The pros and cons of tube or tubeless scooter tyres

Written by tom lutzenberger
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The pros and cons of tube or tubeless scooter tyres
Vespa scooters come with three tyres, two attached and one spare. (Vespa Scooter Seat image by Billy Tait from Fotolia.com)

In cars and motorcycles and even bicycles, tubeless tyres tend to be the standard. However, for scooters, debate exists as to whether tubeless or tubed tyres are safer, easier or better to use. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, and sometimes the choice boils down to personal preference.

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Tubeless benefits

Tubeless tyres basically leak and deflate when they have a puncture or loss of air. There is no catastrophic loss of air. This in turn leads to a more controlled stop at speed, which can be critical on a two-wheeled vehicle travelling at 96.5 kph (60 mph). Tubeless tyres are becoming the standard on new scooters, thus their production will continue for some time to come. Tubeless tyres don't require any inner tubes, so minor replacement costs are avoided.

Tubed tyre benefits

Tubed tyres are easier to manage and maintain. A spare tube can be easily packed in a glovebox or on the back of a scooter, and repairs can be made on the side of the road in about 20 minutes. Unlike tubeless tyres, tubed tyres on scooters tend to come with split wheel rims, making the process of removing the damaged tyre and tube much easier.

Longevity and performance

There are no statistics showing one type of tyre performing ahead of another in longevity. Both will fail when punctured or used far beyond their recommended lifespan. In fact, maintenance guides generally recommend tyres and tubes be changed after a year of heavy riding or every ten thousand miles. Pricing differences for tubed versus tubeless tyres hinge mainly on the inner tube itself. Manufacturers still produce a sufficient supply of tubed and tubeless tyres, and both kinds can be readily found at most motorcycle stores or by catalogue order.

Negative considerations

Tubeless tyres represent more of a challenge for the do-it-yourselfer. Tubeless tyres generally come installed on a one-piece wheel rim, and their installation can be very difficult, as the tyre bead comes very tight from factory. Tyre levers and a bit of brute strength can be required to get the tyre onto the rim properly.

The major downside of tubed tyres is that they suffer sudden deflation when punctured. This can cause significant control loss, which can lead to an accident.

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