More Wheels with Fewer Tubes

In the sprit of the last post, I thought I’d share a couple of recent projects. First, a set of Velocity Blunt SL 650b rims shod with Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires. The wheels, rim tape and valves came straight from Velocity, the tires from Schwabe and the sealant from Stan’s.

Blue tape from Velocity

This is the tape Velocity sent me. Pretty nice. Maybe a tad easier to install than Stan’s. Time will tell if it holds up as well.

Schwalbe + Velocity = Love

Everything went together very well. The tape was pretty easy to install. The valves seemed very nice. The tire inflated easily. All leaks sealed quickly.

When you inflate a tubeless setup, it *really* helps to use an air compressor. You need to quickly force a lot of air into the tire to get it to jump up on the bead. Thus: presta adapters are part of the process. The other part of the process is that at least 50% of the time the valve core unthreads from the valve when you (or at least when I) attempt to unthread the presta adapter. Such appeared to be the case yesterday as I finished the rear wheel and got it ready to put on the bike. Surprise! The valve broke in half.

Bad valve. Bad, bad.

Bummer. Fortunately I had another at hand and only threw sealant over half the shop as I changed ’em. Fun!

As with most of their wheels, Velocity makes this in a more expensive, low spoke count version and a perfectly suitable version with 32 DT Swiss butted spokes. These are the latter. Nice thing about Velocity: they’ve moved the production of many rims to Florida and build the wheels in the exotic location of Grand Rapids.

Next up is that horrible cliche, the pair of wheels the shop guy built for himself. I lay the blame for this exercise on our Kona rep, who raved about his use of this setup last season. Since he can handily whoop me in CX, I figured the wheels much be the difference. Ha! Anyway, this is a set of Chris King Classic Cross hubs laced to Stan’s Alpha 340 rims with DT Competition spokes. Tires are Michelin Mud2, not the fastest thing on a dry course, but incredible and predictable when things get sloppy.

I have run out of captions.

Prep was the usual: clean the rim with alcohol, apply Stan’s yellow tape, insert valve, inflate. I used tires from last season, and they popped right up on the bead. Great! Until I noticed a nice hole in the sidewall of one of ’em, possibly from being stored in a box with lots of cranks (don’t ask). I pulled a new tire off the shelf and tried to get it to inflate with dismal luck. I installed a tube with the new tire, inflated it and let it stew for a few hours. I then removed the tube and the tire inflated without issue. This rim/tire combo sealed up very nicely, thus saving the Kona rep from a snarky email.

Chris King Beauty Shot

These look very promising. Much less hassle to set up than tubulars with the same promise of a pinch-flat-free existence. We’ll see.