Anybody running tubeless for brevets?

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Aug 31, 2023, 7:07:52 AMAug 31
to New England Randonneurs

How has your brevet experience been running tubeless? Which tires, size and pressure are you running?


Christian Ratliff

Aug 31, 2023, 7:32:04 AMAug 31
to, New England Randonneurs
I switched to tubeless this year. Running 28s at 55-70psi depending on conditions, and my kit has a “just in case” tube and a hole plugger.


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On Aug 31, 2023, at 07:08, TS <> wrote:


How has your brevet experience been running tubeless? Which tires, size and pressure are you running?


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Dario Seyb

Aug 31, 2023, 8:34:07 AMAug 31
to,, New England Randonneurs
I ran tubeless 30mm GP5000 STR tires at ~60psi all of last year, including a 200k brevet and an 800k race. 
I had a puncture in April at the start of a 400k ride on an unplanned rough gravel detour and didn't even notice because it sealed right away.
Didn't need to put a tube in all year, but I always had a spare one on me.

This year I tried a similar setup with the 25mm GP5000 TT tires on a different bike and wheelset, but I never got them to hold air properly and I had a puncture within 2 miles of riding outside that wouldn't seal.
I ended up switching to latex tubes instead, but I've definitely had more punctures overall.

- Dario

Dylan Eberle

Aug 31, 2023, 8:44:21 AMAug 31
to New England Randonneurs
I run tubeless.

I have run 35mm tubeless on one bike (I think once you are above 32mm tires running tubeless is really a no-brainer). At these low pressures <50 psi the sealant does an amazing job closing up all kinds of holes. I have never had a flat that didn't self seal using this system on brevets - just had to top up with air (although I am sure I just jinxed myself). 

I have also more recently run tubeless on a different bike using 28-30 mm tires. Again tubeless has been overall very good. The only issue is that the higher tire pressures needed on these narrower tires means that it can sometimes be tougher to seal a puncture if/when it happens. I have had a few instances with some nasty cuts where the tire could hold air at 40 psi but not at 75 psi - for example.  That being said I rode all of PBP on tubeless 28mm without a single issue. While not directly comparable my riding partner ran 32mm tubed and suffered two slow leaking flats). 

They way I run tubeless on Brevets these days on is I always bring a tubeless plug kit (dyna plug / bacon strip etc) as well as two tubes (using Tubolito now) and a boot. If I am running >32 mm tires and suffer a flat that won't quickly seal with sealant alone, I'll attempt a bacon plug. However, on skinnier tires <32 mm if after 5 minutes or so its clear the sealant wont hold - i usually just throw in a tube for the sake of speed and then maybe re-examine at a control. 

I have heard of a number of other folks approaching skinnier tire tubeless on brevets that same way - run tubeless and most of the time it works awesome and nothing happens. If you do suffer a flat that won't quickly seal - don't waste time faffing with it - just throw in a tube and carry on.  It might be worth spending 20 minutes trailside on a gravel ride faffing with a 47mm tire to keep it tubeless, but it makes little sense to spend that time and energy on a road ride.  This seems to be the most pragmatic approach and so far has worked well. Run tubeless and if it fails just throw in tube and finish the ride that way.  

Hope this helps some. 


Eric Nichols

Aug 31, 2023, 9:06:45 AMAug 31
to New England Randonneurs
I've gone back and forth with tubeless and have done 1200ks with and without. I've mostly given up on road tubeless unless I'm riding in goathead country.  Here in NH, I don't get enough flats to make tubeless worth the extra hassle. Below I list some observations. These are just my experiences and preferences.  
  • Tires narrower than 35 mm have particular challenges with tubeless.  The air volume is sometimes insufficient to effect a good seal after a puncture. When fitting an emergency tube, it becomes much more difficult to get the tire to seat. With narrow tires and rims, tire fit becomes so tight that tools are required. These issues gets progressively worse as the tire gets narrower.
  • I prefer extralight tires, and they tend to increasingly weep sealant as they age and abrade. The super-thin casings often won't support a plug, requiring that a tube be installed after a large puncture.  
  • I used to work in a bike shop and have no trouble fixing flats.  For me it's a 5-minute operation, no tools required. I've probably forgotten about it before the end of the ride. 
  • I have several bikes and some might sit for months between rides.  Sealant can dry up over that time. I also tend to swap tires frequently, depending on the type of ride and the time of year. It becomes hard to keep track of sealant freshness, and it's messy to swap tires.   
For people who finds flats daunting, or who live in areas where punctures are frequent, then tubeless can be a real benefit. Such folks are probably already using tires with casings that are thick enough to seal well and support a plug when needed.  That's just not me.

