How to set your wheels up tubeless

When it comes to bikes and performance, tyres are one of the biggest factors in determining how a bike feels and behaves and gains can be made from how they’re set up and their performance benefits. Setting tyres up tubeless can be a daunting task but with the right tools and an understanding of what to expect, it doesn't have to be hard. 

Tools you will need:

Tyre levers

Tubeless charger pump

Tubeless tape

Tubeless valve stem

Valve core removal tool

Sealant syringe

A step-by-step guide

1. Tape the rim 

The first thing you need to do is tape the rim. This may have been done already but if you are having trouble with sealing the tube this might be your problem and it’s best to retape it. 

Start the tape about an inch before the valve hole in the wheel. Hold the tape against the rim with one hand then pull the tape taut. Go only as far as you can comfortably hold the tape tight then smoothly bring it down to the rim surface ensuring no bubbles are creating beneath the surface. This will be a slow process but better to take time than have issues down the line. 

Continue this until you make your way fully around the wheel. When you get back to where you started, you want to overlap the tape over the valve hole about the same amount as when you started the tape. 

2. Put the valve stem in place  

Start by locating the valve hole in the rim. Once you know where it is, you are going to puncture a small hole through the tape for the valve. You want to make sure this hole is as central and as small as possible and you don't want to damage the wheel or cut the tape too much. Making a small cross shape rather than a slit should help with this.

Once you have the hole, push the valve stem in place. There should be some kind of rubber seal at the base of the valve stem that presses into the hole you just punched and this should seal. You will also want to fit the rubber grommet and then the nut, both of which will have come with the valve stem. 

3. Put the tyre on 

This part of the process is the same as a tyre with a tube. Start where the valve is and get the bead into the space between the valve and the side of the wheel. The difference for this in comparison to a non-tubeless tyre and wheel is that it's going to be a tighter fit. Getting each side of the tyre on the wheel is often a struggle and using your tyre levers is going to be necessary. 

4. Get the tyre in the right spot 

The idea is to get the tyre seated into the centre of the rim bed. Once you’ve got the tyre where it should be, make sure the valve stem nut is tight and the valve stem is where it should be. 

5. Inflate the tyre 

You can inflate the tyre using a standard pump but a burst pump might give you better results. It's a good idea to overinflate the tyre, but be careful with how much because tubeless tyres and carbon wheels often have lower max pressures than you might expect. 

You will normally hear pops as the bead snaps into place.

6. Add sealant 

Once you are sure the tyre is set up, you can then add sealant. Let the air out of your tyre, and then unscrew the valve core. Get some sealant in the injector, and turn your tyre so the valve is somewhere other than the very bottom or the very top of the wheel. At the top it can run out of the valve and at the bottom the flattened tyre leaves no room for the sealant. Inject the sealant and reinstall the valve core. Inflate the tyre and remove the pump. Spin the tyre and shake it so that the sealant coats as much of the inside of the tyre as possible.