How To Install Tubeless Tires
Let’s look at how to install tubeless tires on your bike. This article includes a step-by-step tutorial video to show you the ins and outs of changing a tubeless tire.
Bike Tire Tools You Need To Install A Tubeless Tire
The bike tire tools that you need to install a tubeless tire are:
tubeless compatible bike wheels
tubeless compatible tires
tubeless tire valves
a valve tool or needle nose pliers
a sponge with soapy water or a spray bottle with Isopropyl alcohol
If you are installing your tubeless tire tape, you will also need the following items:
tubeless tire rim tape
How To Install Tubeless Tires
Find the valve hole.
Wrap the rim in the rim tape.
Make sure the rim tape adheres properly.
Inspect your rim tape (see what to look for below).
Install the tire valve.
Partially install your tubeless tire.
Add sealant to the tubeless tire.
Finish installing the tire.
Pump your tires.
Troubleshoot the installation (if necessary).
Evenly distribute the tire sealant.
Find The Bike Tire Valve Hole
The first thing you need to do is find the valve hole on the bike rim. Start your rim tape 2-3 spokes ahead of your valve hole. This will allow your rim tape to overlap the valve hole twice for a good seal.
Make sure that, if your tape has a valve hole it lines up with the valve hole on the rim.
When you’re ready, cut the corners off of the end of your tape. This will create an “arrow” with the end of your rim tape. This will help your rim tape adhere to the rim’s drop center.
Wrap The Bike Rim In Rim Tape
Now, you need to wrap the rim in rim tape. Make sure the tape is centered and press the end of the tape down firmly. Then, begin wrapping the entire diameter of your bike wheel.
Make sure that you keep tension on the tape, that it remains straight, and that you press it down firmly along the rim. Without enough tension on the tape, your tubeless tire won’t get seated properly and can leak air.
Once you make it around the entire diameter of the wheel, you’ll want to overlap the tape. Go past the valve hole by 3 spokes to ensure you have enough tape coverage. Then, cut the tape and press it down firmly to seat the tape.
Our Roval wheels come with tubeless tire tape already installed. Many brands pre-install tubeless tire rim tape, but some don’t.
Let’s say that you are replacing a tubeless tire and the rim tape. You’ll want to make sure that you follow your wheel manufacturer's tape width recommendation.
Make Sure Your Rim Tape Has Adhered Properly
You need to make sure that your rim tape has properly adhered to the rim. This will reduce the chances of leaks. You can run a plastic tire lever along the tape and press it down as you go.
If you don’t have a tire lever, you can grab a rag, press down firmly on the tape, and run your hands along the tape. Using the rag will eliminate friction, allowing you to press down and slide your hands along the tape, giving you even coverage.
Inspect Your Rim Tape
Regardless of if you installed tape or not, inspect your tubeless tape. You want to ensure it is centered in the rim bed, no spoke holes are visible, and there are no ripples or folds.
Install The Tubeless Tire Valve
Next, you’ll install your tubeless tire valve. There are two potential scenarios here; the rim tape had a hole for the valve or it did not.
If it did not have a valve hole, you can use a pick to create a puncture through the rim tape in the center of the valve hole. Make it just wide enough to give the valve clearance for insertion. Be careful so that you don’t tear the tape or scratch your bike wheels.
Once you have your valve hole, insert the tubeless tire valve stem into the valve hole. Press it firmly into the rim bed. Finger-tighten the valve nut snugly to the rim to secure the valve.
Using the flat edge of a plastic bike tire lever, you can press down on the valve stem and tighten the nut further. This extra tightness helps keep it tight after you have mounted the tire and inflated it to high air pressure.
Partially Install Your Tubeless Bike Tire
Unwrap your tubeless bike tire and align it to your bike wheel. “Alignment” means:
The tire’s direction is pointing the correct way on your rim.
The tire’s logo or hot patch is lined up with the valve for a clean look.
Your bike tire has two beads; one on each side of the tire. A “bike tire bead” is also known as the “bike tire wall” for these instructions. You will install one side fully and then partially install the second side.
Start installing the tire by mounting one side of the tire bead into the rim bed. Start the installation of the first tire wall 180 degrees away from the valve. Then work the tire wall over the rim wall and evenly around the rim bed to the valve.
As you are working your way around the bike rim, make sure you hold the installed portion of the bike tire in place. If you don’t the bike tire will fall off as you work your way around the rim.
As you get to the last few inches of working the side wall over the bike rim, it will get hard to get the bike tire over the rim wall. At this point, get a bike tire lever to make it easier.
