archival and resource material for human powered recumbent tricycles

ICE Full Fat (Bigfoot) now converted to tubeless!


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.


Ghetto Tubeless 01

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.

Ghetto Tubeless 02

Airing up the tires is one of the final steps of the procedure.

Ghetto Tubeless 03

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.

Ghetto Tubeless 04

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!

Ghetto Tubeless 05

I installed Surly black rim strips, replacing the stock ICE orange strips (I like black).

Ghetto Tubeless 07

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.

Ghetto Tubeless 08

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.

Ghetto Tubeless 09

Notice the sacrificed 24 inch tube excess around the bead. Keep it or trim it off as desired.


Ghetto Tubeless 10Ghetto Tubeless 11Ghetto Tubeless 12Ghetto Tubeless 13Ghetto Tubeless 14


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.


3 responses

  1. My compliments to you maestro, Teach…! I am glad that you have found a answer to your predicament, and pray the day never comes that I have to employ your method…! It has been a wonderful several months now that I have been riding my Q-4 all over the state, and yet not far enough..! I am planning as I’m sure you know already but if not here it is, I am planning a 300mi. trek from my home to the Florida, Keys come this spring with a Trailer of my design and the design of Bikes at Work trailer as it’s foundation in which I have designed the Armadillo Sleep Pod to fit on it frame with all necessary creature comforts as I will need to sleep comfortable at night on my off hours of riding and trailering along my route to the Keys.. Also built in to the Armadillo Sleep Pod conveniently in the rear will house a chuck wagon, which will have a pantry, places for utensils, as well as necessary pots and pans, with two gas fired stoves, cooler to carry drinks and food, and water, as well as any other necessary items to keep up my strength and unnecessary stops or searches for food, and drink… Well I was not intending to get this much in detail, as to the trailer and wanted more to talk about tires as seeing how I will be riding along with 6 tires, twice the amount of your beloved Big Foot ICE Full Fat..! I am running on Surly Lou tires with tubes, and Clown Shoe Wheels, and have yet to have experienced any tire failures, and have come close to having had such incidents when riding down some of Florida’s country roads as well as main roads, We are a blessed State the State of Florida as we have no income tax because of the tourist trade, But along with that blessing we also have to deal with a lot of our tourists refuse as they so kindly deposit it on our roadways for unknowing Bike riders to find large shards of glass,…! And it was one of these large shards that I had run over with every bit of me and my Q-4 trying to avoid them but was inevitable as well as unavoidable, and had run over this large shard with some very nasty large jagged edges, and yet waiting to hear that large hiss of escaping air coming from one, or more of my wheels, I did not hear a thing other then the crunch of glass and pulled over to the side of the road to inspect my tires fearing that it was still lodged within the tire , and is why I had not heard the rushing hiss of air escaping..! When spinning the tires one by one looking for the glass that I was sure to be still lodged with in, I found nothing but a large scrape on my right front tire on the inside where the two front tires face one another, and nothing more…! I was to say the least mortified by the sound of the glass but yet no real damage was found other then the scrape, I don’t know if whether it had been divine intervention or just the fact that Surly tires really lived up to there name, but I was as happy as could be that I did not need to change a tire that foul afternoon with the heat index somewhere up in the mid 90’s… Now as I was saying about my trip to round this story off for it’s conclusion I hope not to find a larger shard of glass along the roadway as I make my way south to the Keys, but I will be carrying an extra set of tires and wheels, and tubes just in case, and I say a set of complete wheels because if I should get caught in the middle of one of the overseas highways, it would no doubt be horrendous to change within the bike path as cars are whizzing by…! Let’s just hope it does not come to that, and it will be an uneventful and enjoyable ride to the most Southerly point of our country the Florida Keys…! But I will be keeping all you have said in mind, and if the moment arises where I should need to employ your method I will forever be thankful for your story and your prescription to repair the tire in which needs to be fixed… So thank you Steve for being so generous, and sharing your experiences with us as well as your remedies…! Happy Trekking, and many a great mile to you….!

    January 18, 2016 at 10:03 am

  2. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G conversion. The spirit of McGyver is still among us…

    January 20, 2016 at 3:19 pm

  3. Alonzo L Savage (Trike rebel)

    Matt solves your problems yet again, the guy is a genius.
    Great fat tyre solution and I think I’ve fallen in love with the lady on the pink fat tyre bike.

    January 22, 2016 at 7:22 am