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Experiences with TPU tubes?

Old 05-14-21, 07:46 AM
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gauvins
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Experiences with TPU tubes?

This next generation of tubes (tubolito, aerothan, revoloop) might be a good thing for touring, since they pack to roughly half the size of standard butyl tubes. They are also said to be more puncture resistant, and much lighter.

Most reviews and comments I've seen are focused on weight and rolling performance -- I am more concerned with durability and air retention, compared to butyl. Have you considered/used them? Which brand and why? Happy or not?
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Old 05-14-21, 10:49 AM
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No I have not, but I am very interested. I wish I didn't have a dozen brand new spare butyl conti tubes. They are reportedly quite durable. I really couldn't care less about air retention myself. Topping off frequently, even daily, just isn't that much trouble IMO.
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Old 05-14-21, 12:57 PM
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Maybe find someone (club, LBS) who could use your older tubes?

As is often the case, I've jumped the gun and ordered a couple of tubolitos that will be used as travelling spares at first. In addition to the small packed size, the repair system appears to be an improvement (a wipe to clean the tube surface and a self-adhesive patch -- no unreliable glue tube)
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Old 11-24-21, 11:31 AM
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I was questioning how well TPU tubes work as well, but high QC issues with the Tubolito tubes and their unreliable patches, I did hold off for more reliable companies to jump in.

Some reason, it was really hard for me to get Schwalbe Aerothan tubes here in Canada. I guess the price and untested nature of the product hindered people from buying them here.

Anyway, here are my 2 cents.

Pros:
-Holds air very well. Just as good as Schwalbe Extralight Tubes.
-Superlight @ 65g with the valve cap and the thick elastic. (700c x 35-50)
-Feels better than Tubeless for me. Just as good as Latex!
-Can be patched with Parktool GP-2.

Cons:
-Price. $43 ~ 59 per tube in Canada. Probably going up.
-No regular patches.
-Tight to fit initially. Seems like they expect them to stretch to fit.

So I have 8 of them and will be doing some field testing on my two month riding starting next month. Anybody used them on their travel yet?

Last edited by linus; 11-24-21 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 11-24-21, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by linus View Post
Anybody used them on their travel yet?
Tubolito front and rear this past summer. 4 500kms. No flat. I don't remember having to inflate.

My spares are aerothan. I didn't like the tubolito warning that they aren't compatible with rim breaks due to poor hear resistance.
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Old 11-24-21, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Tubolito front and rear this past summer. 4 500kms. No flat. I don't remember having to inflate.

My spares are aerothan. I didn't like the tubolito warning that they aren't compatible with rim breaks due to poor hear resistance.
4500km and no flat?
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Old 11-24-21, 02:09 PM
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Hmmm...

I'd be curious about the flat resistance. Say one picks up a nail or a screw or a radial tire wire, or even a piece of glass. Will the tube be strong enough to push the damaging item back out? If so, why not build that technology into the tire itself? Would the shard of glass simply keep wearing until it finally cuts through?

I suspect if say you put one TPU tube in the rear, and one butyl tube in the front, the number of flats would be similar.
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Old 11-24-21, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Hmmm...

I'd be curious about the flat resistance. Say one picks up a nail or a screw or a radial tire wire, or even a piece of glass. Will the tube be strong enough to push the damaging item back out? If so, why not build that technology into the tire itself? Would the shard of glass simply keep wearing until it finally cuts through?

I suspect if say you put one TPU tube in the rear, and one butyl tube in the front, the number of flats would be similar.
I don't think it's necessarily the TPU tubes. It's just luck sometimes. They claim that TPU tubes are a bit more flat-resistant, but not penetration resistant If I recall correctly.
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Old 11-25-21, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by linus View Post
4500km and no flat?


