If you've ever ridden tubeless tires, you probably know that the little details matter in creating a reliable setup.
Whether you think tubeless tires are only appropriate for mountain bikes, use them only in cyclocross training, or rely on them to finish fourth at CrossVegas or in the top 12 at Worlds, reliability in your setup puts a lot of pressure on your oft-neglected tubeless valve.
Despite their small stature, there are several details of tubeless valves worth considering. Each represents a potential area for failure. We've heard them all before, and experienced most of them:
- Sealant leaking from the rim's valve hole due to an ill-fitting rubber grommet
- Clogged valve cores
- Stuck nut preventing valve removal when you want to insert a tube out on the trail
- Broken valves during pumping, or while removing a pump head
- Valves that sit taller than rim beads
- Difficult tire seating due to restrictive bore diameters
- Lost races due to heavy, non-color coordinated valves
Okay, maybe we've never heard or experienced the last one, but we won't diminish the confidence a touch of color or shedding a few grams might offer a details-obsessed racer.
Sure, tubeless valves come in different materials, lengths and colors, but even bore diameters vary greatly, which can impact the speed and volume of the blast of air from your compressor or charging pump.
Thankfully there are several companies working hard to address the other issues, and today, for Mechanical Monday, we're taking a close-up look at some tubeless valve options from Slime, American Classic, Boyd and a new design just released by Orange Seal. See the slideshow below.
American Classic Opens Wide, Bites Gently
American Classic often takes a different approach than most companies when designing a cycling component. Examples of the company’s innovative and unique approach include the company’s candy cane-like seatpost and cassette freehub Steel Face that prevents gouging.
The company’s $14 alloy tubeless valves have a few unique features, including a low-profile alloy opening that opens wider than most rubber grommets. The wider opening seems to help a bit in preventing clogging when used with fibrous sealants and offers a bit less resistance during inflation without valve cores when compared to narrower bore valves and tall rubber grommets with narrower openings.
Below the opening, the company uses a fat O-ring that easily contours to many rim shapes for an air-tight fit. In our experience the O-ring fits most rims.
The company also has an optional contoured plastic spacer that provides a flat surface for the tightening nut on deeper aero-shaped rims and protects carbon surfaces from being gouged by a metal nut. The spacer is a nice touch, but it’s worth noting that it does take up a bit of length that could be needed on deeper rims.
The American Classic tubeless valves come in 36mm and 46mm lengths, and are sold in pairs. Both retail for $14.
More info: amclassic.com