With the right setup, tubeless tires offer an undisputed boost in performance. Knowing how to identify tubeless tire compatible rims and rubber will save you and your customers time and trouble.

The universal clincher tire and inner tube still have a seat for dinner, but when considering the benefits of a tubeless system, and as designs get better and better, that seat might end up being at the dreaded “kiddie table.” Fewer flats and the increased traction gained from the ability to run lower pressures lead to noticeable performance benefits out on the trail. A properly set up tubeless system really has a distinctive ride quality that provides greater trail “feel” and incredible grip, and they’re definitely here to stay.

With any new technology, there is always a period where “standards” are created and tested before the industry or consumer preference settles any questions. There are three prevalent systems available now: UST, Tubeless Ready / Tubeless compatible, and the Stan’s NoTubes BST, and all have unique features.

Tubeless Ready / Tubeless Compatible

Rim/Wheel

  • Requires tape to seal the rim bead. Rim hook is a similar shape to UST without the certification
  • May be used tubeless with a UST tire or a tubeless-compatible tire with sealant

Tire

  • Requires sealant and a good bead lock on the rim to hold air
  • Bead may be the official UST certified or a similar shape and construction without the certification
  • Tubeless-ready tires are generally lighter weight than UST, sharing characteristics of a conventional tire in construction. Available in most tread patterns
  • Tire has a square bead

Optimal Tire Bead Shape
Square

Wheel Brands

  • Crank Brothers 
  • Race Face
  • e*thirteen
  • DT Swiss Spline
  • ENVE
  • Syntace
  • Industry Nine Torch     

Rim Brands

  • Velocity
  • DT Swiss Spline
  • ENVE
  • WTB

UST (Universal Standard for Tubeless)

Rim/Wheel

  • Features a air-tight rim bead, deep center channel and a square rim hook to lock tires into place
  • May be used tubeless with a UST tire and no sealant or a tubeless compatible tire with sealant

Tire

  • Does not require sealant, air-tight as a result of a layer of butyl rubber and a uniquely shaped bead to lock into UST rims/wheels
  • The tires tend to be heavier and are not available in all tread patterns
  • Tire has a square bead

Optimal Tire Bead Shape

  • Square

Wheel Brands

  • SRAM
  • Fulcrum

Rim Brands

  • Mavic

NoTubes BST (Bead Socket Technology)

Rim/Wheel

  • Requires yellow tape to seal the rim bead, a shallow center channel and a short rim hook to lock tires into place
  • May be used tubeless with a tubeless compatible tire and sealant or a standard tire that is safe to be used with sealant. Some UST and Tubeless compatible tires can be difficult to mount due to the shallow center channel
  • All tubeless set-ups share the “pop” sound that comes from the bead being seated when first inflated. It can be a little disconcerting  the first couple of times you hear it! Look for “UST,” “tubeless ready,” or “tubeless compatible” on the tire and rim’s label for the most dependable tubeless tire setup. Manufacturers may have their own acronyms as well so go to the source to verify if their system is intended for tubeless tire use.

Optimal Tire Bead Shape

  • Round

Wheel Brands

  • Quality Wheels with NoTubes or SUNringlé rims
  • SUNringlé

Rim Brands

  • SUNringlé
  • NoTubes

POS Add-On

Many mid- to high-end bikes come with tubeless tires, wheels, and valves in the manual bag, but have tubes installed for shipping. This is an opportunity to encourage a switch.  For customers who are still on the fence, remind them that a standard tube can still be used if sealant doesn’t fix a puncture.

Tubeless-Compatible Designators by Brand

  • Continental—ProTection Revolution Tubeless Ready (RTR)
  • Geax—Tube-No-Tube (TNT)   
  • Hutchinson—Tubeless Ready
  • Kenda—Sealant Compatible Tire (SCT)
  • Maxxis—Tubeless Ready (TR)
  • Michelin—Tubeless Ready (TL-R)
  • Panaracer—Tubeless Compatible (TC)
  • Schwalbe—Evolution (EVO)
  • WTB—Tubeless-Compatible System (TCS)

Geax and WTB 26 and 29" tires have passed the UST certification process for use with sealant.

Tips and Ongoing Maintenence

  • An air compressor is ideal for installation, but a good high-volume floor pump that can get a lot of air into the tire quickly will work well too.
  • Removable valve cores make installing sealant and initial seating of tires much easier.
  • Use a shouldered valve nut with the valve stem as it will lead to a more secure fit with the rim.
  • Match the rim tape width to the external width of the rim for the best results and seal.
  • Spray the tire and rim with soapy water to help seat the tire’s bead at a lower pressure. Even tires with tubeless-ready beads should not be inflated to more than 40 or 50 psi because excessive pressure can cause damage to the tire and rim.
  • Climate plays a factor in the lifespan of sealant. Cool and wet climates can allow for sealant to remain effective for as long as a year where a dry, hot climate might require you to add sealant every couple of months.

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