We’ve been dipping our toes into the world of tubeless tyres here at CycleTechReview.com. I think it is safe to say that we’re converts to tubeless CX tyres, see Paul’s recent foray with the Schwalbe X One CX tyres here, but a depth of cynicism exists of the benefits for the road as evidenced with Simon’s larks with the Schwalbe One tubeless tyres here. Since I bought myself a set of Hunt Race Season Aero wheels, which are tubeless ready, I decided it was time to give the road tubeless thing a go
Initially I was after a set of Schwalbe Ones, as recommended by Hunt Wheels, but could not find a set available locally or online, so I settled for a set of Bontrager Road R3 TLR tyres kindly supplied to me by my LBS, CycleShack II in Lewes. So, for the purposes of beginning a journey in testing tubeless ready tyres this is my starting point.
Actually, if you do a search online for the Bontrager Road R3 TLR tyres there are only a few places that seem to stock them – they are notable by their absence on the Trek website too. In fact, Lewes CycleShack II kindly pilfered a set of 25mm tyres from a Bontrager Road TLR Upgrade Kit (£139.99) – the Upgrade kit includes rim tape, valves and sealant as well as the tyres – since they could reorder a set of tyres directly from Bontrager/Trek to replace them. All Hunt wheelsets are supplied with valves and rim tape and I keep a bottle of sealant in the shed at home so I didn’t need the full upgrade kit.
The Bontrager Road R3 TLR tyres are constructed from a reasonably supple ‘Hard-Case Lite’ – a lightweight sub-tread material protects against punctures – 120TPI casing – for the 25mm they weigh in at roughly the advertised 280g. These tyres are also available in a 23mm version.
The Bontrager gumph adds:
In theory then these tyres are going to be the holy grail of the new tyre technology. Fitting was easy – sorry Simon no mess here – and took me under half an hour to fit the pair. I find the fitting of tubeless tyres a nice clinical, almost enjoyable process, and with the R3s this can be done without the need of any special machinery – though if you wanted to shell out for a compressor then do, it might make it just that little tiny bit easier. A set of levers and a track pump was all that was required.
I don’t know how you do it, but the process I follow, having installed the rim tape and the valve, is to fit the tyres on the rims and then inflate them as quickly as possible, seating the aramid bead into the rim – you should hear them snap into place when the tyres have reached a certain pressure (I don’t know what that is by the way, the pressure indicator on my Joe Blow is broken). Then it’s a case of removing the valve core (Bontrager supply a nice little plastic tool for this job) and feeding the sealant via a funnel through the valve and into the tyre cavity, then inflate them again to the required pressure – et voila! No fuss, no mess, quick and simple.
I’m testing these tyres with an open mind – I still find carrying a spare tube a bit annoying, but at least I have the confidence in the tyres to carry just one, and not the usual 2 plus repair patches and other tyre gubbins. I’ll have a full review on the tyres in the New Year.
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