Face Off: 2 Totally Tubeless Wheels

Tubeless tires are finding their way from the dirt to the street.

Tubeless tires are finding their way from the dirt to the street. These two wheel brands offer easy-to-set up systems that let you run your tires at far lower pressures than a traditional clincher-plus-tube setup. Translation: Better traction, puncture-resistance, and comfort.

Knight Composites 50 TLA Wheelset; starting at $2,400 (w/ Schwalbe Pro One 25c tires, sealant); 2240g (w/ tires, sealant, skewers)

What: The TLA (tubeless aero) rim is Knight’s answer for every rider who has shed blood and tears dealing with tubeless tires in the past. Through a partnership with Schwalbe, Knight has designed this rim specially for Schwalbe’s industry-leading Pro One tire. A deep channel and hookless rim profile boasts twice the sealing surface as traditional rims, and the rim promises ease of setup and extraordinary aero qualities.

Pros: Lightweight? Yes. Aero? Yes. Tubeless? Yes. Easy to set up? Yes! The wheel ships as a kit from Knight complete with everything you need to get on the road. Nothing is surprising about the install, except that you can set these up with a floor pump. Tight tolerances between the tire and rim mean you don’t need the firepower of an air compressor to seat the bead—nearly doubling the zoom power.

Cons: While the setup is straightforward, there were a couple of hiccups. Though everything is included in the box, the TLA still requires wrapping the tubeless tape, installing the valves, and stretching the tire. While this likely won’t phase an experienced home mechanic, it is not an entirely straightforward process for newbies.

This is for: Triathletes who want a lightweight, aero-optimized system.

Mavic Comete Pro Carbon SL UST; $1,800 (w/ Yksion Pro 25c tires, sealant); 2390g (w/ tires, sealant, skewers)

What: A truly complete wheel system designed from the ground up to be “easy, safe, and fast.” Mavic tested and measured current offerings of tubeless tires for diameter and stretch and rims for bead seat diameter. They found that rims tend to be too big and tires too small. Without a standard, the industry tended toward safety, sometimes making tires impossible to install rather than potentially dangerous. The approach behind the UST line is to create a standard with precise tolerances resulting in a reliably easy, safe setup.

Pros: It is astounding how quickly and easily these set up. They come with the tubeless tape, tire, and valves pre-installed. All that is left is to dump some sealant in (also included) and inflate them—even with a hand pump. You’re off and riding in a matter of minutes.

Cons: With simplicity comes limitations. The Mavic-branded Hutchinson tires are great, but until the industry adopts Mavic’s UST standard, the Yksion Pro UST is the only tire designed to work seamlessly on this rim.

This is for: Triathletes looking to ride right out of the box but who aren’t married to a different tire brand.


Mavic went all the way with this wheel system by creating a standard that will hopefully influence the industry to follow suit.