Tag Archives: Aerospace 303 UV protectorant

Tubliss and similar tubeless cores

Tubeless Conversion Index Page
Updated Summer 2020

Systems like the US-made Tubliss liner are primarily made for dirt bikes running low-psi. They are not recommended for highway use in the US by the manufacturer, most probably due to homologation issues rather than safety. But I know people who’ve run Tubliss for years on the road with no problems. The main limitations: they’ll only seal properly on WM3 rims (2.15”) or narrower, and they only come in 21, 19 and 18-inch sizes. So like they say: most suited to dirt bikes where such rim widths and sizes are the norm.

With nothing better available for a 21-inch wheel, in 2019 I reluctantly ran Tubliss on the front wheel of my Himalayan in Morocco. A few days in I’d noticed Slime coming out round the high-pressure core valve body which suggested it was getting from the tublessed tyre cavity past the Tubliss core seal.
Then, after about two weeks riding at road pressures and having checked the Tubliss at 7.5 bar just two days earlier, the core went flat in the middle of Western Sahara. It would not hold air and so neither would the tyre. But by luck, the body of the collapsed Tubliss core kept the flat tyre on the rim, so I was able to ride slowly 250km to Laayoune on the coast and fit a tube.

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Removing the Tubliss (left), it was hard to tell what was wrong as five hours riding at 30mph had probably pulled the valve out of the tube and anyway, I wasn’t planning on refitting it and bought an inner tube instead.
I never was that keen on Tubliss for travelling as opposed to recreational dirt biking. Even though mates have used it on the road without problems, I’d not risk it again. Next time I’ll seal a rim.

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Tubliss and similar work by fitting an inner tube-like ‘core’  (‘HPC’) which inflates up to 110 psi to expand and seal the bead of the tyre firmly against the rim and so sealing off the tyre’s air chamber from the spoke nipples where leakage occurs – the key to converting wire wheels to tubeless. The core is a thick, plastic highly pressurised non-elastic red casing, but it’s kept away from the tyre sidewall or tread where punctures come through.

303

Years ago I fitted a pair to a GS500R project bike running custom 19″ spoked rims. Click the link. Short version: lube the possibly hard-to-fit core with 303 Protectant (right: £15 a pint; same as Armor All in the US). It’s much slippier and longer-lasting than soapy water which is good for the HPC inside. Then run Slime, Stans or similar to ensure sealing (about the same price as 303 but you can MYO). Me, I wasn’t convinced they’re suited to long-range overlanding compared to other simpler systems because of the need to maintain the very high 110-psi pressures in the red HPC with humble mini-compressors. You also need to drill another hole in the rim for the HPC valve/rim lock; no one likes doing that.
Long Tubliss thread on advrider; mostly dual-sporters. Some get on with it, some don’t. In 2019 I rather reluctantly fitted a Tubliss to the stock front steel rim of my Enfield Himalayan. But I’m on the lookout for a 21-inch alloy rim with the safety lips to seal myself with adhesive and tape.

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tlokk
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The Swedish T-Lock system is very similar as far as I can tell: the same non-elastic core (blue, left) presses the tyre bead against the rim with very high pressure to seal the tyre’s pressured chamber from the leak-prone spoke nipples.
The kit includes a separate rim band (green) and, if I understand correctly, the blue tube utilises the rim’s valve hole. This means that unlike Tubliss with its two valves, the tyre must be filled with Slime-like sealant before final mounting and then pressurised by spiking the tyre carcass with a needle and then letting the sealant plug that hole. This seems to imply that you set the tyre pressures once. To reduce pressure you’d have to puncture the tyre briefly, and to increase you’d have to spike-and seal again. Even more than the Tubliss, T-Locks are intended only for motocross use, as the website’s imagery implies. Clearly then not at all suited to overlanding.

Back to Tubeless Conversion Index Page

Mitas E-07 tyres on BMW G650 Xco

mitai

With so many good tyres around these days, for each trip I try to use something different. For me that’s usually a trail tyre for the getting there and being there (Morocco in November). So far, in terms of all-surface grip and longevity, it’s hard to beat the Heidenau K60s I used a couple of years ago. Someone told me recently that Heidenau is the modern iteration of the notorious Pneumant East German brand from the 1970 and 80s. Many a prematurely grey MZ rider will know what I’m talking about.

This time round I’m trying the similar, Czech-made Mitas E-07. Front and rear delivered to the middle of nowhere for under £100 a pair. That will do nicely. In the Mitas  range you could say it’s the trail bike tyre out of the four pictured above left. I did consider the 09, but it’s a long winter’s ride to Morocco and once there, on dry rock pretty much any tyre will do. Knobs only help on the occasional loose surface like sand. I’d like to try an 09 one time to compare with the much admired but fast wearing TKC80.

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Getting the old Tourances off proved the usual struggle. The Mrs had to drive repeatedly over the tyre to break the bead that it had me convinced there was some annoying, tubeless-style safety lip in there. Far from it, so you do wonder how you’d manage alone out in the desert. It’s why I prefer tubeless with Slime. The less need for lever swinging the better.