Pro tip: Check that the tire bead is sitting in the drop center of the rim bed and not against the rim wall. This gives you maximum slack on the bike tire to make the installation easier on the last few inches.
Now, do the same thing with the second bike tire wall. But this time, leave the last few inches uninstalled. Meaning that you should not fully install the second bike tire wall on this step.
How To Add Sealant To A Tubeless Bike Tire
In the last step, you left a few inches of the second tire wall uninstalled. This is where we will pour in the tubeless tire sealant.
The first step in how to install tubeless tires is to rotate the opening that you left down to the ground. Then, you can pour the tubeless tire sealant into the bike tire.
But how much sealant per tire do you need? We recommend between 30 - 40 mL of tubeless tire sealant per tire.
Finish Installing The Tire
Now, you will slowly rotate the uninstalled portion of the bike tire back to the top. “Slowly” rotate it so that you don’t accidentally spill any of the bike tire sealants.
Installing this final few inches of bike tire wall will be the toughest. You will need a bike tire tool like a tire lever.
Pro tip: To make getting the tire wall over the bike rim wall easier, you can lubricate the tire bead and rim wall with a spray of alcohol or some soapy water
Double-check the tire bead at the wheel valve to ensure no part of the bead is hung up on the valve. This is the most common issue when having problems inflating your tires.
Pump Your Bike Tires
You’re now ready to pump up your tubeless tires. You should use a floor bike pump for this portion of installing tubeless tires. Floor pumps can put out high volumes of air to make it easier and faster to pump your tires.
The goal is to get a high volume of air into the tire quickly to ‘pop’ the tire bead onto the tire shelf. To do this, give it a few quick and powerful strokes to get started. You’ll hear a few audible pops as the bead locks in. (This is a good sound.)
Never exceed the recommended tire pressure or rim pressure when installing a tubeless tire. You can find the recommended tire pressure on the sidewall of your bike tire. Usually, the recommended tire pressure is 110 PSI - 120 PSI.
Troubleshooting Your Tubeless Tire Installation
Let’s say you’re having issues getting enough air volume to pop the tire bead in place. Try removing the tire valve core to increase air volume as you pump.
If this doesn’t work, try spraying the Isopropyl Alcohol or soapy water onto the tire. This will give the bike tire bead some lubrication to reduce the friction that’s keeping the bead from seating.
If a floor pump won’t make the beads pop into place, try an air compressor or a CO2 cartridge. These can supply the extra volume of air needed to seat the tire bead onto the tire shelf.
Once the tire has been successfully mounted and inflated, check that the distance between the tire install line and the rim wall is consistent to ensure the bead is fully engaged. If it’s not, let the air out and try re-inflating.
Evenly Distribute The Tubeless Tire Sealant
Next, you’ll want to distribute the tubeless tire sealant throughout the entire bike tire. You do this by spinning the tire for about 30 seconds to let it spread internally in the tubeless tire. You can also bounce the wheel on the floor for a full rotation to splash the sealant up against the bead.
Inflate the tire to your preferred riding pressure, starting with the recommended riding pressure. Remember to never go past the max recommended pressure of your tire or rim. If they are not the same, always stop at the lower of the two max pressures.
Now, it’s time to put your wheels on your bike and go for a ride to enjoy the efficiency, handling, comfort, and puncture protection of a tubeless system! In the unlikely event that you get a flat, you can just insert a tube as you would for any flat and continue on your ride.
FAQs About Installing A Tubeless Bike Tire
These are frequently asked questions about installing a tubeless bike tire.
What If I Forgot To Add In Sealant Before I Installed My Tubeless Tire?
If you did not install your tire sealant with our preferred method, you would now remove the valve core with a valve tool or needle nose pliers and squeeze it into the tire and rim through the valve. Once the sealant is installed, replace the valve core.
Tubeless Bike Tires vs Tubes
With tubeless bike tires, you’ll experience fewer flats, have better traction, and save weight.
What Is A Tubeless Tire?
A tubeless tire does not require an inner tube and, once it’s “seated,” it forms an airtight seal with the bike rim.
How Does A Tubeless Tire Work?
A tubeless tire has a bead that “seats” against the bike rim’s wall. This “seating” creates an airtight seal. Using tubeless tire sealant automatically plugs any small holes that form in your tubeless tires.
How Much Do Bike Tires Cost?
Bike tires cost anywhere between $25 - $100. Tubeless bike tires cost between $35 - $85.
Are Tubeless Tires Better?
Tubeless tires are better than tube tires. Tubeless tires give you better ride quality, better traction, better cornering, and they maintain momentum better. They also weigh less than tubed tires, are easier to repair for flats, and have fewer flats.