Design & DIY

How to inflate a tubeless tire

Man seals tire by using rope like a tourniquet Photo by Liam Mogan

You’re revisiting your wheelbarrow after winter’s repose, and its tire is flat, so you probably hook up the old bike pump to do its pneumatic best. But that may not work if the tire is tubeless. The valve is fine, and there’s no puncture, but the tubeless tire still won’t inflate. Do you feel like strangling it? To stay inflated, a tubeless tire relies on a good pressure seal between the tire and the rim.

Cold-weather contraction can cause a tire to lose air pressure and leak from the rim. But since the tire needs pressure to seal, how do you fill a soft tubeless tire? You have to compress the tire against the rim, and that’s almost easier done than said. Wrap a ratcheting tie-down strap around the circumference of the tire, and tighten the strap to give enough pressure at the rimtire junction to let you pump in some air. Once the tire is holding air, loosen the strap, and fill the tire. No ratcheting strap? Rig up a tourniquet with some stout cord and a stick to twist it tight.

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