How to Remove Tubeless Tires from the Rim

Installing and removing tubeless tires from a bicycle rim has become a whole new skill set for me. Tubeless tires are designed to fit very tightly in the bicycle rim. So tight that they can be inflated and ridden without sealant and still hold the tire pressure. Needless to say, when it comes time to break the bead to remove the tire from the rim, it can be a bit of a struggle.

Park Tool PTS-1 Tire Seater

Surprisingly, I’ve found that the Park Tool PTS-1 Tire Seater works very well at doing just the opposite of its intended use. While it sat in my tool box unused in the days of riding tube tires, the Tire Seater has become my go to tool for unseating tubeless tires. The narrow curved jaws slide in close to the rim and the pliers allow me to apply significant pressure on the tire to break the bead from the rim.

Unfortunately, the Park Tool PTS-1 Tire Seater is not the type of tool that you can throw in your seat bag and take with you on a ride. However, I’ve been riding tubeless tires on my road bikes for several years and I’ve never had to remove a tubeless tire along the roadside yet. Let the Luddites with tubes stop and fix their flats along the roadside. The sealant fixes my punctures while I’m still riding.

Take note Park Tool, there is a BIG opportunity here.

Ken Whittaker

Ten Reasons To Go Tubeless

#10. New Technology. I’m not saying new technology is always better. But tube tires are ancient technology developed in the 1800s. The auto industry successfully re-engineered the tube tire in the 1950’s and found an alternative method to eliminate the tube without sacrificing functionality. So why has it taking the cycling industry so long to adapt the tubeless tire?

#9. No Tubes. Of course the most obvious reason for tubeless tires is that tubes are no longer needed and have been replaced with sealant that is more effective, lighter, environmentally friendly, and reliable.

#8. Less waste. Tubes can’t be patched forever and sooner or later will outlive their useful life and end up in the landfill. Going tubeless means fewer tubes will make it to the landfill.

#7. Can Still Use Existing Tubes. Going tubeless doesn’t mean you have to trash your tubes. While tubeless tires are very reliable, most cyclists still carry a tube as a last resort if sealant and plugs can’t repair a puncture.

#6 No More Pinch Flats. Without tubes, pinch flats are eliminated. Pinch flats happen when a tube is pinched between the tire and rim causing a puncture that looks like a snake bite with two holes side by side on the tube. Without a tube, pinch flats can’t happen.

#5. More Comfort. Without the chance of a pinch flats, tires can be run at much lower tire pressures giving a more comfortable ride.

#4. More Traction. When needed, tire pressure can be reduced to give the sides of the tires more bite to improve traction.

#3. Less Weight. In the world of cycling lighter is always perceived as better. Removing the tube and replacing it with sealant makes wheels lighter and reduces rotational weight.

#2. Better Performance. In general, tube tires have a higher rolling resistance than tubeless. After replacing my tube tires with tubeless tires, I’ve gained a noticeable improvement in performance. In my case it was about a 10% improvement.

#1. Fewer flats. The biggest reason for going tubeless is that they are self repairing. While fixing a flat quickly and effectively is a highly coveted skill, it can’t compete with tires that can repair punctures themselves on the fly before a flat happens. You won’t get less punctures with tubeless tires, but you will get less flats. In most cases, I don’t even know I’ve had a puncture until the end of the ride when I find dried sealant that has been sprayed on the back of my seat post from the sealant repairing a puncture.

Ken Whittaker


Good Riddance to Bicycle Inner Tubes

In the past, when I’ve heard the psst . . . psst. . .psst of a puncture, it meant that I should immediately find a safe and hopefully shady spot to stop and patch my tire. But not anymore. Thankfully, the road bicycle community has finally caught up with the mountain bike world by ditching the ancient inner tube technology developed in the 1800’s and adopting tubeless tires.

Now, when I hear that psst . . . psst. . .psst sound, I simply slow down to see if the sealant will plug the puncture. If it does repair the puncture, I’ll stop to give my tire the pinch test to see if I have enough air in the tire to continue. If not, I’ll pump a little air into the tire.

In most cases, I don’t even know I’ve had a puncture until the end of the ride and I find dried sealant sprayed on the back of my seat post from the puncture. On those rare occasions when the sealant can’t stop the leak, I’ve had to stop and plug the tire. While you won’t get less punctures with tubeless tires, you will get less flats. And to that I say, GOOD RIDDANE TO BICYCLE INNER TUBES!

Ken Whittaker

The Most Cost Effective Upgrade for Your Bike

Regardless of how much I spend on a bike, I immediately start looking for ways to improve performance.  In the past, I could always find a replacement component that would shave a few grams off the weight.  Unfortunately, that type of upgrade didn’t improve my performance much, if at all.  And in many cases the new light weight component was less reliable.  It just wasn’t a cost-effective way to improve performance.  However, recently after upgrading to tubeless tires I’ve had a noticeable improvement in performance.

Normally, I would ride a bullet proof tire like Continental Gator Hardshells to avoid flat tires. Although I rarely got flats with these tires, like most puncture resistant tires they have a high rolling resistance. After replacing my tires with Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL tubeless tires with a much lower rolling resistance, I gained a noticeable improvement in performance. In my case that is equal to about 10% of my average output of about 120 watts. See Continental Gator Hardshell vs Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL at for tire rolling resistance details. 

Although puncture resistant tires reduce flats, they can’t repair a puncture on the fly like tubeless tires. See Ignorance is Bliss. Tubeless tires are the best of both worlds, they are reliable and offer great performance. I don’t think you can find a more cost effective performance upgrade for your bike than tubeless tires.

