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Tubeless rims...aaarrrgghhh.

  • 06-06-2022 11:18am
    Registered Users Posts: 4,620 ✭✭✭

    Oki, ok, hand up, I'm having trouble with modern tubeless-ready rims. I am stoically sticking to rim brake clinchers, and I like to run a tube. There, I've said it.

    Now - modern & wider tubeless ready rims - sound great on paper - allow for larger tyres, give the option of running a tube or not, and opens the door to slightly better puncture protection (not convinced, but let's paint this as an advantage).

    My gripe is with how bloody difficult it has now become to mount a tyre on these rims - doesn't seem to matter what tyre - I've snapped a set of tyre levers in the last week, and bent half a dozen dessert spoon handles while shouting at the dogs, before reaching gingerly for the elastoplast.

    What gives?????

    What's the knack?

    Is there a tool I'm missing?

    The way I feel right now I'd happily turn my back on tubeless-ready rims and pick up only old school clincher rims from now on - except they're dying out too.

    If I can't change a tyre in the comfort of my living room, how the heck can I expect to change one atop Sally Gap on a frosty January morning?? Makes me not want to risk tubeless rims on any sportive in case I pick up a flat - I'm goosed.

    have a set of Hunt Aero Wide Race and a pair of Mavic Cosmic Elite USTs, and I'm squinting at both with trepidation, and it's not right!!



  • Registered Users Posts: 3,228 ✭✭✭Breezer

    Do you mean it’s difficult to get the tyre onto the rim at all, or to seat in the bead correctly when set up tubeless?

    To get them on the rim, this may be way too basic, but have you tried washing up liquid? I always find it helps.

    The difficulty for me is usually trying to get them to seat in the bead correctly when set up tubeless, If that’s your issue, I find fitting them with a tube first, then unseating one side of the tyre only to get the tube out, and then reinflating with a compressor does the trick.

    As for the sportives, I had a tubeless failure in the middle of nowhere in Galway this weekend: two big punctures in the same tyre. I tried everything to avoid having to put a tube in because I was dreading having to refit the tyre with tired, sore hands, but in the end I gave in and honestly it just slid on. Once I inflated the tube it popped into the bead and it’s still grand 150 km later. The sealant sloshing about everywhere did the job of the washing up liquid, I think.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,620 ✭✭✭MojoMaker

    I'm talking about just getting any modern tyre onto any modern tubeless rim. At this stage doesn't matter whether there's a tube in there or not it seems!

    Mavic UST rims - Jesus Christ folks, you'd want thumbs like iron man. There is clearly a knack to it that I have not acquired.

    So what is it? And no, I won't be carrying around washing up liquid on my spins!! 😂

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,228 ✭✭✭Breezer

    Well it can go in a small bottle, you don’t need loads 😂

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,841 ✭✭✭fat bloke

    Amen brother.

    Sell em. Those mavic ust's are a mare. A set of wheels you can't comfortably get a tire are a chocolate teapot.

    Invest in a pair of pre-tubeless normal wheels.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,954 ✭✭✭kirving

    I find the best trick is to try and get all other areas of the tyre edge toward the centre of the wheel (width), where the diameter is a little less, so you have a bit more room to get the tye over the rim.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 335 ✭✭AxleAddict

    Yep - I'd second this - simply work your way around the wheel, pinching both sides of the tyre (temporarily pushing the tyre bead off the slightly raised sidewalls into the centre channel) - this should give you a little bit of extra slack when it comes to the last bit - doesn't necessarily mean it will be 'easy' but it should be 'easier'.

    There are various tools which can assist you:

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,710 ✭✭✭✭dahat

    I’ve a set of Mavic UST wheels on which I have 28mm Tufo clinchers. First time seating on i broke skin on two thumbs & the bike shop guy found them extremely difficult to fit.

    Second time round I went straight to lbs to seat the tyre & they have some sort of Giant product that rubs on the rim to allow for easier seating. The tyre popped on in seconds!!!

    Maybe washing liquid would do the same job for you?

    I pray every spin that I don’t puncture btw.

  • Registered Users Posts: 922 ✭✭✭monkeyslayer

    Yep 100% agree OP. VIttoria Corsa are easier tyres but my VIttoria rubinos, I had to pull them on with a pliers wrapped in duct tape and a bucket of hot water. Have had a couple of punctures, have found one side is usually 'easier' than the other for some reason when trying to get the tube out. By easy I mean almost thumb breaking but not impossible like the other. No idea why. I dread getting punctures, I never really get the pressure needed to reseat them from a handpump. No pop.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,620 ✭✭✭MojoMaker

    Cheers AxleAddict - some good food for thought there.

