Velocity Dually tubeless review

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The 45mm Velocity Dually rim is beautifully crafted in the USA, bringing a strong doublewall rim design to fat and mid-fat tires.  The 45mm width is well matched to tires ranging from 2.4-3.8″, and is especially well suited to the 3.0″ Surly Knard.  Building a wheel with the Dually was a pleasant experience, resulting in a wheel that is strong and true.  However, the Dually is not a tubeless-ready rim, no matter the claim made by the company.

Build quality

The quality of the rim is very high.  Upon receipt, there were many signs of manufacture, including small shavings of metal and a coating of polishing compound, which left metallic grey dust on my hands.  Aside, these are all signs of a real Made in the USA product.  Upon lacing and tensioning the wheel, I discover that the Dually is a very strong rim, structurally.  The spoke holes are nicely beveled to mate with the brass DT swiss nipples used in the build.  With a little grease at the spoke hole, the nipples turn freely even at high tension.  In total, the wheel built up with minimal fuss.  The rim was straight through the entire process.  Although it can be manipulated with spoke tension, the rim also asserts its structural strength when tensioning.  Unlike a Surly Rabbit Hole rim, there is no twisting at full tension (when laced to in an alternating pattern to each side of the rim).  The Surly rim utilizes two rows of 32 offset spoke holes, drilled 7mm from center.  The Dually has 32 alternating spoke holes about 2mm from center.  These rims feature a high-polish finish.

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 Tubeless rims, in general

There are several features which enable a good tubeless rim. First, there must be a horizontal bead shelf with an exact diametric dimension matching the tire (622/584/559mm). In combination with a tubeless ready tire of the same dimension (or slightly less), produced to high tolerances, the system will join tightly, seal easily, and resist a broken seal (burping).

Another feature found on some tubeless rims is a bead lock, a term that is used in several ways. What I am referring to as a bead lock is the ridge between the lower center channel and the bead shelf.  This feature resists the tire from coming off the bead shelf under extreme side loads or low pressures, as in the event of a deflated tire while riding.

Burping is especially possible in a low pressure system such as on a 45mm rim used with 29+ tires, or on wider rims and tires common on fatbikes. The result of burping may a small nuisance, as a blast of air quickly escapes from the tire and the bead reseats itself, resulting in an audible sound and minimal air loss.  The result of complete air loss may be catastrophic to the tire, rim, and rider, especially if the tire is rapidly unseated, especially while descending, cornering, and braking. Also, some tubeless specific rims (those marked UST, for instance) are completely sealed without the need for tape for rim tape.  This is a great feature to the end user, but not to the wheelbuilder.  All of the rims I have used require tape of some sort to seal the spoke holes on the inside of the rim.

Finally, some newer rims have forgone the hooked rim wall that has been essential to clincher tire systems for so long. If the bead shelf secures the tire tightly to the rim, the rim wall now acts as a limit to prevent the tire from sliding off the rim. Beware, however, that most all tires have the ability to stretch to some degree, and may blow off a rim.  This is especially a concern when using non-tubeless folding tires.  Best to stick to TR (tubeless ready) tires if you can, but of course you want to mount some Surly Knard 3.0″ tires to your Dually and you are tempted to use the lightweight tire.  Your choices include the ultralight 120tpi folding tire and the heavier 27tpi wire bead model.  In fact, I’ve found that wire bead tires can serve as a cheap and reliable substitute for proper TR tires.

When using tubeless tires and rims it is prudent to limit maximum tire pressures, especially as the hooked rim wall is minimized or nonexistent is many designs.  For instance, Stan’s recommends a max 40psi on most of their rims for this reason, especially as they endorse the use of almost any tire type on their rims, including non-tubeless tires. Their rims have very short sidewalls which maximize effective tire volume. Other companies produce entirely hookless rim sidewalls, including most carbon mountain bike rims available today.  Hooked rims are not essential to tubeless or conventional tubed tires systems when rim and tire tolerances are all in line.

