The first and most common question to Road Tubeless is, what is it? The most common misconception is that it’s tubular. It is not, tubular is a different and earlier tire system (see diagram below), where the valve and tire are joined together and sewn into a carcass [including an inner-tube] that is then mounted to the rim and held in place by glue or adhesive tape. Which leads us to clinchers, which are not tubeless and are the most well known tire system. Clinchers and Road Tubeless share a very similar rim shape, whereby the tire is hooked on to the rim via a rail and the tire bead. Clinchers have a separate inner-tube that is inserted between the rim and tire to inflate the tire. Pretty simple stuff.
The first difference between clincher wheels and dedicated Road Tubeless wheels is the rim rail, which is a more pronounced. The second major difference is the presence of an inner profile – a second lip or rail which interacts with the tire bead to allow the tire to ‘click’ into place. The tire is designed to hold firm in this rail and it is thus possible to inflate the tire without needing a compressor. The Road Tubeless inner rim profile is also designed to hold the tire in place in case of loss of tire pressure, ensuring that the sealant has enough time to act and that you are able to re-inflate the tire using a portable pump as the tire will not disengage from the rim. The technology first appeared on the mountain bike scene and it took many years to realize the same design in high pressure narrow road tires. So now we are on Road Tubeless; no inner-tube, no sewn-up tubular tire but, an open tire.
Obviously Road Tubeless is not a clincher and therefore the wheel itself must be airtight on the inside [not just via the rim/tire fit], ideally using tape to seal the spoke holes rather than relying on often ingenious ways to avoid drilling the rim right through which often result in compromises in rim design, or complicate wheel maintenance. Lastly, the wheel is fitted with a Road Tubeless specific valve (provided with our wheels) that is bolted to the rim as there is no tube. We recommend using a liquid sealant that floats inside the tire and acts to seal any small punctures.
Sounds like a lot of fuss? Why not use clincher or tubular? While both those systems work great and offer ease of use and lightness respectively, Road Tubeless wheels like the RT50 offer a combination of the two and then some. Road Tubeless can be run at lower pressures and not suffer the same pinch flat issues as a clincher, therefore you gain better contact with the road surface and arguably less rolling resistance – partly due to losing the inner-tube and partially due to having a wider ground contact patch. As they have no inner-tube they’re lighter than a similar clincher set-up too. It is also important to note that Road Tubeless wheels can also be used as a regular clincher, with an inner tube. However there are no practical benefits to this if a Road Tubeless tire is available instead.
Where the RT50 comes into it’s own, is as an amazing racing wheel. The advantages of not puncturing (if set-up right, nearly 100% puncture proof for small cuts to the tire), lower weight and in the RT50’s case a properly researched aerodynamic wheel will increase your chances of not only finishing a race, but placing well, or even winning. The ability to run lower pressure also gives you better handling which is critical in a race, and it increases riding comfort without having to rely on 25mm or even 28mm profile tires that tend to affect handling and increase the overall bike weight. Having said that the range of Road Tubeless tires is increasing too and it’s not just limited to 22mm or 23mm tires.
There are numerous articles on the internet to the advantages of using Road Tubeless and also how to convert normal clinchers into Road Tubeless, these work but, they’re not as foolproof or user friendly like the tubeless specific rims such as the RT50’s.
The RT50’s have been tested beyond what is deemed industry standard (see video below) and can take up to 110kg riders, so these wheels offer incredible performance and strength alongside the benefits that are offered by Road tubeless.
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