Ebike tubeless information


Local time
4:14 AM
Feb 5, 2024
Hello, I am not seeing a lot of info on this subject, beside people explaining what it is. I went tubeless on a 24.5lb Carbon Yeti years ago, was one of the best "upgrades" I had ever done. Zero pinch flats (obviously), zero trail flats, less weight, it was win/win. I know decent trail Ebikes are relatively new but I would think someone is working on this. Getting rid of the 6 lbs of rubber spinning in your wheel would be a massive boost to power and mileage. I know it would be a little work, new rim hoops and re-threading the spokes, but that seems like a small price to pay for such an improvement in performance. Anyway, I would love to know if anyone has gone tubeless or has info on someone who has.
If the rims are not tubeless compatible then you are going to have your work cut out for you. A great many ebike wheels are not and that is going to be a dealbreaker for most setups. I have tried the 'fattystripper' product (no I did not make that name up) which is designed to make a tubed-rim tubeless-compatible and considered it a 90% success... which is another way of saying 10% failure.

Tubeless rims and tubeless-compatible tires are much more difficult to deal with than tubed tires: They should form an airtight seal from the get-go without even putting sealant in. So generally MUCH tighter than a traditional bike tire.

And that tubeless compatibility on the rim means the rim typically has to be welded. Ebikes generally have pinned together rims. Leaking from the sidewall area at that pinned edge is a common problem that tubeless rim tape can't help you with.

Tubeless is something you should know what you are up against before trying it. On an ebike with a motor, the reduction in unsprung rotating mass is nowhere near as noticeable as it is on an analog bike, which takes away much of the benefit of tubeless. Also tube sealants have come a long way in recent years and a tube with a modern sealant in it can give years of flat free service. Remember also that tubeless sealants excel at plugging teeny holes like thorns like you find on trails, but thats not the same thing as nails, steel shards and broken glass. A sealant like Stans or Orange Seal is water-thick and not going to be so great at the bigger stuff.
I have had tubeless tires on my MTB's for over 10 years, would never go back to tubes, I am used to the extra work involved with sealing the beads and using sealers. I have had screws, nails and other foreign objects embedded in my tires and the sealer worked fine until I could pull out the object and insert a plug. I agree, they do have to hold air without any sealer from the moment they are mounted. I have seen a few tubeless hoops for ebikes, was just wondering if anyone has had any experience with them. I am curious about your statement concerning rotating mass. Can you show me the data on that? I realize because the system is motorized you may not feel the difference as dramatically as with a regular bike, but you would think the enrrgy savings would still be significant (I should not have said the difference would be massive). I know on my Tacoma, I was running BFG T/A KO's for years, then switched to a lighter tire. The difference was big, better acceleration and better gas mileage. The tubes in ebike are very heavy compared to regular bikes, I assumed the change in rotating mass would be similar to the tire swap on my Tacoma.
I run tubeless on my non-e fat tire bike. Yes, some rims are more tubeless friendly that others, but most can be made to work with it. The key is taping rim bed so that it is air tight around the spoke holes and making sure any weep holes in the rims for water has been covered with tape.

More can be learned over at MTB Review and in their Fat Bike section.

As far as energy losses are concerned, they are two fold: 1.) the tube itself increases rolling resistance as it must deflect as the wheel rolls around from the 12 o'clock to 6 o'clock positions. 2.) The added weight really impacts inertia. It's like a flywheel, it takes more energy to accelerate the spinning of the heavier wheel/tire combo and similarly takes more braking force to slow it down. The degree energy lost is likely in the 10's of watts per tire on flat ground and increases as one goes up hill.