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How to fit tubeless tyres: Pro tips for fitting tubeless road, gravel and MTB tyres

Video and detailed step-by-step guide to make the process painless

Tubeless tyres can offer better rolling resistance, more grip, added comfort, less weight and even fix small punctures themselves. So what’s the catch?

Installation can be tricky for newcomers, but once installed, a set of tubeless tyres can be a huge advantage. Check out our in-depth guide and expert tips for installing tubeless tyres from scratch.

Install tubeless tyres step-by-step

Tools required

  • Speed degreaser
  • Clean rag or cloth
  • Rim tape
  • Scissors
  • Scalpel 
  • Small Philips screwdriver 
  • Valve stem
  • Tyre sealant 
  • Valve core remover
  • Track Pump

1. Prep your rim for taping

We’re going to take this from the ground up, starting with a completely bare rim. The first thing with any rim that’s going to be set up tubeless is to make sure it’s clean. To do this, you can use acetone wipes or a degreaser. Our preference is for an aerosol speed degreaser and a bit of cloth.

Once you know your rim surface is free from contamination, you’re ready to apply the tape. Various brands produce this. However, the most important thing is to match its width to the width of the rim bed. Generally speaking, you should use a tape that is 2mm wider than the stated internal width of the rim being taped. 

2. Fit the tape to the rim

Begin by snipping the edges of the tape to create a rounded end. Find a point one or two spokes ahead of the valve hole and start fitting the tape. Start by pushing the tape into the rim bed. Once the first short stretch is in place, you’ll need to pull firmly on the tape as you continue to apply it around the rim.

Hold the wheel between your feet. Now guide the tape into the rim channel. Be prepared to use quite a bit of tension as you pull it off the reel to ensure it sticks firmly. Once done, use your fingers to ensure it’s properly in place.

3. Add a second layer of tape

Some manufacturers will say one layer of tape is sufficient. However, we always err on the side of caution and add a second layer, which will give you a slightly tighter fit once you add the tyre.

Arriving back at the valve hole after the second pass, you want to finish two inches beyond the hole. Take your scissors and snip the tape at this point. Now use your thumb or a rounded tyre lever and press down all the way around the rim to ensure the tape is well stuck and evenly seated.

4. Insert the valve stem

Now that your rim is securely taped, the next step is to fit the valve. If you’re struggling to locate the hole in the rim through the tape, you can take a small screwdriver and pop it up through the hole to create a dimple in the tape to act as a guide.

Once you know where the centre of the hole is, take a scalpel and make a small cross by pushing through the tape. With the lockring and any extra grommets removed, take your valve and push it through the incision using your thumb. This will make a firm seal against the tape.

Next, add the lockring to secure the valve into the rim. It’s not necessary to do this up too tightly, so try and use your fingers. If you employ pliers or similar, you’ll struggle to remove it if you ever need to fit a tube at the roadside.

5. Fit most of the tyre

You’re now ready to fit the tyre. In the interests of good taste, you should try and line up its logos with the valve. You also want to check the tyre’s suggested direction of rotation which will likely be indicated on its sidewall. Using your fingers or tyre levers, pop one side of the tyre on all the way around.

With the first side in place, we now need to fit the second side of the tyre. Starting at the valve, work your way around systematically until around two-thirds of the second side of the tyre is in place. Leave a small section unfitted.

6. Hang the wheel and add sealant

At this point, hang your wheel from a stand or similar with the unfitted section of the tyre at the bottom. This will make it easier to pour in the required amount of sealant. Having checked how much your setup requires, give the sealant a good shake. Measure out the correct quantity and pour it directly into the tyre.

With the wheel still hanging, use your fingers to fit as much of the tyre bead into the rim as you can. Now comes the clever part. Remove the wheel from the stand and rotate it 180-degrees. The sealant will pool at the bottom of the tyre, where it’s fitted to the rim. This will leave you free to tackle the last unfitted section of the tyre without it leaking out.

7. Finish fitting tyre and prepare to inflation

Now to attack the last few inches of the tyre. You shouldn’t need iron thumbs to do this, just a bit of technique. Work your way through a little bit at a time. Return to other areas of the tyre to develop additional slack if needed and use the sidewalls to generate leverage. Once both sides of the tyre are on, you’re good to inflate.

An air compressor is ideal, while a CO2 cartridge inflator will do a similar job if it is compatible with the sealant you've used. However, it’s possible to manage with just a standard track pump. It’ll help if you have one with a large volume, like those suited to working on high volume mountain bike tyres, but almost any style will do.

8. Remove valve core and pump up tyre

At this stage, it’s helpful to remove the valve core, as taking it out will give you an unobstructed route through the stem. This means you can pump air into the tyre very quickly, an essential requirement of getting a tubeless tyre to seat.

This is the moment of truth. Fit the pump and give a couple of quick pumps. Hopefully, you’ll feel the tyre catch onto the rim seats. Sometimes this can be unnerving as the tyre can pop loudly as it pings onto the rim, but there’s no need to worry.

Assuming your tyre is holding air, you’re now ready to take the pump off. Keep the valve toward the top of the wheel. Cover the valve stem until you can quickly reinsert the valve core. At this point, all the air will want to rush out, so be ready with your finger.

9. Ensure tyre is seated correctly

You’re now ready to finish off seating the tyre. Look around the edge of the tyre where it meets the rim. Does it pinch in at any point? Markings on the tyre or spinning the wheel can help you see if this is the case. If the tyre isn’t seated correctly, there are two ways to help it into place.

First, you can inflate the tyre up to its maximum recommended pressure. This will often pop it into position. Alternatively, you can use your hands to help it on its way. First, locate the troublesome section. Then use your thumbs and the flats of your hands to push the tyre in the direction you want it to go. Don’t be afraid to use a combination of both pressure and manual persuasion.

10. Distribute sealant and check over

Now all that’s left to do is ensure the sealant is evenly distributed inside the tyre. Tilt the wheel to 45-degrees and work systematically around the whole wheel, giving it a bit of a shake. The aim is to slosh sealant around the entirety of the tyre and rim bed.

Finally, listen out for any hissing and look for any leakage. If everything seems good, leave the tyres for a few hours. Assuming they’re holding air, you should be good to ride.

Tubeless tyres behaving themselves? Why not learn how to maintain your wheels next? It's easy with our guide on how to true a bike wheel