Himalayan: Tubliss Troubles in Western Sahara

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Chris S, May 10, 2019.

  1. Chris S

    Chris S Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2004
    Oddometer:
    310
    Location:
    UK and around
    I have not read every last Tubliss thread or post here but like many, I’ve been experimenting with tubeless spoke wheels for years for all the obvious reasons.

    I reluctantly fitted a Tubliss to the stock front wheel of my Himalayan for a month’s ride in Morocco. In the time I had, it was that or the stock tube (which have proved to be pretty crappy). On returning, I planned to do the same as I'd got done to the rear – fit a safety bead Excel (hard to find in 21) and either DIY or get it commercially sealed.
    I added Slime, as I always do. Good thing with bright green Slime is it acts as an early warning for leaks.

    [​IMG]

    All was good front and rear (Anakee Wilds @ 2 bar, road or trail) until a few days in I noticed Slime oozing out round the Tubliss (red cap) valve body. I suppose that meant air was getting past the core/rim interface and the Slime wasn’t sealing it. Don’t know if getting up to 10,000 feet may have had an effect, but it was near-freezing up there too, so pressure changes would have balanced out, more or less.

    [​IMG]

    After a brilliant few days in the High Atlas ticking off new routes, down in the desert it was hotter and I wasn’t having a good day.
    I’d taken a slightly wrong turn, dropped the camera @ 30mph, but I did manage to buy some village fuel near the Algerian border (essence = fuel in French).

    [​IMG]

    I must be overdue to check the Tubliss core off a powerful forecourt air hose. But, as things go out in the grubby hinterlands, against 100psi the old UV-perished hose purged way more air than it put in. Now I was concerned my Tubliss core had gone critical, so I gave it a couple of minutes of CyclePump. Was it too much? Was it not enough? Another problem was I needed to press the CPump valve thread clip nozzle on by hand as it wasn't a good seal. Brass screw-on would be better, even with the brief air loss.
    Next, I realised my slider-type TP gauge didn’t go anywhere near 7 bar (100psi).
    Darn. Didn’t think of that. Next time it’s the bulkier CyclePump EZ Air gauge.
    It’s 10 times easier to read, anyway.

    I was testing the new Michelin TPMS. Highly recommended when dicking about with untried tubeless conversions. But, because this was a bad day, that mysteriously chose to pack up (I’m a TPMS convert anyway).

    [​IMG]

    Cue fretting about the state of my Tubliss core.
    An edgy ride to the next town, 100 miles down the road where I succeeded in topping everything up.

    I was heading into the desert for several days – 1100km with just 1.5 towns on the way.

    [​IMG]
    #1
    nk14zp likes this.
  2. Chris S

    Chris S Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2004
    Oddometer:
    310
    Location:
    UK and around
    I tried this route a couple years back on a WR-R
    but when push came to shove, I decided it was too sketchy alone.

    [​IMG]

    So this time I met up with 2 mates in a 4x4.
    Despite the relentless 24/7 gale you get this time of year, things were going well.
    The route is very long and desolate, but technically easy – as is most Sahara riding away from dunes.
    But as we know, on a bike it takes just one lapse in concentration.

    [​IMG]

    We were following an old Dakar Rally stage from 1995.
    Because many tracks criss-cross the area since to Moroccans took it over, the rally route had been marked with what I call ‘Dakar mounds’ – two piles of dirt either side of the track every kilometre or so. If you’ve not seen a Dakar mound for a while you’re probably on the wrong track.

    [​IMG]

    A few days later, just 100km from a fuel cache we were aiming for…

    [​IMG]

    … and in very much the middle of nowhere, the front went flat. It was the Tubliss core. Maybe I should have Slimed it too.
    In the very windy conditions, fixing it all up reliably (including cleaning out the Slime) for what lay ahead, was too risky. I had to be back in Marrakech in a week for a tour group, not stuck out near the Mauritanian border with tyre troubles. I had all the plugs and bits to fix tubeless, but no spare tubes. Tubliss was a proven system and the beaded rear Excel wasn't like my former DIY bodges.

    We’d not passed a car on the piste for two days, but as so often happens in the Sahara, a grizzled Saharawi nomad in a thick wooly bournous popped out of nowhere with his ancient Series III Landrover pickup. Hamdullah, Just what was needed!

