Our choice of tires plays a significant role in the overall comfort of our bike tires. I prefer tubeless bike tires for more traction and pinch flat prevention. But one question I often get from fellow bikers who want to go tubeless is, “can I put a tube in a tubeless bike tire?”

This article will answer the question to help bikers who contemplate whether they should try tubeless bike tires. I will also provide a comparison between tubeless and regular bike tires.

You can put a tube in a tubeless bike tire as its rim is compatible with tubes. The process involves removing the tubeless valve and installing the inner tubes. Placing the tube will be challenging as the sealant of the tubeless tire is sticky.

What Are The Benefits Of Tubes In Bike Tires?

Many mountain bikers prefer tubeless bike tires as they are lighter and have lower rolling resistance. Such bike tires do not puncture easily, making them ideal for trails with many obstacles. However, this fact does not mean that going tubeless can eliminate the likelihood of a flat tire.

If your bike tire leaks air, can you put a tube in a tubeless tire?

Can I Put A Tube In A Tubeless Bike Tire?

A tubeless bike tire can still operate well if you install a regular inner tube. Having a spare inner tube is an ideal backup plan in case your tubeless tire acquires too much damage for its sealant to handle. However, your inner tube has to correspond to the tubeless tire’s rim size for the installation to be possible.

It is also essential to note that installing a tube in a tubeless tire is challenging. A tubeless tire has sealant inside, which is responsible for plugging small holes and preventing air leaks. This sealant is very sticky, making the inner tube installation challenging.

Moreover, you can get benefits when you put a tube in a tubeless bike tire. (source)

Tubes In Bike Tires: The Benefits

Fast and easy repair

Punctured tubed bike tires are fast and easy to fix. If you have a puncture repair kit, you can stop air from leaking out of your tires in minutes.

Using inner bike tubes is less expensive.

You can install an inner tube to any bike rim and tire as long as their sizes fit. So, you no longer need to purchase any new bike parts if you want to put a tube in a tubeless bike. Even replacement bike tubes and tube repair kits are budget-friendly.

For this reason, running tubes is generally cheaper than using a bike with tubeless tires.

Tubes maintain the shape of the tires.

Tubed bike tires run on high pressure. So, the air inside the tires maintains their shape, allowing them to roll smoothly. It is also ideal to put a tube in a tubeless bike tire if you like making your bike jump and land multiple times. (source)

Installing a tube into a tubeless tire
Installing a tube into a tubeless tire

Are Tubeless Bike Tires Better Than Tubes?

It is common knowledge that tubed bike tires work perfectly well but are outdated. Today, more bikers are riding tubeless, an innovation that significantly improved bike tires. But before going tubeless, it is essential to understand whether or not tubeless is better than tubed bike tires.

Avoiding pinch flats

As mentioned, tubed tires run on high pressure. This fact makes them prone to pinch flats, which happens when a trail obstacle and the bike rim squeeze the tubed tire forcefully, thus causing a tear. If your tubed tire has a puncture, you must stop your adventure to fix it.

Meanwhile, tubeless tires have sealant inside, automatically fixing tire punctures and preventing air from leaking.

Improved air retention

A tubeless bike tire has a thin inner lining. This lining limits how much air pressure pushes through the tire. As a result, this lining enhances a tubeless tire’s air retention.

Better ride

Tubed bike tires require high pressure. So, they are more likely to bounce when you come across trail bumps. While high-pressure tubed tires are not a problem, constant bounces and shakes can be uncomfortable. 

Meanwhile, tubeless bike tires run on a lower pressure than tubed tires. For this reason, there is more contact between the ground and the bike tires, resulting in better traction. (source)


Learning about Mountain Bike Tires could take years. Let me help you just a bit quicker with some articles.


How Fast Do Tubeless Tires Lose Air?

Gradual tire air loss is inevitable even if you put a tube in a tubeless bike tire. In addition, a tear is not the only reason your tubeless bike loses air. If your tubeless tire lacks sealant, air will escape through the tire’s pores.

