Yeah, I know traditional clinchers are really easy to work with, and come in all kinds of sizes, tread patterns, and price ranges. And I know that fixing a flat while out on a ride is easy, even with a cheap mini-pump. And they don't require any messy liquids to mount or seal them. And yes, I know there generally aren't compatibility issues between different brands of "normal" clincher tires and rims.
Yes, the new tubeless tires can be a pain to mount, and special "fitting fluid" is recommended. And they're hard to get seated on the rim without compressed air. And it's generally recommended that you use liquid sealant with them which makes a nasty mess if you do have to remove the tire. And yeah, there can be fit and compatibility issues between brands and types of rims, tires etc. And they're expensive. And there aren't many choices for sizes.
|Tubeless tire and rim - plus special rim strip,|
valve, and liquid sealant.
Now, at this point, you may be wondering why someone would switch to tubeless tires. Well, because they're NEW, of course, so they have to be better.
It's probably pretty obvious that I'm being sarcastic. But seriously. What are the benefits to tubeless tires? What is the selling point?
I've read that tubeless tires virtually eliminate "snake-bite" flats like those that can happen when running traditional clinchers at low pressure. It is probably for that reason that tubeless tires have become so popular with mountain bikers (I've seen surveys saying 50% of MTB riders use them). But they don't eliminate flats entirely. And unlike traditional clinchers, if you do get a flat out on the road, they are much tougher to fix. You'd be much better off calling someone for a ride home.
Some people claim that they're "faster." I have my doubts. Some tubeless tires might have lower rolling resistance than some traditional clinchers, but rolling resistance is greatly affected by the "suppleness" or flexibility of the tire's casing and tread -- and from what I understand, a lot of the new tubeless-specific tires are less "supple" than the best traditional tires. I know of some traditional clinchers that are awfully hard to beat when it comes to weight and rolling resistance. (For more about those, check out this article from the Bicycle Quarterly blog).
Anyhow, it really seems to me that tubeless tires and wheels are yet another thing where the reality doesn't match up to the hype. Another situation where just because something is New, it isn't necessarily Better. In fact, in reading about the new tires, I was really trying to find the benefits of switching "systems," but I couldn't find any advantage to the tubeless systems that wasn't either doubtful, or offset by serious disadvantages. Tubeless tires? Fine on my car -- but I'm in no rush to put them on my bikes.