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  1. #1
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    My 1st Tubeless Attempt

    OK, so I decided I'd like to try my first tubeless install on my mountain bike. As a dry run, I did this without sealant. I pumped up to around 50PSI (no, I have no intentions of riding this high) and air leaks at the valve. The tire is completely flat in about 5 minutes. Just in case the valve was defective, I tried another valve - same thing.

    Rims: Stan's Rapid 28
    Tires: Maxxis DHR II 2.3
    Tape: Stan's 27mm wrapped around twice
    Valves: Stan's

    As asked over on MBTR and one guy thinks that sealant would not solve this problem and to try soapy water to locate the leak exactly.

    Another thing is that when mounting the tire, it was impossible to get the last part of the bead on the rim without a lever. I may have gouged part of the rim tape, but there were no other apparent leaks other than the valve.

    When changing the valve and trying again, it is apparent to me that if I ever have a flat on the trail, this will be a freaken PITA to get the tire off the rim!!! The well in this rim isn't that deep - especially with two layers of Stan's tape, so the "stick the bead in the rim well" trick doesn't work.
    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

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  2. #2
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    Couple of things:
    1. The stick the bead in the rim well trick does work. Even if it seems like it doesn't.
    2. Any leak in the system is going to seem like it's coming out of the stem. Your tape install could be f'd up. For mtb, use ONE wrap of tape, stretch the tape like crazy, and force it down into the trough with your thumb as you go. Careful not to split the tape with your thumb.
    3. The inflated tire system will compress the tape once it's inflated, making the tire/rim interaction easier.
    4. The tire bead will stretch a tiny bit, making the tire/rim interaction easier but posing no safety risk at mtb pressures.
    5. If it's going flat in 5', sealant is going to make that leak disappear.

  3. #3
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    As asked over on MBTR and one guy thinks that sealant would not solve this problem and to try soapy water to locate the leak exactly.
    I disagree. A 5min leak should easily seal up with sealant.

    You could try soap bubble test to locate leaks. But I'd bet there's a whole bunch of little leaks around the bead. Put some sealant in there and you'll be good.


    When changing the valve and trying again, it is apparent to me that if I ever have a flat on the trail, this will be a freaken PITA to get the tire off the rim!!!
    Is it a new tire? After using it a while, it'll be a little easier to get off/on. Make sure you have good tire levers.
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  4. #4
    'brifter' is a lame word.
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    How did you make the valve hole in the tape? If you just poked a hole w/ a pick or a knife blade there's a good chance it tore and the valve grommet isn't sealing. I heat up a spoke w/ our little propane torch and melt the hole. Never have problems w/ leaks at the valve anymore. I agree w/ ND, one layer of tape is fine for mtb, but I don't like Stan's. Orange seal tape. Or DT. Or Enve. And the bead in the rim well thing works.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    air leaks at the valve.
    Hold the wheel with the valve at the bottom of the wheel and drop it on the ground a few times.

    If that doesn't solve it then it's probable that the tape is leaking, most likely not covering a spoke hole drilling.

  6. #6
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    I replied to your thread on mtbr. Your woes are just normal stuff for a roadie getting acquainted to mountain bikes. If it doesn't hold air at 50psi it's not really relevant cuz nobody rides tubeless mtb tires at more than about 32psi. 50psi is too high even for seating tires and you're better off lubricating the bead so it seats at a lower pressure.

  7. #7
    'brifter' is a lame word.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bubble View Post
    I replied to your thread on mtbr. Your woes are just normal stuff for a roadie getting acquainted to mountain bikes. If it doesn't hold air at 50psi it's not really relevant cuz nobody rides tubeless mtb tires at more than about 32psi. 50psi is too high even for seating tires and you're better off lubricating the bead so it seats at a lower pressure.
    Sounds like you haven't installed WTB tires on Bontrager rims w/ TLR rimstrips
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  8. #8
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    If it's leaking at the stem you screwed up the rim tape somewhere. It's pretty easily done wrestling a tire that 's tight on a tight rim. Just needs to be pulled away from the edge inside a little and air will get into the nipple holes and escape at the stem. For tight tires tubeless, I put a couple dabs of liquid soap on a paper towel, wet it well, and wipe down the tire beads and rim lip to make them slick, then move fast to slip on the tire before it dries. Like others said, get the bead in the middle of the rim when working the last edge. If you have to force it on sometimes that will pull the tape away from the edge and create your leak. Stretching the rim tape really tight and taking more than one wrap around the wheel is important - it can help prevent problems but not bullet proof if you aren't careful putting on the tire.

