Tubeless Tyres


When I was building up my new Viner Maxima I once again became infatuated with every type of new technology that was available for bike builds . In my humble opinion the Maxima frameset is the pinnacle of what is available at present . Marcel Wust did seem to concur during his test in Pro cycling magazine .

I was torn when it came to groupset choice . I have been a longtime fan of Shimano’s reliability and functionality . Mechanically their products are superb . And to top it all of the new 7900 Dura Ace groupset has internally routed cables which I had been wishing for all along . However Campagnolo introduced the  Super Record groupset which has carbon everywhere . The frameset is made from the finest carbon available and the campag looks so good I was really tempted . They are both Italian which is another factor . Then came the realisation that the Campag had ceramic bearings and I was hooked . Super Record it was .

Next came the wheels . Deep section carbon would look fantastic , but I wanted to build the bike so that it would be usable every day , especially on July 20th for the Etape . Full carbon rims do have braking issues in the wet even using swiss stop pads . They are great for racing , but for training and sportifs’ they are not ideal . Carbon wheels with an alloy braking surface are a good option and are more practical for Irish roads and I was seriously considering a pair of Mavic Cosmic Carbon SLR’s until I recalled a review of Hutchinson tubeless tyres . Almost all cars now use tubeless so it makes sense that they would work well on a bike . Not all wheels are tubeless compatible so this was now a consideration . The choices were ;

Campagnolo Shamal Ultra 2-way or Eurus 2-way

Fulcrum Racing Zero 2-way

Shimano Dura ace 7801

The Campag groupset immediately ruled out the Shimano wheels . That left the Campag and Fulcrum wheels . The Campag Shamal Ultra’s were first choice due to their weight advantage 1395g per pair , but the colour would clash with the bike as they are either grey or gold .The Fulcrums were next up at 1425g but on a practical level were out of stock at that time and are €300 more than the Campag Eurus 2-way . At 1550g they are a little heavier but are very strong . The colour matches the bike nicely and they are a really well built wheel . I choose the Eurus .

With little effort I fitted a pair of Hutchinson Fusion2 Tubeless tyres . It took less time than fitting a standard tyre and tube set up . I inflated them to 100 psi . I normally ride clinchers at 120 psi . I have now used them 10 times and have over 750k on them and here is what I have found so far .

Because you can ride them at a lower pressure they are more comfortable . Normal clinchers at 90 – 100 psi would be susceptible to pinch flats . As there is no tube this is not an issue . Another problem with clinchers at this pressure would be increased rolling resistance where the wheels would become to feel ‘sluggish’ . This is not an issue with tubeless .

One morning I was out with the group as we descended Colligan hill . I was in the middle of the group and was being sucked along . I hate using brakes when there is another option as I feel that I am wasting energy so whenever I find myself riding up near the wheel in front I veer out slightly , catch a bit of wind , slow down and move back in again . This did not work  . Whilst everyone around me was pedalling I was floating along rolling the pedals backwards to keep the blood flowing . As I was running up on the wheel in front I veered out as usual but did not slow down . I sat up high to catch more wind , like a sail , and still I was moving faster up alongside the rider in front . I was left with no option but to use the brakes in order to slot back in to my place in the line .

I have done that spin hundreds of times with all types of wheels and bikes . I have gone down that hill in a group on Zipp 404′s , Mavic Carbon Cosmic’s , Reynolds Stratus dv’s with Vittoria cx tubulars among many different types of wheels and never before have I experienced such a ‘free’ ride .

Out of the saddle the wheels feel like deep section carbon wheels with tubulars fitted.  

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Today I decided to really put them to the test . We don’t have any cobbles like The Forest of Arenberg in Paris Roubaix . But what we do have is the Curraghmore Estate . The roads within the estate are pretty rough and were used by Sean Kelly when he was at his peak . As I entered the Estate I stuck it in a big gear , loosley gripped the tops of the bars and sat back over the saddle and tried my best to get a puncture . I failed miseably . The tyres glided over the stones and potholes . The whole bike was super smooth . I should have felt my teeth chattering but it felt as though I was still on smooth tarmac . It was a good test of frame , wheels and tyres . All passed with flying colours .

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The one flaw that I did notice was on my very first spin as I looked down over the bars there seemed to be a slight wobble . I even stopped to check , but the tyre was seated properly . What it was is the overlap of the different compounds on the tyre . They are not perfectly straight so this can be a little disconcerting at first . It is only a minor issue but one to bear in mind on your first spin on tubeless .

So what happens if you do puncture ?

Simple , you can either use a can of Hutchinson co2 sealant or pop in a normal tube and ride it like a clincher .

At present only Hutchinson offer tubeless tyres but Continental are working on their own version and the An Post Sean Kelly team have been testing a prototype specialized tubeless system .

Here are some other reviews of this new bicycle technology ;

http://www.testrider.com/fly.aspx?layout=player&video=82

http://www.cyclingnews.com/tech.php?id=tech/2006/reviews/hutchinsontubeless

Barry

www.worldwidecycles.com

5 comments

  1. Barry,

    After reading this Looks like I should have taken your advice & purchased a pair of Eurus instead of the Fulcrum Racing 1′s ( still great value wheels though ), but it was fear of the unknown on my part. Ah well, another lesson learned.

  2. Hi, i have the Hutchinson Fusion Tubeless TOO. But the ride is not better than on my 4000S.
    Please proof us, that the rolling resistance is better than on a 4000S with light tube.

  3. Tubeless tyres are basically pnumetic tyres that do not need a separate rubber inner tube. These tyres are safer than tube tyres. When a tubeless tyre gets punctured, air escapes only through the hole, leading to a gentle deflation of the tyre. A tubeless tyre also comes with a soft rubber chaffer, distinct from a rubberised fabric chaffer in a tubed tyre. This works as an all-round air seal between the tyre and rim.
    The key benefits of tubeless tyres are that it allows cooler running and even if it gets punctured it can drive the car to a substantial distance without any jerks and inconvenience. Lighter weight of the tubeless tyre also adds worth to its usage because lighter the weight more is the fuel efficiency.

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