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  1. #1
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    Are all tubes the same?

    Forgive my ignorance but, it seems to me that - with some exceptions - all tubes are the same. My LBS is a specialized shop so they sell me those tubes. My LHT came with *insert brand here* tubes & if I go over to another shop I'll get some other random brand.

    Is there any difference between these? I mean, should I really care about the brand or just go for cheapest available?

  2. #2
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    I think the generic standard-weight made in China/Korea/Taiwan tubes are pretty much all the same. Tubes from Japan used to be a little better, but I haven't seen those in a while. Michelin tubes from France do seem to be a little better. Of course, latex tubes and ultralight tubes are different from the standard-weight tubes. And stem length matters if you use aero or semi-aero rims.

  3. #3
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    I've found that all inexpensive tubes are not the same. Some tubes tend to have crappy presta valves, where the valve leaks, or the valve separates from the tube. On some tubes the valve doesn't mate to your pump head just right.

    I used mostly Nashbar-branded tubes for years. They were heavy for the size tube I used. I assumed they would be more puncture-resistant with all the heavy rubber. I never had any real problems with them.

    A couple years ago I ordered several "Q-Tubes" - a new generic QBP brand, priced as low as Nashbar's tubes or better. I bought regular and lightweight version Presta Q-tubes in the sizes I needed. The regular Q-tubes weighed less than Nashbars at the same size, plus they were much less porous - even the lightweight tubes were less porous than the Nashbars.

    With the Nashbars, I'd lose 10-15psi in a tire inflated to 80psi overnight, and with the Q-tubes I'd lose less about 5psi. I rarely flat so I can't say one is better than the other in this respect.

    All the Q-tubes I've bought were made by Kenda (printed on tube). This QBP brand is offered in more sizes than the Kenda-branded tubes also sold by QBP, and at lower price. One thing I liked about Q-tubes is they came with regular length valves. Ten years ago I used to buy Performance Lunar-lights, which was a tough lightweight tube, and at some point Performance stocked these only with aero-rim length 60mm valves, which defeated the purpose of a lightweight tube to some extent.

    If you're looking for a decent, inexpensive tube, try Q-tubes:

    http://aebike.com/model-list/q-tubes...-t554-qc30.htm
    Last edited by seeker333; 10-21-11 at 12:00 AM.

  4. #4
    imi
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    I always buy Continental (28 Tour Slim) tubes.

    No idea if other/cheaper tubes would be worse (or better), but these tubes haven't failed me yet, so I'm happy being brand loyal!

  5. #5
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    I have had bad luck with a couple Kenda tubes- valve separated from the tube at the base. Happened to two, bought at same time from the LBS, so I suspect a bad lot. I have noticed a pretty wide variation in air loss rates between tube brands- as others noted above. I've used REI brand, Kenda, several others. I really like Schwalbe tubes, and order them every so often from Wall.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    I have had good luck with any of the cheap lighter weight tubes I have tried. I have most often used the Forte (Performance house brand I think).

    I actually prefer the ride and light weight of the latex tubes, but the price, lack of availability, and need to be pumped every day put me off of them. I would probably bite the bullet on the price and more frequent pumping if they were stocked in my local shop.

    I avoid heavy duty tube, thornproof tubes, and slime tubes like the plague and often buy my tubes in the next smaller size than recommended. That way they are lighter both for the ride and for the carried spares and are also easier to mount.

  7. #7
    Senior Member simplygib's Avatar
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    Latex tubes roll 10% faster than standard 0.6mm butyl tubes, according to test results from a place called Wheel Energy, as reported in this article. That said, I just buy the cheapest tubes I can find.

  8. #8
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Thorn resistant tubes ,, 3x the rubber and just 2x the cost.

    rode a 6 month tour, dawdling in places,
    from Southern Eire, to Northern Scotland, without a puncture

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by simplygib View Post
    Latex tubes roll 10% faster...
    Does anyone even make latex tubes anymore? I haven't seen any in nearly 20 years.

    A quick check of QBP inventory shows they stock 210 varieties of butyl inner tubes, and only 1 latex, a 700x19-23. So, latex does not appear to even be an option for most tourists.

    http://aebike.com/product/vittoria-l...u3403-qc30.htm

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    I"m trying out Michelin Air Stop to see if they hold air longer than the cheapos

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    I"m trying out Michelin Air Stop to see if they hold air longer than the cheapos
    I've had good luck with the set I've got. I've currently got one in the rear of my commuter, and a bike store no name in the front, from fixing a flat, and the front losses air noticeably faster. Guess i should get a third for that bike. They are heavier (probably thicker rubber) than most of the random tubes floating around.

  12. #12
    Senior Member simplygib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
    Does anyone even make latex tubes anymore? I haven't seen any in nearly 20 years.

    A quick check of QBP inventory shows they stock 210 varieties of butyl inner tubes, and only 1 latex, a 700x19-23. So, latex does not appear to even be an option for most tourists.

    http://aebike.com/product/vittoria-l...u3403-qc30.htm
    Looks like Michelin makes some as well, but yeah, they don't seem to be anywhere near as prevalent as butyl. Also, I clicked on one of the Michelin links and they showed as "out of stock" and "currently unavailable."

