I’m a bit of a weight-weenie….so when someone said lighter weight (with no inner tubes), my ears pricked up.
Add to that lower tyre pressure (for more grip) and say goodbye to pinch punctures and thorns (using sealant)? Well that’s what they said.
Those of you that know me, know that I like low tyre pressure. 18psi in a normal 26″ tyre with a tube, I’ve done it. Want lighter weight? How about a tyre upgrade with a folding bead. Punctures? I can honestly say I didn’t have more than normal, 3 years without one at one point!
So why now?
You may think that trying to get a rim with great gaping holes in them, to run without tubes is futile….well you’re half right. The trick is build up the layer next to the rim tape with a nice, airtight tape (something like ‘Gorilla Tape’). You might need a good few layers to ensure your tyre is a tight fit on the rim.
I’ve tried to ‘tubeless’ my rims before with mixed results….it works (sort of). What I’ve found is that if I miss my regular ride out (as I have recently with the Workshop so busy), then they start to loose air. Not much but enough to put that little bit of doubt in my mind.
Well I’ve now got the answer with some American Classic Smoking Gun wheels for my singlespeed Surly Krampus 29+.
I was lucky enough to grab a pair in the standard 100/135mm format, Boost spacing is getting pretty popular with the Plus Bike crowd. This has meant they’re a straight swap for my Rabbit Hole/ Hope Pro 2 setup.
Out of the box they feel great – nice and stiff with all my static prodding and poking. There are some steel facing strips on the alloy freehub body to stop the cassette cogs from scoring it. They’re also doubled walled without cut-outs (and tubeless ready) and come with the rim strip installed (with some snazzy red anodized tubeless valves).
They went up with just a track pump, the beads snapped straight in, and stayed up without sealant. To be safe I added a dose of Schwalbe Doc Blue to each and four weeks in, they’re showing no loss of air at all.
So far, a great fit and forget option to complement my ‘grab anytime’ bike. They roll noticeably faster than the Rabbit Holes they replaced, which means I don’t have to think twice when I finally get a ride in!
Although slightly narrower internally than the Rabbit Holes (40mm vs 43.5mm internal width), they’ve provided more than enough support for the Bontrager Chupacabra’s, even under the weird cornering forces I put them to.
An added bonus for me, no more loud clacking when freewheeling. It’s great to let people know you’re approaching but I prefer a bit of a ‘excuse me’ and ‘thank you’. There’s a nice buzz and positive engagement, this could be down to the clever cam plate that engages all the freehub pawls at the same time or the double tipped pawls themselves. Either way, it’s nicely understated and just works.