    Anyone have any direct experience with any of these tools?

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,863 ✭✭✭✭crosstownk

    I struggle to mount GP5000 (tube type) tyres on Zonda 2 way rims. Struggle is putting it mildly. It's a nightmare. Add latex tubes to the mix for added difficulty.

    I find that it definitely helps to get the bead into the well in the rim. A sturdy set of tyre levers is a great asset - I use the Park Tool levers as the regular black things simply aren't up to the task.

    I never used to mind fitting new tyres but my current tyre/rim combo has me dreading it.

    On the other bike I have Fulcrum Racing 3 rims with Michelin Pro4 tyres that almost fit themselves compared to the Zonda 2 way/GP5000 combo.

    Progess, apparently. 🙄

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,245 ✭✭✭ratracer

    The best tyre I’ve found for fitting and sealing on the Mavic UST Rims are the Hutchinson Fusion Range. I like the tyre on the road too.

    On a Prime wheelset I use Vitoria Corsa’s, again, they went in pretty handy.

    Ive long given up on GP5000TL, but Schwalbe Pro One aren’t too bad to fit either.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 24,698 Mod ✭✭✭✭CramCycle

    This 100% was the difference for me, some tyres are still a bit tough but only the last little bit

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,620 ✭✭✭MojoMaker

    Might try those Hutchison Fusions alright.

    Can't get Schwalbe Pro One, Vittoria Corsa, Vittoria Rubino Pro, or Conti GP4Ks onto either set of rims I have.

    Anyone still making non-tubeless-ready clincher rims anymore? is the only route handbuilt maybe?

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,881 ✭✭✭De Bhál

    yeah I have that Lifeline Seating Tool and it does the job. Save your thumbs and buy one

  • Registered Users Posts: 335 ✭✭AxleAddict

    I actually own all four of these (which is why they readily came to mind) - well, actually I don't have the Lifeline Tyre Seating Tool but one very like it from BBB

    Here's a pic which shows them side-by-side and their relative differences in size. The first three should be small enough to take with you on rides (either in a jersey pocket, tool bottle, or saddle bag) - the last one is not very heavy, but it's possibly too bulky to take out on a ride and is more suited for home use (I mean, you could probably fit it in your rear jersey pocket - but not into most average sized saddle bags)

    I'm busy right now, but if I get some time later this evening I'll update with my experiences of each.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 49,276 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    i've never used them tubeless, but i like the hutchinson fusion tyres too (especially when decathlon seemed to mis-price them, i got them for i think €20 each)

    one thing i found with them was that when they reach end of life, they do it quickly - you go from 'hmm, i might need to change that tyre in a month or two' to 'holy ****, that thing is dangerous' in no time.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,356 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    I've a version of the pliers on right end, and think they're brilliant. Even coped with Marathon Plus. Be interested to hear about the others @AxleAddict especially the Tyre Key on the far left, which I was tempted for in the Saddle Bag.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,237 ✭✭✭CantGetNoSleep

    I'm a tubeless convert but those Mavic UST rims are an absolute disaster - I sold mine on after a week. I got tires on them after an awful lot of trouble (and changing the tire type), but realised that one of the tires I had fitted had a puncture and getting it off was even worse. There was simply no way I would have been able to fit a tube out in the wild. I've had better experience with Hunt's though.

  • Registered Users Posts: 335 ✭✭AxleAddict

    Okay - so I did a little bit of testing using my Mavic Ksyrium Elite UST rims and Conti GP 4 Seasons 25mm foldable tyres - so a synthetic rather than wire tyre bead - but definitely some of the tougher tyres to fit on these wheels from my experience. The Mavic UST rims have a well defined centre channel and raised sides where the tyre bead normally resides when the inner tube is inflated.

    Before I tested each of the tools, I double-checked that the 'pushing the tyre bead into the centre channel' technique worked - so for my first attempt, I didn't do anything special when re-fitting the tyre, and sure enough when I got to the last 20% or so it became near on impossible to get any more of the tyre onto the rim by hand - if I did succeed in getting any extra to go on, it only ended up coming off by the same amount on the other side (we all know how frustrating that is, right!) - and I quite like the skin that covers my thumbs thank you very much! Repeated the process, this time carefully pushing the tyre beads off the sides and into the centre channel (as much as possible - doesn't have to be 100% perfect) and sure enough the last bit was much more co-operative - no tools required. Once you've practiced this enough times you can usually feel the difference as you work your way around the tyre. Even if you do need to resort to using a tyre lever of some sort I would still recommend pushing as much of the bead into the centre channel first to reduce the work/stress on the tyre lever. Likewise, when trying to remove one side of a tyre from a rim in order to replace a tube, the same advice applies - push the tyre beads into the centre of the rim first (or at the very least on the side which you are planning to use the tyre lever on) - again this should create a little bit of slack and make it easier for the tyre lever to get a good purchase under the bead and do its work with less force.

