After successfully running tubeless tires on my Salsa Fargo for many miles, I have fully embraced the tubeless movement. I had only ONE flat on the entire 2700-mile Tour Divide last year, and that happened just 300 miles from Antelope Wells (the sealant held the puncture until 40 miles from the finish, when I finally threw in a tube). These days it’s actually hard to ignore the merits of “going tubeless.” Not only do you virtually eliminate flats, but you also get better traction and are generally able to run your tires at a lower pressure, allowing for a smoother ride over bumpy terrain.
So, naturally, when the Surly Ice Cream Truck came into my life, I wanted to run my Bud and Lou’s tubeless. Fat bikes are all about squishy tires anyway. Why deaden those monsters with tubes? But surprisingly, the tubeless movement hasn’t quite made it over to fat bikes yet! Granted, Surly is making a stab at the market with its brand spanking new Other Brother Darryl TR rims (right on!) but if you want to run 5” tires, like those of us with Ice Cream Trucks, you’ve got spend some serious time with your shoes off — Clown Shoes, that is (For the uninitiated, the Surly Clown Shoe is the name for the 100 mm rims that come standard on a stock Ice Cream Truck fat bike). Anyone who’s messed with tubeless knows what it’s like to wake up in the morning, having let a new conversion sit overnight only to find the tires flat. Ugh. The Clown Shoes were laughing at me.
After trying — and failing — with Gorilla tape (2” and 4”), regular duct tape, transparent duct tape, and then hunting in vain for a 24” tube (presta valve, removable core) to split for a “ghetto” setup, I had pretty much resigned myself to living with tubes. Then I got two flats within a couple weeks of each other. Both from thorns! If this bike is supposed to be “omniterra,” it can’t be getting skittish around thorns. I mean, that’s like an elephant being afraid of a mouse. In the immortal words of Matt Damon, I was going to have to science the $%*! out of this!
Through all my failures, I learned two key things about this particular tire/rim combo: 1) The bead will not fully seal unless the tape is completely rim-to-rim. Those bead channels need to be lined with tape. 2) Overlapping tape to span the full width of Clown Shoe “hundies” is just asking for leaks. Even 4” Gorilla tape is not wide enough to span the distance.
So, I needed to find some super-wide, super-watertight, super-sticky, super-flexible tape. And, my friends, I found it. It was just hiding. It wasn’t in the regular duct tape section near the paint isle, no, this stuff’s too good for that. It was buried in the back of the store with the REAL duct tape, next to the HVAC foil tape. It’s Nashua 6” Select Window and Door Flashing Tape! This stuff is the real deal, with butyl adhesive covered by a removable backing for easy application. And 50’ is only $20 to boot! About an hour later I had a properly tubeless fat bike to ride (And the tires are still holding air two weeks later as I write this post.).
Without further ado, here are the steps for setting up your Bud and Lou’s tubeless using the Nashua super-tape. Stick it Clown Shoes!
What you’ll need:
– Nashua 6” Select Window and Door Flashing Tape (of course)
– Two standard mountain tubeless valve stems with removable cores
– 16oz Stans (or similar) sealant and some sort of injector system
– Air compressor
– X-Acto knife
– About an hour