How To Install Tubeless Tires in 5 Steps

Pro bike mechanic Robbie Ferri walks you through his process for setting up tubeless tires

Photo of author
Written by
reviewed by Rory McAllister

Tubeless tires are a fantastic solution for preventing punctures and improving your riding experience.

First popularized for mountain bikes, they’re now very common for gravel and road bikes too, as cyclists realize the benefits of the lower pressures and increased puncture protection offered by tubeless tires.

They have very few drawbacks, but what puts many cyclists off is the fact they don’t know how to install tubeless tires.

As a bike mechanic and a huge advocate of tubeless systems, it’s worth learning how to run through this process. It’s very simple when you know how, and there are loads of little tips and tricks we can tell you.

In this step-by-step tubeless tire installation guide, we are going to be telling you everything you need to know, discussing:

A close up of a tubeless tire.
© Robbie Ferri/BikeTips

What Equipment Do You Need To Install Tubeless Tires?

Let’s start with what you are going to need when it comes to how to set up tubeless tires.

Although most people think it’s just tires and tubeless sealant, there’s a little more to it if you want to make the job easy and do it properly. Here’s what I recommend and what to look out for.

Tubeless Ready Wheels

To install tubeless tires, you need tubeless-ready wheels.

Modern wheels are mostly tubeless-ready, but if yours aren’t, you will need to install a tubeless kit onto the rim, which means replacing the rim tape to seal the spoke holes.

Tubeless Tires

Then, you will need tubeless tires. I highly recommend going for a reputable brand of tires. You will find some cheap tubeless tires from unknown brands, but I would recommend avoiding these and opting for well-known brands such as Continental or WTB instead.

Tubeless Valves

Tubeless valves are also required for a tubeless setup. These are like the valves you will find on inner tubes but without the attached rubber tube and an extra gasket. They will have an outer valve stem and a detachable inner core.


The sealant is a key part of a tubeless setup to create and maintain an airtight seal.

Not only does it seal the tire to the rim, but it also can fix small punctures and help you run those much lower pressures when you’re out enjoying the trails and the roads. 

Tire Lever

A tire lever will be required for the removal of the old tires and possibly the installation of the new tires. Using a larger tire lever with a thick handle will help.

Valve Core Remover

The valve core remover helps us remove the sealant from the bottle and put it straight through the valve. These often come inside the sealant kits. If not, a pair of pliers works, or you might find one on a multi-tool.

Boost Pump (optional)

A boost pump isn’t essential, but will make the job of setting up tubeless tires much easier.

This is a pump with an extra chamber that you can pressurize the air inside and release it all in one go. You can often do it with a normal track pump, but it can be difficult to build air pressure in the tire quickly enough, especially on road bike tires.

Air compressors are also an option, but boost pumps are what I’ve found to be the most straightforward and user-friendly.

Allen Keys (Optional)

If you are using thru-axles, you might also need an Allen key to release the ear wheel. If you are using quick-release wheels, you can just use your hands. 

Bike Stand (Optional)

You don’t need a bike stand, but it will make the process much easier. A stand is an important piece of equipment for any cyclist. If you don’t have a stand, you can flip the bike upside down.

Photo showing all the equipment you'll need when learning how to install tubeless tires: a tubeless rim, tire, pump, sealant kit, valves, tire lever, sealant kit, and a cloth.
© Robbie Ferri/BikeTips

How To Install Tubeless Tires in 5 Steps

Now for the exciting part: how to set up tubeless tires!

Step #1. Remove The Wheels And Tires

Start by getting your bike in the stand or flipping it upside down. Then, remove the wheels from the bike and deflate the tires using the valve. 

Once deflated, take the tire lever and remove the tire from the rim. Be careful not to damage the tubes, as you can keep these as a backup in case your tubeless setup gets a large puncture, provided they are in good condition. 

Step #2. Clean The Rim And Insert Valve

Inserting a tubeless valve into a tubeless rim.
© Robbie Ferri/BikeTips

Next, it’s worth taking the time to clean up the rim on both wheels.

I use a cloth to do this and a little bit of water. Drying it off after you are done is important, as you don’t want the sealant to mix with any water. If you need to use a tubeless rim tape kit (i.e. your rims aren’t tubeless-ready), you should install it now. 

