How do tubeless motorcycle tyres work

Earlier this year, we sent UK Brand Manager Graham along to meet with the team at Bennetts to help produce a complete guide to motorcycle tyres.

You can read the whole article here – but if you just want to know how a tubeless tyre works then read on…

In simple terms, the difference between a tube-type and tubeless motorcycle tyre is a single layer of material which sits on the inside of the tyre’s carcass.

All the materials selected for use in your tyre are about balancing grip, flexibility and durability. When it comes to motorcycle tyres, the ideal mix of rubber is actually porous, and will slowly leak air.

Fitting a tube was the easy way to get round this, with the tube using a completely different mix of rubber that was able to contain air much better without having any real detrimental effect on the overall performance of the tyre.

The only issue with using a tube is that once punctured, it loses air very quickly, and this typically escaped through the spoke holes of your motorcycle wheel. Of course, rapid deflation is not ideal on a tyre fitted to any vehicle, especially a motorcycle traveling at speed.

The tubeless tyre was created predominantly with safety in mind, and designers added a layer of tube material to the inside of the tyre carcass to improve it’s ability to hold air on it’s own. This simple yet innovative idea also reduced weight.

A tubeless tyre can still be punctured, but it is often the case that the foreign object remains stuck in the tread and the tyre deflates much more slowly. The adoption of cast wheels also means that spokes are often not required, so the wheel and tyre become a sealed unit.

Bike manufacturers like KTM have also developed a tubeless system for their spoked rims, which led us to develop the tubeless TKC 80 for the 1190 Adventure R in late 2013.

Rather than manufacturing tubed and tubeless tyres in the same size, most manufacturers now only produce a tubeless version. It can still be fitted to a tube type wheel, but a correctly sized tube must also be used. The only downside to this is that it increases the weight of the overall wheel assembly, which can generate more heat which will increase the wear rate of the tyre.

If a tyre stated ‘Tube Type’ on the sidewall, it will not have that tubeless liner, and an inner tube must be used.

You can view our Complete Guide to Motorcycle Tyres at Bennetts.co.uk.