trying these new tyres by Schwalbe- Jumbo Jim 4.8" in stock at Charlie Bikemonger...


Light and tubeless ready they should be ideal for split tube Ghetto set up on the 100mm Surly `Clown shoe` rims...


Rim foam was still ok when i removed the split tube so i remounted the split tube and inflated the tyre aired straight up not even leaking!, i added 1 1/2  160mm bottles of sealant and job done!...



So if the front had blown with a rusted tyre bead then the rear tyre must be on it`s way out too!, so i ordered another tyre from Charlie, it arrived tonight so i set it up the same way but took more pics this time...
With no 24" DH tube i split a 26" DH tube and although a bit loose on the rear rim that i wrapped with 3 layers of foam it still aired up fine as the tyre was a snug fit...



Some weird crystal Stan's juice thing that came out the used tube once split!...


Juice was drained out the old tube as before with all tubes removed before cutting to top up the big bottle, a mix of `Joes no flats` and OKO sealant that has linseed particles, so did not bother adding any glitter etc...


2 x 160mm bottles on the rear Moonie wheel...

And inflated to 20 psi i gave it the usual shake and it was seated perfect, and left it for an hour but it was fine,
I trimmed the tube then deflated it down to 7 psi and it is ready to go!...


Just need to relocate some red Slim Jim pedals i temperarily loaned!...



Time will tell;
I will return to this post that will be linked on the sidebar with updates after a month, 3 months, 6 months of how this set up lasts and preforms riding where i do,
Using them  at lower pressures will be the big test on the Fatbike wheels, but if it burps i can probably re air them with my pump, or my Co2 canisters, or at a car park with a car pump from someone.
Friend Allan said i will not need to touch these wheels until the tyre wears out, with maybe just the odd top up of juice, the juice can be heard inside the tyre when you shake it so it`s just a matter of keeping an eye on it.

So to sum up i will use the following set up;
20 x 2.5" tubes on 26" rims
24 x 2.5" tubes on 29er and 29+ " rims
25 x 2.7 DG tubes on the Moonlander 5" tyres on 100mm rims

You have to buy tubes anyway so doing this method seems a no brainer and i wish i had done it years ago!, esp if indeed it does indeed last a while.
Time will tell...
Lol...


7 comments:

  1. I've had good luck with the split tube tubeless on Rabbit Hole rims with Surly 120tpi Knards. 1yr and no issues. I'll squirt some more Stans in there in May for the summer riding season and call it good.

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  2. Hi Vik, hope your well and life is good :)

    Seems to be a reliable set up by a friend and other online reports of the split tube set up, as you also confirm,

    Cheers
    Bruce

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  3. Nice production setup, CK. Do you still use Schrader valves? And which do you prefer, Chronicles or Minions?

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  4. Hi Robert, i used Schrader valves, i like the idea that if i have a pump failure then i can get a car pump, also can then easily re inflate these is they ever burp, of course i can carry some Co2 cartridges too.
    I really like the 29+ on the Pugsley and the Chronicles are perfect around here, they offer a great roll to grip and comfort with lower pressures to the Minions.
    The Minions i bought first so will still used them for muddy rides and through next winter,
    Happy both should keep thorn punctures to a mininum now!

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  5. I'd like to try this on my cruiser, which uses 24x3" rims and tires. If you had to guess, would you recommend 18" or 16" tubes? Neither is available in a wider version; 1.75-2.125" appears to be my only choice.

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  6. Hi, i think 20" BMX 2.5 tubes should be ok for 24" rims,
    All the 24" tubes split aired up the 26" fat tyres ok even though the tube was not that tight on the rim, so i imagine 20" should be ok on a 24" tyre

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  7. A man after me own heart.
    I did the split tube method for a 29+ Knard on a Dually last year. Someone asked why, its a tubeless tyre & rim, but it adds practically nothing to the weight & the tyre goes straight up with a track pump, no messing. Did the back, this time a b+ trailblazer on a b+ Dually. Again, no issues at all. I don't bother with tubes with a threaded valve stem, just bog standard ones, as the valve stem is air tight anyway under the tube.
    A good tip, if your stuck, use a bungee cord or some rope/string around the centre circumference of the tyre. It effects a seal for long enough for the pressure to do its work. Can get you past a tight spot, if you lose all pressure out in the wilds. Happy (ghetto) trails.

    ReplyDelete