This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Dipping my toe into the morass of the future

       It's pretty obvious to everybody that I have trouble letting go.  Most people think I am just an irrational retro grouch who simply won't accept innovation.  Well I am here to tell you that I installed a threadless headset once.  So there, I know what this modern stuff is about.  I just like to see that the things I do are somewhat practical.  After all, I use my bikes to go somewhere different than my car and I'm not afraid to ride alone without some bizarre social network attached.  Let's face it, most of the improvements in cycling revolve around competition.  If it ain't your interest there is no reason to buy all the carbon fiber underwear, electronic brifters and personal heart rate powermeters to compare your metabolism with your Facebook buddies.  I just ride my bike and wonder if index shifting is another fad.  
         Occasionally the commercial world brings something that hits home--no flats.  I mean shit!  It has to make you think.  As little as I do, I wrenched my head around the idea of tubeless tires.   Enough people are talking about them and changing over that there might be something like a derailer at the bottom of this.
         Videos like this from a confirmed, sadistic tire beater excited me even more.
If I could only abuse my tires in such manner without disturbing the quiet reverie of my afternoon communions with clouds, blackbirds and roadkill, I would like it.   I need new tires for the Hillborne so I bought what I needed to make the conversion.  

My first attempt failed rather predictably.  According to internet legend, just about any tire and rim can be converted, but a powerful air compressor is usually necessary to force the tire to seat on the rim without a tube.  I tried a CO2 cylinder but there just wasn't enough mojo there to make the tire behave.  I searched for alternatives with the most reliable documentation I could find--
You Tube.  

    There I found a few examples of DIY compressors which would fill the gap.   I'm not brave enough nor poor enough to take the risk of building one by myself so I bought a Specialized Air Blast from a friendly e-tailer.
The sturdy metal container was much more reassuring than a Coke bottle and duct tape.  It's a well manufactured gizmo which can be charged up with pressurized air from a normal floor pump and is made specifically to zap the tires onto a tubeless setup or conversion.
Taking the old tape off and putting on the new rim tape is a simple exercise.  The valve is just molded into a giant rubber band.  It's like a cut out part of a tube, but fits tighter.
           After installing one bead of the tire and partially installing the other, I dribbled in the requisite 2 ounces (1/4 cup)  of Stan's Sealant into the tire, twirled the tire around and mounted the rest of the tire bead.  It was fun, I pumped up the AirBlast all excited for this new adventure in a flatless cycling career.  I was both disappointed and amused.  Yes it looked like the casting room for bike porn (I had to get that out of the way).  Now matter how I turned the wheel, or what position the valve was in the bead would not budge, the tire would not hold air or the amusing ooze.
              I suppose that a tire with a more rigid bead and sidewall would be more likely to convert, my studded snow tires are candidates.   Unfortunately, I like the Pasela tire with supple sidewalls and reasonable price tag, I just want flats to go away.  Looking through the Schwalbe, Panasonic and Continental websites, I found no reference to tubeless mounting on any tire I would like to use.  There are a few 23mm road tires, lots of MTB racing tires and one "gravel racing" tire which might be usable on a future build I have in mind.  Once again the industry is patronizing racing, creating products to benefit the high priced impractical market and leaving us with a product that amounts to snake oil for any practical application.  Right now I'll take the more passive approach and inject some sealant into the tubes and hope for the best.


  1. Hi Mark, I have had good luck putting sealant into my tubes, as seen in this post; I also had my LBS use the stan's conversion kit to set up my 26" rims with a pair of Compass Rat Trap Pass tires which are tubeless ready. That set up is working well. The Compass tires are more expensive than Paselas but I think their price tag is on par with many of the popular schwalbe tires.

  2. I don't doubt that using Stan's in the tubes will be easy and help. The real problem is the low selection of tires that will work.


  3. I saw that same video and thought "I want!" But, the truth is that I don't get that many flats, and having to take the bike (on my car) into the co-op to use the compressor just to mount a tire is pretty big obstacle for me. I'll stick with tubes for now.

    1. I couldn't resist the temptation to try, but don't want to compromise the brand or model of tires I like. I guess reinforcing the tubes with Stan's sealant will work as well.

  4. Bob from Stan's NoTubes here. Saw your post. With road tubeless you will need a special road tubeless tire. Your Pasela will not work. Usually your do not use the cycloross rim stip with a road tubeless tire unless it is a deep rim like the older mavic open pro. Two layers of yellow tape is usually all you need. Never add sealant to a tire until you prove you can inflate it first. do not want you to make a mess and the sealant does nothing to aid inflation. We make a bundle with everything you need to do a road conversion Have any questions please send them to me at

    1. Thanks for making my point. Despite people's claims to the contrary, a special tire available in limited and size and purpose is the only possible conversion, and a very expensive one at that. Sell it to the spandex hamsters. I realize you want to promote your product but from a practical stand point we're limited to adding a little snake oil to the inner tube and hoping for the best. No real revelation there.


  5. Hey Marc,
    Cal me old fashion but I'm not buying all the Marketing blitz going on in the cycling industry.650b rims and tires, 1x11 drive trains and tubeless tires.I don't think the tire industry is willing to jump in with both feet on 650b tires or tubeless tires yet either.The selection is small.
    Out on the road without your air compressor/ turbo charged pump..when you hit a deep pothole with a sharp edge,a big rock or a curb and it breaks the seal. Your going to have to fix it...wait for it...
    with a tube.
    My two cents.

  6. That's because you use it 30+-year-old rims that are never made to be tubeless.