How to Install Tubeless Mountain Bike Tires

How to Install Tubeless Bike Tires

4 minute read.

You'll get a Better Ride: Tubeless bike tires are increasingly popular for all kinds of riders.  Many riders report that eliminating the tube gives them a better feel for the trail. In addition, tubeless tires can be ridden at a much lower pressure than tubed tires (no pinch flats to worry about), which puts more tire tread in contact with the ground for a more comfortable ride. For mountain bikes, tubeless mountain bike tires provide better traction, are lightweight and durable. With tubeless MTB tires, expect a smoother ride and the ability to maintain traction in rough terrain.

Tubeless Terminology

Note these terms for tubeless when selecting tires and rims:

TUBELESS READY

For Tires - any tire and/or wheel rim that is manufactured so that it can be installed as tubeless just by adding sealant. For Rims - the rim bed is sealed against air loss (either solid material or by adding airtight rim tape), and that the bead lock has a tubeless-ready cross section.

TUBELESS COMPATIBLE 

Rims or wheels that have the proper tubeless bead-lock profile but require the addition of rim tape (airtight) to become tubeless ready.

You can improve your riding experience with tubeless bike tires. Let’s get started with installation with this short and precise guide.

Tubeless bike tire supplies

Gather Your Supplies

In the first step, you need to gather everything you need to install tubeless bike tires. Here is the list:

  • Bike-compatible tubeless tires
  • Tubeless compatible rims
  • Bike Tire levers
  • Rim tape matching the internal width of the rim
  • Tubeless valve stem
  • Bike Tire sealant
  • Valve core removal tool
  • Rags, rubbing alcohol and bike cleaner
  • Screwdriver
  • Air pump or compressor

Removing the Wheel and Tire

Now, remove the wheel from the bike and take the tire off the rim.

Removing existing rim tape or strip.  Now remove any existing rim tape or strip on the rim. If your rim comes with pre-installed tubeless rim tape, you do not need to do this step.
However, carefully remove the valve and pull out the tape. Afterward, clean the rim using a rubbing alcohol and a rag. Clear any residue from the rim and clean everything, especially the hook where the tire bead sits.  Be sure the rim is completely dry before moving onto to the next step.

Taping the Bicycle Rim

In the next step, once your rim is clean and dry, it’s time to tape it with tubeless rim tape. Be sure you have compatible width rim and rim tape. Tape the rim carefully by matching the width of the tape and rim together, and make sure to avoid any folds or leakage. You want the tape to cover the full width of the rim without interfering with the bead on the edges of the rim.  Start the tape one spoke hole above the valve hole. Pulling the tape tight toward you, stretching and evenly pressing it firmly into the rim. Use your thumb along the surface as you rotate the wheel.  Then, press the tape into the center depression of the rim and work outwards.  End the tape one spoke hole past the valve hole – overlap the tape by a few inches.  ENSURE a tight seal, then cut with scissors. 

Installing tubeless valve stem

Using a screwdriver, now poke a hole through the valve hole. Insert a new valve through the hole and adjust its rubber to fit against the rim and tape. Place the rubber O-ring on the top along with the locking nut and screw it tightly to secure. Seat the valve core tightly onto the rim with your thumb, screw the locking nut tight so the valve is secure.

Removing Valve Core

Using the valve core removal tool, remove the valve core and place it safely to the side until you add the sealant.

Mounting Bicycle Tire on the Rim

After cleaning the bike tire using a rag careful to remove any sealant residue especially along the bead, it is time to install a tire on the rim. Line it up carefully to ensure the tread is going forward.  By installing it before adding the sealant it will help the tire bead seat correctly.  Before careful not to damage the rim tape if using tire levers. 

Inflating the tire

Now, set up your floor pump or compressor nozzle on the valve and continuously inflate the tire. You may hear some pops while doing it, but that is normal. Observe if the tire has any leakage and insure the bead is appropriately fixed and sealed. After checking the seal, let the air out by removing the pump head from the valve.

Adding tire sealant

Add around 2 to 3 ounces of sealant to the tire using the valve you have installed. You can do this directly from a small sealant bottle; however, if you have a large container, you prefer to use an injector. Once done, insert the valve core back.

Re-inflate the Tire

Now, inflate the tire again to its maximum air pressure limit mentioned on the tire using an air floor pump or compressor. Install back on your bike, and spin the tire around to help spread the sealant. 

Let’s go for a ride!

Check for obvious sealant leaks at the sidewall and valve system.  It is good to go for a ride because it helps sealant spread throughout the tire. During the ride, you may feel a reduced air pressure as the sealant will sit in, gradually covering the valve and giving it excellent coverage. Make sure the system is sealed by confirming the psi has stayed consistent overnight. After confirming nothing is leaking remove air from the tire and set to desired pressure for your ride.  Go for a ride and enjoy the extra puncture protection and added traction.

 

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