Should I Go Tubeless on My Mountain Bike?


Experts like REI and GMBN think Tubeless mtb tires are the future. If you can afford the relatively expensive conversion or maintenance, the rewards far outweigh the inconveniences. But what if you’re still considering the change? Are tubeless bike tires worth it?

Ask any Mountain Biker about tubeless tires and you’ll get a mixed bag of responses.

Nevertheless, you will start to notice more and more riders making the change to tubeless tires. But why?

What is the advantage of tubeless bike tires? Which is better tubeless or with tube?

In this article we explain a few of the advantages of tubeless mtb tires and a some of the reasons you may want to stick with tubes. Our goal is that by the end of this article, we will have helped you answer your question, “should I go tubeless on my Mountain Bike?”.

Are Tubeless Mountain Bike Tires Better?

In general, tubeless mtb tires are better than tubed tires. Whether you’re a tubeless supporter or not, the benefits of tubeless mtb tires make them superior to the standard tubes we’ve used for years.

But there is more to the equation in determining if tubeless mtb tires are better for YOU.

Tubeless mtb tires are basically an improvement on the standard tubed tires we still use today.

In most cases, tubed tires will still do the trick. In fact, I am still using tubes on my 29er.

For the weekend rider, you should be fine without tubeless tires.

If you plan on taking your riding to the next level, I would recommend the conversion – you can always swap back.

But this still doesn’t answer the question, “should I go tubeless on my mountain bike?”

Don’t worry, the rest of this article is dedicated to fully answering that question. By breaking this down into the headings below, you will better understand the benefits of tubeless mtb tires, so you can make this decision for yourself.

What are the Benefits of Tubeless Tires?

So what are the benefits of tubeless tires? Why is tubeless better?

And being a potentially expensive and challenging conversion, are tubeless bike tires worth it?

To answer these questions, we will dive into the benefits of tubeless mtb tires.

Smoother Ride

One of the first things people notice when they make the change to tubeless mtb tires is how much smoother the ride feels.

And don’t just take my word for it…. check out what websites like REI have to say:

"You’ll Get a Better Ride: Many riders report that eliminating the tube gives them a better feel for the trail."
REI Logo 2
“Riding on low tire pressure will allow your tires to take shape into the ground and provide you with a comfortable ride.”

Starting off with one of the most important advantages of tubeless mtb tires, the lack of tubes allows you to run tires with a lower PSI.

Among the benefits of running a lower PSI in your tires, is the fact that your tires are now able to better conform to impact and objects.

As well, running tubes in your tires requires that you fully inflate the tubes to near max PSI. Fully inflated tubes can make your tires “springier” and more responsive to even the smallest of objects on the trail.

By eliminating the tubes all together, you are able to get a better feel for the trail, without all the extra bounce and rattle.

Better Traction

Remember how we mentioned the importance of running lower tire pressures?

This leads us into another great reason to switch to tubeless mtb tires.

Tubeless tires provide more traction on the trail, especially when cornering.

Running a lower PSI with tubeless tires produces two factors that increase traction; deformity and surface area.

Tubeless tires put more surface area of the tire in contact with the ground. The results are a significant boost in traction on the trail and in tight situations.

If you’re ready to start bombing hills and hitting fast corners, I’d definitely recommend the upgrade to tubeless mtb tires.

Better Momentum

Following up on the last and most surprising benefit of running tubeless mtb tires, is that they are faster than normal tires.

Going back to the fact that tubeless tires deform well to objects, you are now able to maintain speed easier, as objects have less of an impact on you and your path.

Believe it or not, your bike does a lot of rattling around on the trail. Even the smallest rock or branch can bounce you up or sideways on the trail.

While you may not notice these small changes in direction, each bump has an effect on your momentum.

Removing the tubes and running tubeless on a Mountain Bike makes you more solid on the trail and less likely to rattle all your speed away.

If you were to ask what is the advantage of tubeless bike tires? Running a lower tire pressure will be the main one.

Reduced Weight

The next point makes tubeless tires popular among pros in Mountain Biking as well as Road Cycling.

Tubeless tires are lighter than running standard tires, further reducing the overall weight of a Mountain Bike.

Slime says that you can drop around 200 grams as soon as you lose two tubes and upgrade to a tubeless setup.

And they’re right!

Rim tape and a few ounces of tubeless tire sealant are a lot lighter than the rubber and metal that make an innertube.

No More Pinch Flats

One of the main reasons you may be considering a tubeless setup on your Mountain Bike, is if you’re plagued by punctures or pinch flats.

If this sounds like you, you should definitely upgrade to a tubeless tire setup.

Say goodbye to pinch flats, say goodbye to patching holes, and rest assured that your tires can take a beating on the trail.

Just check out this video on punctures…

While there has been plenty of testing on puncture resistance, tubeless tires really shine when it comes to pinch flat resistance.

Your tire may “burp”, but pinch flats are virtually eliminated.

Reasons Not to Go Tubeless

With all the advantages of tubeless mtb tires, there are still reasons you may want to stick with your current setup.

Although the benefits of tubeless mtb tires may seem appealing, there are still some downsides to running tubeless tires.

Firstly, tubeless mtb tires can be a costly upgrade.

You will have to buy Valve Stems, Rim tape, Tubeless Sealant and possibly an entirely new tire just to make the upgrade.

Then it is recommended to by an air compressor to make the tubeless tire maintenance easier.

This alludes to our next point.

Getting the hang of tubeless tire setup and maintenance can be a bit of a challenge, but don’t worry, we have a great resource on tubeless tire maintenance here.

Should You go Tubeless on your Mountain Bike?

Tubeless tires can have a learning curve and are not without their flaws.

The real deciding factor is if you’re having the specific problems that a tubeless tire setup can alleviate.

If you’re plagued by pinch flats, punctures, and lack of traction, you should consider making the change to tubeless mtb tires.

If you’re trying to save weight and get the most out of your tires, going tubeless on your Mountain Bike is one of the best upgrades you can make.

For those who consider themselves average riders or feel like their current mtb tires still do the trick, there is no need to go tubeless, feel free to keep riding.

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