I need some advice. I have an inordinate fear of snakebite flats. So, even though I now ride on 32s, I still inflate to 70 psi. I know your answer is tubeless. But, I keep thinking if I do flat with tubeless, doesn’t the sealant make a big mess if I have to install a tube to get home? I’m wondering if you think Schwalbe Aerothan polyurethane tubes would be a good way to cut my psi by 20 for a softer ride? They are supposed to greatly reduce the chances of a pinch flat. Any thoughts?
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Well, you are correct. I would say tubeless is a great option if that is your fear. How many times have you gotten a snakebite flat (rim pinches the tube between the tire and cuts slices in the tube that looks like snake eyes, aka pinch flat)? I try to weigh my options by looking at the amount of time ridden versus the number of occasions. Like flat tires while using ultra-thin race tubes versus regular tubes, it’s about 75 percent, so to me it’s not worth it.
Thinking back to the last time I got a snakebite (pinch flat), it was a double whammy and I double flatted. I was actually doing my best to hold onto Phil Gaimon’s wheel when he narrowly missed a chunk of dislodged concrete. I hit it square on, and it nearly put me over the bars, but by some miracle I saved it and even held my place in the echelon. About one minute later I was left sidelined with two flats.
Long story short, the situation that got me there was probably more dangerous than the actual flats, and no matter the pressure, it would have resulted in the same outcome. Next, the number of times I have had this happen on the road is so low, I can’t even calculate it, so I wouldn’t let it define all my road miles.
With that said, I would like to remind you that, even if you went tubeless, you could still get a flat from the same type of rim strike, but it is rare. The rim could strike the tire hard enough and cut a tire. With or without a tube, this is more likely to happen if you have a narrow rim. Tire construction also has a lot to do with it, so something as simple as a more robust tire can minimize risk.
While the polyurethane Aerothan tubes look interesting, we have not tried them. Knowing that even without a tube it could cut a tire, I don’t think a $35 tube will make enough of a difference to validate the cost. In all honesty, I think you have the right idea with the larger-volume tire and experimenting with lowering 1–2 psi increments at a time. I’m not sure how much you weigh, but if you are around 150 pounds, the recommended pressure is about 50 psi on a measured 32mm tire. Also, for comparison, the TyreWiz app tops out at 300 pounds, and on a 32mm tire, it says 58 psi is a good starting point.