Most adventure motorcycles come with tubeless tires nowadays. There are still some models with tubed tires though, like the Tenere 700 and the 2020 Africa Twin Standard (the Adventure Sports does have tubeless tires). So, what’s the advantage and disadvantage of both systems?
For most simple punctures, a tubeless tire is much easier and faster to fix on the side of the road. By simply inserting a plug in the tire you can have a tire fixed in 5 minutes, without taking of the whole wheel. Here’s a video showing how that works:
However, if we’re talking about bigger punctures or even slices, or punctures in the side wall of your tire, a quick road side fix with a plug is not possible.
When would you use tubed tires?
So, when would you use tubed tires as apposed to tubeless tires? Good question. There actually aren’t that many advantages over a tubed system in adventure bikes. In lighter enduro and motocross bikes you’ll see tubeless systems a lot more. In off-road situations with light bikes, tubed tires are more resilient. They puncture less fast, especially when running lower pressure in the tires.
But… this advantages is actually not the main reason why tubes are used. Tubes are used on wheels that aren’t air tight. Spoked wheels to be exact. Most spoked wheels leak air where the spokes meet the rim. Putting in a tube eliminates that problem. Nowadays even spoked wheels can be airtight though, eliminating the need for a tube.
Changing / Inserting Tubes
For adventure riding, I personally would always go for a tubeless tire whenever possible. Because these give you the possibility to insert a plug whenever possible, but also keep the option of inserting a tube for bigger punctures or slices that can’t be fixed with a plug. Here’s a video on how to change a tube. As you can imagine, this is significantly more work than a 5 minute plug.
Now… above video shows you how to exchange the tube in an already tubed tire. To insert a tube in a tubeless tire is a bit more difficult. You’ll need to remove the valve stem from the tire too (because the tube obviously has a valve stem already) and tubeless tires are often a bit thicker and harder to get off the bead. Here’s another video where a tube is placed in a tubeless tire on an adventure motorcycle.
Converting to tubeless
We read above that tubes are mostly used because spoked wheels leak air, but that tubeless systems are a lot easier to fix along the side of the road. This is the reason why some people are converting their tubed tires to tubeless tires. This is mostly done by Africa Twin and Tenere 700 riders as these bikes still come with tubed tires. The conversion, in essence, is pretty simple. It consists of putting silicone on the inside of the rim, where the spokes meet the rim, effectively sealing the point where air leaks. Here’s a video:
This conversion is done with some basic materials from Home Depot, but there are also entire kits out there that contain all the materials you need, like this set from outex. From what I’ve read on fora, results seem to vary. Some get an airtight seal, while others don’t and end up butting the tube back in.
Lastly, I wanted to discuss the Tubliss system. This is another system that can turn a tubed tire into a tubeless tire… well… sort of. Here’s Lemmy at Revzilla again, explaining the Tubliss system.
It seems to only be used on dirt bikes, but I was wondering if there’s anything like this available for bigger (wider) tires on adventure bikes. If you have more information on that, a comment below would be highly appreciated.