Tag Archives: risun tubeless rims

About Tubeless Tyres & Rims

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TL-MTrims

Tubeless rims are usually cast wheels with a lip or ridge (right) to help locate and seal the tyre bead securely on the rim. This lip is considered a safety feature which stops the tyre coming off the rim should it deflate on the move. In my experience, it works. You will feel the softened tubeless tyre long before it comes off the rim and can keep riding without it coming off the rim.
I’ve discovered lately that spoked rims with the safety lip suited to TL tyres are designated MT as opposed to WM. Even for bikes running inner tubes. The two rims left are from the back of an Africa Twin and a rare Excel 21 (see below).
This lip also makes removing and mounting the tyre difficult by the roadside if you need to repair a tube. It varies from bike to bike and tyre to tyre, but usually, with tubeless you only need to remove a tyre to replace it when it is worn out, not to fix endless punctures. And unlike punctures, fitting a new tyre is usually done at a time of your choosing and in a tyre shop which has the know-how and tools, including a powerful compressor and lube to force the new tyre over the lips and into the rim’s groove with a nice ‘pop’.

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Oddly, for years and years bikes running tubes also have this safety lip. Old Yamaha XTs had it on the rear wheel. Out of interest, this disproves another tubeless urban myth: you can only stick a tube in a TL rim to ‘get you home’ because it will eventually rub on the lip and explode with terrible consequences. Well, clearly not on a stock tubed ’86 Tenere with a lipped DID rim (above). I know because I remember putting that bike on a crate with the rear tyre removed, sticking it in gear and ‘hand-lathing’ off that safety lip with a chisel so that I’d not get stuck in the desert trying to break the bead to fix a flat. And as importantly, remounting it with – back then – just a bicycle pump. All this faffing is why we like tubeless.

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But to convert spoked tube rims to tubeless, this lip is actually a good thing and my 2008 Tenere (above) also had them on the back wheel. The front rim was normal which is a risk when converting to tubeless. But can it be any worse than a tubed tyre puncturing? Tubed tyres deflate faster and therefore more dangerously than tubeless tyres, so even without the safety lips or humps on the front, with tubeless you’re already ahead. But, as I found, you can get slow leakage along the seal.
Pictured left: the top WM rim has no sealing lip; the lower MT rim does. Note also the angle of the tyre bead–rim interface; the lower rim with the lip is flat which helps make a better seal. The upper lipless rim slopes into the well making it easier to change by hand, but it won’t hold or seal a tubeless tyre half as well. I think my 2008 Tenere front-wheel sealing problems were because the rear wheel was like the lower rim – good for tubeless. The 21-inch front was like the upper rim; less good seal.

21-inch spoke rims with safety lips

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I have spent weeks online tracking down a 21-inch alloy rim with the safety lip suited to converting to tubeless. They are rare, but less so than I thought.
Taiwan-based Giant (or GLM) is the biggest bicycle and motorcycle rim manufacturer in the world. They make such a rim in ‘big bike’ 2.15 width with 36 holes (bigger BMWs have 40; lighter trials bikes have 32). In the UK Central Wheel Components sell them for £111 (2.15kg) + 24 quid to anodise. It may be branded SM Pro. Rally Raid use this rim on their own wheelsets with BARTubeless conversions for Africa Twins (left) at £1500 a pair.

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A quote to build that rim onto my Himalayan hub and seal it with BARTubeless (done in Italy) came in at £420. A quote to do the same for my AT: new 2.15 GLM rim £135; S/S spoke set and wheel build £105; Airtight TL band £120; post £21 (£381). Some find the GLM a bit soft.
More research unearthed Japanese Excel Takasago TL rims in 21-inch, but only a 1.60 size (left; p/n ICK408) which is OK for dirt bikes but not adv twins. Talon in the UK import them at £165; I bought a pair in Italy for a lot less and have kept one for a rainy day. This rim has an unusually deep well which should make for easy tyre mounting, even after you’ve sealed it whichever. In 2018 there was talk of Excel making a wider 21 x 2.15 sited to bigger bikes and in 2019 it was produced.

