Are you having trouble seating tubeless tires? Maybe you have a new wheel set and tried everything and you don't know what to do or what's going wrong. There could be a reason that's often overlooked: asymmetrical or offset rims!
Asymmetrical or offset rims
Do you have those?
It's easy to know by just looking and seeing if the spoke holes are off to one side. Many brands utilize this now to make stronger, stiffer wheels.
Having these offset spoke holes seems like it shouldn't be a problem. But especially when you go to replace your tires, what you'll have happen, on these newer wheels, the rim tape is going to make dimples where the spokes are. Now usually they would be in the center of the rim, but these are close to the sidewall, off to the side. So air and sealant can be leaking out where the spoke holes are and where your rim tape is. And that could be a big problem, you could be struggling, struggling, struggling, and it just won't seat.
What to Know About Offset Rims
The spoke hole nipples are offset on these wheels to one side to compensate for this drive side that takes up so much room, which is important to know because you got to know which side you're going to set your bead to first.
So on the rear wheel, the drive side is the biggest thing. So the spokes are off to the opposite side. Now, you might think the front wheel is going to be the same, but it's important to know it's not. On the front wheel the spokes are on the opposite side because the front wheel doesn't have a cassette, it has the brake rotor, which takes up more space so the spokes are off to the other side.
Tip#1 Know what side the holes are on
The big trick about this whole thing is just having the tire seated against the wall of where the spoke holes are the closest. I'm going to seat the tire bead against that side first and I'm going to cinch the other side in so when I inflate it, it's going to push this together.
Tip#2 Seat the hole side first
Choose your adventure
- If you've got a floppy jalopy tire or you just put on fresh rim tape, use a tube to assist.
- If your tire is in good shape and you can still use this technique without tubes.
Tip#3 Use tubes to help seat stubborn tires
What do you need to make a tubeless tire set up go great no matter what?
- It's going to be a really good tire lever. I like these Pedro's soft plastic ones, they're great, they're thick, they're amazing.
- You're going to need the sealant of your choice. Everybody has different opinions on that. I've had great success with Stan's or Peaty's.
- I like using a valve core remover, that's going to be a really good trick too. Stan's makes a really good one.
- You're going to need some kind of inflation, air supply. Something good to make it really go well, it could be a good floor pump with a big chamber on it, an additional chamber. I like using an air compressor. A lot of manufacturers say not to use an air compressor. You have to be very careful that you don't hurt yourself, number one, your wheels, or your tires.
- But another thing that I like to use is going to be tubes. Tubes, can make this process go really well, especially if you need to seat your rim tape and you've got tires that have some kinks in them, this is going to get the kinks out.
Step 1 - Inspect Your Rim
One important step before installing tubeless tires on your asymmetrical rims is inspecting your wheel itself.
Tip#4 Make sure your rim tape is good
One thing is rim tape, and you can notice a lot of things happening in here. Like it's gotten pulled to one side over here. You see it's pulling to one side and there's actually sealant kind of built up right there, probably trying to clog it where the rim tape comes together often this bleeds in, right in there and that's a recipe for disaster and you're going to want to fill that. Because basically, even right here, if sealant is trying to go into your rim through this spoke hole nipple you're going to have a lot of problems. Here you could see it as well. So you're definitely going to have to replace your rim tape on this one.
Also, one thing to do is to check your valve on it. And one tricky thing about asymmetrical rims that a lot of people don't notice is some of them, especially the older ones, have a valve spacer that's offset to one side. And a lot of carbon offset rims have this. Don't lose it.
Tip#5 Don't lose the valve spacer if you have one
It's a really important thing to have because what'll happen is if you try to put your valve in and smash this lock ring on it, air is going to probably leak out to one side the way that these are dished. So make sure you don't lose this little guy right here.
Step 2 - Fresh Rim Tape
If your rim tape looks like mine, you should start over. Remove the old tape, clean the rim, and start fresh.
Tip#6 You can add an extra layer of tape to smooth out spoke hole divots
Tip#7 You can reinforce seam with a piece of electrical tape
Tip#8 Wipe tape with a clean cloth to help adhere and smooth
Step 3 - Install tire with a tube
*you can skip this step if your sidewalls are strong and your rim tape already set
So now I got a tube in my tire and this is not only going to help the rim tape set, the tire get a better shape, but it's going to help when we pull out the tube, we're going to have one sidewall stuck exactly where we want it to be.
And you want this to come out straight. I don't know if it's been a while since people have used tubes, so much mountain biking is now tubeless. I'm going to try not to use tire levers as much as possible on my new rim tape. And I'm just going to seat one side and get the other side on. Even when you're pumping it up, you should and have a tube in it you should still feel that bead seat and get that ping pong or at least one. Yeah. That's what I'm talking about. Yeah. And that is the max 60 psi.
I like to leave them pumped up a little bit extra overnight and you can even put them in the sun if you need your tires to get even more shape to them or if you need to get rid of a kink that came in packaging.
Tip#9 Let tire sit overnight with tube in it to set tape and relax any kinks
Step 4 - Go Tubeless
It's been overnight. I let this all set and the goal is, remember, to keep the bead of the tire that's closest to where the spoke holes are on the outer edge, the offset side, we want to keep this side intact.
For this step I took my valve core out of my valve stem and I'm going to have it ready to go and I have it in the core remover tool ready for the last step. That's really important. And you want to keep it handy right there.
Tip#10 Remove your valve core to maximize air flow when seating tires
Tip#11 Keep your valve core in the remover tool ready to go
I'm going to start off by loosening my nut that was holding the tube on and I'm going to let some pressure out keeping it oriented the way that I know I'm taking off this edge and I'm leaving the offset side. With my hand, not a tire lever, push off or in the side that is going to come out and be careful not to push that other side off or break that bead that I'm trying to keep so dearly. OK, now I like to go between the spokes if I am going to use a tire lever and we're just going to pull this tire carefully around.
Tip#12 Insert tire lever between the spokes to protect rim tape around spoke holes
Now, I want to push my valve stem through carefully, and pull it out. Now, I want to be careful and set it down and we're just going to keep these tubes.
Now, I'm going to take my valve and my valve spacer... One key trick is never over tighten your valves because it'll actually make air come out. You think that you're sealing it better, but you're not.
Tip#13 Don't over tighten your valves
Now, I'm going to put part of the tire back on. I start with the valve and work my way down making sure not to unseat the offset side. I left myself some room and I'm going to pour in my sealant. When I add my sealant I go a little bit more than they say for the tire size, just a little bit more, not much. You don't want to overdo it. Now I'm going to put this tire back on.
Tip#14 You can pour a little extra sealant for good measure
There she goes. I got my offset side intact. And I just seated the other side. Keeping your valve core remover tool and your valve core ready, I'm going to take my air supply and pump it up.
OK. Now, the trick is keeping your finger over for a second. You could lose some air and try to get that valve core back in, if you lost the air, that's fine. Valve core in...I think we got her OK.
What you want to look for is this equal bead all the way around your tire all the way around your tire. Then what I like to do, just spin it around just take the axle and spin it around and try to get that sealant all the way in there checking to see if I have any wobbles. Wow. That is really good.
Tip #15 Use axle to spin tire to distribute sealant
OK, some people would like to just take this out on the trail right now. I usually like to let it sit for a while and then I want to take it on a moderate ride and I want to check for leaks, especially around your valve. All right. We did it. You did it. You're going to do it.