The tubeless transition: Where the rubber meets the road

Now that I’m finished with the tubeless conversion, running American Classic Timekeeper tires on H Plus Son The Hydra rims, how has the riding been?

Before all that: One thing I will say is that the rubber used on these tires…stinks. Literally. While not overpowering, it reeks mildly of cat poo with scent notes of dead cockroach. It’ll gas out and go away after a while, and it’s not an issue when you’re riding, but it’s worth noting lest you sniff around your yard right after opening these tires’ boxes, looking in vain for wayward cat droppings. Consider your noses warned.

The Timekeepers are meant for tubeless-compatible rims with hooked inner walls, as evidenced by their maximum pressure rating of 85 psi. As per the ISO and ETRTO, the maximum pressure limit for hookless or “straight side” tubeless rims is a full 12 psi lower; these tires explicitly won’t work with those. That said, for my first few rides, I inflated them to that lower 73 psi limit. I wanted to compare them to my Continental Grand Prix tubed clinchers, which comprise the lowest-tier German-made clinchers from the company. I run those at 80-85 psi.

I had some apprehension over going tubeless. The main concern is a phenomenon humorously referred to as “burping,” but its occurrence is anything but. In essence, burping is a failure of the seal between tire bead and wheel rim, resulting in partial or total loss of air. If you’re running low pressures like you do on a mountain bike or cyclocross bike, burping may not be as big of a deal, but on a road bike with much higher pressure, the consequences are much more severe.

The apprehension went away within the first kilometer of riding, though. That bead-to-rim seal I worked hard to attain just held solidly as I rode, straight and leaned-over turns alike. If anything, the Timekeepers seem to hold air pressure better after I took them out for an initial ride. Two days after first mounting them, there was quite a lot of pressure loss overnight on the rear tire before I rode the bike, dropping to 13 psi from about 80. However, about six hours post-ride, both tires are very reassuringly solid still, eventually losing less air and reading 45 psi the next day. That might have been the sealant doing its job and further permeating into the tire after the ride.

Granted, tubeless tires may never be as airtight as a tube and clincher combo, with more spontaneous pressure loss over time than with tubes, but if you stay on top of your tire pressures this shouldn’t be a problem.

I’m a sucker for tan sidewalls. These look pretty good. The Timekeeper branding blends in too well though.

Even with their positioning as American Classic’s “best” road tire, at $35 (PhP1,825) apiece, I feel the Timekeepers are a value proposition first and foremost, which is why the similarly priced Conti Grand Prix tires serve as a handy benchmark. I have to say the Timekeepers perform quite well against them. Grip is good, taking care of the many kinds of broken road surfaces around my village loop – even short stretches of legit gravel. Riding the Timekeepers tubeless at 73 psi front and rear allows for a slightly plusher ride without compromising on response.

It’s still early days for these tires but they are looking – and working – quite good indeed. Perhaps I could revisit testing them with less air pressure, or subject them to the dusty surfaces that Continental’s road bike rubber seems to hate.

Just don’t sniff too hard when you take them out of their boxes, perhaps.


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