    If you do need to resort to using a tyre fitting tool of some description, it can be tempting to start slap bang in the middle of the problem area and try to use the tool to pull the remaining part of the tyre onto the rim in 'one go'. Personally, I'd recommend against this since it will likely put great strain on the tool and risk you snapping it. I'd suggest starting at one of the sides where its easier and prise the remaining tyre on bit by bit - sure, it might take a couple of attempts to do it, but I feel 'slow and steady wins the race' in this instance, rather than ignorance and brute force.

    As you'll see from my earlier picture, the first three tools - the TyreKey, Crank Brothers Speedier Lever and VAR Tyre Lever are roughly about the same length - around 13-14cm. The TyreKey is the thinnest of the three at about 5mm.



    • By far the easiest tool for removing a tyre. It really only takes a couple of seconds - no faffing about with multiple tyre levers hooked around spokes etc. The bottom of the tyre lever has a little groove which is etched into it at an angle - simply get this under the tyre bead, push down on the lever to start moving the tyre bead over the rim and then push forward. I also feel that since the 'removal tool' is much more bluntly shaped than say the VAR tyre levers, you're less likely to damage the inner tube during the process (if you're removing a tyre for some other reason rather than a puncture)
    • Arguably the 'thinnest' or 'flattest' of the tools - easy to slip into a jersey pocket or a saddle bag - in fairness the Crank Brothers and VAR levers are not exactly huge either - but still...


    • I found it takes a little bit of practise to get the technique dialled in. It lacks a little notch or groove for the rim to slot into (as found on the VAR and BBB/Lifeline tyre levers) so it can (potentially) slide about a bit on the side of the rim you use as leverage as you try to pull the tyre onto the opposite side of the rim.
    • The 'hook' which is used to grab the tyre bead is blunter and less well defined as say the VAR tyre lever, and so occasionally as you try to pull the tyre onto the rim it can slip out from underneath the bead - so sometimes it may take a few attempts to successfully grab the bead and get it onto the rim - that said, given its a little more 'blunt' than the VAR bead hook, I guess its less likely to puncture the inner tube accidentally - so you could almost say its a positive in some respects too.

    Crank Brothers Speedier Tyre Lever

    This is the lever I've had the least success with - like the TyreKey it comprises of a single tyre lever (marked 'Remove') and the other end is used for tyre installation (marked 'Install'). It reminds me of some sort of inverted knuckle-duster - part of the reason it's shaped like that is that when you hold it, it theoretically gives your knuckles some protection should the tool suddenly slip or move. To use it, you slide the side of the rim underneath the 'lip' or 'hook' and either push away or pull towards you to force the remaining part of the tyre inside the rim. I found that if I didn't push the bead of the tyre of the sides of the rim into the centre channel before starting then it was was basically impossible to use this tool to get the job done. If however I did take the time to push the tyre bead into the centre, the task usually became do-able, but not always. Perhaps there is a technique to it, but since I've had better experiences with the other tools I haven't had much incentive to stick with this one.

    VAR Tyre Lever


    • Comprises of two tyre levers - the middle section of the tool pushes out to give you a traditional tyre lever and the other lever is part of the main tool.
    • Has a well defined bead-hook - less likely to slip whilst pulling the tyre onto the rim - although possibly too sharp
    • Has a dedicated notch/groove into which the opposite side of the rim you use for leverage slots - less likely to slip in comparison to the TyreKey


    • The bead hook can get stuck under the tyre bead after pulling it onto the rim - so may take a little extra time to extricate the tool once you're done.
    • Despite having two decent tyre levers, I still found they took longer to remove the tyre than the TyreKey

    BBB / Lifeline Tyre Fitting Tool


    • Easy to use - doesn't have quite as aggressive a bead hook as the VAR, but still very effective.
    • Has a dedicated notch/groove into which the opposite side of the rim you use for leverage slots- less likely to slip in comparison to the TyreKey
    • Ergonomically more comfortable to use than the other tools, and the extra length gives extra leverage.


