Here’s the Secret to Installing Tubeless Tires

There’s a possibility that someone walking past my garage earlier this week might have heard a few grunts, argghs, and f-bombs, which coming from my garage usually means one thing: I’m attempting to change a tubeless tire. Few tasks are more aggravating than trying to get the bead of a tubeless tire to seat on the rim without using the blast of air from a compressor or a floor pump that lets you build up the pressure and then release it all at once.

I don’t have a compressor and my two perfectly fine floor pumps are old school and so I have struggled many times with what should be a fairly straightforward job. But this week, after failing once again (and getting sealant all over the floor), I found this video from Syd and Macky, which saved my day (and kept me from slinking off to my local shop with wheel in hand). You need to watch it to see how the trick works, but the essence is that you manually put the bead in its groove on the rim using a tire iron. You seat half the bead, then flip it over and seat the other, opposite half. If all goes well, the air from a regular floor pump should provide enough pressure to pop the remaining bead into place.

In my case, it was 50-50: The method work for me once, but on the second wheel I got nothing but the pfft pfft pftt of escaping air. In that case, I resorted to using a CO2 cartridge and pocket inflator and that did the job.

Cartridges are of course cheap but the single usage is wasteful. If you have a plain jane pump like me and don’t want a new one, one option is to pick up the Bontrager TLR Flash Can, which you inflate with your pump, then use to blast the tire. Or, if you’re in the market for a new pump, one good choice is the Blackburn Chamber Tubeless floor pump.



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