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But when there’s no choice I’ve found tyre mounting is greatly eased with a pair of 350-mm Italian Buzzetti Pro tyre levers. I’ve had my pair for years, as well as a little BMW number which is so old it says ‘Made in W. Germany’. Quality steel means both can be as narrow and thin as possible to help tuck under the bead without bending. In the UK this place in Buxton sells then for about £11 each.
The other thing I discovered recently is using Aerospace 303 as lube. It’s actually a UV vinyl/rubber protectorant I use on my kayaks, but lubes up nicely. Anything will do of course, but once dried 303 gives a teflon-like slipperiness, rather than an oily or soapy film. Next time I’ll pre-spray the beads and the rim and let them dry – less wasteful that way. The blue things in the picture are home-made rim savers (bits of thick split garden hose), though they work best when removing a tyre. Going the other way, there’s a risk of them being pulled into the tyre. That will not do nicely.

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Despite all this superb equipment, a task that requires some application can produce a hasty ‘right, let me at ’em’ attitude – or perhaps that’s just me. So much so that I fitted the front against the recommended rotational arrow. It’s not that critical unless I start pulling stopies for a living, though the tread pattern may wear better (i.e.: cup less) in the correct direction. And on the back I failed to give the tube a few psi to give it some shape so as to clear the levers – with predictable results. Oh well, all good practice which I clearly need. AdvSpec were doing Conti tubes for under £11 a shot.
It does remind me that familiarising yourself with the whole wheel-removal/tyre changing/wheel refitting business back home can save a lot of stress on the road. When you’ve done it once in the back garden (however much of a mess you made of it), you know you can do it again and are familiar with any required knacks or order-specific procedures unique to your bike.

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Even with the 303 all over the front, it took a lot of pressurising/deflating/lubing/a run round the block and more repressurising up to 75psi to get it to sit fully. With that done it was time to do the 50-mile round trip to the shops as the larder was looking as bare as my old Metzelers.

Most of that run is a bendy single track road between mountain and loch (left) with plenty of hard breaking into pull-outs to dodge oncoming traffic. With the new E07s the XCountry was transformed, reminding me how it ran when I picked it up less than nine months and a surprising 4000 miles ago. Where have I been? Since that time the bike has acquired a lardiness which I put down to the 10-15kg of extras I’ve fitted. Including a steel subframe it adds up to 10% extra weight. The front end especially felt heavy, even after a Hyperpro make-over.

Seems it was only the worn down Tourance after all. Now that both tyres have round profiles, the 650 swung along that narrow road as if on rails. Cornering confidence was much improved and there was none of the new-tyre edginess that the ‘Catspaw’ K60 initially demonstrated on the BMW twin. Far from it; it just encourages you to push on towards the new limits. I did feel a bit of headshake at 70, but that could have been the strong crosswinds, the surface, the screen or just the fresh tread.

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I imagine the chevron-bar ‘tractor’ pattern will work well enough on gravel, letting the tyres roll off small stones which will fall between the tread’s bars. In mud I’m not expecting miracles unless I drop pressures substantially. The depth of the centre tread – about 6mm front and back – seems less than the K60s. We’ll see how it performs on the road to Morocco where, as long as it was dry and you rode accordingly, last year’s Husky TR650 managed pretty well on the Dunlop Trailmax tyres. I expect the Mitas to be a bit more sure-footed on the pistes.

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Three months later
Back from Morocco, Xco sold and as expected, I’m a convert to the Mitas E-07s. Sure-footed on the road, rain or dry, and for the way I ride, fine enough on the piste at road pressure. No weird edginess when running in, rarely made any road noise that I could hear and about half worn at 5000 miles (pix left and right) after a lot of fast road and a few rough stony tracks.

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Fitting Tubliss liners (GS500R; Himalayan)

Updated Summer 2020
Tubeless Conversion Index Page
GS500R Index Page Himalayan Index Page

Tubliss Generation 2 is now widely available in 18, 19 and 21-inch sizes for WM3 (2.15”) or slimmer rims. I fitted one to the front of my Himalayan

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My Suzuki GS-R ran 19-inch SM Pros and the plan was always to have them running tubeless, hopefully doing a more successful job than I did on my Tenere’s wheels a couple of years earlier. On that bike the sealed-up rear never missed a beat, but the 21-inch front leaked off-road and as I failed to monitor it, it got soft enough to ding a rim on a gnarly Moroccan climb and with that lose all pressure.
Back then I wanted to try Tubliss but they weren’t sold in Tenere sizes in the UK. I picked some up in the US for around £55 each. The vid below explains it all very loudly. Man that guy can talk!

