Friday, April 4, 2014

Tubliss inner tube replacement for WR250R

Inner tubes are pain to install, unreliable to repair, and a common point of failure in any off-road riding situation. Fortunately, running tubeless on the WR is possible thanks to the Tubliss system offered by Neutech. While the system may seem a bit daunting to install, it's an ingenious concept that works incredibly well according to many excellent reviews on the web. I recently installed it with my K60 Scouts and thought I'd add my observations to the many others you can find online.

Note that the system is meant for off-road use only. However, I can't see any objective reason why it wouldn't work reliably and safely on a small bike like the WR in a dual-sport (road) application, other than the company probably didn't want to pay for the hassle of DOT certification. It's not like your inner tubes are DOT certified anyway. In my case the appeal of better flat resistance and easier flat repairs won out over the supposed limitations to off-road use. As a bonus, Aviciouscycle just happened to have the generation 2 kits on sale.


1. Follow the installation instructions from Tubliss. The inner section and the tire have to fit together a certain way to be airtight. If you follow the instructions, it'll work. Just be patient and don't try to cut corners. Some of the negative reviews online don't make much sense: the reviewers probably didn't follow the instructions. 
2. Beware that the K60's are TOUGH tires to install at the best of times. Incorporating the Tubliss adds to the misery. Nevertheless, with practice and the right tools it can be done without too much swearing and sweating. And it's still easier than trying to install inner tubes.
Really clean your rims inside and out, and remove any burrs or rough spots with a bit of emery cloth.
3. Use regular Armor-All as tire lube. It makes mounting the tires a lot easier. 
4. Use tire spoons. You are much less likely to damage the inner (red) Tubliss tire versus using regular irons.
5. The heavy rim clamp and valve of the Tubliss system seriously unbalances the front wheel, as I discovered on my first test ride. It helped to rotate the tire 180 degrees on the rim and use an entire 8 oz bottle of Slime (the Slime instructions recommend using 16 oz per wheel, or two bottles--which I didn't have on hand). The rear seems fine, but I didn't get above about 80 km/hr on my second test ride so more tuning of the balance may be needed for higher speeds. A pressure check before and after the ride showed no pressure drops. The front may still need a few ounces of rim weights, or some more Slime to tune it. 
6. After installing the Tubliss, pump it up to spec and let it sit for a week. A bit of Slime worked its way out of a few places (like around the valve stems), but the pressures of the red inner tire (100 psi) and the main K60 tire (29 or 22 psi in my case) remained bang-on, suggesting no issues with my installation.
7. A good bicycle floor pump with pressure gauge makes inflation easy.

Ride feel

Road feel is noticeably different than with tubes: the tires feel more compliant, somewhat surprising given I was riding in about 4 degrees C when the rubber should be harder. I noticed a similar effect when I went tubeless on my mountain bike. It'll be interesting to try lower pressures off-road when conditions allow it. 

Overall it looks like the Tubliss was a good decision for the WR. Updates to follow. 

Update July 21, 2014: See why I removed the Tubliss system and reverted to tubes.

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