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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tubeless Fatbike Conversion Update | Cycles In Life

Intro:

Last winter I converted my fatbike to tubeless.  Since then I have ridden countless trips on them, I have set up a few more fat bike wheels tubeless, and I’ve learned a few things to make the process easier, faster, and is more reliable.  I wanted to provide an update with my thoughts on running tubeless on a fatbike and the steps I use now.
IMG_9915
I still opt for a simplified method of tape, valve stems, and sealant versus using split tubes and foam.  I know others have success with those methods and I’m sure you will too if you decide to go that route.  There is an excellent write up over on Riding Against The Grain for split tube fatbike tubeless setup if you decide to go that route.  The good news is that we as a community have learned multiple repeatable methods for successful tubeless conversions.
The Materials:
I used Scotch Transparent Tough Duct Tape, Stans valve stems, Stans sealant, Surly Holly Rolling Darryls, Surly Knard 120 TPI for the rear, Surly Big Fat Larry 120 TPI for the front, Surly rim strips, Stans injector, air compressor, floor pump, and a five gallon bucket.
I used to recommend and use Gorilla Tape but I had two complaints with it.  One, it is dreadfully heavy.  When I removed the Gorilla Tape from a previous conversion I weighed it out of curiosity.  I was shocked to see the Gorilla Tape from one wheel weighed .75 pounds.  That’s 1.5 pounds worth of tape for a full conversion.  No thanks.  Two, I found that over time the Gorilla Tape broke down with exposure to liquids, this is a problem when liquid sealant is a key ingredient to the recipe.  I set out looking for a replacement tape.  I tried packing tape with some success.  I read of others having success with clear duct tape so I decided to try it next.  I set up my wheels in February with Scotch Transparent Tough Duct Tape and have had great success.  If I’m completely honest, I had to add a few pumps of air every month or so, but I have to do that with all my tubeless setups.  I’m a huge fan of how light this tape is, weighing in at .18 pounds per wheel for the tape.  That’s over a pound less compared to Gorilla Tape with what seems like better resistance to liquids.  I’m sold on it until Stans releases their own tape.
IMG_0462sHow I Did It:
One of the changes I do now is I always start with preforming a tire before trying to run it tubeless.  With normal tires, I mount them on the wheel with a tube overnight to get the tire used to the shape and remove any folds in the beads of the tire.  With a fatbike tire, I like to inflate a fatbike tube inside of the tire off of the rim.  It tends to stretch out the tire making it easier to mount on a rim later.
IMG_9913I prep the rim by first cleaning everything.  I next add a Surly rim strip.  Another change I now incorporate with my fatbike tubeless conversion is that I no longer cut the tape after wrapping the left, right, and center sections.  Instead, I run one continuous piece of tape from start to finish, thus removing edges where liquid can get underneath the tape and end your smiles.  I start the tape at the edge of the rim, wrap the entire way around until you overlap the first pass by six or so inches, then I start transition the taping over to the center of the rim.  I continue to wrap the tape around the rim until I again begin to overlap the center tape and then go six or so inches past that before transition the taping to the far side of the rim.  I wrap this far edge with two full wraps of tape before transitioning back to wrap the center for a second time, and ending with wrapping the starting edge for the second time.  By this point the left side, the center, and the right side have two full wraps of tape on them.  I cut the tape for the only time after I have wrapped the wheel completely.  I chose to double wrap because the tape is very light and I wanted the added security of no leaks.tapeSeries
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