  13. #13
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    Might want to add these to a watchlist, too:

    http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...1&category=600

  14. #14
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    I"m trying out Michelin Air Stop to see if they hold air longer than the cheapos
    To each his own, but that wouldn't be a huge priority for me unless the benefit came with no other downside like heavier or bulkier tubes.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    To each his own, but that wouldn't be a huge priority for me unless the benefit came with no other downside like heavier or bulkier tubes.
    when I was young and light I used light tubes, latex tubes and checked the tires every day before a ride and accepted that some butyl tubes lost 5lbs in a day. Now the difference between a 105gram tube and a 150gram tube or 150gram tube and 190gram tube doesn't have a practical difference given the spare 50lbs of fat on my body. While I honestly don't tour much I prefer a tube that didn't require pumping everyday.

  16. #16
    tcs
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    Quote Originally Posted by simplygib View Post
    Latex tubes roll 10% faster than standard 0.6mm butyl tubes, according to test results from a place called Wheel Energy, as reported in this article.
    Other testing organizations have reported the opposite.
    "When man first set woman on two wheels with a pair of pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had rent the veil of the harem in twain? A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Typewriter Girl, 1899.

    "Every so often a bird gets up and flies some place it's drawn to. I don't suppose it could tell you why, but it does it anyway." Ian Hibell, 1934-2008

  17. #17
    tcs
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    I avoid heavy duty tube, thornproof tubes, and slime tubes like the plague...
    A few years ago my wife and I in the company of another couple rode the Caprock Canyon Trailway. This rail trail is unique in that it is paved entirely with tribulus terrestris. In 31 miles, the other couple, using belted "flat resistant" tires and regular tubes, stopped 17 times and repaired a total of 43 punctures. My wife and I were using Slimed tubes and at the end of the day did not even need to add air to our tires.

    On that day, on that ride, all tubes were not the same.
    "When man first set woman on two wheels with a pair of pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had rent the veil of the harem in twain? A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Typewriter Girl, 1899.

    "Every so often a bird gets up and flies some place it's drawn to. I don't suppose it could tell you why, but it does it anyway." Ian Hibell, 1934-2008

  18. #18
    Senior Member simplygib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tcs View Post
    Other testing organizations have reported the opposite.
    Interesting. The Conti Grand Prix results were indeed opposite. However, with the Primos w/ground off tread, latex rolled slightly easier at 140 PSI, and slightly worse at 100 and 120. I guess they should put an asterisk with all these test results of *YMMV.

    For touring purposes, I can't imagine it even matters. If I was a pro racer, however, I would probably want every possible advantage I could get.

  19. #19
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Air pressure wants to equalize, its higher in the tube than outside ,
    so it finds pores in the butyl rubber to seep thru..
    thinner the tube the more quickly it escapes .

    the higher the difference . greater the escape pressure too .
    still pumped up my TR tubes every couple days ..
    as the rolling resistance went up when the PSI fell lower.

  20. #20
    Senior Member tarwheel's Avatar
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    I only buy tubes with unthreaded valves because the threaded ones wear out the rubber gasket in pumps. Michelins are unthreaded so I only bought them for years when Performance had them on sale. However, Performance never has Michelins on sale any more and the last batch I got seemed to have problems with the valves wearing out, so I've been buying Torelli tubes from my LBS. He sells unthreaded Torellis for $5 each, which is a bargain these days.

    I've had bad luck with Performance tubes, so quit buying them. First, they are all threaded. Second, I seemed to get more flats with them.

  21. #21
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    I use these, free shipping right now.
    http://www.pricepoint.com/detail/174...--Set-of-5.htm
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGukLuXzH1E

    Set F1re To The Ra1n ( NY Night Rain Ride)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7jfcWEkSrI

  22. #22
    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    Conti's tend to be seamless or at least have fewer seams than standard tubes. Theoretically it might mean less flats due to seams coming apart. But then again they're also more expensive.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Western Flyer's Avatar
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    For touring I only use Schwalbe sv-18 extra-lights and Conti Tour All. The seamless Tour All are very easy to patch and the SV-18 weighs only 105 grams and holds air exceptionally well. Both tube have replaceable valve cores, which for me is mandatory on tour. You don't have top throw the tube away if you break the core stem off. You don't even have to remove the tube. Just screw in a new core.

  24. #24
    Senior Member djyak's Avatar
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    I'm sure you'll get lots of answers, but my favorite is a Michelin latex tube. Very light and seem to hold up very well. A lot of back woods trails here in Germany will have broken glass from the younger kids drinking, and I have not burst a tire yet. I'm not a hardcore tourer, but I have used them extensively over the past few years while loaded down. I love how light they are.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Western Flyer's Avatar
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    I haven't used latex tubes in decades. It was my experience that they lost air fairly rapidly. I know the elite triathlon athletes here in Oregon don't use them because often they have to stage their bikes the day before the race and they are afraid the tires will be too soft come race day. What has your experience been?

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