 

Velocity Dually tubeless claims and pains

Velocity recommended to me that the Dually rims would be ready to use tubeless with a layer of high-pressure tubeless tape such as Stan’s yellow tape, or Velocity Velotape. In my first experiments all the tires mounted fit loosely, were difficult or impossible to air up, and leaked too much air at the bead to reach max pressure. They lost all of their air in seconds, indicating an inconsistency between the outside diameter of the bead shelf and the inside diameter of the tire.  I initially tested with 120tpi Surly Knard 29×3.0, Specialized Purgatory 29×2.3 2Bliss folding tire, Specialized Ground Control 2.1 2Bliss folding, On-One Chunky Monkey 2.4 folding, On-One Smorgasbord 2.25 folding, and two cheap wire bead tires, a WTB Prowler and Geax Saguaro. None captured air easily and none sealed.

Next I added a layer of Gorilla tape from edge. Several tires held air better than before, but most would not take 20+ psi, and any tire than seated was easily un-seated without effort– the bead on each tire was still easy to break, would not seal, and would be unsafe to ride.  I then installed a second layer of Gorilla Tape from edge to edge. Now, I could mount most all tires to pressure, some sealed for seconds while other held air a little longer.  I make a habit of testing tires without sealant to avoid messes and to allow for some reconfiguration before the system is finalized.  If a tire holds air without sealant, it will likely be reliable in use with sealant.

For a lightweight non-TR tire with an elastic folding bead like the Surly Knard, a third layer of tape is recommended.  With a good quality TR tire or even the wire bead Knard, fewer layers of tape may be required.  Tires that qualify for UST rating may require only a layer of Stan’s tape, although I didn’t try any UST tires on the Dually.  UST tires are unusually thick, heavy, and stiff best applied to extreme riding conditions such as remote rocky rides and/or DH riding.  In contrast, non-tubeless tires often work without issue on UST rims as they do on the rims of other manufacturers.

Regarding the tubeless ready claims of the Velocity Dually, I think the rim is under-engineered and undersized. I finally mounted Maxxis Minion 29×2.5 tires before selling the wheelset to a friend, and those tires fit tightly to the rim (with two layers of tape already installed, not sure how they would fit with only Stan’s tape in the center).  This was certainly the tightest fitting tire of all with the most significant casing and bead design, but the tire is designed for DH use and weighs well over 1000g.  The tire held air without sealant.  I loaded the tires with Stan’s and passed them along to Nate.  He’s the kind of guy that appreciates gross durability above all else, and is pleased with the wheels on his pink Fatback

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Other wide rims and tires

In my quest for wider TR rims, I’ve recently build 35mm wide carbon rims, selecting ultralight models from Light Bicycle which sell direct from China, and the heavy duty Derby which comes through a small firm in California.  Both rims are genuine TR designs, which result in a reassuring ‘pop’ when airing the tires to pressure.  Two other companies are manufacturing 35mm wide TR carbon rims: Nextie rims are competitively priced direct from China, while the Nox Composites rims come through Tennessee and are especially packed with features including an offset spoke bed for improved spoke tension and strength.  The 50mm Surly Rabbit Hole rim can be modified and massaged to accept a tire tubeless.  Ibis is selling a wheelset with 41mm wide carbon rims, TR of course.  Finally, Stan’s has just released the 52mm Hugo rim, perfectly mated to tire between three to four inches.  I’m thinking the Stan’s Hugo may put the Dually and the Rabbit Hole out of business.

The Velocity Dually is certainly an improvement over older designs.  This welded dual-width rim is likely the namesake of the 45mm Dually, which is about twice as wide as two XC rims.

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The width of the Dually is the perfect host for a 3.0″ Knard.

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Wider is better.  A Knard tire on a 29.1mm Stan’s Flow EX (left) and a 50mm Surly Rabbit Hole rim (right).

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The Surly Knard 3.0″ tire on a Stan’s Flow EX.  This particular tire is well worn.

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On a Surly Rabbit Hole rim.  Additionally, the contact path changes with wider rims, as does the behavior of the tire due to improved sidewall support.

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Tubeless is better.  Even a chunky tire like this On-One Smorgasbord can get a pinch flat or puncture, but Stan’s sealant can fix it.  This was the result of a particulalry hard rock strike on the AZT, descending into Flagstaff.  Lael likes to descend fast.

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Surly Knard 3.0″ tires are tons of fun, but they aren’t tubeless ready, and they aren’t especially tough.  The 120tpi folding version is light and fine, while the 27tpi wire bead tire is reasonably tough, but not especially tender.  Hey Surly, how about a 60tpi tubeless ready line of tires?

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For a rim and tire like this, the split-tube tubeless method works best.