For MTBs and fatbikes, absolutely!  For road, it hasn't been optimal for the tires I like and the roads I usually ride.  


On Thursday, August 31, 2023 at 8:34:07 AM UTC-4 Dario Seyb wrote:

Danny Elfanbaum

Aug 31, 2023, 9:21:00 AMAug 31
to New England Randonneurs
My 2¢: 

Tubeless yes (given the choice), 38mm GravelKing slicks (though they measure closer to 40, and I run pressures somewhere between 40 and 45 but I don't think about it too much (maybe I should).

For brevets I'll bring the bacon (plug) kit, a mini pump, patch kit, boot, and a spare tube, if it's a longer brevet maybe also a C02 guy. For offroad/gravely stuff I may also bring extra sealant and an extra tube. C02 guy is really helpful if you do need to put a tube in, because sometimes the bead refuses to seat with a hand pump (this has happened to me only once, on a pair of 35mm Compass (pre-RH) tires, but it was a little embarrassing to have to wait for a friendly cyclist to come along and help). 

I've been running the same tires more or less for a few (four?) years now and know that (a) they hold super well on paved roads and (b) I will see threads through the casing before I start puncturing regularly. I've had less good luck with the SKs (in the city: those little knobbies like to grab glass smashed by undergraduates), but I agree with Dylan in that tubeless >=32mm is GREAT (haven't tried narrower), and I would rather carry a wee bit of extra rubber/goop/rolling resistance for the peace of mind (the bike is not particularly åero or light anyway). 

That said, I agree with Eric also below that a well-practiced tire change is easy enough to do on the side of the road, and I did all last summer's series on a bike and tire with tubes and had a grand old time. But I am also cheap and tube prices are through the roof (given that most "nice" tires are all tubeless compatible anyway... you don't save any money there)! Once you get a hang of getting the tubeless system set up (it does take some practice) I don't think it's any harder than anything else, but like all things bike: it's whatever puts (and keeps) a smile on your face, IMO.


John D'Elia

Aug 31, 2023, 9:25:16 AMAug 31
to, New England Randonneurs

John D’Elia here, rando number 1146-I have been riding brevets since 2001, and seeing more people on tubeless now. I have no personal experience owning them and using them-but I agree with Eric that fixing flats with tubes is no big deal on an event and you know what you’re getting into.  I have been on rides with others who were running tubeless setups and there were issues with plugging the tires and then huge gooey messes when tubes were put in.  One time the person had plugs that were too big and he started cutting a BIGGER hole in the tire to get the bigger plug in, which seemed like it was going in the wrong direction to me.  And with leaky repairs, plugs that didn’t hold and then stopping and pumping and stopping and pumping. For me until the technology gets better I would not be interested in these for brevet riding.

Jas Dembinski

Aug 31, 2023, 9:33:28 AMAug 31
to New England Randonneurs
Hi Ted,

I ran tubeless at Paris-Brest-Paris this year and did not have a single flat.  I believe there is a learning curve to running comfortably with them, e.g., pray to G-d and hope you remember something of how to spike them with more fluid, etc., that you saw somewhere on Youtube.

But there's a learning curve to all good things.  

Overall, I would recommend shifting to tubeless and carrying tubes and a self-inflating pump for back-up.

Roll on

Jan Peter D  #3835

Dave Jordan

Aug 31, 2023, 11:28:36 AMAug 31
I've been running tubeless for a few months with no flats so far. I'm
using fairly robust 28mm tires.  And for the most part I'm not doing
brevet length rides.