    Sealant or not, it should stay inflated several hours at least or something's screwed up. If it leaks down after more than a few hours check the bead to see if it's seated well and the sidewall as well - using soapy water. It will foam where the air is coming out. The sidewalls will seal with sealant when you ride them, bead probably too if it will stay up several hours without sealant. Riding the bike in tight figure 8s with the sealant in, and pressure fairly low will help work it into the sidewall. Once sealed will they should stay inflated for weeks, losing very little air, just like a tubed tire.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    Sounds like you haven't installed WTB tires on Bontrager rims w/ TLR rimstrips
    Sounds like you don't soap down your tires before installation.



    The reality is that since there's no real standard some combinations work like crap. In general it's a bad idea to air up your mtb tires to 50+ psi. Rimstrips are stupid. Do as you wish.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bubble View Post
    Sounds like you don't soap down your tires before installation.



    The reality is that since there's no real standard some combinations work like crap. In general it's a bad idea to air up your mtb tires to 50+ psi. Rimstrips are stupid. Do as you wish.
    Are you saying that using the Bontrager rimstrip that is designed specifically to work w/ the Bontrager rim is stupid? And I know how to install tires.
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  11. #11
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    Thank you all who have contributed advice so far! A few takeaways I get from here are:

    1) SOAP! I tried this and bubbles come out around the valve collar. CX, I think you hit it here. I used a knife to cut a hole ASSuming the rubber grommet around the valve would seal up regardless. It probably didn't. I do have extra spokes, so I'm thinking I'll try your method of "cauterizing" a hole. Or maybe a pin would work and then gently ream it out? I do have a propane torch buried somewhere, but haven't used it in eons and it would require a basement purge to find it.

    2) Only one layer of rim tape is needed even though most "official" instructions I've seen/watched call for two layers. I'm thinking this may help make the tire less of a bear to get on the rim as the trough won't be filled up as much.

    3) CX, I will try one of the other brands of rim tapes. Why don't you like Stan's? Does it have anything to do with it not being flexible/stretchy? To me, it feels like a crude plastic sheet and no matter how much I tried, a few tiny air bubbles were unavoidable. So Orange Seal, DT or Enve? Are they more flexible (stretchy) than Stan's? What about WTB tape? I looked around and it appears to have good user reviews. Stan's recommends 27mm tape for these rims. Orange Seal only sells 24mm. DT sells 26mm and 28mm. If I have to use a different size, I'm guessing wider is better and just cut away what I don't need at the edges?

    4) SRode, I removed the tire and it appears I did damage the tape with the levers. There was even a thin spot on a spoke hole, though not a puncture. None of these caused leaks (or if they did, they were so much slower than the valve collar leak that they were unnoticeable. I'm going to have to lose the levers! BTW, I removed the Stan's tape worrying that it would leave a sticky, gooey mess underneath. Nada! It peeled off clean and laughably easy!

    FYI, I am using UST rims and tires.
    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

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  12. #12
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    I do have extra spokes, so I'm thinking I'll try your method of "cauterizing" a hole. Or maybe a pin would work and then gently ream it out? I do have a propane torch buried somewhere, but haven't used it in eons and it would require a basement purge to find it.
    A nail and candle would work. I've used that to melt through thick plastic before. You could get a small nail cherry red with a candle.
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  13. #13
    changingleaf
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    Like others have said, a leak in the valve is a leak in the system not the valve. The valve does not seal the outside of the rim. The valve stopper seals the inside of the rim extremely well. 20psi of pressure is enough to press the valve against the inside of the rim to stop air flow.

    You are getting air slipping under or around the tape and it travels through the inner channel of the rim and out the biggest hole on the outside of the rim, which is the valve hole.

    That is a sleeved rim I believe, so if the tape is not going up the side of the rim, especially at the seam area, air will flow under the tire bead and into this crack and flow into the rim and out the valve hole. Usually sealant will fill these small leaks, but 50psi is blowing it out.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by changingleaf View Post
    Like others have said, a leak in the valve is a leak in the system not the valve. The valve does not seal the outside of the rim. The valve stopper seals the inside of the rim extremely well. 20psi of pressure is enough to press the valve against the inside of the rim to stop air flow.

    You are getting air slipping under or around the tape and it travels through the inner channel of the rim and out the biggest hole on the outside of the rim, which is the valve hole.

