Installing Tubeless Tires

Part 3 in a series
By Bruce Wells updated 2024-02-15

Once you have confirmed that you current rims and tires are tubeless compatible and you have purchased all items needed to switch to tubeless tires (see last month's article), make yourself a good cup of coffee and get ready to make the switch. Installing your tubes should take no longer than 30 minutes if you follow these steps.

Using your properly measured rim tape, wrap the rim twice for road tires. Make sure to apply the tape evenly between the sides of the rim by applying lots of  tension. Remove air bubbles as you lay the tape down.

Make sure that your tubeless valve stem is long enough to clear your rim with 2 cm or more above the rim so you can pump up the tires once it is mounted. Cut a hole in the rim tape (if freshly applied) and mount the stem. Make sure your stem is firmly seated and air-tight.

Put the tire on the rim. Both beads of the tire should be in the inner part of the rim and around the valve stem.

The next step, inflating the tire, can be the hardest part. I recommend using an air compressor hooked up to a tire pump head. Remove the valve core with a core tool so that a huge amount of air can be forced into the tire quickly.

Give the tire a huge shot of air as fast as possible. With a new tire and a good rim tape job, you might be lucky and get the tube to pop right on. You will hear a few loud pops as the tire goes over the ridges and mounts to the rim. Once mounted, check all around the tire and rim to make sure the tire is on consistently.

If the tire does not mount using this method, try applying some soapy water all around the tire and rim, to help seal the air gaps. Once the soapy water has been applied, try to inflate the tire again with the compressor. If that does not work, I recommend trying a compression strap. Wrap the compression strap all the way around the circumference of the tire (along the tread). Make sure the tire is tight against the rim all the way around with no gaps. Apply the soapy water around the tire and rim and give it a good blast of air. A good compression strap should have a quick release, which you may need to release to fully allow the tire to expand. I pop mine open with a small hammer to release the strap and finish inflating.

Once the tire is mounted, the next step is to fill it with sealant. Most sealant containers come with a spout that enables you to squirt the sealant directly into the valve stem with the valve core removed. You can also use a syringe (seen picture) to add the sealant. Add two to three ounces (60 to 90 cc) of sealant for a new tire install.

Reinstall the valve core and pump up the tire. Swish the tire sealant around holding the wheel horizontally on both sides. This will help seal the tire on the rim. I like to leave my newly mounted tires on the rims before mounting on the bike for a few days before riding to make sure they don't deflate suddenly.

Or Bring the Wheels to Your Local Shop...

If this installation seems too complicated for you, you can always bring your wheels to your local shop for them to set them up. Next time, I'll cover the PSI for your new tubeless tires and what to bring with you while riding with your new tubeless setup.

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