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FAQ-3 Can I put a tubeless tire on a spoked rim

Can I put a tubeless tire on a spoked rim?

Great question. For you rookies out there: Spoked rims will leak air if the tires mounted to them do not have an inner tube installed in them to hold the air. The nipples where the spokes mate to the rim are not airtight. A notable exception to this rule is the edge-spoked rims commonly found on a few bikes, such as BMW GS-series adventure-tourers. Even some alloy rims require tube-type tires, especially older bikes.

Bottom line: If your bike came with tube-type tires with inner tubes, you're not going to be able to use a tubeless tire without some creative engineering to make the rim airtight. And even then, there's no guarantees, because the beads may not seat properly on a wheel made for tube-type tires. So this is one of those things we just can't recommend.

What if I use a tubeless tire with a tube in it?

It's not that simple. The bead seat designs on the wheels are typically designed differently for tube and tubeless tires. Use a different kind of tire and the beads may or may not lock, especially if the air pressure is low. The other big stinker here is that the speed rating is null and void because the extra layer of tube now allows the tire to heat to an unknown level. Bottom line: Don’t do it!

Can I reuse my old tubes when I put on a new tire?

Not a great idea. In tubeless tires, the valve stem is replaced at every tire swap. The brass corrodes. With an inner tube, the valve is built right into the tube, so that in and of itself is reason enough to replace the tube. Rubber hardens as it heat-cycles — the process of going from cold to hot and back to cold again, every time you ride — and the tube's rubber, which should be soft and pliable, turns brittle and prone to cracking. Compared to tires, tubes are cheap. Bottom line: Don’t do it. Replace the tubes with the tires.


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