The Col Collective

Behind the Ride - Does Road Tubeless Really Work? Behind the Ride

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In this episode of Behind the Ride I thought it’d be interesting to take a look at the road UST tubeless system that I’m currently using. However, before we dive in, what exactly is UST? Well, it stands for Universal System Tubeless and was originally pioneered by Mavic back in 1999 for the mountain bike to allow a specially designed rim with hooked edges to seal with UST specific tyres. Without the need to run inner tubes this opened up a whole host of performance advantages, eliminating the chance of pinch-flats (no inner tube means nothing to pinch), more traction as you’re able to run tyres softer and more comfort to name just a few.

While it is was absolutely spot on for off-road, translating this over to the road isn’t so easy. The parameters for an off-road rim and tyre compared to a road rim and tyre are completely different. The pressure that you run a road tyre at is considerably higher than that of a mountain bike, and the air volume much smaller so although the technology was widely proven and adopted off-road it’s been a long and tricky, sometimes extremely frustrating and often very messy route to try and perfect it on the road.

I actually first used road tubeless many years ago when I set-up a hybrid system using a regular Mavic Ksyrium rim with Hutchinson Fusion tubeless ready tyres. Despite my excitement and best intentions the alarm bells were well and truly going off as I literally skinned both thumbs just trying to put the tyre on the rim. From liquid latex explosions in the garage to riding home on the rim, I gave it a try and came away disappointed, so quickly reverted back to good old inner tubes.

Roll forward the years and I’ll be honest, when Mavic started talking about road tubeless again I tried to avoid eye contact whenever the subject arose. I had my experience and I’d written road tubeless off, but times have changed and the original pioneers have carefully spent their time analysing the foibles that this system once faced. Reluctantly I agreed to give it another go, but would it live up to expectations? For me this means it’s got to be easy to install and remove a tyre, super easy to pump up by hand (I don’t have the luxury of an air compressor at the side of the road) and most of all IT HAS TO WORK!

So I set it up on my EVO Disc back in October 2017 just before we went to do the recon of Stage 17 of the 2018 Tour de France, finishing up on the Col de Portet. Knowing that there was a bunch of gravel on this climb my plan was to hit it hard and to see if this road tubeless could really handle the beef. I hope you find it useful.

Drop us a line if there’s any specific topics you’d like help with and we’ll try and include these in an upcoming episode of Behind the Ride.

Thanks for watching.

Mike Cotty

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