Tubeless tyres are offered with almost all new vehicles in the Indian market today. Vehicle manufacturers even advertise tubeless tyres as one of the vehicle features. So, what is a tubeless tyre?
A tubeless tyre is very similar to a traditional tyre, only that it has no tube inside. Air in the tyre is retained between the rim and tyre itself, with the use of an airtight seal.
Also, another very important misconception people have regarding tubeless tyres is punctures. Tubeless tyres will get punctured, but not as easily as a tyre with a tube, which is discussed below.
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of tubeless tyres
1. No silly punctures
As it sounds, one of the major reasons that tube tyres get a puncture is because the tube gets pinched between the tyre and the rim. It may sound like a very silly reason, but a puncture is a puncture, which is not a happy sight.
2. Ability to run at lower pressure
Air does change its pressure inside the tube or the tyre, and it is common for tyres to run at lower pressures. Again, a tube will get pinched when the pressure is low, leading to a puncture. This is not the case with tubeless tyres.
3. Liquid sealant
Tubeless tyres have the advantage to be filled with liquid sealants. If a sharp object does put a hole in a tubeless tyre, the liquid sealant immediately oozes out and dries up, sealing the hole. This enables you to travel longer, without having to stop to fix a puncture.
4. Air escapes slowly
In case you do encounter a puncture and the air leaks, it will leak very slowly in a tubeless tyre, which gives you enough time to pull safely over on the side of the road. A tube will let out air immediately, which might be dangerous on a highway or at high speeds.
Tubeless tyres are lighter compared to tube type tyres, which in turn affects the mileage of the vehicle. Heavy components on the vehicle will demand more power from the engine, and this requires more fuel to burn.
6. No unwanted friction
While driving at high speeds, a tube type tyre will have friction with the tyre, which increases the temperature of the tube and there are chances of the tube exploding. A tyre/ tube explosion at high speeds calls for disaster. Tubeless tyres do not have this risk.
Since air is contained in the tubeless tyre itself, and not in the tube, driving at high speeds will be stable as the air in the tyre is also stable. With a tube, there are chances of uneven pressure, which will make the car wobble at high speeds. Also, since a tube type tyre has more components (tyre, tube, rim) compared to a tubeless tyre (tyre and rim), performance and efficiency is better with a tubeless tyre.
1. Difficult to fit
Tubeless tyres are difficult to fit on the rim. It takes longer to fit a tubeless tyre since it has to be airtight against the rim or it will not hold air. Tubeless tyres have to be fit by an expert so that the rims do not get damaged.
If at all you have had a puncture and the tyre is flat, not everybody will fix it. Fixing punctures in a tubeless tyre needs special equipment, which not many will have.
3. Sidewall puncture
The sidewall of the tyre is a dangerous place to have a puncture. In a tube type tyre, you can change the tube and carry on, but a tubeless tyre will need to be changed if damaged, or even discarded depending on situations.
4. Not cheap
Tubeless tyres are not cheap, compared to tube type tyres, since components used are different.
DriveSpark recently did a trip to the Himalayas on two KTMs and the motorcycles ran on tubeless off-road tyres (Michelin Sirac). The decision was tough to make since the terrain is very uneven. So, we decided to add puncture sealing liquid (Slime puncture sealant) to the tyres since there are not much options/ puncture shops available on the route we choose. The tubeless tyres performed brilliantly, and we would recommend tubeless tyres for those who are thinking of an upgrade.