The time for tubeless tyres has most definitely arrived.
The key things that make a good tubeless tyre are the speed at which they seal, resistance to cuts and burping, and the performance value of the tyre – but alongside this they must be relatively easy to fit and remove. There are some great tyres out there which are impossible to take off without thumbs of steel or workshop equipment at your disposal.
A 5-star review of a tyre in pure performance terms is all well and good, but if you need a team of mechanics to simply remove the tyre then this isn’t a realistic option for most people.
Our Picks – Road:
At the moment the market for tubeless ready on the road is still a relatively immature one. This means there are clear winners and losers, and also some big players being left behind.
Our winner – Hutchinson:
This is the brand ahead of the curve in the road market, having worked on tubeless tyres longer than anyone else. While they never quite became favourites in the tubed clincher or tubular market in Britain, this French brand is at the forefront when it comes to tubeless.
Our favourite tyre here is the Fusion 5 Performance Tubeless. There are three to choose from in the Fusion 5 range so there’s something for everyone. The All Season for heavier winter use, the light Galaktik, and the Performance. The latter would always be our preference though, hitting the sweet spot between speed and robustness.
It has unrivalled tread thanks to the patented 11Storm compound.
It’s a super grippy, wear resistant tyre that also retains a supple and fast ride feel. These tyres are a dream to fit and offer a good level of protection. When used with sealant they are incredibly resistant to flatting. You can have multiple punctures with these tyres and never actually flat.
In store this is our go-to tyre for riders of all types. High pressure, low pressure, sportive rider through the light gravel or back lane racer, the Hutchinson’s have the versatility to cover most eventualities.
Runner up – Maxxis Padrone:
These tyres make it onto the second step in the road department as they’re not quite as grippy, versatile or easy to fit as the Hutchinson tyres, but perhaps edge them in all-out performance. The reason we love them is simple: Speed and suppleness.
If you value the performance of the tyre above anything else then this is the one for you.
You may need to change the tyres more often depending on the types of terrain and surfaces you’ll be riding, but if this isn’t a concern then we think the Maxxis Padrone currently outperforms any other in this category.
Honourable mention – Schwalbe:
If you’re looking for a brand you know and trust, then these deserve to make the list. Unfortunately it’s rare to find a wheel that they readily fit, but when you do these are fantastic. It’s hard to look past the other two, but ask in store if these will be compatible for you and they offer another good option depending on your needs.
Our picks – Gravel:
The one and only Gravel King:
This is the reigning monarch in tubeless gravel tyres. They are a firm favourite with every member of staff at the shop, and are a tyre we all currently choose to ride. With an extensive range of sizes at our fingertips, and a suitability for a large cross section of rider types, this speaks volumes for the Gravel King.
They come in two versions: the original, lighter Gravel King and the tougher, grippier SK (Small Knob). Both of these options are available in a huge range of widths, as well as two colour options.
Easy to fit, rapid sealing, strong sidewalls, fast and supple, versatile. What more could you want? This tyre has it all.
The New Pretenders:
The Maxxis Rambler and Ravager – while maybe not quite as versatile, as they don’t have a version that is more suited to rough paved surfaces, these are true challengers to the throne of the Gravel King, especially if your adventures are more dirt or mud based. Available in two widths, they cover a lot of UK conditions, with the Ravager being the heavier and more aggressive option. Like all Maxxis tyres they are very much performance/speed based, but they also have great side wall protection and are pretty easy to fit to most rims.
Schwalbe get a lot of press for their G-One range, and some people get on very well with them, but we find they clog far too easily for conditions in our area.
Our picks – Cyclocross:
The switch from tubs to tubeless ready in the cyclocross market, from amateurs right through to the elite level, shows the massive jump in the practicality of this option in recent years.
The list of advantages when picking tubeless over tubs is extensive: there’s no risk of the tyre rolling off at low pressure, no danger of pinch flats, costs are much lower, and you can change the tyre up to the last minute according to conditions. All of this with almost no trade off in performance terms. You may not be able to run quite as low pressure, however you’re chances of mechanical issues practically disappear with tubeless.
In store we have two clear favourites:
With options for all types of condition, the Maxxis tyres have been around a long time in the cyclocross market, reaping the benefits of technology trickled down from their fantastic range of tubeless MTB tyres. The Mud Wrestler is a fabulous all-conditions tyre from grass through to sticky mud, while the Terrain Speeds are super fast in dry or hard pack conditions.
These are easy to fit and roll well, but what puts them at the forefront in cyclocross for us is their resistance to flatting.
The strength of the sidewalls with these tyres is unparalleled, while they remain supple and capable of running at very low pressures without risk of burping or squirming.
Donnelly (formerly Clement):
This is also an exceptional range derived from their work in tubulars. They are a little harder to get hold of than the Maxxis tyres and aren’t quite as good value for money, but this is an incredible tyre when it comes to performance, with the DXP being nothing short of legendary, especially in heavier conditions.
If reliability and puncture resistance are the most important factors for you then we’d lean towards the Maxxis, but if the edge in terms of performance is all you’re looking for then the Donnellys are a great option too.
Schwalbe – the X-One range has one stand-out tyre for our money. The X-One Bite is a great option for the deepest and stickiest of mud. It sheds really well and digs in for stacks of grip at low pressures. But it’s very condition specific as it’s not a fast tyre in anything other than deep gloop – in shallower mud we’d opt for the Maxxis Mud Wrestler or perhaps the Donnelly PDX. Still, if you need a tyre for the deep stuff this may be the one.
Challenge – only released in the last month. As market leaders in tubulars, they could be a major competitor and disrupt the market, but only time will tell – if they aren’t too hard to fit. We’ll let you know!
Our picks – MTB:
This is the most mature market of the four. There are almost endless options across all requirements and so it’s hard to pick a favourite. The need for a much more condition specific tyre is also a lot higher when it comes to MTB, so pinpointing just one is a much harder task.
Our default option here though is Maxxis. They simply don’t make a bad one, and are by far the best all-rounders available.
So why make the switch to tubeless?
The advancements in technology over the past few years makes the switch to tubeless a no-brainer in our opinion.
Most tubeless tyres are now compatible with a standard track pump making them far more practical than when they first came out. There’s also now the added security of the fact that most of the tubeless ready setups can take a normal tube. Puncturing will become a rarity, but in the event of a catastrophic failure in the tyre you’ll still be able to get home. Essentially technology has just improved massively over the past few years. With our picks there’s almost no downside to going tubeless.
If you want a tyre that will rarely ever puncture, is resistant to pinch flats, and will roll smoother than any tubed wheel while running bigger tyres and lower pressures then tubeless is for you.
With the sheer number of choices in the tubeless tyre department, alongside the increased number of compatible wheels, the popularity of going tubeless is booming.
In store we offer a £40 conversion fee when going from non-tubeless to tubeless. This includes the labour cost, sealant, rim tape, valve. We then have a wide range of tyres for you to choose from additional to this.