SEVEN DAY CYCLIST
CYCLING, BUT NOT USUALLY RACING
LATEST UPDATE: MAY 25th
SCHWALBE TUBELESS EASY CONVERSION KIT
“For Easy Tubeless Conversion” is what it says on the box, a box that contains a kit comprising all that’s needed to turn a suitable rim into a tubeless one, with all the advantages that might bring. Opinion may be divided about the uses of tubeless technology, but there’s no doubt that Schwalbe think it is the way forward. For those who want to give it a try, conversion kits offer a chance to try ditching the tubes without going the whole hog. With colleagues providing mixed reports of successful conversions, Schwalbe’s kit seems to have done the job very well, although there are cheaper kits available.
Pros: All you need in one box, does the job.
Cons: Instructions lack detail for new-comers, a little pricier than some.
Contents and spec
Open the box and you’ll find two valves, rim tape aplenty for two rims, a bottle of rim mounting fluid, and two 60ml bottles of Doc Blue sealant. These are all available individually, for spares or in case of a bodge-up.
Incidentally, the valves area smart annodised black. Schwalbe, say this looks swish on any rim, although some might like a choice of colours. Mind you, in my experience, most kits don’t offer a choice, so this is not so much a very minor grumble, as a bit of feedback.
Unlike some kits, such as Joe’s Universal Conversion Kit, this does not claim to convert any rim. There are 21, 23, and 25 mm versions, so check you get the correct one. However, you also need a Tubless Ready tyre - in our case Schwalbe’s G-One All Round Gravel tyre - and a Tubless Ready rim.
Most manufacturers now make their wheels with rims that will fit the bill, so you should be ok. A rim marked UTC is a tubless specific rim, but rims that are Tubeless Compatible or Ready are suitable,, too. They generally have a deeper central cavity and higher shoulders.
Older models of rim, such as those on your Eroica ready machine, may not be suitable. Fundamentally, if the tyre isn’t securely held against the rim, you have a nasty accident waiting to happen.
If you are in any doubt, ask an expert, such as your local bike mechanic, or consult the rim manufacturer - even both. Schwalbe, for example give extensive technical information on their website.
You can, of cpurse, run a tube, if the sealant fails on a ride.
Please note that this is not a set of instructions. Those are in the box. Any doubt about any aspect of the kit, the suitability of the tyre, or the process of conversion - go and see yuor favourite bike mechanic.
When you have the necessary gear, its worth giving the rim cavity a good clean. Don’t want any greasy contaminants interferring with the seal, do we? Strangely, the instructions skip this bit, and the need to apply the rim tape.
On the topic of rim tape, there’s plenty to spare, but I found a single layer sufficient. There’s no need to remove old rim tape. Schwalbe’s tape is not as adhesive as some, but can be located easily enough into the cavity and up the walls. If you get tape that is too narrow it may not seal properly; too wide and it could leave insuffcient space for the tyre to catch onto the hook of the rim. I found it helpful to smooth it down with a clean rag to push out any air bubbles.
Following the advice of my local bike shop mechanic, a drawing pin through the valve hole made a pin-prick into which the valve could be pushed and fastened in place. Rim tapes are strong, and this one has sufficient stretch, as well. However, I found it a little brittler than some, so a knife point seemed liable to split it. Best to let the valve enlarge the initial hole, in my humble opinion.
Before mounting the tyre, use the applicator bottle to coat the tyre bead in “mounting fluid.” Give the bead a wipe to remove dust and dirt first. The “mounting fluid” foams and then disappears. Its function at forst sight appears to be to help the tyre slide into place easily. Some suggest foaming washing-up liquid will do just as well, though the applicator bottle with its sponge head certainly kept things neat and tidy.
Actually the mounting fluid is more significant. Schwalbe explain that it has adhesive properties which help hold the bead in place. Turns out that this is not strictly necessary with tyres like the G-One All Round. Some of Schwalbe’s lighterweight rubber, Lifeskin for example, have less rubber on the side-wall. The mounting fluid makes fitting more effective. Whilst Lifeskin tyres are not advertised as Tubeless Ready, a relaible source informs us that they can be used, but need a good coating of mounting fluid to keep the sealant in. the same relaible source tells us that some folk give the inside of the bead a good coating, too, waiting for it to dry before mounting.
Beads need to sit either side of the valve, so it seemed the logical place to start prising the bead over the rim. Easy enough on both Mavic and Ryde Sputnik rims, with only a little aid from a lever. Should point out that Schwalbe G-One All Rouind tyres were paired up wit the rims.
Extracting the valve core, Schwalbe recommend a track pump or a compressor to blast in inital pressure. For my purposes, a track pump was sufficient to send the bead popping against the rim. You should hear it. Whilst you should stick within the recommended tyre pressure, you do need to insert sufficient psi to seat the tyre solidly.
All well and good, if the air stays put. My Mavic wheel held good, but the Ryde Sputnik blew streams of small bubbles from the spoke-holes. Rather than blame the rim tape, it could be down to taking the coverage to the limit in a slightly deeper rim than some. However the tyre had popped onto the rim and pressure loss was slow.
Deflating the tyre got it, ready for sealant. Schwlabe recommend 60ml of Doc Blue sealant. Tidily done via the spout, there’s bound to be some mess until the tyre is inflated again. A job best done away from the living-room carpet. 30ml is described as the minimum, but should be sufficient on narrower tyres.
On the topic of sealant, some kits offer much larger bottles. However, they also often suggest higher recommeded quantities. Sealants need replacing every six months or so, so seeking a workshop size container and decanting when needed is a good idea.
Inflated to max pressure - 70psi in our case - flip the trye round, checking the seating as you go, to slosh the sealant about. This will protect against most punctures, but should plug any gaps at the bead-rim interface, too. It certainly ended the leaks form the Sputnik’s spoke holes. If you need to do this a few times and add a little more air, that is fine.
All-in-all the process was simple enough. Newcomers might like a little more guidance than is on the instruction sheet. Plenty on the net - though worth seeking something reliable. Having converted wheels before, even when things didn’t go well at one point, there was no need to panic. All the elements worked perfectly well.
Whilst there was no straining of muscles, as with Joe’s Universal kit, Schwalbe’s conversion kit also seemed to be quicker to use. Then again, it does not claim to convert every wheel. With a bit of care, mess and waste were minor, though some is inevitable.
No major gripes, but a strong recommendation to be sure to get the right kit and take a bit of time to get the rim tape solidly set, and ensure that the valve hole does not split the tape. Worth mentioning, too, that it saves a few grammes over universal kits, such as Joe's.
Best try out your handiwork, gently, as you would first off with any tubeless converted set up. Things felt good, so a quick look at the seating, and a check for lost pressure, and it was time to go. This isn’t a tyre test, so the key point was that fifty miles done pressure has remained steady with no hint of derailment. Feeling confident over some rougher terrain, pressure remained sound whilst bumping around with no impact on the bond between tyre and rim.
Conversion kits seem to make for disagreements, but Schwalbe’s has converted my tyres effectively to run as tubeless. The rim tape was a little fiddly and harder to work with than some - though it does come in generous amounts. The Doc Blue sealant can be used in smaller amounts than some others. The “mounting fluid” was very effective, and the black valves offering a smart finish. Experienced converters can assemble the necessaries more cheaply, but kits are a good place to start. Schwalbe’s is as good as any I have tried, and there are bargains to be had on the good old world-wide web.
Verdict 3.75/5 Works well, simply, and has Schwlabe specific properties, but cheaper kits can be found.
PUBLISHED JULY 2018
BUILDER OF STEEL CYCLE FRAMES
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