How to Tell if a Bike Tire is Tubeless or Not? You Asked—We Answered!


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It often occurs to many bikers that while purchasing a used bike they do not have an idea of whether it has tubeless tires or not.

“One of the easiest ways to check whether a tire is tubeless or not is to check what kind of valve the tires possess. More precisely, it also depends upon the number of times you get a flat tire while riding your bike.”

But, that’s only the tip of the iceberg!

We are going to dig a little further to differentiate different types of valves to check whether a bike tire is tubeless or not. Let us get right to it

How to Tell if Bike Tire is Tubeless or Not?

Whenever you purchase a used bike for mountain biking from a local seller, it’s important to know the minor details of it to get away with any scam or fraud.

One of the issues that many bikers have to face is they cannot tell whether the bike has got tubeless tires or not. According to our experience and research, you can check a tubeless tire of a bike in the following ways:

Ask the Seller

The very first and most basic thing to do is to ask the seller about the overall specification of the bike as well as its tires. If the seller confirms that the tires are tubeless, you should ask him about the brand of tires he has installed on the bike.

If the seller does not know whether the bike tires are tubeless or not, better get away from such a deal as the bike is probably stolen.

Check the Tire Valve Stem

It could occur to many bikes that their tires are tubeless, however, there might still be a tube inside them. In that case, Carbon Side Up from Bike Stack Exchange says that one should focus on looking at the valve stem of the bike.

The user makes the following assumptions based on how the valve stem might look like and its relation with a tubeless tire:

  • The valve stem (Presta) of a tubeless tire is mostly secured with a proper lockring, thus making sure that there are no sealant residue or leaks while you ride the bike.
  • Tires that come with a Presta valve might have a silver lockring or no ring at all. Wheels with such valves mostly have a tube present inside them.
  • Last but not least, wheels with a Schrader valve are likely to have a tube as a tubeless setup rarely use this kind of valve system.

Based on these three assumptions, you can easily know whether the tires of a bike you are about to purchase are tubeless or not. The user also says that these assumptions may go wrong, but according to him, they are true in almost 95% of the cases.

Take an in-depth look at valve stems below.

Position of the Valve Stem

Another way of seeing whether the tires have got tubes or not is to check the position of the valve stem on the wheels.

That said, tires that have tubes have a valve that directly gets inserted into the tire’s rubber. You can use the valve to inflate or deflate the tires accordingly.

In the case of tubeless tires, the valve is usually installed on the rim rather than the rubber plus it’s sealed with a lockring. That’s another easy way to check whether the bike has got tubeless tires or not.

Google the Model of Tires

Modern Problems Require Modern Solutions! Based on this meme, you can check the tubeless quality of the tires easily.

Simply check the tire sidewall and see whether they are marked with anything like TR, TL, or UST.

Find other details of the tire and put them in the Google search bar. It will have enough info to show you whether the tires are actually tubeless or not.

Flat Tire Problem

Last but not the least, if the tires go flat frequently, that means they are not tubeless. Detach the rubber part from the rim and you will most probably find a tube inside the tires.

Keep track of the number of times your tires get flat or punctured and if it’s more frequent, then you, my friend, are not using a bike with tubeless tires.

Here’s a discussion on Tubeless and Tube Tires you’ll find helpful.

Bikers Also Ask:

How do you know if you have tubeless bike tires?

Identify the valve stem on the wheel and if it is Presta sealed with a lockring, then it would certainly mean that the tires are tubeless. Other than that, if the valve goes into the rim rather than the rubber, it would also substantiate the claim of the tires being tubeless.

Last but not the least, check the sidewall of the tires and see whether they are marked as TL (tubeless) or UST (Universal Standard Tubeless). These are some of the ways to know if the tires are tubeless or not.

My bike is getting flat tire problems frequently. Is it tubeless?

The tires are most probably not tubeless if you are getting flat tires or instant punctures on a frequent basis. Better dismount the rubber and you will find a tube laying inside the rubber.

What are the benefits of going tubeless?

Bikes with tubeless tires remain inflated and maintain their air pressure for a long time. On top of that, bikers will face low flat tires and instant puncture issues while using tubeless tires. In the end, tubeless tires require less maintenance compared to tubed tires.

Final Takeaways

Checking a used bike from every angle and perspective is important for you because you are about to purchase it with your hard-earned money.

When it comes to checking the tires, simply follow the tips we mentioned above and make your evaluation based on it accordingly.

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Written By

From riding to school since the age of 13, attending BMX races and events with his dad to himself conquering 50+ trails across the globe. For Rob, his Giant Stance 29 2 2020 is the friend that makes everything better. He is also a proud member of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

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