Once everything is clean and dry, it’s time to insert the tubeless valve. You will need to insert the valve from the inside of the rim and then, on the other side, add the rubber gasket and lockring. Make sure it’s nice and tight.

Step #3. Add And Set The Tire

Using a boost pump on a tubeless valve.
© Robbie Ferri/BikeTips

Now it’s time to add and set the tire. Put the tire on as you normally would, one side at a time. Don’t worry that there’s no sealant in there just yet.

You might have seen some people add the sealant now, but I think it’s better to insert the sealant through the valve later, especially on road tires.

Once the tire is on, you need to get some pressure in.

Some cyclists find that a regular floor pump, worked hard and fast, will be enough to do the job. If that’s all you have available, then it’s certainly worth trying as your first option.

However, sometimes the air just leaks out without setting the bead, and there’s not a lot you can do to get it to work. Spraying some soapy water around the rim bed can help the tire bead slip into place, but if not, this is where we need the boost chamber of a boost bike pump.

Fill the boost chamber, then when you have some pressure in, hit the release, and the air should pop the tire on the rim.

Once on, keep inflating until it is seated all around the rim. It’s best not to go above the maximum PSI on the side of the tire.

Step #4. Insert The Tire Sealant

Inserting sealant into a tubeless tire.
© Robbie Ferri/BikeTips

Next, we need to add the sealant, which means deflating the tire again (it should remain seated on the rim now that the bead has been set). Undo the Presta valve and then push it down until the air has come out, making sure not to let the tire come off the bead.

Then, take your valve core removal tool and undo the core in the valve. Turn it anti-clockwise to remove it. Once removed, put it somewhere safe, then pour the sealant down the valve hole using the bottle or provided hose.

Installing a valve core.
© Robbie Ferri/BikeTips

The amount of sealant you should add will depend on the tire size you’re using. I’d recommend checking out this guide for suggested sealant amounts for different tires.

Once the sealant is in, install the valve core again and then pump the tire back up to a fairly high tire pressure (though still below the tire’s recommended maximum printed on the sidewall).

Now, spin the wheel to help that fluid reach all the spaces it needs to and fill any microscopic holes in the tire. 

Step #5. Install The Wheels Into The Bike

Pumping up a tubeless tire.
© Robbie Ferri/BikeTips

Now, it’s time to install the wheels back into the bike. Once in, give the wheels another good spin round so the sealant can be set more easily. I highly recommend now, if you have the time, going out for a quick ride while they have lots of air in.

If you don’t have the time to ride the bike now, there’s a strong possibility that within a day, the tires might lose air. If they do, pump them up and get out riding. You really need to get the tires moving for them to set properly.

Now you know how to install tubeless tires!

My 3 Top Tips And Tricks For Tubeless Tires

Tubeless tires are very different from clincher tires with inner tubes.

Whether your background is in MTBs or road cycling, there’s much to learn if this is your first time equipping your bike with them. I have been lucky enough to have been using them for years and learned some amazing tips and tricks along the way.

Here’s what you need to know!

1. Plug Kits

If you get a puncture that doesn’t seal itself on a tubeless system, then use a plug kit instead of getting a tube in.

These kits have small rubber pieces and a tool to insert them into the tire. They will save your ride, and then when you get home, you can repair the tire.

2. CO2 Canisters

CO2 canisters are what many people use to pump tires up to full pressure quickly, but they have another great use. If you get a flat tubeless tire and it comes off the bead, you can use a CO2 canister to put it back on again.

3. Sealant Top Up

Finally, remember to top up your sealant every few months, or if you lose a lot through punctures small punctures or leaks.

I have often made this mistake and needed to put a tube in. Although it might seem like a waste of money, adding more makes such a big difference to the tire’s life.

Photo of author
Robbie has traveled the globe as an endurance athlete and bikepacker, breaking world records and competing in international ultra-cycling events such as the BikingMan series and the Transcontinental Race. He's also worked as an ambassador for some of the industry's leading names, including Shimano and Ritchey. If Robbie's not on a bike, he's either fixing them or out walking with his dog!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.