I was considering going tubeless ever since I got my Trance, and after talking to Aaron about his setup I decided to try it out this winter while the bike is parked.
A few things I have learned.
Years ago I tried the ‘original’ ghetto tubeless way. Gorilla Tape (black super tough/sticky version of duck tape) used as a rim trip and a tubeless presta valve. This failed horribly (probably due, at least partly, to the ‘sealant’ I used) and I ditched the idea and went back to tubes. This bike is now my beater/winter bike, and since I don’t think tubeless would fair too well with homemade studded tires, that bike will stay tubed.
This time I am using a tube split down the middle with the excess trimmed off either side once the tire is pumped up. Stans sells a kit that does the same thing, but it costs a lot more then two tubes and a pint of stans sealant and in the end does the same thing. I would imagine weight between the stans kit and the homemade version would be very similiar, however I am doing it to eliminate pinch flats.
Tube size; When you get a tube to split in half, do not get the same size tube as your wheel, get the next size smaller.
For my 27.5" (650B) wheels I am using a 26" tube. If I was converting a 26" wheel, I would use a 24" tube.
It is a bit of a pain to get the tube and tire put together with the edges of a cut tube sticking out from either side, but with some time and patience it really isn’t that bad. I had one side all done, and the other side partly started before I added my sealant to the tire. Once I had the other bead all seated with the tube sticking out and centered on either side, I rubbed some stans on either side of the bead to help it seal.
Pumping up the tire; Your floor pump will not work, so don’t waste your energy. You will need a compressor to force lots of air in quickly to get the tire to seal. I found pushing down on the tire at the valve helped to get it to seal. Once the tire is holding air, you can now use your floor pump to pump the tire up to your desired pressure. A C02 cartridge may work for this, but I didn’t bother wasting one since I have easy access to an air compressor.
I like to flip the wheel over a few times, as well as spin it a bit to help spread out the sealant and get everything to seal once the tire is pumped up.
The tire will generally leak around the bead for a little while, but eventually it will seal. Once you don’t see anymore air bubbles you can pump the tire up again, and then you should be good. Keep an eye on the air pressure checking it every day or two. Mine has been holding 40psi no problem for a few days. Soon I will lower the pressure to my riding pressure, and I hopefully I won’t have a problem.
Now all that’s left is to cut off the excess tube sticking out, and then you can enjoy riding your bike with no pinch flats!