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I decided to try tubeless for this cross season. Why? I figured why not? I like tinkering with stuff and this seemed like something fun to try. I weigh about 210 lbs and after much consideration, I decided to use the Shimano 6700-WH wheelset. I wanted to run the wheelset using road tubeless on my road bike after cross season, and the 6700 seemed a better choice than running the Alpha 340's laced 32-3 cross to another hub. Cost was about the same for both. At my weight, I was also concerned about some reports of the Alpha rims being a little weak. The 6700's have no weight limit, which probably has no meaning, but made me feel a bit better when I made the purchase. Still, I was hesitant about the low spoke count (16 front, 20 rear), but I figured that if they were getting beat up in cross, I would just reserve them for road use.
I ran Hutchinson Bulldogs and had ZERO issues with the setup (much to my surprise). I was able to mount the Bulldogs by hand and seat the beads with a floor pump. The wheels stayed true and I never had a single burping problem and zero flats. I generally ran 35-40 psi, and I never tried really pushing the low pressure limit. Somebody who is lighter and faster may put different stress on the tire, but I ride pretty hard (I'd like to think) and never had issues. I actually put about 80 goatheads into them once when I decided to take a "shortcut" along a railroad track. They lost quite a bit of pressure, but I was able to make it home (only about a mile). After adding a little more sealant and then spending an hour pulling out all of the thorns with needle nose pliers, they sealed back up (again, much to my surprise). Actually, the biggest problem that I had was trying to unseat the beads. I would deflate the tire and then push and push and push with my thumbs to try and unseat them, to the point of getting blisters. I wrote Lennard Zinn for advice, he actually wrote back... "try pushing with your thumbs". Finally I tried putting hot water on a section of the rim and that actually helped to break the bead. Once cross season ended, I put a set of Hutchinson Intensives onto the 6700's, a much harder mounting process relative to the Bulldogs. I had to use tire levers to get the tires onto the rims and use a CO2 cartridge to get the beads to seat.
In the meantime, I decided to convert a set of Open Pros to tubeless as an off season training set, again with the Hutchinson Bulldogs. The Open Pros are pretty notorious for being difficult to run tubeless, but it is what I had, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I used the Stans rim strip and after using 2 layer of the Stans tape, I had all kinds of problems with burping, even at 40 psi. I could actually get them to burp just by pushing down firmly from the top. So, I put two more layers of strapping tape on top of the Stans tape, and since then, I've had no problems with burping, even running down to 30 psi. I would not have guessed that two layers of tape would make such a dramatic difference.
If you are thinking of trying tubeless, my advice:
1. Do lots of reading. The article here has tons of good advice. Watch the videos on Stans site and check the Stans forums as well.
2. Be willing to do some adjustments to dial in the setup. Don't get discouraged.
1 year, 4 months ago on Going Tubeless for Cyclocross - Avoiding the Burp, Choosing the Best Tires, and a DIY System (Updated, Part III)