I was expecting a hard time fitting them in my Heidenau K60s – it’s a stiff tyre and you’d imagine the bulk or shape of the red plastic core and rim-lock might make tyre mounting even harder. When a sunny afternoon came by, I left the 4000-mile old K60 out against a wall to warm up a bit and then followed the clear instructions carefully. Off with the old Cheng Shin without too much difficulty, clean off the duct tape/rim tape residue and the drill an 11mm hole a few spokes up from the regular valve hole. I then talc’ed the inside of the red liner to slide better against its mini tube, lined up the rim lock clamp/tyre inflation valve and the nearby core inflator valve with the two holes in the rim (pic above; the instructions stress this is critical) and then mounted the core onto the rim.

tubli-dual-airHow it works
Tubliss works by using a small but extra thick bicycle-sized inner tube at very high pressure to expand the red casing onto the tyre’s bead, sealing it against the rim (see image below). By doing so it isolates the tyre’s main air chamber from the spoke nipples where air would otherwise slowly leak out.
This can be an odd concept to get your head around; a high-pressure mini-tube is still used to press and seal the tyre bead against the rim, but the tyre chamber itself is effectively tubeless. An additional hole for a rim lock is required so as to pin down the red
casing and completely eliminate tyre slip and valve lean at low pressures (as happens with regular tubes at low psi). Because the thick Tubliss mini tube isn’t anywhere near the flexing tyre carcass and is inside the red casing, it would take an exceedingly long and sharp spike to puncture it. Plus everything remains cooler; the benefit of all tubeless tyres. You can still tune spokes, something not be so easily done with other spoke nipple-sealing methods. The rim lock uses a ‘hollow bolt’ which is also a valve to inflate the tyre chamber to a regular pressure. The original valve hole is used to inflate the red casing tube to 100 psi.

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The core went onto the rim easily. Just follow normal bike tyre mounting techniques: make sure the red core is right down in the well of the rim as you lever the other end on.
Usually I use diluted washing-up liquid but that tends to dry up quickly. This time I used more slimy 303 Protectorant; it’s the same as Armor All that Tubliss recommend. Use lots so it’s lubed forever inside. The core slipped on with no levers. WD40 will do, if stuck.

Next came the tyre. This was going to be hard, or so I thought. I double checked I had the direction arrow in the right orientation, then pushed the wheel down into the tyre using the folded metal plate which Tubliss supply, rim-lock down. Following the instructions closely (and having changed a few tyres in my time), the plate did genuinely help the core-fitted wheel slide into the tyre with less effort than normal. And if you kept pushing down as they advise, with a bit of multi-armed Vishnu-ing I got the wheel inside the tyre walls.

The rest – levering the tyre bead back onto the rim – was like regular tyre mounting: minimal lever force where possible combined with maximum lube, while always making sure the tyre bead opposite the levers is being kicked and crammed into the tyre’s well (central dip) so as to free up vital slack when levering to reduce the effort which is when mistakes are made and tubes get pinched.
Like they say on the leaflet, lube is the key to this. In the end the last bit of tyre went on without the final lever. This used Heidi was not so hard to mount after all. The same-sized new K60 for the back was a bit more effort shoving inside the wheel, even with the Tubliss plate, but with slack and lube, it got there.

tbs-front

With all this done the next step was to see if the system held air once everything’s pumped up. There’s no reason to think the mini tube got pinched, protected as it is inside the red plastic core. The key is the red liner sealing against the bead of the tyre to keep the tyre at the right pressure. You need to put 100 psi into the mini tube to make sure it seals: You want to check your average mini compressor will have the power to do that, but because the volume is tiny it may be easier than you think – it’s not like pumping up a full sized moto tyre to 100 psi.

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Testing, testing
You may read complaints that fitting Tubliss doesn’t work first time round or doesn’t work at all – the tyre goes down – but so far overnight both tyres have held their pressure. Checking the tyre and core pressures after 10 days, I found both cores down by about 10%. I think that’s acceptable and can’t be sure everything was at the right or equal pressures to start with so I topped it all up to 100 psi and 33 for the tyres and will check again in a while. Tubliss do say to check pressures before each ride. Unfortunately, checking the high pressure cores blew the brains out of my digital tyre gauge (right) and those metal sliding rod types only go up to 50 psi. I have a bulky Cycle Pump gauge (left) that’s sat around for years and whose moment may have come. As mentioned, a mini-compressor able to deliver 100 psi without fatal results will be needed. Not sure my Cycle Pump (below) or anything like it can manage – we’ll see on the Himalayan. Anyway, there are always roadside garages.

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Should you have a flat on the road it’s only the tyre chamber that loses pressure, not the small sealing tube of course. Once quickly plugged (left), the tyre can be reinflated with a regular bike compressor to normal road pressures.
Initially Tubliss didn’t claim to be suited to road riding let alone overlanding, but that seems to be changing as the system has proved itself. What is important is making sure the tyre sealing tube is kept at around 100psi. That may take more frequent checking than you’re used to, at least until you get a feel for the rate of loss, if any. On the road and out in the world a reliable mini-compressor is a vital tool.

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tubeless-slimer

A mate with Tubliss in his TTR has had no probs, including air freighting it around the world. He’s reminded me that, as the video above mentions, injecting sealant like Slime/Oko/Ultraseal (right) is a good idea and over time helps seal the tyre right up. I did the same to the Tenere when I sealed those wheels (right) and if nothing else it helped highlight leaks oozing out of the front.

More impressions to come with the Himalayan.

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