    That is a sleeved rim I believe, so if the tape is not going up the side of the rim, especially at the seam area, air will flow under the tire bead and into this crack and flow into the rim and out the valve hole. Usually sealant will fill these small leaks, but 50psi is blowing it out.
    So you're saying that brass nipple heads pulled against an aluminum rim are more air tight than a rubber valve grommet against rim tape? I find this hard to believe.

    50 PSI is irrelevant since the tire loses ALL of its air within 5 minutes.
    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein



  15. #15
    changingleaf
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    The rubber grommet does not seal the hole on the outside of the rim. There is no seal there at all unless you put a rubber o-ring underneath the valve nut, but you wouldn't want to do that because then you would more likely fill the inside of the rim with sealant if the tape wasn't sealing well.

    50 psi is irrelevant if you do not shake the sealant all around the inside of the tire. The sealant just pools at the bottom of the tire when sitting there and will not get to the small leaks. Spinning the wheel is not good enough because that just pushes a thin layer of sealant to the inside of the tire. You need to shake the sealant at a small area of the tire, the rotate a little and do it again and again.

    But many holes, once sealed will stay sealed under 25-30 psi, but break free at higher pressures.

  16. #16
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    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    Are you saying that using the Bontrager rimstrip that is designed specifically to work w/ the Bontrager rim is stupid? And I know how to install tires.


    Yes, a MTB rim/rimstrip combination that is questionably compatible with the UST bead standard is stupid. Not everyone adheres to it as closely as WTB, but it's still the standard all the 'tubeless ready' tires are designed around. Thanks for the warning.

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    hmm there are already non-drying sealants. These non-drying sealants probably use some derivatives of ethylene glycol (same stuff in car antifreeze) as its base solution. They use some fibers of various sizes in the solution. I used to have this sealant called "Flat Attack" sealant, and it works great at sealing big punctures! And, it's non-drying! However, the downside to this sealant is that it can easily clog the tiny presta valve, and i've thrown away a couple removable presta valves due to clogging. This sealant is also thick and heavy (maybe that's why it seals big holes so well and so fast). Eventually I gave it up on for road application it because it added so much weight to the wheel and its ability to clog presta valves too easily. Since I still have a big bottle of this stuff around, I still use it for mtb tubeless tire and live with the occasional the presta-valve-clogging issue, less pumping is required for mtb tire so this problem isn't nearly as big when on the road bike application where pumping is more often, because each time you pump it, you risk the fiber come spitting into the presta valve! Sometimes, the I can push the fiber back into the tire with a strong push at the pump, but there are times that the clog is so solid that my 160psi pump couldn't dislodge the clog, then come in a new presta valve (and removing the old valve means taking a plier to it and removing it, and that can potentially spew a sh8t load of solution out when air is let out that quick! fun).

    Last edited by aclinjury; 03-05-2018 at 09:29 AM.

  19. #19
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    Put a tube in the tire and pump it up. Problem solved. LOL

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Notvintage View Post
    Put a tube in the tire and pump it up. Problem solved. LOL
    You joke, but this is pretty much what I have decided to do.
    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein



  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by aclinjury View Post
    hmm there are already non-drying sealants. These non-drying sealants probably use some derivatives of ethylene glycol (same stuff in car antifreeze) as its base solution. They use some fibers of various sizes in the solution. I used to have this sealant called "Flat Attack" sealant, and it works great at sealing big punctures! And, it's non-drying! However, the downside to this sealant is that it can easily clog the tiny presta valve, and i've thrown away a couple removable presta valves due to clogging. This sealant is also thick and heavy (maybe that's why it seals big holes so well and so fast). Eventually I gave it up on for road application it because it added so much weight to the wheel and its ability to clog presta valves too easily. Since I still have a big bottle of this stuff around, I still use it for mtb tubeless tire and live with the occasional the presta-valve-clogging issue, less pumping is required for mtb tire so this problem isn't nearly as big when on the road bike application where pumping is more often, because each time you pump it, you risk the fiber come spitting into the presta valve! Sometimes, the I can push the fiber back into the tire with a strong push at the pump, but there are times that the clog is so solid that my 160psi pump couldn't dislodge the clog, then come in a new presta valve (and removing the old valve means taking a plier to it and removing it, and that can potentially spew a sh8t load of solution out when air is let out that quick! fun).

    Finish Line states that their sealant can be installed through the valve and it won't clog up the valve. Thus, it is not like Flat Attack.

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