Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Modern Day Tube

Tubolito products received for test and review.
 Tubes in bicycle tires. Anyone who has ridden a bicycle knows about those rubber hoops inside the tires. It is one of those things only bicyclists really know about, and then not all bicyclists know about them. (I am consistently amazed by riders who do not know they have tubes in their tires.) 

I remember when I was between bicycle mechanic jobs. I worked on cars at an auto repair shop for five and a half years. When I first started the job, my boss was amazed when I mentioned something about tubes in bicycle tires. He said, "You guys still use tubes?", in an incredulous tone of voice. 

Yeah.....we still use those things! And they can be the downfall of a good ride, a race, or your commute to work. Even if you run tubeless, you probably have a spare tube tucked away, you know, just in case. I doubt bicycle tubes will ever go the way of the dinosaur, but one thing is for sure- they have changed.

I think it was the late 90's when I first saw a butyl rubber alternative for a bicycle tube. It was touted as more puncture resistant, lighter than butyl rubber tubes, and that it would be longer lasting. One caveat- You had to buy the exact size to fit your tire. Apparently these were not very stretchable tubes. Subsequently the idea did not go over well, although I had a 16" one around for years as a spare for my Burley Flat Bed trailer. 

That was that. It looked like butyl rubber was going to be the king forever. Then a few years ago I heard about these Tubolito things. I checked them out in a news story I saw, probably on "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News". Hmm.... Little orange rolls with an erotic looking nipple capped in black. Weird. They reminded me of those failed plasticky clear-ish tubes from the 90's. I saw the price and gulped. What! Over 30 bucks for a tube! To pack as a spare? Ah........hard pass. 

But then the marketing dude for American Classic tires sent out a few samples of the new models that are hitting the roads now and with them he stuffed in a few Tubolito products. (See Standard Disclaimer page) So, since I try to be open-minded, (but I don't always succeed in that), I figured I better check this deal out again. I went to their site and poked around a bit. there is some compelling evidence there as to why anyone might want to use one of these, not just as a spare, but to actually ride with. Okay....I'll check it out then.

They are still pretty spendy though. 

More soon.....


DT said...

Looking forward to your review! I have two of them, to carry as spares on my tubeless MTB's, but have not unfurled or aired one up yet.

MG said...

I’ve been packing Tubolito tubes as spares for a while now. They’re pretty cool, but won’t be replacing my tubeless setup for ‘daily driving’.

Scott said...

Excited to hear your thoughts on these! I had the same reaction to the price. I recently read that Jan from BQ used latex tubes on his Oregon Outback FKT. He stated: "No flats – otherwise, 26 minutes total off-the-bike-time wouldn't have sufficed! I ran latex tubes for a little extra speed over tubeless."

Guitar Ted said...

@MG, @Scott - Yeah, if you go to the Tubolito site there is some data there showing that the Tubolito is not as good with rolling resistance as tubeless, but a latex tube is right there with tubeless for rolling resistance.

But then you go to look at the air retention charts and latex tubes? Oh my! You're loosing significant psi on a long ride to the point I'd think you'd want to air them up at- say midway during a century ride.

Crazy stuff.... Thanks guys!