I would prefer to run tires and tubes, but newer rims are almost all
"tubeless ready" and I find it exceptionally difficult to get the tires
off and back on again.  It takes tools and time and my hands pay a price.

At this point I'm carrying dynaplugs and a couple of Co2s.  We'll see
what happens when (if?) I get a flat...


Nyssa H

Aug 31, 2023, 2:49:28 PMAug 31
to New England Randonneurs
I've been running tubeless on my rando bike for almost a year now. It took me a while to catch the tubeless train but I personally am very into it as I haven't had any flats that required anything more than a dynaplug. When that happened I just found the puncture, rotated that spot down to the bottom to let the sealant pool, grabbed my dynaplug, rotated it back and plugged it and then back down to let the sealant pool around it before I topped it off with air. This is on Rene Herse Babyshoe Pass Extralights (650x42) which are very lightweight. My experience working in a high volume shop that did a lot of tubeless, road and non-road is that Orange Seal endurance is the bees knees. It seems to seal up tires, especially lightweight roadie ones way better than anything else (Stans, Muc-off, Silca, Bontrager, etc.). Also, wouldn't recommend bacon plugs--they don't seem to hold nearly as well as dynaplugs. Folks have touched on various other things I would share, but I think as long as your running under 60psi, not switching out tires frequently on the bike, run orange seal and carry your dynaplug and a spare tube I think there's no contest. Granted if you're still running 28mm or 32mm tires at 80+ psi I don't think there is nearly the same benefit.


Jake Kassen

Aug 31, 2023, 6:48:12 PMAug 31
to, New England Randonneurs

> How has your brevet experience been running tubeless? Which tires,
> size and pressure are you running?

This isn't an answer to your question, but I've had four consecutive rides of rear flats -- on two separate bikes -- and feel like sharing.

Three weeks ago I was able to sneak in two perms along the mid-Hudson. I decided to not risk it and bring "Molly Stark", my friendly rando bike, as I was suspicious about my Seven after it had got rear flats twice on prior rides.

About 75 miles into "Keep the River on Your Right 200K" (Highland, NY) I got a rear flat. Darn. Since I had a half-used patch kit from the prior weekends I decided to patch instead of replace, having first found the glass shard. I go to get my pump only to find the metal ring on the front of the Topeak Road Morph has somehow come unscrewed and probably was in the bottom of another saddle bag. Not good. But I was able to hold the pump head on the wheel and reinflate.

I reinstall the wheel and I'm about to ride off when the wheel goes soft again. Shit. Again I remove the wheel, this time finding a bit of metal staple I apparently missed on the prior check. I patch again, reinflate, and reinstall.

And it happens again! WTF! Seems there's yet another hole, near one of the first ones, I somehow missed. Anyway, an hour of this crap and I'm finally riding again. The route was fine but it's hard to be enthusiastic after that.

A week later I'm riding Phil Stern's "Dover Ponyhenge 200k". I'm back on my Seven, figuring all must be good if it's still holding air. I make great time down to Chepachet, RI for lunch. A mile out of the control and once again, the rear is flat. Again, I patch. Again, another hole. And another. And another.

I walk a mile to a CVS and buy some electrical tape to make a new rim strip in desperation. It holds air for a mile before another flat! Fast forward almost 4 hours after I arrived for Lunch and I'm finally have a ridable bike.


So to Ted's question: I've only ridden with tubes having supported enough Brevets where people got burned by tubeless. But after ~10 flats in the month of August -- more then I've collectively gotten in years -- I'm now wondering if tubeless is in my future.


