Getting a tubeless tire seated onto the rim can be a breeze, it can be a night mare, and just about anywhere in-between. With just a few simple tips it can certainly be on the easier side of the spectrum.
We'll go through a few different methods, tips and tricks, and a how to guide to help you go from the easiest possible methods down to your last resort to make sure your tire gets mounted without much fuss.
Floor Pump Tubeless Tire Seating
The most preferred method of seating a tubeless tire is using your standard floor pump. Mount the second bead, pump up the tire, done. With tire and rim manufacturers starting to get better with size standards, that is more and more possible than it was in years past and will likely be commonplace in the somewhat near future.
The reason this is so favored is because it has none of the downsides every other method can have. The one big issue it does have is that if it doesn’t work…it doesn’t work. There are a few tips and tricks that you can use if just inflating doesn’t work and you want to avoid using other methods.
Tubeless Tips & Tricks
These can be used for all the methods but are probably the most utilized in seating a tubeless tire with a floor pump.
- Remove the valve core – this is your first go to trick because it is the easiest and often very effective. Simply remove the valve core so you can get more air through the valve and seat the tire. When you remove the chuck, the air will come out and you can reinstall the valve core and inflate the tire normally.
- Strap the tire – you can use a ratchet strap or even an old inner tube around the outside of the tire. This helps push the tire bead out against the rim and seat the tire. It doesn’t need to be really tight so just a little bit can help.
- Warming the Tire – this can help soften the tire a bit and allow it to take its shape easier. Don’t go putting your tires into the oven, but setting them out in the sun for a bit, next to a heating vent, etc. Avoid using a direct heat source like a heat gun so you don’t risk overheating or melting any rubber. This is not an ideal tip, but it has helped some in the past and might just be the missing piece to your set up.
- Sealant – Add a bit of sealant to the bead of your tire to act as a lubricant and help it seat, while also adding a little extra sealing power near an area that is common to leak.
- Soapy Water – This is a popular tip to help lubricate the tire and rim to allow the tire to slip its way to the rim. You certainly want to use a very soap heavy mixture if you do this as soap is very basic and water is neutral. Natural latex sealant like SILCA’s are basic and will harden as the PH drops. This is great for punctures in the rain, but if you use plain water, it can lead to pre-mature drying of sealant.
Air Compressor Tubeless Seating
Using an air compressor is the next best method of seating tubeless tires if a floor pump won’t work. Its our preferred method because it is simple and has the fewest downsides. You put the valve at the 12 O’Clock position and inflate. Easy as that!
You should hear a few loud pops where the bead is snapping into place. You will get all the air into the tire and be ready to ride. While it is the simplest and most successful solution, there are still some risks to look out.
Natural latex sealant is a base on the acidic scale. Most compressors will produce some level of condensation of water which starts as neutral and can bring the sealant down causing premature drying out. The water can even turn acidic if it sits in the metal compressor for a while which will worsen the problem. The best way around this is to pressurize the compressor just before inflating tubeless tires, don’t allow the compressor to be pressurized for an extended period of time. The other major downside to look out for is that you are able to put so much air into the tire that you can pop the tire off the rim. Just be careful not to overinflate the tire.
The other downsides here are that sometimes people don’t want to purchase an air compressor just to seat their tires. The best part is that there are plenty of great options around $100, or you can go to almost any gas station with a Schrader to Presta converter and use the compressor for about a dollar.
Tubeless Canister Method
There are many options out on the market that allow you to connect a standard floor pump and inflate a cannister to a high pressure. Then you flip a switch, and it rapidly releases the air through a chuck. This acts as a compressor and has a few pros and cons.
The pro side is that when the canister works as intended, it is very simple. It is also a nice option to take on the road. You can put them in the back of your car and make a last minute tire change on the road, fly in the base of your bike bag, etc. A compressor is pretty difficult to travel with or use away from a power source.
The downsides with a dedicated tubeless cannister start with the fact that it is a dedicated piece of $50-$150 kit that isn’t capable of doing much else. There are also a very wide range of effectiveness of the cannisters. Plenty have poor chucks, leak, etc and they make it very difficult to actually get the tire to seat. When they are able to get a good seal all the way through the system though, they work very well.
Inner Tube Tubeless Seating
It sounds a bit odd to suggest using an inner tube to seat a tubeless system, but it can an effective method. You install the tube as you normally would. This seats both beads and you then remove the tube, mount the unseated side (adding sealant if pouring in), and with one side fully seated it is much easier to seat just one.
It can be a method that is messy if sealant is already in the tire and still leaves the issue that it is only seating one side of the tire. This is often a good method if you are going to go to the other tips and tricks to get the tire seated so that you are only trying to get those to seat one side of the tire.
An inner tube can also be used on the outside of the tire to add a bit of compression and make seating the tire a bit easier.
CO2 Tubeless Seating
Using a CO2 canister should certainly be the last resort. Using a CO2 canister is an easy solution that is often very successful to get the tire seated. You use it just the same way you would to add air after a puncture.
There are two big downsides to this approach would be firstly that it is a bit wasteful to use a CO2 canister instead of going to the gas station and using a compressor. The second big one is again an impact on natural latex sealant. CO2 can lower the PH of sealant leading to pre-mature drying of the sealant.
If you find yourself in a place where you need to use CO2, you can let the gas out of the tire as soon as possible and refill with air from your pump since the tire is seated. This will get you rolling, and the less time CO2 is in the tire, the lower the likelihood of causing an issue with the sealant.
Do you have other tips that we missed? Leave them in the comments or let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org!