Tubeless mountain bike tires require a compatible, deeper hooked rim, allowing for the bead of the tire to seal, eliminating the need for a tube. Also, the side walls are stiffer, thicker and heavier than conventional tubed tires.
Mounting tubeless tires is more difficult than tubed tires, especially in rough weather. Tubeless tires require a large volume air rapidly in order to inflate and create a good seal. This usually means using a compressor or CO2 cartridge. Typically, a liquid sealant is added to the inside to seal small punctures that may form in the tire wall.
Riding on tubeless tires is certainly more expensive. Expect to pay anywhere from $400-$1,000 to convert a bike to tubeless.
Tubeless tires have two major advantages: They eliminate pinch flats and allow the use of lower psi. Lowering tires psi gives greater traction and performance in off-road riding. Tubeless tires also absorb rough terrain better, giving a smoother, more comfortable ride.
Flats in a tubeless tire are a bear to fix on the trail. In comparison, tubed tires are a relatively simple fix. You can, however, replace a tube in a tubeless tire during an emergency, so keep one or two with you on the trail. During aggressive cornering, the walls of tubeless tires with low psi may collapse, causing an instantaneous flat known as burping.
Article Written By Isaac Billings
Residing in northern Michigan, Isaac Billings began writing in 2009, with articles appearing on eHow, Trails and Run.com. A wilderness EMT-paramedic and wilderness instructor, Billings enjoys writing about the outdoors, running, health and nutrition. He holds an Associates of Applied Science in emergency medicine from North Central Michigan College.