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Monday, March 14, 2016

Alright. Alright. Tubeless.

Tubeless tires in the mountain bike world are well established, with years of widespread use and standardized components.  Not so in the higher pressure world of road bike tires.  But with the once sharp line between mountain and road blurring, that is changing.

My slippery slope to tubeless road tires started with new wheels for my Black Mountain all road bike.  To better enjoy the sumptuous ride of that bike, I went on the hunt for a strong, relatively lighter wheel set capable of handling rough roads at speed in remote country.  I sought the balance between durability, comfort and weight that won't fold on me 40 miles from cell phone coverage.  That led me to rims with a wider profile and higher spoke count.  Enter the upstart H Plus Son Archetype rim:  23 mm wide, available drilled for 32 spokes, and tubeless ready.  Wheel set upgrade done.

Now, for tires.  Possessing a heightened bias toward flat prevention, I ran 40 mm Schwalbe Marathon Racers on those wheels for over a year, piling up over 5,000 miles, with but one flat.  And that came at the very end, when I kept reverting to those over-worn tires after the performance of prospective replacements fell short.  Then, Schwalbe announced an all-in commitment to tubeless technology, including tubeless tires for road and gravel.  Although leery about the ride of a road tire filled with little knobs and lukewarm at best about tubeless, I ordered the 40 mm G-One.

Up close and personal with the 40mm Schwalbe G-One.
Now, with rims and tires designed for tubeless, what to do?  Install tubes, of course.  For 300 mostly gravel and dirt miles in winter conditions, I rode without losing a single psi.  Then, on my first true spring ride, I collected 3 flats, each from goat heads.  That won't do.  Not surrendering to goat heads.

Back to the Marathon Racers again?  No way.  The G-One is a noticeably softer ride, with greater control.  Maybe it's the higher quality casing.  Maybe the omnipresent knobs.  I don't know.  But the improved ride quality of the G-Ones officially retired the Marathon Racers.

But I'm not about to ride tires that drop their pressure load at the first sight of an Imperial goat head. So, I ditch my retro-grouch tubes and convert to tubeless via Stan.

After kicking the tires, and the wheels, at the dusty Badlands and Buffalo Gap Grasslands proving grounds.

Flawless execution.  A shake out 50 miles and then an all out 110 remote miles with no flats and nary a pressure drop.  Off to a flying start.

Just because I love this bike.

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