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Tubeless tyres are offered with almost all new vehicles currently on sale in the Indian market. Until a few years back, vehicle manufacturers used to advertise tubeless tyres as a top feature since they were not that common.
So, what is a tubeless tyre?
A tubeless tyre is very similar to a traditional tyre; except 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. That being said, here are some things to know about tubeless tyres!
No silly punctures
A normal tyre usually getspunctured when the tube gets pinched between the tyre wall and the rim. It may sound silly, but happens more often than you would expect.
Ability to run at lower pressure
Air changes its pressure inside the tube and makes it common for tyres to run at lower pressures. This further increases the chances of the tube getting pinched with the wheel as mentioned before. This will not the case with tubeless tyres.
Tubeless tyres can be filled with liquid sealants. If a sharp object puts a hole in a tubeless tyre, the liquid sealant immediately oozes out and dries up; thus sealing the hole. This enables you to travel longer without having to worry about a puncture.
Air escapes slowly
In case you encounter a puncture, the air will leak very slowly in a tubeless tyre; giving you enough time to pull safely over to the side of the road. A tube will let out air immediately and can prove dangerous on a highway or when you are going at high speeds.
Tubeless tyres are lighter compared to tubed tyres and in turn, affects the mileage of the vehicle. Heavy vehicle components will demand more power from the engine and this requires more fuel.
No unwanted friction
While driving at high speeds, a tubed tyre will have friction within itself. This increases the tube temperature and there can even be chances of the tube exploding. A tyre/tube explosion at high speeds calls for disaster. Tubeless tyres do not pose this risk.
Since air is contained within the tubeless tyre itself, and not in a separate tube, high-speed stability will be better. With a tube, there are chances of uneven pressure and can make the car wobble at high speeds. Also, since a tubed tyre has more components (tyre, tube, rim) compared to a tubeless tyre (just tyre and rim), performance and efficiency are better with a tubeless tyre.
Difficult to fit
Tubeless tyres are difficult to fit on the rim as they have to be airtight against the rim. Furthermore, only an expert can fit a tubeless tyre without getting the rim damaged.
If at all you have had a puncture and the tyre is flat, not everybody will be able to fix it. Fixing tubeless-tyre punctures require special equipment; which not many will have.
The sidewall of the tyre is a dangerous place to have a puncture. In a tube-type tyre, you can change the tube and forget about it. But a tubeless tyre will need to be changed if its sidewall gets damagedor even if it's carelessly discarded.
Tubeless tyres are expensive compared to tubed tyres due to the difference in components used.
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 a puncture-sealing liquid (Slime puncture sealant) in the tyres as there were not many options or 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.