They’re expensive, high-maintenance and more likely to tear or blow but latex inner tubes sell a marginal gain that’s best for time trialling


Inner tubes loss right into two different types: latex and butyl. Butyl tubes are the default option for most of us and also are fitted as typical on the majority of bikes.

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They generally cost around £4-5 in most shops. Butyl tubes are made from fabricated black rubber, while latex tubes are made from the sap obtained from rubber trees.

This rubber is far even more breakable than butyl and also owing to even more time-consuming manufacturing, latex tubes are more expensive as well. Butyl tubes occupational fine, so why would you choose to go latex?

In a word, rate. John Heasguy, product promoter at Vittoria, the Italian tyre firm, states that a “traditional butyl tube adds roughly five watts per tyre” when compared via latex. Five watts can not sound favor much, yet over the course of lengthy rides or time trials, it’s significant.

To find out whether this was simply marketing I wanted to watch for myself, so I carried out an experiment: I fitted Continental Grand Prix tyres through and also without latex tubes, rode them on a collection of rollers, measured the power via a PowerTap G3 hub and also recorded the speed accomplished for a given power output.

How to readjust a tube, as soon as you need to

For consistency, the tyres were inflated to 100psi; each set-up was ridden at 280w for 5 minutes to permit it warm up, whereupon they were ridden at 300w for 5 minutes.

A constant riding place was kept on the hoods and also the weight of the bike and also rider was reordered prior to each test. Any slight distinctions in weight or power output were factored right into the final calculations.

The fit. papers were processed and also the inertia was corrected for each tyre. The outcome was that latex tubes were 5 to 5.5 watts much faster per tyre utilizing this methodology.

The results were continual via Vittoria’s claims and indicate that by using latex inner tubes you execute indeed have reduced rolling resistance, enabling you to travel much faster for the same initiative.

But, prior to we all go out and also blow our hard-earned, are there any type of downsides?

Yes — cost. Latex tubes commonly cost roughly £13 relying on the brand and also where you shop. The rubber can also be damaged/endangered by oils and also solvents. In my suffer, as long as you don’t go spraying WD40 around prefer its Febreze you’ll be OK.

Latex tubes are likewise more fragile, definition installing them is even more hard. The main trouble arises via seating the tube inside the rim and making certain it doesn’t gain recorded under the tyre bead.

If your rim tape is not properly installed, a latex tube is most likely to uncover its means right into tiny gaps, leading to it to tear. Namong this is a difficulty in tubular tyres.

Being thinner than conventional tubes they are a lot lighter, too; a Challenge latex tube hit the Cycling Weekly scales at 54g, compared via 109 for a traditional butyl tube.

However before, being thinner, Heasmale explained, “latex tubes are more susceptible to warm fluctuations and will likely blow out sooner than a butyl tube on heated rims through extended braking”.

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Bear in mind that if you are challenged via a lengthy, wet or particularly technical descent, you may have no alternative yet to drag the brakes.

Heasman points out that this is a potential benefit “through disc brakes, wbelow rim warmth is irrelevant”.

Loss of pressure need to additionally be considered with regards to latex as it is porous, definition air leaks out of it.

I tested this and also found that a 25mm tyre would go from 100 to around 85 psi overnight. This implies you should be ready to inflate your tyres prior to eincredibly ride.

Avoid punctures

Our take

For those utilizing clinchers, the most noticeable benefit is for time trialling wright here a five watt saving can be the difference between winning or losing. The threat of punctures continues to be the although this hazard doesn’t outweigh the gain for such a reasonably short time on the bike.

For everyday riding, yet, you might desire to count on durcapacity of a Butyl quite than the low rolling resistance of Latex, offering you a better chance of preventing that unavoidable puncture.

We ask the experts: Are latex tubes worth the hassle?

Yes: Jonathan Heasmale, product promoter for Vittoria

Latex inner tubes are faster-rolling than the constant butyl tubes used by many riders and are a lot more supple.

This allows them to absorb the bumps in the road and also flex around them better. As a consequence, the tyre is preserved on the ground even more than being bumped right into the air via a butyl tube.

For included versatility our TNT Pitstop tyre sealant works perfectly well through latex tubes. Some latex-based sealant manufacturers imply not to use their sealant in the latex tubes.

No: Mark Turner, Continental

For the pros we put latex tubes into our Competition Pro tubulars, but for consumers, there isn’t a latex tube that meets Continental’s minimum safety and security standards.

With hefty braking, such as while descfinishing, you have the right to cook the wheel rim and also high temperatures have the right to cause a latex tube to burst. Latex tube failure at 60mph could be life-changing.

As an alternative we sell a lightweight Supersonic butyl tube that is fifty percent the thickness of the conventional Race 28 tube and weighs simply 50g.