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Tubeless: OEM Spoked Tubeless Wheels

Tubeless Conversion Index Page
Updated Summer 2020

Thinking of using these OE TL rims for your conversion?
Be aware that on these rims spoke nipples are in the hub, not the rim.
You’ll need to convert the whole wheel to fit your forks / discs / spacers and so on.
Suddenly it’s all a bit complicated.

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Many flagship travel bikes run ‘adventure-look’ spoked wheels, but OEM spoked + tubeless is only slowly catching on. Usually, they’re non-Japanese premium brands like BMW, Triumph or KTM. I update a list here.

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The original one-litre Africa Twin and Yamaha’s XT700 were two bikes where youd have expected tubeless. The 2020 1100cc AT now features tubeless (right). Front 21-inch wheels seem to be a problem, but it must well be a cost thing too. Spoked tubeless fronts in 19″ are much more common, even on Jap travel bikes.
These days manufacturers use spoked wheels on adv bikes as a signifier of ‘off-road adventure’, as well as the perception of being repairable, lighter, stronger, more shock absorbent and cool. Meanwhile tubeless is just plain safer and infinitely easier to repair flats. On a CRF450R motocrosser running rim locks at 10psi, a tube is probably a better idea and the van’s nearby. On a quarter-ton Adv battleship halfway down Ruta 40, getting a flat is a pain.

OEM spoked tubeless wheels

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Making a spoked tubeless wheel rim is expensive but it”s been done for years, right back to the mid-1980s Honda XL600M (left), and almost certainly before that.

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Recent bikes that come with them stock include the BMW 1200GSA, the original Aprilia Caponord (below), Suzuki V-Stroms, Yamaha XT1200Z, KTM V-twins, some Triumph Tigers and Explorers (top of the page) and now 1200 Scramblers. Even Honda’s oddball X-ADV scooter (right) has small spoked TL wheels. 

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The picture below of a 2005 Caponord shows the main ways of designing a spoked tubeless rim. On the rear: spokes hook to ‘outboard’ flanges on the rim. The front uses a less well triangulated single ‘inboard flange’; V-Stroms (left) have paired inboard flanges up front. Note that the nipples (spokes tension adjustment) are at the hub, behind the rotors.

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BMWs, including the 850GS twin  (below), run 40 straight-pull spokes directly into the protruding rim edge – there is no flange. I’ve noticed this relatively exposed edge can get scuffed about from stony terrain, although it would take a lot to damage the spoke mounts.

Such wheels can be heavier than same-sized cast wheels. Weight is saved by not using inner tubes, but the additional unsprung weight on any wheel is the last place you want it. It takes more force to get that mass turning, more braking to slow it and better suspension to control it.

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Trials Tubeless

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You could try and track down tubeless trials bike rims, but they’re usually 32 spoke. They do it two ways: one is the usual inboard flange with hub-end nipples, as below left. The other is a flat well with a groove to either side (below right) which lets a thick, tight rubber rim band slot into place and help and seal off the spokes – a sort of much simplified Tubliss system.

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You do wonder if this trials rim band plus some sort of added adhesive might work on a regular rim (with lips but without the side grooves). It sure would be a simple way of doing it but clearly, a flat well is best. I think Morad does rims like this in 36 x 18.
A 2017 KTM 1090 Adventure (left) has a similar system: a regular 21-inch Akront rim but with a band rather crudely vulcanised or otherwise glued into the well.

Most road bikes run 36 spokes or more. DID 36-hole TL rims do or did exist, but so far only in pictures or cruddy, corroded used ones on ebay. When changing the spoked rim you’re constrained by the number of spoke holes in the stock hub because changing a hub is a much bigger faff. Fitting a new rim is dead easy. Missing out a few spokes to make a standard 36-spoke hub use a 32-spoke trials rim is a bodge too far, even for me.

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Branded or otherwise, it’s hard to find less expensive spoked TL rims off the shelf. The only ones I’ve seen are in China: Risun (Risen?) outboard tubeless rims in 17 or 18 inches only (left) and just $60 a shot. Problem is, you have to order a minimum of 200 units. And there is still the hub-nipple problem.
Especially with 21-inchers, finding an OEM TL rim is difficult or expensive. With 21s you may be better off buying a safety lipped rim (also rare) and sealing it by hand or using the processes described here.

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Converting spoke wheels to tubeless

TUBELESS INDEX PAGE MOVED

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