How to set up kids tubeless tires and wheels?

how to install tubeless tires

Tubeless tires have become standard for most mountain and gravel bikes with the technology now filtering down to kids bikes. The war on flat tires is being won and kids are able to experience a lighter rotational weight wheel.

The Prevelo Zulu Three and Zulu Four mountain bikes come equipped with tubeless wheels and tires. And don't fret parents, with little to no experience, it won't take much time at all to set up your child's wheels and tires tubeless.

bicycle tire tubeless sealant


What is tubeless?

Most of you will be familiar with the old style clincher tire/rim system that uses an inner tube. It has been the most common system for years. But this does not mean the system is air tight. In time, air is lost through the rubber or latex tube and through the inflation valve.

The idea with the traditional system is that when the inner tube is inflated, the bead of the tire is pressed against the rimwall securing the tire. It's an easy system to use and relatively easy to maintain.

Contrasting the traditional inner tube system is tubeless compatible tires and rims. This “tubeless” system is able to hold air pressure without the use of a tube. The tires on a tubeless system are installed the same way as a traditional clincher system. Common types of tubeless systems are known as “tubeless ready” or “tubeless compatible.” The tires themselves are often denominated with such markings on the sidewall. 

bicycle tire sidewall marking


Tubeless systems are airtight thanks to a very tight seal at the bead with a tubeless ready rim/tire, taped rims, tubeless valves, and tubeless sealant (a latex-based fluid). The tire/rim interface is made to have very tight tolerances and the fluid seals the porous casings of the tires to prevent air leakage. Further ensuring integrity of the system is the rim tape covering the spoke openings and preventing air leakage. The sealant can also aid small punctures by sealing any cuts or holes immediately. A tubeless valve is also needed for the system in order to inflate the tires and maintain a proper seal.

Why tubeless tires for kids?

Tubeless systems are usually lighter than traditional clincher systems. This is of course beneficial for kids as the lighter the overall weight of the bike, the better. A tubeless system further lightens rotational weight at the wheel which enables the kids to be more efficient while pedalling. It's easier for kids to get the wheels moving and easier to maintain the wheels moving with a tubeless system.

The other benefit with the kids is you can run lower tire pressures for mountain bikes which means added traction and grip. This is attainable because a tubeless system is not as easily flatted as a traditional clincher system with a tube. You reduce the chance of a pinch flat whereby the tube is pinched against the sidewall of the rim. It is possible to pinch flat a tubeless tire system but you would have to have a hard impact to cut the tire sidewall itself. This is not very likely for lightweight kids.

Installing and maintaining a tubeless system

While it can seem like a complicated task, installing a system does not take that long and with experience you will find out some tips and tricks to help the stubborn tire/rim combos.

Tools/materials you will need:
  • Pump (to inflate tire)
  • Valve Core remover (for the stubborn tires)
  • Tubeless or Gorilla tape (if rims not already pre-taped)
  • Tire levers (to mount tire to rim)
  • Tubeless Valves (if not provided)
  • Tire Sealant

Step 1: Check your tires and rims are ready for install

  • Rims should be properly taped with no holes, gaps or peeling
  • Re-tape rims with any inconsistencies
  • Ensure tubeless valves are properly installed and tight with the nut that threads onto valve (the valve seals at the inside of rim when tight)
install tubeless tire valve

    Step 2: Mount tires and add sealant

    Mounting tubeless tires is essentially the same as with a tubed system. If necessary, use some plastic tire levers to help the tires on to the rim. The one difference is you want to add sealant just before you slide the second side bead over the rim. Directly pouring the sealant into the casing is the easiest way to add the fluid.

    Step 3: Inflate tires

    remove tire valve core

    You can often inflate a good tire/rim combo with just a floor pump. When you do run into stubborn tire/rim combos, there are a couple tricks.

    • Using a valve core remover, remove the valve and secure pump to achieve more air flow. Once seated, remove the pump (it's ok if the tire deflates as it will remain seated) and re-install the valve core. Re-inflate tire with installed valve core.
    • Another way to achieve more airflow to seat the tire is the use of an air compressor or reservoir pump (special hand pump for seating tubeless tires).

    Step 4: Maintaining the system

    Very little is needed except the top up of sealant. When you notice the system is starting to lose a bit of air, it's time to pour some more in. Simply unseat a bit of the tire and extend over rim with tire levers, add some more sealant, re-mount tire and re-inflate. Alternatively, you can inject sealant through the valve by removing the valve core and thus only needing to deflate/re-inflate the tire.

    Below is a quick little video from our friends at The Bike Dads demonstrating the install process.