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Otherwise, there is a risk of making a mess on your way to discovering how much Gorilla Tape is required to achieve a proper tubeless seal.  The split-tube method relieves the pressure, and makes a tight seal.

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Tubeless systems on fat tires can be complicated, at least until dedicated TR rims and tires are available.  Taping a Rolling Darryl to mount a wire bead Nate.

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I spent time riding the Duallys on the Salsa Mukluk, set-up as a big boned 29er with 3.0″ Knards, or 2.25″ and 2.4″ knobbies.

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29+ vs 29.  Those are 2.3″ Specialized Purgatory tires on Stan’s 29.1mm Flow EX rims.

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Clearance in a Fox Talas is tight.  A bike with 3.0″ tires and a 120mm fork is incredibly fun and capable.  Check out this custom creation from Meriwether Cycles.

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Riding narrower 2.1″ and 2.2″ tires on the Dually, briefly.  Also pictured are a Surly ECR and Surly Krampus.

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Now, Nate is in charge of the Dually wheelset.  With a pair of 29×2.5″ Maxxis Minion DHF tires, they’re ready for a full summer of riding in AK.

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For now, I’ve migrated to 35mm rims, optimized for the 2.35″ to 2.4″ tire I expect to use over the next year.  Anyone make a genuine tubeless rim in this width?  Yes, but only in carbon.  Stan, how about a 35mm rim?

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One excellent option for 29+ tires is the 35mm wide Derby rim.  Kevin’s got a pair mounted to his Borealis Echo.  I’ve got one on the rear of my Krampus.

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Vitamin D Ride, Anchorage, AK

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Seeking an hour of sun on my day off work, Lael and I finally put down our coffee cups and start pedaling around noon.  She has been dealing with a creaky ankle, so the plan is to make a mellow circuit of the local multi-use trails.

However, the Fur Rondy dog mushing races have taken over the main trails.  These are preliminary exhibition races to the Iditarod, which starts later this week.

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Instead, we cut through neighborhoods to a local singletrack trail called Blue Booty, named for a blue dog booty (like a sock), that had once been found on the trail.  This is the most prominent trail through APU (Alaska Pacific University), at the heart of a new network of trails taking shape.  Most of those trails seems to be natural, without grooming, signage, or mapping.  It only takes a little traffic to make top-notch winter trails.  More fatbikes equal more trails.

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Soon, Lael peels off towards work.  I intend a few more pedal strokes before returning home.

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I continue, dodging sections of trail closed for the races.  After two weeks without much riding, and altogether too much time indoors and in front of a computer, I can’t seem to get close enough to the sun.  If I keep going south, by the end of the day I’ll have consumed more sun than I’ve seen in months.  If lucky, I might even get a sunburn.

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Turning off the Tour of Anchorage trail onto Blue Dot, a favorite amongst cyclist in town.  This is a popular connection for group rides.

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A friend joins for a spin.  Nate rides a pink Fatback.  We first met several years ago when I listed a Nate tire on Craigslist.  Eventually, I borrowed some Schwalbe tires for my Pugsley, in trade for Maxxis Holy Rollers.  I returned the Schwalbes after riding them down to Montana, and eventually, he returned the Nate to me in New Mexico.  We are like tire pen-pals. 

Nate is working to create a few extra trails in the Campbell Tract from the Lore Road trailhead.  After a snowfall, he first packs the trail with snowshoes.  Next, walkers and riders begin to work it in.  Eventually, it is rideable (mostly).  In winter, traffic is paramount to the existence of trail.

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We encounter a prototye Fatback Corvus frame and fork, with tubeless carbon Fatback rims.  I heft the bike; the internal scales says ‘superlight’.  Top finishers in the 350 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational (ITI) to McGrath were both riding Fatback bikes this past weekend.  Kevin Breitenbach and Tim Bernston both crushed Jay Petervary’s record from last year, due in part to excellent trail conditions with little snow.  They arrived in McGrath in a little over 2 days.   

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An old pink bike works just fine for Nate.

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With so many familiar faces on the trail, we hardly find time to ride.  Nick has recently made his 9zero7 fatbike tubeless, opting for the reliable split-tube method, mating 120tpi Dillingers to Rolling Darryls.  The split tube method is easy and reliable, and works with almost any combination of rim and tire.

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Parting ways with Nate, I continue south.

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First, onto Elmore Road, which dead-ends onto a powerline trail, before resuming again further south.