Mike A

Sep 1, 2023, 5:54:01 AMSep 1
to New England Randonneurs
Eric  makes excellent points.  On the one hand you have lack of rim standards, and on the other, tighter tolerances required for skinnier tires and higher pressures, which makes "road tubeless" make less sense to me. Related to  the sealant drying, it can harden and lumps together at the bottom of the tire, creating imbalance and just increased weight. Tubeless does seem well suited to fat tires with endurance casing and low pressure. Ive run tubeless for many years on the gravel/camper/tourer, 47 and 48mm 650b. I've done many long rides and multiday trips but no brevets. I cant recall a single flat. I even ran tubeless on a tandem for a while.  For a long time  I used extra light tires with never a flat or problem on the road. I didnt experience increased weeping with age but they might have taken more sealant to coat and seal the inside? The main thing was they were so finicky to get seated and sealed,  even with a compressor- mount it tubed, remove the tube and seat tubeless, wait overnight to see if it held air, etc - that I got tired of that and also had no confidence I was going to field repair if the bead ever did come unseated or started losing air.  So I eventually went with something stiffer. Endurance type casing is more suited to gravel anyway and I leave XL casings with tubes for the road. With tubes I like the idea that the upper bound on repairs being as high a 2 + number of patches if you dont destroy the tube. Often on the road I will patch rather than use a new tube if the puncture is clean and in a nice spot away from a seam. I'll say Ive been really fortunate with flats on the tubed tires in the last couple of years and if I was in Jake's shoes.

Mike in Portland ME

Amy G

Sep 1, 2023, 7:06:11 AMSep 1
to, New England Randonneurs
Hi Ted, 

My experience with tubeless is limited to 2 brevet series and multiple 100ks-200ks intebetween. I like them overall. I always carry a spare tube and plugs. I use conti 5000s, 30 or 32, approx 60 psi on carbon rims. I change the sealant every year and inspect my tires every time i get off them. I am daunted by having to remove them to put a tube in should that need arise since it is challenging if not impossible for me to take the tires off. My LBS recommended them and i was skeptical about it at first. When I rode XC from San Diego to FL, I had 9 flats in the first 2 weeks out so I was willing to try tubeless. But no brevets longer than 600 k. 

Amy-Lyn Gumprecht
51 Thayer Road
Greenfield, MA 01301

Jake Kassen

Sep 1, 2023, 7:18:05 AMSep 1
to New England Randonneurs
I asked this on the RUSA mailing list a while back and got mixed answers but this conversation has made me think about it again.

Wouldn't tubes with sealant added be a good compromise for <38mm tires? It seems like you'd have the flat protection of tubeless but without the risk of being stuck should there be a larger failure. I suppose the pinch flat problem remains to an extent although I personally don't ride with pressures low enough to be too concerned.

I do this on my commuting Brompton and it's certainly come in handy.

Speaking of tubes, if anyone has a source to buy them in bulk at a discount, let me know.


> -------Original Message-------
> From: TS <>
> To: New England Randonneurs <>
> Ted --

Emily O'Brien

Sep 1, 2023, 10:27:45 AMSep 1
to Jake Kassen,, New England Randonneurs
Since Jake mentioned riders getting burned by tubeless on brevets, I’ll add my two cents: Whatever tires you use, install them yourself (instead of just having your shop do it) and make sure you can get them off and on and inflated with the tools you plan on carrying. If you’re in doubt, practice a couple of times (bonus points for doing it in the rain and after your bedtime).

Personally, I prefer to stick with the tried and true. I can get my tires on and off quickly and easily without tools, so fixing a flat is really no big deal as long as I manage to root out and fix whatever caused it. (Although I still carry tire levers in case I need them for someone else’s tires, and this does come up often enough that they’re worth carrying IMO)

Now that I’m thinking about sealant, though: Like Jake, I’ve been using sealant in the tires of my Brompton, which I commute on. It has definitely come in handy, and allowed me to procrastinate all the more about fixing my tubes. But sealant is also potentially messy, and can dry out over time - which is more likely to happen if you have several bikes that only get ridden from time to time, etc. So another possible strategy, especially for those of us still running tubes, could be to just carry a bottle of sealant and use it only if it becomes necessary.

