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Tech & Wearables

Technical FAQ: Tubeless tires dominating Paris-Roubaix, and other road tubeless questions

Are tubeless tires for road — and pavé — a trend or are they here to stay?

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Have a question for Lennard? Please email him at veloqna@comcast.net to be included in Technical FAQ.

Dear Lennard,
Tubeless tires won Paris-Roubaix again. Your tire test last fall before the 2021 race portended that sea change from tubular domination. And now we see it was no fluke.
— Jared

Dear Jared,
No fluke indeed! Tubeless tires took nine of the top 10 placings this time! That certainly does constitute a sea change from the tubular domination of that race over the rest of its history. If Wout Van Aert were to switch to tubeless clinchers, I believe that tubulars wouldn’t win that race ever again.

The tubeless Continental Grand Prix 5000 tire was on the winning bike for the second consecutive year, this time in 30mm width on Van Baarle’s bike (Sonny Colbrelli won on 32mm tubeless GP5000s in 2021). The GP5000 tubeless tire took five of the top six places in 2021, and six of the top eight in the 2022 Paris-Roubaix. Quite a showing. This is what Conti’s product manager said about it:

“All teams rode the updated “Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR” in 30 or 32mm width. Pressure for best comfort [for Van Baarle] was lowered to 3.5bars with the knowledge that cut resistance would also be decreased, but with support cars so close by that risk was worth taking.

Compared to GP5000TL, it features new construction, and the benefits are:
– 50g weight per tire
– easier mounting
– hookless compatible

It [tubeless GP5000] has won Roubaix 2021 and 2022, Ghent-Wevelgem, Milan-San Remo, Fleche Wallone, Liege-Bastogne-Liege; we call it our most winningest tire ever.
— Jan-Niklas Voß, product management/Continental Tires”

In a stunning turnaround from tradition, there was only one rider on tubulars in the top 10 at Roubaix this year;
an Aert rode to second place on Vittoria Corsa Control tread strips bonded to 30C Dugast tubular casings. He also rode those tires to seventh place in 2021.

The non-Continental tubeless tires in this year’s race were under the seventh-, ninth-, and tenth-place riders. Jasper Stuyven (7th) rode Pirelli P Zero Race TLR. This tire also was ridden to first and third place in the women’s Paris-Roubaix in both 2021 and 2022.

Mathieu Van der Poel (9th) rode tubeless 30C Vittoria Corsa Control 2.0 graphene TLRs; last year he rode a tubular version of that same tire to third place. When a top cyclocross rider switches from tubulars to tubeless, that’s a big deal.

Yves Lampaert rode 32C Specialized “project black” tubeless tires into 10th, after being knocked off his bike and potentially off of the podium by a spectator. In 2021, he rode Specialized Turbo Cotton Hell of the North clinchers with latex tubes to fifth place (and had multiple punctures).

Indeed, the era of tubeless tires being the standard in Paris-Roubaix seems to be here.
― Lennard

The Continental GP 5000s TR tires are the grippiest and supplest version in the line. (Photo: Greg Kaplan )

Dear Lennard,
Just read your answer to Michael re: tubeless on traditional clincher rims. Makes perfect sense. But what if one uses an inner tube on a traditional clincher with a tubeless — as in a tire that could be run tubeless — tire? Is there anything about tires that are designated tubeless or tubeless-ready that cautions against their use with an inner tube? I imagine some brands may have more rubber or whatever the material is to make them more airtight, but aside from the weight/suppleness issue, is there any safety issue?
— Ray

Dear Lennard,
In regard to Michael’s question about using tubeless tires on his clincher Bora Ultra 35’s, you answered with the assumption that he intends to use tubeless tape with the tubeless tires. What about using tubeless tires on clincher rims with an inner tube? Not just in an emergency but what about long-term use? I ask this in light of recent trends, i.e., disc brakes, 12-speed mechanical shifting not being offered, etc.

I’m concerned that one day the trend to discontinue clincher offerings will be on the horizon, and any future offering will some type of backward-compatible compromise. Or am I just being paranoid? Love the column as usual.
— Peter

Dear Ray and Peter,
There’s never a problem with using a tubeless-ready tire with an inner tube. The bead diameter is the same, and the inner tube eliminates the possibility of burping air.
― Lennard

Dear Lennard,
I have felt I was doing things correctly with tubeless, until I read your recent article. I have rim brakes and ride 2-Way-Fit [Campagnolo] Eurus wheels. First, do I need to pay more attention to the type of tubeless-ready tires I ride? I am a big dude and I do ride in Colorado some. Secondly, I was thinking about upgrading to Bora 2-Way-Fit but still rim brakes. Is this a bad idea?
— Billy

Dear Billy,
I have far more confidence in Campagnolo (and Fulcrum) 2-Way-Fit rim-brake wheels with tubeless tires than I do with standard rim-brake rims with tubeless tape and tubeless tires. The ridge on the medial side of each bead shelf in the 2-Way-Fit rim acts like a bead lock to resist dislodging of the bead and burping. There is no such feature on a standard rim sealed with tubeless rim tape.

As with the Shimano and Mavic road-tubeless-specific rims that came out with the original Hutchinson UST tubeless road tires, the standards that Campagnolo, Fulcrum, Mavic, Shimano, and Hutchinson mutually agreed on to give it the UST (Universal Systéme Tubeless) designation were tight. Among those, it required that the tire maintain constant air pressure without sealant. Between them, those companies agreed to tighter tolerances than the rest of the industry was adhering consistently to on rim-bead-seat diameter and tire-bead diameter, shape, and resistance to stretching, as well as other specifications like the presence, shape, and location of the rim’s bead-lock ridge, the shape of the rim valley, and the fact that no spoke-access holes penetrated the rim valley (so that the tire is airtight to the rim without a rim strip).

I think the Campagnolo 2-Way-Fit rim provides considerably more security of a TR or TL tire set up tubeless than does a standard rim-brake rim with tubeless tape. When riding the Bora wheels in the Colorado mountains, however, you still have the problem of being a heavy guy on a rim that will get much hotter under hard braking than an aluminum rim will. There’s no getting around that issue, and it does reduce the security of those tubeless tires. Maybe ride your aluminum 2-Way-Fit wheels when you’re in the mountains?
― Lennard


Lennard Zinn, our longtime technical writer, joined VeloNews in 1987. He is also a custom frame builder (www.zinncycles.com) and purveyor of non-custom huge bikes (bikeclydesdale.com), a former U.S. national team rider, co-author of The Haywire Heart,” and author of many bicycle books including Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance,”DVD,” as well as Zinn and the Art of Triathlon Bikesand Zinn’s Cycling Primer: Maintenance Tips and Skill Building for Cyclists.” He holds a bachelor’s in physics from Colorado College.

Follow @lennardzinn on Twitter.