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Down to a grocery store for lunch.

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Including a stop at two local bike shops, the grocery store, and an electronics store for a lens filter, I connect the east side of town with Kincaid Park, in the west.  Immediately, I shoot for unfamiliar trails along the waterfront.

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A crusty, sandy trail leads up the hill.  With a little grit, it is rideable.

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It leads up and around, to the bluff.

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This southwestern exposure gets plenty of springtime sun, and is reported to be the first dry trail in town. 

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In winter, it seems to get little tire traffic.  Mostly boot tracks are present.

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The trail is a little sketchy at times, including some crusty off-camber trail.  However, most if it is rideable and much more like mountain biking that most of the playful groomed trails we usually enjoy.  The distinction, I think, is the presence of natural obstacles, and a few unridable features.  On this day, Surly Nate tires are great.  I am loving the new tubeless set-up as well.  The bike is much more fun.

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Connecting back to more established trail, a chill settles.  Sunlight slowly wanes.  Near the first of March, we gain nearly six minutes of light per day.  Days have just grown longer than 10 hours, a welcomed feature.  March is always a great month.

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I make several loops of some area trails, as I know I won’t likely have the chance to return during the week.  Conditions are perfect.  The front tire washes a few times while descending Middle Earth.

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 I wait several minutes before I am able to gently suggest this moose off the trail.  

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Partway down Middle Earth, the skyline warrants waiting.  Sunset seems to last for hours.

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One half of the sky is night.

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The other half holds dearly onto day.

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Finally, I arrive home eight hours after leaving.  Waiting on the front stoop is a box from Velocity USA, containing two high-polish Velocity Dually 29 rims.  We’ll talk about that later.

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Tubeless Fatbike Guide: Nate to Rolling Darryl

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Living in New Mexico last winter required the adoption of tubeless tire systems.  Arriving in Albuquerque on a Pugsley, I was foiled by goathead punctures on a daily basis.  Naturally, as other mountain bikers in town already knew, “going tubeless” was the answer.  At Two Wheel Drive, we developed a method to bring fatbikes into the tubeless realm using the split-tube method, also known as “ghetto tubeless”.  

For a detailed guide to the split-tube method, check out Fatbike Tubeless, Tubeless Moonlander, and Does it work?.  In short, a 20″ or 24″ tube is split along its outside seam to create an airtight rim strip.  The tire is mounted atop the homemade rimstrip, without a tube, and a blast of air seats the tire.  Finish with liquid sealant, trim the excess rubber from the split tube, and ride.  This method has proven reliable, and may be preferred for anyone concerned about tire burps, such as an aggressive rider on rocky trails.  For a completely burp-free system, it is possible to apply an adhesive between the tire and the split tube to create a permanent seal, also allowing the tire to be moved from wheel to wheel without breaking the tubeless seal.  These two methods typically reduce wheel weight when compared to use of a tube, but not by much.  

The final procedure for converting an existing wheel to a tubeless system is very simple in theory, and is the lightest method.  A layer of tape is applied to the rim to create an airtight seal.  The tire is mounted and seated, and sealant is added.  Finally, sealant is distributed inside the tire to seal the bead and any pores in the tire.  While the concept is simple, there are several challenges.  Seating the tire on the rim can be difficult, especially in the case of a very loose-fitting tire.  Some tire and rim combinations mate better than others, due to inexact tolerances and texture along the tire bead.  Some of the texture designed on the tire bead is intended to improve the bead lock, reducing the risk of the tire walking on the rim at extreme low pressures, but creating some challenge to sealing.   

 The beginning front wheel weight is 7lbs 15oz (3.6kg) for a Salsa Mukluk 135mm hub, custom drilled (1.5″ holes) Surly Rolling Darryl rim, butted spokes and brass nipples, 160mm rotor, stock 26×4.0″ tube, 27tpi Surly Nate tire, and about 75 Grip Studs.  This will not be a super light wheel, but with all the features– studs, aggressive tread, elimination of puncture risk– it will be just right for my needs.  For about $10-$20 per wheel, this is the cheapest way to lighten a fatbike, or any bike.  Of course, wheel weight is always more pronounced than weight on the frame.  Reducing the friction between tube and tire is also a theoretical gain, evidenced by the rubber dust found within the tire from rubbing at low pressure.

