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Hutchinson tubeless tyres: so long, punctures

4 Jun 2018

This feature was produced in association with Hutchinson

For all the innovation and technological advancement road cycling has embraced in some areas, in others it remains stubbornly bound by tradition. Take tubeless tyre technology, for example, where roadies stand alone in all pneumatic tyre-based sport in their reticence to adopt a tubeless set-up.

Whether it is indeed the shackles of tradition that are holding it back, or the perceived difficulty of installing tubeless tyres, the fact remains that ditching your inner tubes helps you save weight, lets you go faster, improves comfort and drastically reduces your chance of a puncture.

These benefits are just as valid on your daily commute as they are on longer weekend rides or sportives, which is why French tubeless pioneer Hutchinson has been determinedly developing its range of tubeless products since the introduction of its first tubeless tyre way back in 1999.

This extensive experience in tubeless technology gives Hutchinson some unique advantages over rival manufacturers who have only embraced the benefits of tubeless more recently – so much so that rival tyres may or may not be simply rebadged Hutchinsons.

‘All of our “Tubeless Ready” tyres have been designed to be mounted with a track pump on every tubeless-compatible rim that follows ETRTO recommendations – it is an internal requirement of ours before they are launched onto the market,’ says Hutchinson’s Alexandre Cottebrune.

That isn’t an advantage every brand that makes tubeless tyres can boast.

The whole picture

Recognising that a successful tubeless set-up isn’t just about the tyre, Hutchinson has worked to refine every accompanying product that goes with it.

Its Protect’Air Max sealant, for instance, is made in-house in France and the recipe is a closely guarded secret because it offers several advantages over other products on the market.

‘Protect’Air Max seals the rims and tyres for at least a year,’ says Cottebrune, ‘although it’s worth refreshing the sealant every four months or so to makes sure it remains effective at sealing holes too.’

Crucially the Protect’Air Max sealant is also compatible with CO2 canisters. Where the endothermic reaction of the gas expanding in the tyre usually solidifies latex-based sealants, Hutchinson’s Protect’Air Max is unaffected, meaning you can leave your mini-pump at home.

With more and more brands releasing tubeless products and awareness of the technology’s benefits getting clearer, the market only looks to be heading in one direction.

Fortunately for Hutchinson, the company has already been going that way for years.  

Hutchinson's guide to setting up tubeless

1. Apply the rim tape

A tubeless-ready rim bed is specifically designed to hold the beads of the tubeless tyre securely but most rims will still need to be taped in order to cover any drillings in the rim and create an airtight seal.

Hutchinson’s ingenious tape stretches into the rim bed like a rubber band. Start by lining up the prepared hole in the tape over the valve hole in the rim.

Press it into the rim bed, then feed in the rest of the tape. Apply firm, even tension to the tape to run it into the rim much like installing a tyre.

2. Install the valve

Push Hutchinson’s tubeless valve through the hole in the tape and through the rim’s valve hole.

Secure it in place by screwing the accompanying nut down over the protruding valve – this tightens the bung end of the valve against the rim bed and stops any sealant or air leaking out around the valve. 

3. Mount the tyre

The next step is to seat the tyre. Fit it as you would a regular clincher – the Kevlar bead technology in its Fusion 5 11Storm tyres negates the stubborn fitting issues that have plagued tyres from other manufacturers – so it will go on without much hassle.

Aim to get the beads sitting together in the centre of the rim bed and running neatly each side of the valve bung. 

4. Add the sealant

Remove the valve core with Hutchinson’s handy dedicated tool and, making sure the valve is pointing directly upwards, pour approximately 30ml of Hutchinson’s Protect’Air Max sealant into the rim cavity through the valve.

Taking care not to disturb the wheel, replace the valve core then attach a track pump to the valve. Thanks to Hutchinson’s refined tyre design, the tyre will now inflate just like a normal clincher.

The shoulders of the rim bed may cause the tyre bead to ‘pop’ into place as the pressure increases. 

5. Spread the sealant evenly

Holding the wheel in both hands, tilt, shake and turn it for a few minutes to ensure the interior is coated evenly in Protect’Air Max sealant.

Dribbles of sealant may escape the rim in this process until the airtight seal is established but it can be easily cleaned up afterwards.

Leave the system to settle, ideally overnight, then re-check the tyre pressure. Top up if necessary. After that, the advantages of tubeless are yours to enjoy. 

Hutchinson tyres are distributed in the UK by