Can You Install an Inner Tube in a Tubeless Tire?

by Tom King
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A tire with a punctured sidewall or rim leakage can become difficult to seal. This can happen with car tires, bicycle tires, motorcycle tires and farm machinery tires. In some cases you can place an inner tube into a tubeless tire. In other instances it would be dangerous, and isn't advised.

Bicycle Tires

Tubeless bicycle rims might require modification if you want to install a tube into the tire. If your rim is damaged or you can't get a good seal, installing a tube can make your tire usable again. A tube can also make the tire more durable in very rough riding conditions. You might have to drill out the valve hole in the rim to make a bicycle tube fit. Be sure to use a file on the edges of the hole so it doesn't cut into the valve stem.

Motorcycle Tires

Most tubeless motorcycle tires will accept an inner tube, though you might have to drill out the hole for the valve stem for it to fit. When mounting the tube, be careful not to pinch it with the tire iron you use to reseat the tire. As you fill the tire, bounce it around it to even out the tube and prevent it from being pinched or snagged between the rim and the tire.

Automobile/Truck Tires

Do not install tubes into a radial automobile or truck tire. Most tubeless rims have a drop center. The drop center prevents the tube from making good contact with the tire. This can lead to damage to the rim or the sudden escape of air trapped beneath the tube and a drop in air pressure within the tube body. Tubeless tires have thicker sidewalls than tube tires. The inner tube helps support tube tire sidewalls, and this helps maintain positive contact between the tire and the inner tube. The stiffer radial sidewalls cause friction with the inner tube, and this can lead to failure of the tube or the sidewalls, and a sudden blowout while driving.

Lawnmowers and Wheelbarrows

Adding an inner tube to a lawn mower tire, garden trailer or wheelbarrow tire is relatively simple and can extend the life of the tire. Make sure not to pinch the tube with the tire iron as you reseat the bead. Fill fully, and then let all the air out again to seat the tube evenly. Then fill the tube to the recommended pressure.

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