Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tubelessness can be a journey.

I really prefer to run without tubes in my wheels. I rarely pinch flat, but we have enough thorns to make life (and tires) full of tiny little holes. One ride, while on the still tubed SS Jabber, I even got a flat from an acorn shell and I did not know that was even possible, unlike the time I laid my bike down in a yucca plant. That I knew was possible. And stupid.

It has been pretty painless with the taped up Stan's Flows, especially with 2 Bliss Specialized tires, but the Conti Race Kings have rocked all year tubeless. So, it seemed like it was about time to convert the Roval wheels on the Epic Marathon to tubeless. I also wanted to run some bigger tires at the same time, larger than the 2.0 Captain front and 2.0 FastTrak rear.

The wheels come with the Big S blue tape (and valves too) but there seems to be some teething issues with applying the tape during assembly as it was crooked and a bit bubbled. Also, I had pranged it in one spot with a tire lever. So, I pulled it off and had a bright idea to replace it with strapping tape. Real tough with that string in it, very sticky...seemed like a good idea at the time. Funny, that.

Cuz it really sucked when I was sitting on a bucket in the garage removing the gummy residue with a rag, alcohol, and elbow grease. Turns out that the tape leaked...pretty much all over the place and the air and sealant chose to exit around the valve stem. At first I thought the valve stem was leaking at the rim, but more than enough tries to seal it had me wondering. The next day I removed an airless tire and found sealant under the tape and in the rim center. It turns out that the string that gives the tape the strength also makes a dandy wick and a corridor under the tape for goo to get out. Drat.

So, now the Rovals have a nice application of Stan's tape (I had a roll sitting around for an upcoming wheel build) and they are cooking overnight with tubes in the Wolverine/Captain 2.2 combo. I read that giving them some tube time really sits the tape down evenly before you go for the full monty of airing them up tubeless. Makes sense to me.

Saturday, if all goes well, I have a fairly long ride planned on the Epic Marathon, so I hope for tubeless bliss. However, I am bringing an extra tube just in case.

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