    • Bulkiest of the tools - probably more suited for use at home, rather than out on the road (if you're trying to save weight/space)
    • Doesn't provide a tool for removing tyres - I know...I know... that's not what it's designed for - but all the other tools do - so there! 😋


    I've had the most experience with the TyreKey and despite its minor issues, I've generally had a lot of success with it - I do feel there is a 'knack' to using it though - I've seen a couple of reviews on YouTube of people trying to use it and making a real mess of it. I would happily use either it or the VAR tyre levers out on the road (or at home). My experience of the Crank Brothers Speedier lever was the poorest of the four, although I did successfully manage to get the tyre onto the rim after a couple of attempts - I just found the other tools that little more reliable. The BBB / Lifeline Tyre Fitting tool was probably the most comfortable to use and nice to have in the toolbox at home - but not essential if you already have the TyreKey or VAR. I see on the TyreKey website that they now have a new style of lever - with a more aggressive bead hook and tweaked tyre removal tool - I've not used this so can't comment further on it.

    I may well be preaching to the converted here, but the final thing I'd say is that it really pays off to practise this stuff in the comfort of your own home first. Don't be that guy/girl who goes out on a Sportif, Club Ride, or Solo Ride - gets a puncture and then struggles to sort it out or injures themselves in the process. I've gone from dreading a puncture to seeing it as a bit of an unfortunate inconvenience but one I'm confident I can deal with on my own. If you can squeeze in 30-60 minutes some evening, why not practice removing and refitting tyres - don't leave it until the inevitable happens.

    Hope this helps - if you have any questions, fire away...

    Post edited by AxleAddict on

  • Registered Users Posts: 976 ✭✭✭8valve

    Musings of a grumpy bike mechanic from a bike shop workshop...

    Every tyre will go on every rim...eventually; some put up more of a fight than others.

    Try to warm the tyre, on a sunny windowsill or heating radiator. As we used to do with tubs in days of yore, try stretching the tyre slightly by standing on it and pulling up on the other side.

    First side of the tyre will go on easy enough. If it doesn't, be assured the second side is gonna rip the calluses off your thumbs. And the will to live from your soul.

    To get the second side of the tyre over the rim, the first side MUST be in the central 'trench' of the rim, to give you every available mm of leeway.

    Once you've run out of profanities, the tears have dried, and the tyre is on, lube (I just use a strong mix of soapy water, from a big trigger-bottle marked ''SOAPY WATER'') is vital to get the beads to pop on and seat themselves against the rim, much in the same way as lads fitting new tyres to your car always use 'seating wax' daubed on the new tyre with a paintbrush.

    Your tubeless rim tape, which the manufacturers charge you a fortune for per meter, is used extensively as a sealer in the pharmaceutical industry (I used miles of the stuff back in the days when I had a 'real' job, making foreign shareholders billionaires); google 'kaptan tape'; 50m for twenty quid? Yes please and thank you very much. Make sure it's fitted with surgical neatness; no wrinkles, no over lap, absolutely none of it riding up into the bead-seating surface of the rim. Prime wheels need two layers to avoid heartbreak. Ba5tards. Trust me, I know.

    Unless you are the luckiest person on the planet, you need a compressor to get enough air in, in as short a time as possible; we use a tank that can be pressurized using a floor pump, similar to a scuba tank in size....150-160psi is usually enough of a blast; before you all say that's more than a bike road tyre can handle, bear in mind, this will be a lower pressure by the time the tyre seats, fills and pops into the two beads, due to air loss during the poppage (is that a new word?!) :-).

    Don't tell anyone I told you....shhhhh......Some tyre manufacturers actually recommend fitting a tube for 24 hours to shape the tyre to the rim (as most tubeless tyres come folded up in a pretty box designed to relieve you of your hard earned cash), then remove one side of the tyre, whip out the tube, refit the tyre and re-inflate. Like Sex Panther aftershave, 60% of the time, that works every time. Yes, fit a tube to your tubeless tyre.

    And, drum roll please.........when deflating your perfectly seated tubeless tyre, in advance of removing the valve core to add the tyre sealant of your choice, DO IT SLOWLY, or your tyre will pop out of the bead and you're straight back to square one....and it's always uncomfortable watching grown men cry.

    The above is just my opinion, based on my experiences; someone will be along shortly with their own, perfectly valid, opinion.

    You all owe me a pint, btw.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,620 ✭✭✭MojoMaker

    Fair play AxleAddict, that was certainly comprehensive!

    I'm going to pick up a Tyre Key and the Lifeline tool on that basis.

    On the subject of 'lube' for tyre fitting, and without wishing to gross anyone out, I presume good old fashioned (and free) saliva be a solution in the wild?