A big part of being a cyclist is looking after your bike. Keeping on top of regular jobs such as pumping up your tires and oiling your chain goes a very long way to ensuring you have the best experience when out riding. Neglect your bike, and you will soon know about it, as it just won’t perform.
On many modern bikes, you will find tubeless systems. These are an incredible way to increase performance, reliability and even help you lighten the bike up.
Tubeless systems sometimes require a little more maintenance, although it’s justified for the benefits you get.
We often get asked, “Do tubeless tires lose air?” This is an excellent question, and it’s actually a very interesting subject to discuss because, for certain reasons, they can. In this article, we are going to be discussing:
- What Is Tubeless?
- Do Tubeless Tires Lose Air?
- What Factors Affect Tubeless Tires Air Loss?
- How To Reduce Air Loss
- Top Tips For Tubeless Tires
What Is Tubeless?
Tubeless is a system that is used on your wheels and tires. Tubeless originally started on mountain bikes and then came across to road cycling and gravel bikes after.
It has some huge benefits, and if you buy a high-end or mid-range bike, you can expect it to be tubeless and ready to go.
Instead of using inner tubes, you have sealant instead. This wonderful sealant has the ability to stop air leaks, fix punctures, and also reduce the over weight and rolling resistance of the wheelset. We highly recommend it over inner tubes for a lot of situations.
Do Tubeless Tires Lose Air?
The short answer is yes. In fact, all tires lose air, even ones with inner tubes in.
Air naturally releases and finds its way out of most things given enough time. Tubeless tires are known for leaking a little more air than other systems.
Sometimes, you might find them going down every few weeks, which is completely normal. If it is a matter of days, it means that you will need to give your bike some attention. There are many reasons for this, which we will discuss next.
What Factors Affect Tubeless Tires Air Loss?
Tubeless tires do leak air, but there are many reasons why it happens. Here’s why you might find tubeless tires leaking.
Tires naturally lose air over time. It’s a process called osmosis, and because of this, you can lose a few PSI each week as it leaks out by itself. It’s nothing to worry about, and you will always get this loss.
Tubeless tires tend not to burst and go down quickly like inner tubes do. They often seal most of the hole, but there are times when you are left with small leaks that cause air loss over a few days or more.
Not Set Up Correctly
Tubeless tires need to be set up differently compared to tires that use inner tubes. They must be filled with the sealant and set to the rim using a high-pressure pump.
This helps the sealant fill in all the gaps that are losing air.
Riding the bike straight after is also recommended to help move the sealant around and let it set into the tire, blocking any air from getting out. Some tires will go down regularly until they have had a few rides to settle and set properly.
Old Perished Tires
When tubeless tires start to get old and perish, they split. This not only starts to let air out but it dries up the sealant, meaning it can’t do its job properly.
Newer tires with lots of tread and minimal miles can be much better at holding air.
Holes Which Can’t Seal
Tubeless is great when it works, but when it doesn’t, it can be challenging. If the hole is too large and the sealant can’t fix it, then you will get constant air leakage. The best way to fix this is with a repair plug.
Tubeless tire setups, unlike inner tubes, have stand-alone valves. These are used to insert and remove air and have removable cores.
These valve cores can come loose at times and slowly leak air. They are very easy to tighten up but often need checking.
How To Reduce Air Loss
So now we know why tubeless tires tend to leak. How do we go about reducing the amount of air loss that you are going to get? Here’s our top tips!
Use Good Sealant
Sealant has such an important task. Not only does it have to be there to fix your punctures, but it also needs to seal the tire to the rim as airtight as possible.
Bad sealant from unknown brands doesn’t work well. Top brands such as Stans, continental, and Muc Off are amazing.
Keep It Clean
If you are leaking air and struggling to find out what it is, then a good place to start is to give everything a good clean. Removing the tire and getting rid of all the dried sealant from the rim and tire is a good place to start.
Then, setting it all up again with good sealant will more than likely fix the problem.
If you look after your tubeless tires, they will look after you. If you find any splits or ever have to use a tubeless plug, doing proper repairs when you get home is a good idea. Removing the tire and using a tubeless patch goes a long way for tire life.
A Final Note
If your tubeless tires leak air, then you don’t always need to worry. Over time, it’s normal for bike tires to lose air and go down.
If it’s every few weeks, that’s very normal. If it’s every day, the bike tires will require some attention. You get a lot more miles by just keeping on top of tire maintenance.
Robbie Ferri has spent years working in a bike shop, has worked with industry leading brands on product creation, has been a semi pro athlete, and is a fully qualified strength and conditioning coach. He has broken World Records, bikepacked all over the World and raced ultra distance at a top-level.