Air Travel with Tubeless Tire Setup

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Cannoli
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by Cannoli

Hello All,

I travel quite a bit for work and try to bring my bike with me as often as possible. Nearly all my work travel involves checking by bike with the airline in a Buxom Box (amazing box for air travel if you haven't seen them). During travel prep, I drop the air pressure in my tires to less than 10 PSI, so nearly flat. With tubes, this isn't an issue. How do those who travel with tubeless setups manage this since there's sealant in the tires? I've haven't gone tubeless yet but have been considering giving it a try, but didn't want to have a second set of wheels just for travel if possible. Also, I tent to get flats when away from my home area, so tubeless may be the better choice overall?

Thanks for your input!
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spdntrxi
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by spdntrxi

you only need to drop psi by 20 and you should be good.
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nickf
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by nickf

I have flown with my tubeless setup several times. Usually around 30 psi and never had issues.

dftjunkie
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by dftjunkie

I have traveled with the Buxumbox and tubeless tire setup. I have only needed to drop the tire pressure to ~20PSI and haven’t had any issues


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BigBoyND
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by BigBoyND

Guys... atmospheric pressure is 14psi. If your tire is at 80psi and you take you bike up to the moon, even then it would only increase the pressure inside the tire by a relative 14psi to 94psi.

You don't need to let out any air unless you've got them pumped to max labeled pressure.

TobinHatesYou
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by TobinHatesYou

Also the cargo hold, just like the cabin, is pressurized to the equivalent of 7000-8000ft elevation.

BenCousins
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by BenCousins

Cannoli wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2023 1:51 am
Buxom Box (amazing box for air travel if you haven't seen them)
At 15kg looks very easy to go over the common checked baggage allowance of 23kg?

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Cannoli
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by Cannoli

All,

Thank you for the feedback. Only dropping by a few PSI makes sense. I may give tubeless a go.

@BenCousins, the weight depends on which box you have. My wife's comes in under 50lbs (the limit before added fees) every time. I pack some tools so mine is a little heavier, but with the amount of travel I do, my limit is 70lbs before added fees. My bike generally fly's free as well as I get two bags free.
Canyon Aeroad CFR Di2 | Canyon Ultimate SLX 9.0 Di2 | Trek Domane SL5 Disc (Gravel Bike / Fly-Away Road Bike) | Orbea Tera H-30 Disc (Touring Bike)

Hexsense
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by Hexsense

Yeah, pressure increase by 14 or 20 psi isn't a big deal unless you are talking about mountain bike where max pressure is like 30-40psi and people regularly run it at 17-24psi.
In that case, make it a bit soft is a good precaution.

usr
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by usr

BigBoyND wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2023 7:42 am
Guys... atmospheric pressure is 14psi. If your tire is at 80psi and you take you bike up to the moon, even then it would only increase the pressure inside the tire by a relative 14psi to 94psi.

You don't need to let out any air unless you've got them pumped to max labeled pressure.
It's not about the tire being able to hold on the moon or not. It most likely would, even if inflated to max labeled.

It's about what happens when against all odds it does blow anyways, pressure delta or not, perhaps because your cat decided to start playing with the wheel just before packing or whatever. The unknown unknowns. It's about the reactions that would follow if that gunshot-like bang happened mid-air, or (perhaps worse?) in an airport environment. I reduce pressure not only to add safety margin, but also to reduce impact in that extremely unlikely case (and to be able to reply not only truthful but also polite when they do ask at check-in, which is rare but happens). I aim for a pressure where the tire would still rationally protect the rim from impacts if it wasn't inside the case. For typical TL pressures (e.g. not my stupid 25mm TL experiment which will never see enough wear to age out because it's a front tire), I'd release some air just to mentally check that box, but very little.

CampagYOLO
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by CampagYOLO

Assuming that your destination has a pump, what's the harm in letting out some air in the tyres?

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Cannoli
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by Cannoli

CampagYOLO wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2023 5:40 pm
Assuming that your destination has a pump, what's the harm in letting out some air in the tyres?
I'm not sure if this was directed at my original post, but if so, my question had to do with sealant leaking past the bead if there wasn't enough pressure in the tire due to deflating for air travel.
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Nick38
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by Nick38

BenCousins wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2023 12:39 pm
Cannoli wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2023 1:51 am
Buxom Box (amazing box for air travel if you haven't seen them)
At 15kg looks very easy to go over the common checked baggage allowance of 23kg?
Different allowance for sporting equipment. I travel with my bike and with box all my kit and other bits n bobs it's regularly 28-30kg :thumbup:

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Mr.Gib
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by Mr.Gib

Cannoli wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2023 1:51 am
Also, I tent to get flats when away from my home area, so tubeless may be the better choice overall?
No one addressed this part of your inquiry. Something to think about - what does away from home area mean? If you will end up deep in the mountains with no chance of a taxi or other support in the event of puncture that doesn't seal, even with plugs, will you be able to deal with it? Can you get the tire off the rim to insert a boot and tube? I've had a few that mounted normally but that would not come off, even in my shop with all manner of tools - had to be cut off. This may be a worst case scenario, but I would not venture too far from support unless I new for certain I could get the tire off. The problem is a freshly mounted tire may come off, but one that has been in place for a while might not be so willing - they seem to get glued in place by the sealant.

And then there is the issue of re-seating a tire. Even with an inner tube, a hand pump might not get the job done. I have had many tubeless tires that need 100 psi+ to seat, even with an inner tube and lots of soapy water. Bottom line is you don't want a fit that is too tight.

And finally, if you have never run tubeless, my advice would be to switch over asap, not wait until you are away from home to learn all the fine details.

FWIW I run tubeless on three out of five bikes, but will only travel with clinchers for the reasons stated above. But granted my travel has me regularely in places with zero chance of rescue. Perhaps another approach would be a tougher clincher.


Cannoli wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2023 6:34 pm
I'm not sure if this was directed at my original post, but if so, my question had to do with sealant leaking past the bead if there wasn't enough pressure in the tire due to deflating for air travel.
It is possible that if a tire goes completely flat, the seal can be broken, and while sealant can leak out, a bigger risk is the sealant drying up if the tire is left flat for a period of time
wheelsONfire wrote: When we ride disc brakes the whole deal of braking is just like a leaving a fart. It happens and then it's over. Nothing planned and nothing to get nervous for.

CampagYOLO
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by CampagYOLO

Cannoli wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2023 6:34 pm
CampagYOLO wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2023 5:40 pm
Assuming that your destination has a pump, what's the harm in letting out some air in the tyres?
I'm not sure if this was directed at my original post, but if so, my question had to do with sealant leaking past the bead if there wasn't enough pressure in the tire due to deflating for air travel.
That'll only happen if the tyre unseats. If set up properly and with the right equipment, the tyre shouldn't unseat even if completely deflated.

As Mr Gib states, there's a higher risk of the sealant drying out.

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