The amount of air bike tires lose differs from one tire to another. However, most tubeless tires generally lose 0.5 to 1.0 pounds per square inch (PSI) per month, given that your environment has a temperature of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The higher the ambient temperature, the more air your tubeless tire will lose. (source)

Tips for installing tubes in bike tires
Tips for installing tubes in bike tires

4 Tips For Installing Bike Tubes

Installing a tube in a tubeless bike tire is a task every at-home bike mechanic can do. Below are four tips that ensure a successful bike tube installation:

1. Use a tube that is one size smaller than the tire

A compact bike tube is easy to install in a bike tire. It also ensures that there is less crowding inside the tire. For this reason, it is ideal to use a bike tube one size smaller than the tire where you want to insert it.

For instance, if your mountain bike has a 2-inch tire, using a tube that measures 1 ½ inches is ideal.

2. Inspect the tube before installation

It does not matter if you are installing a new tube or not. Inflating the tube and checking whether or not it has a hole is crucial. This way, you can ensure that the tube is in perfect condition once you insert it into the tire. You do not want to install an unchecked tube only to find out that it has a hole, right?

If you are lucky, the tube will be in perfect condition upon checking. But if not, you may hear a hissing sound, which indicates that air is escaping somewhere.

Air may also leak without making any sound. In this case, submerge the tube in water. If the tube has a hole, it will form bubbles once submerged.

3. Inflate the tube before inserting it into the tire

Inflate the tube right before you install it into the tire. This way, you can remove the tube’s wrinkles, making the installation much more manageable. Inflating the tube also gives it strength, making it easy to push inside the tube.

4. Reinstall the tire by hand

While tire levers make installation easy, it is better to reinstall your tire to the bike rim manually. The reason is that tire levers can pinch the tube and tear it. (source)

Keep Spinning Those Bike Tires

Putting a tube in a tubeless bike tire is ideal if it acquires a tear that its sealant cannot fix. A bike tube requires less maintenance, as you do not need to add sealant to it from time to time.

Installing a tube in a tubeless tire increases its weight. However, it also maintains the tire’s shape despite a significant air leak.

But if you want your mountain bike lightweight, running on tubeless is better than using tubed bike tires. Tubeless bike tires are also ideal for avoiding pinch flats.


Looking for Some More Ways to Help Your Bike Last


David DIY MTB

David Humphries is the creator of DIY Mountain Bike. For me a relaxing day involves riding my mountain bike to decompress after a long day. When not on my bike I can be found wrenching on it or making YouTube videos at 👉 DIY Mountain Bike Read more about David HERE.

Sources

  1. Chris Nodder. The Little Book of Bike Boo Boos – How to Fix Your Mountain Bike When You Are Miles from Civilization. Lulu.com, 2008. https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=nl3yzBTqxsEC&pg=PA19&dq=can+i+install+a+tube+in+a+tubeless+bike&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj075qNkfj7AhUMmlYBHYZAA3wQ6AF6BAgDEAI#v=onepage&q=can%20i%20install%20a%20tube%20in%20a%20tubeless%20bike&f=false. Accessed December 12, 2022.
  2. Todd Downs. The Bicycling Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance & Repair for Road & Mountain Bikes. USA: Rodale, 2005. https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=fftA2KvI7x0C&pg=PA58&dq=how+to+install+a+bike+tube&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi37abmgvj7AhXTrVYBHanwCvUQ6AF6BAgLEAI#v=onepage&q=how%20to%20install%20a%20bike%20tube&f=false. Accessed December 12, 2022.
  3. Gent, A. N., & Walter, J. D. (2006). Pneumatic Tire. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/232669607.pdf#page=8. Accessed December 12, 2022.
  4. R. N. Dodge, S. K. Clark, M. Loo; Pressure Loss Mechanisms in Pneumatic Tires. Tire Science and Technology January 1, 1985; 13 (1). https://doi.org/10.2346/1.2150984. Accessed December 12, 2022.