What’s the point of road tubeless anyway?

The purported advantages of tubeless are well-trodden ground, with manufacturers claiming lower rolling resistance and citing the convenience of having punctures self-heal when using sealant. 

Without a tube, pinch flats cease to be an issue, so it’s possible to run lower pressures than you would otherwise, increasing comfort and grip.

Tubeless is a bit of a no-brainer for mountain bikes, where pressures are much lower and the risk of pinch flats with tubes is high. Alex Evans

Tubeless technology has taken over almost completely in mountain biking, at least in enthusiast circles. Inner tubes aren’t likely to be going anywhere at the lower end of the market where marginal performance gains take second place to everyday simplicity. 

Tubeless has also made considerable inroads in the worlds of gravel and cyclocross, where tyre widths in the 32 to 50mm range dominate and the advantages remain clear-cut. 

The case for road tubeless is more nuanced. While the same theoretical advantages apply on the road, it is debatable whether the average rider will realise those advantages. 

Those who are plagued with punctures or who desperately seek lower pressures have a clear motivation to go tubeless, but if a conventional clincher setup satisfies your everyday riding needs, the case for sloshing sealant around is weaker.

Tubeless setup and maintenance can be messy at times, even if you do everything right. Jonny Ashelford / Immediate Media

The pitfalls of tubeless gone awry are enough to put many riders off, but the balance could tip in tubeless’ favour if new standards can alleviate concerns over mounting and seating tyres, as well as actual safety.

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