When it comes to choosing the tyres for your vehicle, be it your car, bike or your cycle, choosing the most appropriate one is extremely essential. This is because your vehicle’s efficiency, performance and a lot of other factors are dependent on that. The compound of the tyre also is a considering factor. Among all kinds of tyres available in today’s market, the tubeless tyres are definitely becoming a popular choice. But, what is a tubeless tyre? What are the tubeless tyres benefits? How is it different from tube-type tyre? Should you really consider choosing it over the tube-type tyres? Find out all here, we are going to answer all of these questions. This way you can make an informed decision regarding which tyre would be the best or your vehicle. Let’s get started.
Tubeless tires are basically the type tires which do not need a separate inner tube. But, there is an inner liner that is integrated within the tyre itself. Unlike the pneumatic tyres that have a separate inner tube, the tubeless tyres have ribs that are continuously moulded integrally into the tyre’s bead. Here's how it looks, this should help you understand better.
This way they are forced by the air’s pressure to seal with the wheel’s metal rim. The alloy or the rim has the valve of the tyre attached to it permanently. This makes both of them seal tightly. In simpler words, there is nothing except an air cushion between the rim and tyre.
In the tube-type tyres, the tube is basically a hollow toroidal rubber enclosure that is filled up with air in order to cushion the vehicle’s load on the wheel. Air is filled in with the help of a self-sealing nozzle, the tube inflation and deflation happens very quickly. In tubeless tyres, the air is directly filled in the space between tyre and rim. Now, when a tubeless tyre gets punctured, the air present inside it discharges at a very slow rate. Also, this happens from a very fine opening right at the prick point. This means that the chance of the driver losing the control of his vehicle gets reduced considerably, this is one of the key benefits of tubeless tyres.
There are two types of tubeless tyres available in the market:
Radial tyres: These types of tyres have been constructed using various parts wherein the tyre’s sidewall is made up of an entirely different part. It is for this reason that the sidewall functions as a completely different entity without having to depend on the tyre’s crown. These can mostly be seen in a sports bike.
Bias tyres: The bias tyres are made using multiple layers using the same piece. It is for this reason that the tyre’s sidewall is comparatively thicker and has to, therefore, depend on the tyre's crown. Bias tyres are henceforth pretty much avoided as they tend to overheat quickly.
The very first difference between tube and tube-less tyre is the fact that tube-less tyres are basically itself the tube. The tyres plies (radial ply or cross ply) are similar depending on the kind of the tyre. The inner lining, however, is made up of halogen-butyl like bromobutyl rubber or chlorobutyl rubber.
In cases of accidental puncture (say with a nail), the tubeless tyre would still be able to maintain air retention by inhibiting air permeation. The nail, in this case, would act as a plug and the enthalo-butyl rubber tyre would actually have a rather slow leak rather than sudden deflation. Friction is eliminated because of the absence of internal tube-tyre structure which happens because of the rubbing between the tyre and the tube. Hence, it has the capability to remain cool as compared to the tube-type tyres which get heated up pretty quickly.
Another difference that can be pointed down is the stability of the tyre in the wheel drum’s rim. Conventional tyres have a rather rigid bead heel while the tubeless tyre’s bead heel has an extra wrapping. This ensures that the tyre has fitted well to the rim.
The tubeless tyres as compared to the tube-type tyres are rather light and therefore create much lesser vibration. The tubeless tyre’s sidewall is thinner because there is an absence of internal structure. This helps in lowering the resistance when the vehicle is in motion.
All of these tubeless tyre benefits make the tubeless tyres much more favorable when it comes to an efficient performance and fuel saving. Now, let’s get into the tubeless tires advantages and disadvantages.
Now, as you can guess by now, tubeless tyres are definitely better than tube-type tyres. Let us take a look at all of its advantages of tubeless tyres.
These are perhaps the most obvious benefits. Okay so as opposed to the usual belief, tubeless tyres too can get punctured and are in no way puncture-proof. However, the chances of the tyre being punctured are rather low. One of the biggest reasons as to why the tube tyres get punctured so easily is because of the fact that the tube between the rim and tyre gets pinched. However, with tubeless tyres, there’s no tube so the point of tyres getting punctured is very low.
In the tyres or the tubes, the pressure of air does vary. Usually, tyres run on the low pressure but then again this low pressure can cause the tyres to get pinched quite easily. However, with tubeless tyres, this isn’t the case. Even in case of a puncture or very low pressure, it can run for approximately 30 to 50 kilometers. This is one of the biggest tubeless tyre benefits and also the reason why people tend to choose it over tube-type tyres.
Another advantage of tubeless tyres is that it can easily be filled up with liquid sealants. In case a sharp object does manage to create a hole in the tubeless tyre, the liquid sealant can be used to seal it. It would ooze out and dry up quickly thereby sealing the hole. This means that now you would be able to travel for a much longer period of time without having to find a mechanic to get the puncture fixed.
With tube type tyres there is the risk of friction. When you are riding at high speed, the tube would have friction with the tyre and this, in turn, would increase the tube's temperature. If the temperature rises beyond a certain limit, there are high chances of the tyre exploding that can lead to an unforeseen disaster. However, with tubeless tyres, there isn’t any risk of this kind because of the absence of the tube.
Another tubeless tyre benefit is that they are extremely lightweight. As compared to the tube type tyres which were quite heavy, the tubeless tyres are lighter. Heavy tyres can actually have an effect on the mileage of the vehicle. This is because any heavy component on the vehicle generally draws more power from the engine. This eventually implies that more fuel would burn.
Unlike the tube-type tyres wherein air is contained in the tube, in tubeless tyres, the air is contained in the tyre itself. This means that when you drive at high speed, your bike would be stable as the air contained in the tyre is also stable. With tube-type tyres, there might be situations wherein the air pressure isn’t stable. This means that when the bike is running at a rather high speed, it could begin to wobble.
Also, the efficiency and performance is much better with a tubeless tyre because of the fact that they have lesser components. On the other hand, tube-type tyres have far more components.
Even the most amazing things at times do have some drawbacks. Listed below are a few disadvantages of tubeless tyres.
This is perhaps one of the biggest issues with tubeless tyres. In case your tyre ever does get a puncture, not everyone can fix it. This is because to fix a tubeless tyre, special equipment is required and not many have that. Also, the mechanic would need to have the skills to fix the tyre.
Tubeless tyres are much more difficult to be fit on the rim. It takes quite a long time to fit a tubeless tyre as it has to be made sure it is absolutely airtight against the rim. If not, it would not be able to hold the air and hence would begin to leak. An expert needs to handle this cautiously in order to ensure that the rims aren’t damaged.
As compared to the tube-type tyres, the tubeless tyres are definitely quite expensive. The reason is that the components used in such tyres are different and the prices of each component vary accordingly. Read about the tyre anatomy and tyre buying guide here
Okay, so the sidewall of a tubeless tyre is a very dangerous place to have a puncture in. In tube-type tyres, the tube can be changed quite easily. However, with tubeless tyres, you would have to change the whole tyre depending upon the circumstances.
Tubeless tyres work only with alloy wheels. So if you plan to switch to tubeless tyres from your spoke wheels, it might not be possible. You will have to change the entire wheel/rim set along with the tires. Refer the detailed guide of spoke vs alloy wheels here if you have to decide on changing complete wheelset.
By looking at the advantages and disadvantages of tubeless tyres, one can clearly say that the advantages weigh far more than the disadvantages. In case you are thinking of upgrading, they would be the ideal option for you. However, it is up to you to judge which tyre would be most suitable for your vehicle. Whatever you do make an informed decision as that would have an effect on the performance of the vehicle.