|A goat head thorn in an all-too-familiar pose.|
After a trip to visit my brother in Albuquerque a couple of months ago, our bikes sat forlorn in the bike barn with tires and tubes pierced by hordes of remorseless goat head thorns. My Monocog was one that had been struck, as evidenced by dozens of thorns remaining in the tires. However, the Monocog had been given the tubeless treatment, in effect inoculated against such an onslaught. I pulled many thorns from the tires, yet left a few in; those that had lost their heads and were difficult to remove. Though the tires had lost some pressure, I aired them up to 40 psi and took a short ride. By the end of the ride, Stan's sealant was seeping and coagulating in the many wounds, while the pressure held. Within a few days, any remaining embedded thorns were neutralized.
|Goat head thorns in a WTB Exiwolf tire on my Monocog. Note the embedded thorns near the center of the tire.|
|The same tire after some inflation and spinning. See the Stan's sealant working its magic?|
Beaming in my confidence and full of the desire to impart some fatherly skill to be one day valued, I summoned my ever capable assistant. With relish, she took to tire wrangling as she has done since shortly after her birth.
|The seal on that bead stood no chance against this 8 year-old with a Park tire lever. The fact that she counts this dress among her favorites brings a tear of pride to ol' Daddy's eye.|
|Feeling for thorns protruding on the inside of the tire. Atta girl!|
|The rear tire gets the same treatment.|
|Cleaning the inner rim surface.|
|A valve stem in a tube about to be repurposed for tubeless use.|
|Do-it-yourself tubeless tools of the trade.|
|Valve stem in place.|
I couldn't understand where the problem arose. With a very similar setup on my Monocog, the process could not have been easier, with the tires holding air confidently on the first try. The Raleigh's tires, on the other hand, refused to cooperate. Both bikes had WTB rims of the same model, though not the same year of manufacture, both bikes had WTB not-necessarily-tubeless tires (Stout 2.3 on the Raleigh, Exiwolf 2.3 on the Monocog), and both bikes had the same Gorilla Tape/reclaimed valve stem rim sealing job. After several attempts, I gave up in disgust. The transfer of fatherly knowledge had been derailed.
After a few days of thinking and scheming, I vowed not to retreat. It was time for the split tube method. I dug up a pair of sacrificial 26-inch tubes that had been patched multiple times along the tread perimeter, which wouldn't make a difference for my purposes. Then my assistant and I got to work, slitting the tubes down the outside seam, then cleaning any talcum powder from the rubber. Next, we mounted the flayed tubes on the rims to serve as giant rim strips to be cut to fit later.
|Filleting the tubes along the outer circumference molding seam.|
|This step must be done carefully to avoid damaging the tube.|
|A tube, split and cleaned.|
|A split tube mounted on the rim; ready for a tire to be installed.|
|Note that the split tube is centered along the rim channel.|
|Adding two ounces of Stan's sealant, or what she likes to call the tire's "blood" as it serves the same purpose as plasma and platelets in forming scabs to patch holes. That's a biology lesson right there, folks.|
|The doctor applies the syringe to a patient.|
This time, I would not be defeated. It was time for a change in tactics, as I decided to bring more insistent methods to bear. A faint whimper might have been audible as the tire met the ratchet strap, but I assure you it didn't come from me. However, maniacal laughter, I will not deny.
With a fresh round of compressed air, the ratchet strap applied a positive force to seat the bead to the rim, and any resistance was overpowered. Victory was ours, as the beads popped loudly into place. We spun and shook both wheels to coat the inside of the tire/tube strip interface with Stan's sealant, and laid them on buckets. Over the next couple of hours we repeated the process, adding air as necessary until a constant pressure held. When all seemed right with each tire, I trimmed the excess tube from the tire/rim junction.
At last, parental knowledge transfer through tubeless triumph was achieved!
|Getting medieval on it.|
|Check pressure, add air, shake and spin, rest on a bucket. Repeat.|
|Trimming the excess split tube.|
Next up on the tubeless quest will be an attempt to finally do it the right way, for once, with all officially sanctioned tubeless parts. Stay tuned!