Monday, September 19, 2011

Road Tubeless for Cyclocross? Advice welcome

I have a 28-hole Powertap SL+ hub laced to a rapidly-failing DT Swiss 415 rim. Major cracks are appearing at the drive-side spoke eyelets. I'd like to rebuild the wheel with a road tubeless rim and use it for recreational 'cross training and racing, and then for winter training on gravel roads.


Stan's makes a tubeless-ready 700 CC rim with a 28-hole option. Bryan's not enthused about the durability of such a setup.

I could buy a slightly beefier DT Swiss rim or a Mavic Open Pro rim and use Stan's conversion kit to make it tubeless.  

Again, the rim has to be a 28-hole. I weigh 193 pounds and tend to beat up rear rims--my Mavic Kysrium Elites have lasted a long time, but this DT Swiss rim failed after less than a season of road training.

Tire choices:
Stan's Raven
Hutchinson Piranha or Bulldog 
Or any standard 'cross tire like the Panaracer Cinder-x, a setup CX Magazine tested with good results.

OR, should I just convert my existing Velomax Circuit clinchers to tubeless using Stan's tape, thereby saving the Powertap for road training and racing?

Comments and debate welcome!


  1. The people I know who've used tubeless conversions for CX haven't been overly enthusiastic about the results. Lots of reports of tires burping air and progressively losing pressure over the course of a hard CX practice or race. Reading the article(s) on the web it sounds like some people have had reasonable success with this. I have not run tubeless in cross, so unfortunately I have little to contribute based on actual experience. I think if I were gonna try what you are trying, I'd be inclined to go with a tire/rim combo designed to go together.

    There are probably other people out there who should chime in with more informed opinions on this matter.

  2. Eric,
    So here's my take on it all.

    Rim Selection Thoughts
    You've found that DT415's are cracking for what you want them to do. They are eyeleted but evidently weak. I like DT products but I guess these don't hold up.

    The Stans rims are going to be made to be light. They are also cheap, this does not really lend itself to being overly strong/tough. Stans road wheel reviews often are cited as being flexy, though I think this is mostly a function of the spoke/hub combinations. I don't think you're going to be happy with this rim.

    Mavic Open Pros are typically strong, eyeleted, and last for a long time under normal usage patterns. I say you go for a Mavic Open Pro and ride the hell out of it till you wear thru the brake track. They are durable, a known quantity, and reasonably cheap.

    Tubeless for Cyclocross
    I like tubeless for road racing/riding and for MTB racing/riding. I like tubeless with CX tires for gravel road riding. This tubeless love fest does not extend to cyclocross training and racing. I used Hutchinson Bulldog (or maybe they were Pirhana) on Scandium Rim version Shimano Dura Ace 7850 SL wheels. They burped air. I added more Stans and they still burped air. I messed with it all some more, they still burped. I ended up taking the tires off and running tubes all fall with Grifos last year.

    It'd be fun to dink around with a tubeless set up on a Mavic Open Pro/Stans strip combo and see the results but neither the rim strips or the tires are very cheap.

    What I would not do is try to run a ghetto tubeless rim and non-tubeless tire set up, you are likely going to have poor results and or eat shit.

    Tubulars for cross if you can swing it or just run your clincher set up it'll do you fine in 3's. Or let someone else convince you of how wonderful road tubeless is.

  3. So,
    I can explain this over beer sometimes, but in all I agree with mike on all point except running ghetto tires on non tubeless rim. It it possible on cx tire for gravel but not on road. The psi workable rate is about 40-65 psi... That's pretty much it. after that you get all the issues people mentioned above. I don't know about stan's rims they are wider so you might have some luck...
    Here is the deal with non tubeless/ust tires. You can set them tubeless but it will be messy first time you do it you will use probably 1/3 of stans bottle.. THat's why I started making my own sealant.... With that being said for gravel and road I didn't have any issues minus braking the spoke and puncturing my tape on road setup....

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