Converting to a tubeless wheel set up has become an increasingly popular option for mountain bikers owing to a whole host of benefits, but it does come at a messy and fiddly price... until now.
It's becoming the new norm to ditch the inners and seal your wheels with tape and sealant, and there's plenty of good reasons to covert your wheel-set too.
Pesky punctures are a total nightmare sometimes. You always need to carry a tube, levers and pump on every ride, just in case you pinch flat. Not to mention getting the tyre pressure just right to handle your trail riding, but also minimise the risk of puncturing.
Going tubeless is just that, you replace your inner tube with rim tape and some liquid sealant. The sealant acts as a form of glue that rolls around in your tyres as you ride, plugging up any air gaps. Even if you do roll over a sharp point, or pinch flat, the sealant will fill perforations up so you can carry on riding. Perfecto!
However, and there is a downside for going to tubeless which in itself puts off a lot of people and that's the application and set-up. It CAN be messy, it CAN be fiddly, but it doesn't have to be if you do it right, have a little patience... and a MilKit.
MilKit Tubeless Kit
I was pretty impressed that this entire tubeless kit can be conveniently stored within the provided syringe. That includes: 2 tubeless valves - stopcock tube applicator - sealant tube applicator - syringe and instructions. The instructions are clearly printed with annotated diagrams making it easy to read and follow, and they aren't long-winded either!
The idea behind this kit is to make tubeless conversions and maintenance easy, clean and stress free. So I put it to the test on a new set of tubeless tyres, bearing in mind, this was my first tubeless attempt.
Before you start, make sure you check the spec of your wheel-set. You need to ensure you have tubeless ready tyres and rims that will take the conversion properly. This may mean purchasing some tubeless rim tape, or a new set of tyres... or both in my case. If you're not sure, check the make/model of your wheel-set online, or better yet, take them into your local bike shop and ask a mechanic there.
Converting to Tubeless with MilKit
First things first, take your wheels off the bike and strip them of their tubes and tyres.
CHECK YOUR WHEELS
As mentioned before, it's important to ensure your rims are suitable for a tubeless conversion. In my case, my DT Swiss rims weren't, so I had to seal them myself. To do this, I removed the pre-existing blue tape which comes as standard with the wheels. I washed and scrubbed all dirt and tape residue to leave a clean surface for the new rim tape to adhere to.
With your clean wheel in one hand, and your rim tape (if you need it) in the other, start at the valve and carefully wrap the tape around the rim, being careful to keep it taught and smooth all the way around. It's important to squeeze out any air bubbles and wrinkles, and make sure the tape is lined up nicely with the recess of the rim.
Once your rim tape is firmly in place sealing all nooks and crannies of your wheel, it's time to pop in the MilKit tubeless valve. After the valve has been secured, hook your tyre back onto the rim.
MilKit's tubeless valves are designed to fit any rim shape and size. Once you insert your valve, you can unscrew and remove the core. MilKit have designed their valves in such a way that even when the core has been removed, air is unable to escape. This make inflation a lot easier and quicker.
With your tyre back on the rim, roll the wheel so that the valve sits at the bottom, and unscrew the core.
You can use any brand of sealant that you like with MilKit, which is brilliant really because we all have our own favourites which we like to stick with.
How much sealant you'll require will depend on your wheel size. I have a 650b wheel, so I used the recommended amount of approximately 2oz per wheel.
This is where the MilKit device really comes in handy. By attaching the applicator tubes, you can accurately measure how much sealant you'll need as you pull the sealant into the syringe. Remember to close the valve on the applicator when finished to prevent spillages.
By removing the valve core, you're able to insert the syringe applicator all the way through to the bottom of the tyre, open the applicator valve and simply inject the sealant into the tyre.
Once finished, screw the valve core back into place and close. Pick up the wheel and roll it around in your hands so the sealant can evenly coat the inner side of the rim, getting into all those nooks and crannies.
That's the not-so-messy part over with. Time for inflation.
Now the tyre is on the rim, the sealant is evenly coated and sloshing around inside, and the valve and core are intact and closed. Time to get that pump out and get inflating.
One of the benefits of running tubeless is that you're able to get away with a lower tyre pressure. This improves the traction of the tyre with the ground as it's more supple and grippier.
Tyre manufacturers will often have the optimum pressure printed on the side wall of the tyre. This may be anywhere from 25 - 30psi, but ultimately you need to consider a few things such as your weight, riding style and even the terrain.
After pumping my tyres to roughly 22psi, it was time to give them a roll in the hand and let them settle. Don't be alarmed if some air or sealant escapes, or if your tyre deflates a little overnight, it's just the sealant settling in. Be sure to give them another roll around and pump before riding.
The great thing about the MilKit kit is that it makes tubeless maintenance easy as well. Every few months, or so - depending how often you ride - it's important to check the sealant levels and top up if necessary.
Rather than removing the wheels and tyres, you can use the MilKit syringe to measure how much sealant you have, and how much you need to add. No mess, no fuss and super easy. Watch the video below for a demonstration.
I'm really impressed by the compact, convenient and no-mess ability of going tubeless with MilKit's kit. It's well designed, easy to use and it really does the job.
I was less impressed by the tubeless valves that came with the kit. They didn't feel as high-quality as the rest of the kit, and I had some issue with them seating nicely with my rim. After some riding, and some leaking, they did eventually setting down and seal, but not without some adjustment and maintenance.
Even though you can probably make-shift your own tubeless kit, MilKit offers a handy and ideal solution for faff. Everything is neatly stored within the syringe, the product is fit for purpose and faff-free.
For more information about MilKit, head over to their website here.