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Remove tire, tube, and rimstrip.  The Surly rimstrip weighs about 90g.

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The naked wheel weighs exactly 3 lbs.  The stock tube weighs 15 oz (about 425g)

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I take the opportunity to true the wheel.

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A layer of high-visibility DOT approved reflective tape is applied to the rim, which will be visible through the cutouts, improving safety in traffic.  Similar tape is available in a variety of colors.  Look for safety or sign stores catering to industrial and construction accounts. 

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Finish with a piece of tape.

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Next, a layer of Gorilla Tape is applied tightly to the rim, up to the very edge of the bead shelf, just under the hooked edge of the rim.  Another layer is added to the other side, meeting in the middle to create an airtight seal.  It is theorized that laying the tape right up to the bead helps create a tighter fit at the bead.  It certainly helps to seat the tire initially.  Other sources suggest several layers of tape.

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Mount the tire with a tube to ensure every inch of tape is securely adhered to the rim.  This also allows one bead to be seated, reducing the challenges of seating the tire without the tube.

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Mount the second bead onto the rim.  A cheap 26 ” rubber rimstrip helps to force the tire bead towards the edge of the rim, on the bead shelf, where the tire is most likely to contain air.

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Removing the valve core is essential to a quick burst of air.  A good compressor is also necessary.

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The tire accepts the air on the first attempt, and pops into position.  I deflate the tire and install 4-6oz of Stan’s sealant (more if you want, especially in thorn country, or with even bigger tires) through the valve core, although it is possible to dump sealant into the tire before seating. Spin and shake the tire to ensure a good seal all around.  Bring the tire up to maximum pressure (30psi).  If possible, ride the bike to simulate any disturbances that might arise in real world conditions.  This also helps to distribute sealant.  Some tires may spit sealant from the bead or from under the valve during installation (120tpi Dillingers on Darryls have done this in my experience), but this 27tpi Nate sealed without a drop.  After my experience with Knards on Rabbit Holes, I am amazed.  I will revisit that combination soon.  

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The final weight of the front wheel is 7lbs 5oz.  This is a 10oz (283g) weight reduction.  For greater weight loss, it may be possible to use a lightweight packing tape without the thick reflective tape that I installed.  Wide Stan’s rim tape is unofficially available through Speedway Cycles in Anchorage.

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The final rear wheel weighs in at 9lbs 2oz.

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Time to ride home for the night.  First impressions are that the bike feels like a rocket.  I explore some urban crust on the way home, mounting snowbanks along the roadsides, doing my best to challenge the system.  Anything that makes riding more fun is worth it.  One and a quarter pounds (567g) less weight in the wheels helps a lot!

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In the morning, I go outside for the real test, to see if the tires have held air overnight.  Sometimes, small air leaks are impossible to detect during set-up, but will make themselves apparent by morning.  If the tire is soft in the morning, add air and agitate.  More sealant may help as a failsafe against leaks during initial installation.  If possible, put the bike in a stand or turn it upside down, and spin the wheels every time you walk by.  Thanks to Kevin at Paramount Cycles and Timely at the Trek Store for advice and encouragement.  Thanks to Chris at The Bicycle Shop for assisting the process, and allowing initial explorations on the wheels of his Salsa Beargrease.

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Fun, safe, and lightweight– nothing not to like!

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Future explorations include other rim and tire combinations, lighter weight preparations (for customers, presumably), and testing at extreme low pressures.  

Does it work?

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Update: Check out my updated Tubeless Fatbike Guide for information on the non-split tube tubeless method.  The method used here is still relevant, and may be more reliable in situations where bead retention is of greatest concern, such as on rough rocky trails.  The non-split tube method described in the guide mentioned above is a little lighter.  For the most reliable tubeless system, consider adhering the split-tube to the tire bead to create an airtight unit, much like a tubular tire. (2/16/2014)

Does our home-brew tubeless fatbike system work, as on this tubeless Moonlander? These are goatheads.  These are tubeless fatbike tires: 4.7″ Surly Big Fat Larry tires to 100mm Clownshoe rims.  These two wheels are entirely cluttered with spiny goathead thorns– perhaps 500 in total.  This is no match for a tubeless system and some Stan’s liquid sealant.  Ride on.

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Thanks to Two Wheel Drive for the demo Moonlander for the weekend.  Live near ABQ and want to ride a fatbike?  Come find me at TWD on Tuesdays.

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