What is a Tubeless Tire Sealant and How Do I Use Them?
A tubeless tire sealant is a fluid used to seal a tubeless or tubed-type tire without the use of a tube. Tire sealants can make a tire "tubeless" by sealing the inside of a tire as well as seal any small holes in the tire and imperfections in the casing or at the bead. Unlike previous tubeless systems, once a tire sealant seals the inside of a tire, it will not lose air. Many tire sealants have chemicals in them that make them unfriendly to certain tires and rims so it is very important to check with the tire and rim manufacturers to find out if their products can be used with a specific tire sealant.
Why, When and Where would I use a tubeless tire sealant?
The biggest benefit of a tire sealant is that it can greatly reduce the chances of getting a flat. In fact, about the only way that you can flat a good tire puncture sealant system is to cut a substantial hole in the tire or significantly damage the rim. There is no tube to pinch and punctures from thorns and small debris are easily repaired by the tubeless tire sealant.
Less flat tires the increased flat protection allows the use of lower air pressure, which provides a big increase in traction and lower rolling resistance in most cases. Four-wheelers already know that dropping air pressure in your best tire sealant products can create massive gains in traction but it is imperative to follow the tire manufacturer's recommendations for tire pressure so you don't go too low. In addition, a tire that is very firm from running high air pressure will rise and fall with every bump and hole on the trail while a tire with less air pressure can mold to the terrain better, absorbing and rolling over obstacles easier while providing better traction.
Comparable Weight Reduced weight over a standard tubeless and a tubed tire system was one of the benefits that was claimed early on with the use of tubeless tire sealant. However, the difference in weight can be negligible and even heavier depending on the system. While some riders may think otherwise, the most important benefits of a tire sealant is to reduce the chance of a flat while providing better traction and that is what should guide you when choosing a tire and wheel combination. That doesn't mean you need to accept an overweight setup as there are plenty of lightweight tubeless designs on the market.
All tubeless tire sealant can be used for all types of trail riding on all types of terrain. Although a few tire and rim manufacturer have made great improvements to the tire bead and rim interface, many aggressive riders racing mountain cross and downhill tend to shy away from tubeless systems because they can "burp" air during extreme use, meaning the tire can be pulled away from the rim and allow some air loss; this is usually only experience during extremely hard cornering situations. For trail riding, however, the benefits of a tubeless tire sealant can be fully realized, especially with the latest rim and tire technology available that directly caters to this type of system.