19 April 2011

SIP Tubeless Rims: 6-Month Review

Almost six months after starting to use a pair of SIP tubeless rims on a daily basis, I can safely say that I've come to a few conclusions. First, there's the convenience of the whole thing or specifically, the lack of it. Everything's all fine when things go to plan but when there are problems (i.e. punctures), nothing beats the old split rims for convenience.

Maybe I'm just a bit old-fashioned but with the standard split rims, once recovered from a puncture, all that one would have to do is to get themselves a new tube and the whole wheel can be re-assembled in the comfort of home. No hassle. With the tubeless combo, unless there's the right equipment at hand (or you're this dude), a puncture would basically mean a visit to your local garage, dealer, bike shop, etc.

Of course, not wanting to give up that easily on my scootering investment, I got myself some Slime Tire Sealant. Slime won't theoretically save a tire if a 6-inch rusty nail decides to get acquainted with it but for the odd shard of glass, thumb tack or other nasty object that might lie in waiting on a road near you, the tire sealant should be just fine. Hopefully, this €15 investment should save me a couple of trips to the scooter dealer.

That's that negative point sorted but there's another issue that I realised on one of my regular online window shopping visits to SIP - the spare wheel. When the question was raised on the site's forum, I initially thought it was quite silly. Surely, if the tubeless rims were meant to fit the Vespa's standard hub, they should also fit on the PX's spare wheel holder under the side panel.

So, do they fit?

Yes and no. The standard split rims are 2.10 wide while the tubeless ones that I have are the 2.50 x 10 variety. The wider profile which is intended to make tubeless tire-fitting a lot easier, has the disadvantage of restricting the rim from being fully inserted into the spare wheel holder's designated studs. I tried to do this on the normal (valve outwards) side and on the reverse side as well but unfortunately, it didn't work on both attempts.

The good thing is, by placing the wheel on the reverse side, the wheel actually sits into place, supported by the Vespa's battery. The wheel still can't be properly secured to the two studs but with the side panel on, it would still be possible to get around with a spare wheel if needed. I tried this myself and spent around half a day going around town in start-stop, city centre traffic without any problems. I was expecting weird sounds from the loose wheel under the side panel but didn't hear a thing. It might be a problem at higher, motorway speeds though. Obviously, not an ideal solution and not to my liking but still, it's good to know anyway.

Thinking about it again, I bought the tubeless rims primarily for two reasons - the added safety it offered and the bling factor (especially with the polished aluminium ones that I bought). On both counts, the rims delivered so, although the issues mentioned above are a bit annoying, I'm viewing them as part of a getting used to process for an all-new way of scootering, for the moment.

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