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