JANUARY 16, 2016 TUBELESS TIRE CONVERSION COMPLETE!
Ever since the Full Flat Fiasco, where dozens of minuscule pinholes from tiny desert thorns prevented me from enjoying the Mojave Desert backcountry, I realized a tubeless tire solution was the most productive path to follow. With the assistance of my cycling buddy Matt Jensen, who has a fatbike with tubeless tires that he converted from tube tires, Bigfoot is now happily as flat-proof as possible. It is indeed a great day in trikedom!
We converted to tubeless using the so-called “Ghetto” method because the ICE Full Fat comes with rims that are not air tight – the seam is not welded, thus would not retain air. The Alexrims Blizzerk 80 rims on Bigfoot have a non-welded seam, which requires a ghetto solution. Alexrims makes a Blizzerk Pro, with welded seams, but that does not come on the Full Fat. Additionally, with the weight-saving holes cut out of the rim, air would escape through them if only the rim strip were in place because rim strips are not air-tight. Gorilla Tape can be applied over the rim strips if you have a welded seam rim, and a traditional tubeless tire conversion could be applied, but I opted for the quicker, easier, and cheaper ghetto method. Besides, Gorilla Tape leaves a sticky mess if ever removed.
With ghetto, we installed a 24×2.4-2.75 inch Kenda Q-Tube inner tube onto the wheel, and then pumped just enough air into it so it would be inflated slightly. Next, we sliced the inner tube in half along its length, so that we could spread the tube material out over both sides of the rim. This method effectively will seal the air in the tire, not allowing it to escape through the wheel seam or hole cutouts in the wheel. The “ghetto” name comes from the fact that in the “old days”, riders who were experimenting with tubeless tires used this jury rigged solution to get the job done. It may be old fashioned, but it WORKS!
Then, the fat tire is mounted, in preparation for air inflation. With ghetto tubeless, the stretched rim over the bead area will be contacting the tire bead instead of the metal rim contacting the tire bead directly. This seals the air tightly, and with these low pressure tires, air is never lost like in high pressure road tires. Prior to tire inflation, 6-8 ounces of Stan’s NoTubes sealant is poured into the tire carefully. At this point, the tire is inflated to at least 10 pounds, although we pumped the tires up to 13 PSI.
The wheel and tire, with tire now fully inflated, is cleaned up (any soapy water necessary, or spilled sealant wiped away), and then the wheel is rotated and shaken in all directions to fully insure that that sealant is well spread around the interior. Finally, the wheels are mounted on the trike, which is then immediately ridden to further guarantee that the Stan’s NoTubes tire sealant is well spread around the interior of the tire. Flats are now a thing of the past! Another big advantage to this conversion is that there is nothing inside the tire (tube and Mr. Tuffy liner) to inhibit smooth rolling of the tire on the pavement, or to put the tire off balance, so the trike actually rides noticeably smoother and softer.
I would have created a video of this procedure, but so many are available already on YouTube that one more is not necessary. I’ll put another person’s video at the end of this article to give you an idea of how this looks in motion.
PHOTOS OF THE GLORIOUS DAY:
Matt installs the tire over the wheel, which has the cut Q-Tube spread out over the sides of the rim. This will ultimately keep all the air in the tubeless tire.
Airing up the tires is one of the final steps of the procedure.
With tire aired up, it is shaken to distribute the sealant all around. Note the tube sacrificed for the job is now protruding around the edges. The tire bead seats against the tube. This excess tube material may be trimmed away later for appearance if desired.
I hold the bottle of Stan’s NoTubes tire sealant, an absolute must for backcountry explorers! Anyone who thinks they can fearlessly use a fatrike with tube tires (which come stock on these trikes) to roam the outback, has some nasty surprises in store. Sooner or later, they will ALL go flat, especially if you ride in desert terrain. I learned the hard way, but perhaps others will learn the easy way from this newly educated trike hobo ;-)
Watch how Stan’s stops flats … COLD!
I installed Surly black rim strips, replacing the stock ICE orange strips (I like black).
Here is the tube you will need for each wheel if you have 26 inch wheels. It is a 24 inch sized tube because you want it to fit super snug. A 26 inch tube will NOT work.
The 24 inch tube sticks out on each side once the job is complete. It can be left this way, or trimmed away with scissors or a blade if you want it to look like a standard tube tire setup.
Notice the sacrificed 24 inch tube excess around the bead. Keep it or trim it off as desired.
PHOTOS OF MATT JENSEN TESTING OUT OUR FINISHED TUBELESS FULL FAT:
NO MORE FLATS! YEE HAA … HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN!
Below is a video presentation by someone else, showing the ghetto method of tubeless conversion. You may notice slight variances in this person’s method, however it does show the splitting of the sacrificed tube. Matt and I used a different tube size than these folks did, but you’ll get the idea. There are many more YouTube videos of this ghetto setup.
PS: This article is always available HERE – scroll down on that page to find it.