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Road Tubeless gets puncture

Hutchinson's Atom Road Tubeless tyre is lighter than the Fusion 2

Hutchinson Fusion 2 Tubeless 700×23 £34.99

It is only to be expected that, as tyres get ever more resistant to punctures, they will tend to suffer said penetrations under ever more extreme conditions. Which is exactly what happened to our Hutchinson Fusion 2 tubeless road tyre. Impressed by previous imperviousness to the most aggressive flints and other hazards to tyres, RCUK took a pair to Scotland for the Braveheart Ride.

It rained, hard and horizontally, thanks to a driving wind that took us to the farthest point on the route rather sooner than was comfortable. Shortly after turning back into the wind, we headed down a narrow semi-flooded lane that turned out to be a dead end just as I tried to ride through a wide puddle. Lurking in its depths was a pothole, the edge of which bit hard into the hitherto invulnerable carcass of the rear tyre.

Impressively, it took several seconds to deflate and stayed put on the rim having done so. However, as my erstwhile companions disappeared back down the lane, I quickly realised that I was going to have to fit an inner tube. Since I don’t like getting sprayed with liquid latex (as has reportedly happened to one tubeless road tyre user) I had eschewed the installation of Hutchinson’s liquid in favour of carrying a couple of spare tubes as per usual.

Before I could fit one, I had to get the tyre over the rim, which was easy enough. Then came the real challenge; remove the tubeless valve. Easier said than done; not only was the knurled valve nut wet and cold, but I was rapidly getting chilled by the rain drumming away on my back. Lesson one: do not over-tighten the nut. With one last supreme effort, I loosened it and removed the valve before fitting a new inner tube, pumping it up and riding away.

It really was as easy as that. Obviously, once a tube is fitted the claimed advantages of tubeless technology no longer apply and, worse, you are riding on a tube in a tyre heavier and thicker than a conventional clincher. Prior to that, however, you did have any advantage there might be. Furthermore, repair is almost as quick and easy as with a normal clincher and the tubeless tyre would appear to offer, as claimed, a safety benefit in terms of staying on the rim and slow deflation even in the event of a near-catastrophic impact. Given the extensive damage to the carcass, I suspect a conventional tubed clincher would have burst on the spot. The robust construction of the tubeless tyre carcass meant that not only was it rideable afterwards but there was no bulge nor need to boot the inside.

Having travelled several hundred miles before this without even a cut, Hutchinson’s tubeless Fusion 2 has undoubtedly impressed on the puncture front.

More on its performance coming soon.

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