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Why so many gravel bike users love tubeless tires? Advantages and disadvantages

One of the most popular customizations for gravel bikes is to convert the tires to tubeless. The following is a summary of the advantages and disadvantages of tubeless and why it is a favorite on gravel bikes.

Modified at: 2023.7.4Posted at: 2022.9.1

What is a tubeless tire?

Tubeless tires, as the name implies, are new tires that do not require an inner tube in the tire.

Until now, bicycle tires, not just road bikes, have held their shape by filling the inner tube with air, but tubeless tires can hold air without a tube.

There are two types of tubeless tires: “Tubeless Ready,” which requires a special liquid called sealant inside, and “Tubeless” which does not require sealant. Currently, there are only a few types of tubeless tires, and tubeless ready tires are more widely available.

To install tubeless tires, tubeless-compatible wheels are required.

Advantages of tubeless are ideal for gravel bikes

Gravel bikes are sport bicycles that excel at riding from pavement to gravel, but the only special equipment they have to apply to unpaved roads is fat tires and disc brakes.

The difference between paved and gravel roads is the following two points

  1. the road surface is slippery with gravel, mud, etc.
  2. there are many steps

To apply to slippery surfaces, gravel bikes are equipped with knobbly gravel tires.

The problem is the bumps. Gravel bikes sometimes ride on roads with tree roots, stones, rocks, etc. Since gravel bikes do not have the shock-absorbing “suspension” that MTBs are equipped with, the entire body of the bike is subjected to the impact from the road surface.

Therefore, tubeless tires are used on gravel bikes to provide extra cushioning.

With tubeless tires, the tire can hold its shape without the need for high-pressure inflation as on a road bike. Trying to do the same thing with a tubed tire could result in a puncture of the inner tube, but this is not a concern with tubeless tires, which have no tube.

Also, if you choose a larger tubeless tire, such as a 40C, it will provide more cushioning because it holds more air inside the tire.

Choosing tubeless tires on a gravel bike means that instead of having no suspension, the tire is like an air cushion, creating a suspension-like effect.

Let’s know the disadvantages of tubeless tires.

Tubeless tires may seem to have all the advantages, but there are disadvantages as well.

Tubeless tires cost money.

First, tubeless tires require tubeless-specific parts and tools. There are a surprising number of parts needed to convert a gravel bike to tubeless.

  1. Tubeless tires
  2. Tubeless wheels
  3. Tubeless valves
  4. Tubeless rim tape (if tubeless ready)
  5. Sealant (if tubeless ready)
  6. Air booster

Wheels that come with a complete gravel bike may be tubed when shipped and can be made tubeless by yourself by installing options, but you will need to purchase additional tubeless tires, sealant, air booster, and other necessary items.

Also, tubeless tires tend to be more expensive than clincher tires, so the cost of the tires alone can be high.

Tubeless is a hassle to maintain

One of the most often mentioned disadvantages of tubeless is the hassle of maintenance.

With clinchers that use inner tubes, maintenance mainly involves replacing the tubes. With tubeless, the only change is to replace the tube with sealant, but this sealant is surprisingly troublesome.

To inject the sealant, the valve core must be removed, and a cylinder must be prepared to inject the sealant. This is especially troublesome when repairing a puncture on the road, because not only is it time-consuming to fill the sealant, but it is also very troublesome to handle because the sealant splashes around and your hands can get dirty.

In addition, sealant is not permanent once it is filled, so it needs to be filled once every few months to six months. With tubed sealant, you can continue to use it with no maintenance as long as the tube is not punctured.


Although tubeless is ideal for gravel bikes, it has both advantages and disadvantages.

However, for users who love tubeless, the advantages of tubeless greatly outweigh these hassles, which is why tubeless has become so popular, especially in the gravel bike and MTB world.

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