At ~4kg the 36’er wheel is one big old flywheel. Feels great when it’s spinning, but it’s the sort of thing that encourages you to mess around usually looking for ways to loose weight towards the outside of the wheel as well as improving ride.

Loosing weight is often done by fitting a smaller tube, cutting tread, drilling rims, wheelbuild, etc. When it comes to loosing weight AND improving ride there aren’t too many options — Go tubeless! With my 36’er wheel being rebuilt (by Andrew at Kaos Custom Bikes) due to my geared hub being MIA it was a good opportunity to give tubeless a go.

All things being equal the weight saving tubeless vs a running a 29’er tube is pretty much the same. I compared the weight of my complete tubeless 36’er wheel to the complete drilled 36’er wheel I have on loan (which is running a 29’er tube and also has trimmed tread). The wheel with the 29’er tube is slightly lighter — add back in the weight saved by drilling the rim and trimming the tread and it’s close to the same, especially considering the tubeless could run lighter with less sealant goop in the tire.

As almost all of my 36’er riding is offroad (and I’m not a big guy by any means) I usually run a Nightrider/29’er tube combo fairly low at 35-40 psi, which even then can feel too stiff.

Gone Tubeless
Gone Tubeless

After today’s first off road ride on the tubeless 36’er my first impression is that at an equivalent pressure (35-40 psi) the ride feels nicer vs a tubed tire. Hard to pin down exactly what ‘nicer’ means – supple, livelier, springy? I hope to do some back to back tests of both wheel setups using my other 36’er before it sells.

Tubeless 36'er
Tubeless 36’er

Uni Bitch wasn’t meant to come out on today’s ride. I stopped briefly after leaving home to take a photo and there she was coming up the trail… Noooo! She’s not as fit these days and did it tough, luckily there were a few puddles for her to cool off in.

Uni Bitch
Uni Bitch

With the days of my 36’er GUni over — when the Schlumpf hub returns it will go into my 24 — I was short a hub to rebuild the 36’er wheel so used one of the new KH09 hubs. Some of the new hubs have polished flanges but I prefer the all black look.

Kris Holm 2009 Hub
Kris Holm 2009 Hub

I’m easily amused by weird signage in the forest 🙂

Protection from what... or who?
Protection from what… or who?

Running the 29’er tube was never much of a hassle but if the tubeless setup — which offers a comparable weight saving AND ride benefits — proves to be reliable it’s a no brainer. If not, it’s back to the 29’er tube.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how the tubeless 36’er goes over the coming months. If it goes ok, I’ll probably convert the 24 MUni to tubeless too.

9 Responses

  1. I hope to get my wheel converted to tubeless this weekend. How much weight does it save (compared to normal 36″ tube)?

  2. @Mark the wheel builder commented on noticeable reduced strength of the double drilled rim while putting the wheel together. ATM I think the double drilled Stealth rim would probably be ok for road only use, I’m not sure about long term off road use. While it’s definitely a hoot to be able to try it out (thanks to UDCA) it’s not something I would’ve done myself – tubeless or the 29’er tube is enough for me.

    @Matt the weight saving worked out to be pretty much the same as running a 29’er tube. Can’t say in grams exactly as I chopped up my 36’er tube a while back to use for other things 🙂

  3. Hi Pete,

    Looking forward to hearing the outcome of your tubeless experiment. I’ve read stuff on the forums about the conversion in the past, but haven’t gotten around to making it happen. Did you get Kaos to do the conversion? If not, was it a pretty straightforward process?? I was contemplating getting it done soon, but i just brought my 36er over west with me, so i’ll have to hold off until I am back on the eastern seaboard. I’m going to take the 36er over to Rottnest Island next week for a few days of cruising by the seaside, should be a hoot!!!

    The 24″ GUNI sounds like it’ll be a monster!!!! Any idea of a ETA on your hub?


  4. According to the scales I saved about 600 mg from 36″ tube to tubeless. I had doc Blue (liquid latex stuff, like slime) in the tube and used a tyre liner.

    Haven’t done much riding yet but it seems to turn easier. I should be giving it a decent run tomorrow, will let you know how it goes.

  5. Sorry, I meant to say I saved 600 grams.

    I had a pleasant ride out on the Warby rail trail today. The wheel felt much faster and easier to ride. I am no where close to being as fit as I when I last rode the trail but still managed to get a fairly quick time (5 hrs and 15 mins). That includes stopping at Cog cafe twice for coffee 🙂

    I will try some more challenging rides over the next couple of weekends to really put it to the test. Should be interesting to see how it goes on the blacktop.

  6. Hey cool Matt, good ride! My tubeless 36’er is going great too, got into some good trails and wild weather the other day

    The standard 36’er tube is just way too heavy and kinda pointless IMO. Hope at some point in the future there’ll be lighter weight 36’er wheels including rim, tube and tires. For now though, the 29’er tube or tubeless is the trick!

  7. I headed up the Black Spur (Maroondah Highway) today. The lower tyre pressure felt a bit sluggish compared to what I’m used to initially, plus I kept thinking I had a flat 🙂 Overall I managed to get a decent average speed for the day for a road that is fairly challenging so I am pretty happy with the results so far. I will have to ride it on some roads I am more familiar with to compare it properly.

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