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Danny Elfanbaum

Sep 1, 2023, 10:42:51 AMSep 1
to, Jake Kassen,, New England Randonneurs
I run sealant inside tubes on my fixed gear city bike (since I was told by someone I trust to, under no circumstances, try tubeless on a fixed rear wheel) -- so far so good, if you can find tubes with removable valve stems. Tow notes though: (a) I used way too much sealant the first go around; I think less is more in this case, whereas I'm a "more is more" person when adding sealant to actual tubeless setups. (b) I wouldn't do this for a brevet bike (or any bike where I could run tubeless) -- it makes sense given the lovely tacks and glass and whatever in Boston for those baby micro punctures (I have a habit of getting construction staples in tires, which will hold if I don't remove them until I get home... usually), but I rue the day when I get a proper cut tube on the side of the road. I don't mind a bit of mess, but it will certainly be inconvenient. I'm sure it'll happen in the dead of winter, when I'm late to work :) 

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John Buten

Sep 1, 2023, 11:33:37 AMSep 1
to, Jake Kassen,, New England Randonneurs
Running tubeless since 2019 - I have 25s and 28s on my DF road bike and have had 28s and 30s on my recumbent.

I'm worried about responding and jinxing myself.  I haven't had a flat since 2020*

+1 with Emily that if you're going to run tubeless, you need to know what you're getting into. Some tire and rim combinations are pretty tight and hard to get on and off.  It's a learning curve that requires some time on task.  They are generally harder to install and remove. Set them up yourself and then I get some practice by removing them and removing the old sealant when I top up the tires every 4 months / 1,000 miles.  You don't strictly need to do this as all of the weight in the sealant is in the liquid, but it's good practice and most of us are anal that way. I carry two beefy pedros tire leavers and I also have a bead tool... but they're all plastic so they take up some volume but not a lot of weight.  I also carry both "bacon strips" and "dynaplug" tools to patch flats. For longer brevets I've thrown 2.5cl of sealant in my kit or in my drop bag.  I also carry a spare tube, and a spare valve.

I originally just had the bacon strips but then got a puncture where the bacon strip popped out 30 miles after the fix and I wound up using a tube since I'd already lost so much sealant.  Now I have both so I can use the right tool for the right hole.  I've had more punctures running the 25s than with the 28s and none with the 30s.  I think it's worth it from a time perspective - I've had punctures seal without my knowledge and one where I was underway in 5... apply bacon strip, rotate to bottom and wiat where there's sealant and wait for it to seal, re-inflate, back on the road..  Usually when you're going to move to a tube, it's a second flat or a pretty catastrophic puncture, in which case you're kind of prepared for the ordeal and mess.  It can be messy...but the mess is less of a problem than it just being plain harder.. When I've done it, I'd already lost a lot of sealant through the puncture.  If you can, drain the sealant out through the puncture and then remove the tire.  

All of this talk about flat fixes misses one of the major points about tubeless... an equal reason to run tubeless is the lower tire pressure and added comfort.  In hindsight, tubeless doesn't make much sense for 25s anyway and they're going to be the hardest to remove/replace.  With the recumbent, running 30s, I can run 50psi front and 55psi rear and I get a lot better traction  which is critical, especially on the front drive wheel.

* that I know of

On Fri, Sep 1, 2023 at 10:27 AM Emily O'Brien <> wrote:

Pamela Blalock

Sep 1, 2023, 3:27:11 PMSep 1
to, Jake Kassen, New England Randonneurs,,
I’ve been running tubeless since 2016. I’ve slowly converted most of my bikes over, but not all since it involves removing lacing rims on older wheels. I always fret when I’m on one of the older setups! 

I love tubeless. I carry a dynaplug and extra plugs on all my bikes. I keep it in a top tube bag or pocket of a bar bag, so it can be deployed quickly if needed. 

We switched to Silca sealant last year. This sealant comes with replenisher which we add as seasons change. The replenisher eliminates dryed out or thickened sealant issues. 

I’m running 28 on one road tubeless and 32 on the other. I’ve also got 38, 42, 48 and 55 width tires on various dirt road machines. 

I use the silca tire pressure calculator for pressure. 

I’ve had very good luck with these. I’ve had many occasions where I never knew about a puncture only to find sealant spray on the inside of mudguards or splattered on frame tubes. When I’ve had holes to big to just seal, I’ve used a plug with great results. I pulled a screw out a tire once and plugged it, then added a little air. 

I’ve also plugged tires for friends. The time difference for plugging versus pulling a tire  is pretty significant and on group rides means not holding folks up or riding alone. 

I definitely recommend tubeless 

Now ask me about electronic shifting…

Pamela Blalock
RUSA #12
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