I ride on Schwalbe's Almotions (no longer available in 26", unfortunately). My guess is that I wouldn't have had flats on butyl tubes either.
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Old 11-25-21, 08:28 AM
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Has anyone been using these in goathead thorn country? How did they hold up? If they punctured, did they patch okay?
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Old 11-25-21, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by linus View Post
4500km and no flat?
I havenít flatted while touring since Ď16 or Ď17. Either way, that amounts to way more than 4500K. Probably more like 4,500 miles+.
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Old 11-29-21, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by linus View Post
I was questioning how well TPU tubes work as well, but high QC issues with the Tubolito tubes and their unreliable patches
Can you elaborate what kind of quality issues you had with Tubolito tube and their patch kits?
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Old 12-01-21, 09:08 AM
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One Dutch reviewer (Aerothan) claims that the PU material has a tendency to close punctures somewhat, so the punctured tube deflates slower than butyl. This may be an advantage on the road (gives you a bit more time to find a decent spot for flat repair), but he also had a hard(er) time locating the puncture because of that. Not ideal for road side repairs (I had 13 flats last summer ). I'm also curious about the durability of the patches on the TPU. I've had bad experiences with self-adhesive patches for butyl and don't use these anymore.
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Old 12-01-21, 10:47 AM
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I am running Schwalbe Aerothans in Continental GP 4 season 700C x 32 tires on the road and am happy with them. I got one flat over the course of 1500 miles; a small staple/wire that came in when I unwisely passed through a construction zone. I patched it with a Tubolito patch. My motive for using Aerothans is rotating weight (and small packing size in my patch kit). The Aerothans have great quality control, no flaws noticed in the butt joint.
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Old 12-05-21, 08:15 AM
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Iím very interested

The aerothans look quite promising. Iím waiting for more data and time for others to report on them. Partly because my butyl tubes work great.
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Old 12-06-21, 06:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
Partly because my butyl tubes work great.
It depends on your criteria. Butyl tubes are inexpensive, hold air moderately well (better than latex but reportedly not as well as TPU), and tend to be less efficient than other tube types by 5+ watt per tire in a road bike sized tire. I know this is touring, but 10+ free watts is not something I am inclined to sneeze at and I would imagine it is more in a larger tire size, but I am guessing on that. They also offer a less supple road feel. Apparently that last is lost on many, but it is important to some.

Durability is better by some measures, but I have found them actually more prone to snake bite flats than latex for off raod MTB usage. Weight and bulk when carrying multiple spares becomes a bigger deal too.

Personally I actually like latex better for most usage, but got away from them mostly due to lack of easy availability and price. I wound up kind of hitting a middle ground by using butyl, but choosing the light weight ones and sizing them as amall as possible, sometimes under the recommended size range (width). That did mean topping off daily or at least very frequently depending on the tire size. The thin undersized butyl tubes were almost as bad as latex for bleeding down without being as supple.

I'd still consider consider latex, but since I have a bunch of butyl in stock and TPU is now an option I am unlikely to buy latex. I just might consider TPU, but have to say that I really have found tubeless to be a god send on my mountain bike so if buying or building up a new wheel set I'd consider going tubeless.
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Old 12-06-21, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by CMAW View Post
One Dutch reviewer (Aerothan) claims that the PU material has a tendency to close punctures somewhat, so the punctured tube deflates slower than butyl. This may be an advantage on the road (gives you a bit more time to find a decent spot for flat repair), but he also had a hard(er) time locating the puncture because of that. Not ideal for road side repairs (I had 13 flats last summer ). I'm also curious about the durability of the patches on the TPU. I've had bad experiences with self-adhesive patches for butyl and don't use these anymore.
For butytl tubes, I've found that the larger the tube, the slower the leak.
So, find the biggest tube that will fit in your tire.
My belief is that if you have a small tube in a larger tire, inflation will tend to stretch the hole open.

How much stretch do the TPU have?
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Old 12-06-21, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
For butytl tubes, I've found that the larger the tube, the slower the leak.
So, find the biggest tube that will fit in your tire.
My belief is that if you have a small tube in a larger tire, inflation will tend to stretch the hole open.
It also allows more air to pass through the tube and bleed out even where there is no hole. OTOH, if you run higher volume tires and lower pressures the whole pressure bleeding off thing is minimized.

You are correct if air bleeding off and having to top off is the major factor for you. I do the opposite of what you suggest for more than one reason that for me trump any hassle of topping off..

The first is you save a little weight in a key place. If you are carrying a few spare tubes the weight adds up, but at least the spare tubes are not rotating mass. If you go for heavy duty (I go for light one) they are heavier, thornproof even more so (they weigh a ton)

The next is bulk of the spares. In larger sizes 2-3 spares are a pretty large bundle. If you go for heavy duty (I go for light one) they are bulkier, thornproof even more so (they are huge)

Then there is the suppleness of the ride. Having a stretched out tube gives a ride closer to not having a tube. It is a little more like a tubless tire with a flexible sidewall. Some riders apparently don't notice the difference, or don't care about it, or maybe even don't even like the feeling of a flexible sidewall. To me it is something that I value. The more heavy duty tube the less supple the ride as well.

Oh, and the tires are a little easier to mount without pinching a tube with an undersized tube.

All that for the cost of having to top off more often is a good deal in my mind.
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