Ken Whittaker

Ignorance is Bliss

A lot has changed since I posted “How I Eliminated Bicycle Flat Tires Forever!” While the methods I outlined in that post still work well today, there have been a lot of improvements in technology since then. Mavic’s introduction of the road Universal System Tubeless (UST) is perhaps the most important.

I remember eagerly buying a set of Shimano Ultegra wheels that used the UST standard when they were first released. Sadly, the wheelset sat unused in my basement for years because I couldn’t find suitable UST road tires to use with them. Luckily, a lot has changed since then. Now there are dozens of high quality, fast rolling tubeless ready tires for road riders.

Today, ignorance is bliss when it comes to punctures. I never even know I got a puncture until I get home and see signs of sealant on the outside of my tire. In addition, tubeless tires have eliminated the low pressure snake bite type flat. This is great news for touring bike riders. Now when I encounter bad roads or rough chip seal surfaces I can drop the tire pressure and ride in comfort. While upgrading to tubeless wheels and tires may be a bit costly, it is a good investment in reliability, comfort and performance.

Ken Whittaker

How to Patch a Tube

1. Locate the puncture. Assuming that you have already removed the tube, inspect it and locate the puncture. It can usually be found easily by pumping air into the tube to find where the air escaping. However, slow leaks can be a little more difficult to find. In those cases, inflate the tube and submerge it in water and watch for the escaping air bublle.

2. Prepare the tube. Use the tire rasp, to remove the outside coat on the tube. This coating is used in the manufacturing process to keep the tube from sticking to the mold. Unfortunately, this coating will also keep a patch from adhering to the tube. Prepared an area larger than the patch.  If your tube has seams that will interfere with gluing the patch to the tube, they can be shaved off with a disposable razor.  Note: If your patch aren’t sticking, it is most likely because this coating was not removed.

3. Apply the glue. Apply and work the glue evenly into the surface of the tube. While it may sound counterintuitive, in many cases the glue need to dry (no longer tacky) before applying the patch. So check the instructions for your rubber vulcanizing cement before hand. Here again, the area with glue should be larger than the patch.

4. Apply the patch. Press the patch onto the tube and hold it in place. Use the tire/tube stitcher tool to apply pressure to remove air bubbles under the patch while taking care to ensure the edges are firmly attached as it vulcanizes and cures. Don’t worry about the clear plastic film on the top of the patch, just leave it in place.

5. Check you work. Give the patch time for the vulcanization to cure. Generally, I leave them overnight. Inflate the tube and check for leaks. If it holds air you now have a spare tube.


Bicycle Tube Repair Home Workshop

Your home workshop should include:

1. Tire/Tube Rasp – The rasp can be as simple as a small piece of sandpaper or a tool made specifically for flat repairs. The rasp is necessary to remove the outer coating of the tube that is applied to keep the tube from sticking to mold in the manufacture process.

2. Disposable razor (optional) – Useful to shave any seams on the tube created during the manufacturing process that might interfere with the patch adhering to the tube surface.

3. Rubber Vulcanizing Cement – A special cement needed for gluing the patch to the tube.

4. Patches – Not all patches are of equal quality. I prefer Rema patches and have had good success with them.

5. Tire/Tube Stitcher Tool – Similar to the rasp, the stitcher tool can be any hard object like a coin or a tool made specifically for flat repairs. The stitcher is useful to help remove air bubble under the patch by providing pressure on the patch as it vulcanizes and cures.

You can find the items mention above by clicking on each below.

Tire/Tube Rasp

Rubber Vulcanizing Cement

Rema patches

Tire/Tube Stitcher Tool

Ken Whittaker

Bullet Proof Bicycle Tube Repairs

I am always surprise to see riders trash bicycle tubes after a puncture. A properly patched tube is just as reliable as a new tube. I can recall my son asking me if I didn’t think it was time to replace the tube, after seeing a tube I had been using and patching for years that had perhaps a dozen patches on it. The truth is, that I never considered replacing the it. Why would I? It was still a good tube!

In those days I never even carried a spare tube. I simply patched my flats by the side of the road and continue on my ride. However, since then I’ve learned the error of my ways. After getting flats in the rain or at night in an area with little light to make the repair, I now carry a spare tube so I can make a quick repair and take the punctured tube home to fix in my workshop.

The reason most riders don’t patch their tubes is because their patches fail. So, how do you patch a tube so it is a reliable spare? The first step is your patch kit. I’m not talking about the small patch kit you carry on a ride for emergencies. We’re talking a home workshop tube repair kit for making permanent reliable patches.

Ken Whittaker

Secret to Patching a Slime Tube

I’ve heard people say that a tube with Slime sealant can’t be patched. However, I can assure you that I have patched them.

You may be asking yourself, why did I need to repair a self-repairing tube? In one case, I punctured the tube during installation. While Slime should seal punctures up to 1/8″ (3mm) the puncture was larger, so I had to patch it.

I found that the secret to patching a tube with Slime is to completely remove all residual sealant from the outside of the tube with soap and water before patching the it.

Ken Whittaker

Mini Cassette Lockring Driver

Mini Cassette Lockring Driver

Usually replacing a broken spoke isn’t a difficult task. That is, unless the offending spoke is a rear drive side spoke. In those cases, the rear cassette must be removed before the spoke can be replaced.

Unfortunately, removing the cassette requires a cassette lockring tool, wrench and chain whip. See Park Tool’s article Cassette Removal and Installation for more details.

Luckily, touring cyclists no longer need to carry shop tools or find themselves stranded with a broken rear drive side spoke thanks to a cool little tool from called the Mini Cassette Lockring Driver. With it, a cassette lock ring can be easily removed and reinstalled without any other tools.

However, it took me a little time to understand how this unique tool works. So don’t wait until you need it to use it for the first time. Practice with the tool beforehand. The experience will be invaluable if you need to use it.

Ken Whittaker