    [​IMG]
    #2
  3. Chris S

    Chris S Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2004
    Oddometer:
    310
    Location:
    UK and around
    This is a former Spanish colony so he didn’t speak French and I couldn’t get him to understand: “moto + landrover > layounne” [next big town], pointing at each in turn.
    He seemed to suggest there was a village nearby where I could get fixed up (I bet these old LRs still run inner tubes). But of course with Tubliss it isn’t as simple as that, is it.

    I tried again: ‘“Amigo! moto + landrover > layounne” this time adding “+ dirhams!” [money], but to no avail.

    It was 250kms to Layounne and chances are he’d never been there, nor ever wanted to go (Saharawi + Morocco is bit like Tibet + China)

    [​IMG]

    We decided to return to a highway we’d crossed about 25 clicks back and think again.
    We’d seen an excavator there digging a pipe trench. Just as we arrived a pickup pulled up:
    “Salaam. Moto > Layounne?”
    Nope.
    He’d just come to take diggerman to lunch.

    We had a snack ourselves and considered the options.
    • Wait for a suitable vehicle.
    • Hijack the excavator’s arm and delicately lower the bike onto the 4x4’s roof rack
    • Car drives to Layounne in search of a tube. Bit of a gamble and best not split up.
    Amazingly there's a phone signal. I text a guy in Marrakech:
    "21 inch? Layounne? Maybe. A 19 will work".
    • Remove the front wheel and lash the forks hard against the 4x4s rear bumper.
    Not sure we had enough tie-downs to do that properly.

    Then it occurred to me that, provided I’d braked and cornered gently, on the dirt the Him had actually been quite easy to ride, like a run-flat tyre.
    It seems that the bulk of the deflated Tubliss core, possibly helped by its rim lock, kept the Michelin on the rim.

    [​IMG]

    I decided to try it on the road, keeping down to 30mph so as to not overheat the tyre. Amazingly it worked. Many, many boring hours later, we rolled into Layounne or El Ayoun, capital of WS.

    [​IMG]
    #3
  4. Chris S

    Chris S Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2004
    Oddometer:
    310
    Location:
    UK and around
    Next day I tracked down a cheap 21-inch tube and bought a spare. This was quite lucky. The only bikes out in WS are Chinese scooters and 125s.

    [​IMG]

    I didn’t bother inspecting the Tubliss. After 250 clicks it was pretty mashed up and the valve had been pulled out of the tube. Maybe before the flat, maybe not.

    [​IMG]

    It took a lot of scrubbing to properly clean out the Slime which had by now congealed into a thick, sticky paste. You don’t want that rubbing up against a paper-thin tube.

    [​IMG]

    All fixed up, we headed back north up the Atlantic Highway.
    With time to spare, at Tarfaya (Cape Juby) we visited the museum of pioneering Aéropostale aviator, Antoine de St Exupery. He was stationed here in the 1920s.

    [​IMG]

    Cape Juby in its heyday.

    [​IMG]

    The Aéropostale routes. The planes back then needed to refuel every 250 miles or so and as you can see, the sea shore was the primary navigation aid of the day.

    [​IMG]

    My replacement tube punctured a few days later, by which time I was riding alone again. Luckily there was a shady tree and a lump of brick nearby. This is why we like tubeless.

    [​IMG]

    Even though it was just a 15-minute ride from where I was staying, the bike was unrideable above walking pace which proves the Tubliss really did help the tyre run flat. Good to know but I won’t be using it again. Since then I’ve managed to find some safety bead 21-inch Excels.

    I wrote it years ago when I first fitted Tubliss on a GS500R: Tubliss is not necessarily suited to long-range overlanding (they don’t claim it is).
    In the real world the need to maintain the core at 7 bar+ is not always realistic.

    Some pics by Cozmo & Mark.

    [​IMG]
    #4
    mrsdnf, B10Dave, Deuce and 6 others like this.
  5. NewEnglandHimalayan

    NewEnglandHimalayan n00b

    Joined:
    May 19, 2019
    Oddometer:
    8
    Location:
    New England
    awesome story
    #5
    Chris S likes this.
  6. KneeDrachen

    KneeDrachen Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,391
    Location:
    Northern Maryland
    What is your feeling on the Himalayan as an overland traveller? Daily commuter?
    #6
  7. Chris S

    Chris S Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2004
    Oddometer:
    310
    Location:
    UK and around
    As a travel bike, near perfect for what it is.
    Hard to believe when you look at the specs, but it works for me.

    As a commuter, it’s qualities would be wasted - any old hack or a scooter will do.
    #7
    NewEnglandHimalayan likes this.