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I Had a Flat :-(

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I Had a Flat :-(

Old 03-06-22, 06:12 PM
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Bad Lag
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I Had a Flat :-(

It was the second flat tire I've had since installing latex tubes. I'd gone for years without a flat while using butyl tubes.

I thought I'd try the latex tubes as a way to either shed some weight and perhaps improve performance or "the feel" while riding. The tubes were noticeably different than the butyl tubes. Perhaps it was just their sound or perhaps they did have a more lively feeling.

The first one to die was the rear. No surprise there, it's always the rear that flats. As it flattened and as I tried to stop, the tube actually ripped, like a small blow out. I did not even try to repair it.

Then, last weekend, the front tire spontaneously flatted, too. It just decided to leak near the stem. The leak is in a spot that might be repairable,... maybe.

I think I am done with latex tubes. It reminded me of using tubular tire - a great ride but terrible reliability.

As nice as they are, needing to pump them up before every single ride is a nuisance. Having so many flats is also a pain.
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Old 03-06-22, 07:20 PM
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I went to latex tubes to save a couple watts but yes they have their drawbacks. I also went through quite a few because they would explode like a gunshot when pumping up if they found the edge of a rim strip or other undesirable surface.
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Old 03-06-22, 09:34 PM
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Latex can be durable and go for miles without puncture flats, but they demand meticulously careful installation.

If the tube failed at the base of the valve stem, it's because it was inadequately supported by the rim tape. Been there, done that. The latex strips and patches are overlaid at the base of the valve and that's where they'll fail if not supported properly.

Silca rebrands Vittoria latex tubes and recommends rim tape used for tubeless setups. I've used Gorilla tape. The trick is to punch the smallest possible hole to accommodate the valve stem. The precut holes are too large in cloth rim tape like Velox, stiff plastic rim strips from Schwalbe, and floppy useless rubber band strips. Eventually the latex tube will extrude wherever it's unsupported, including oversized valve stem holes.

Once a latex tube fails at the base of the valve stem it's toast. I save it for making patches later.

But ordinary puncture flats can be repaired with good self adhesive patches. Lezyne makes -- or *made* -- the best I've tried, but those are hard to find now. The trick is to degrease the tube with alcohol or something similar, carefully scuff it up as with butyl tubes, and apply the self adhesive patch without touching the adhesive surface -- hard to do on the road, so I wait until I get home to patch latex tubes.

Usually I carry butyl spare tubes. Continental makes a very thin, lightweight butyl tube that fits nicely in my minimalize Lezyne Road Caddy. But I carry ordinary butyl road tubes in my larger saddle bags.

Because latex tubes are pricey and demanding to install, I save those and my best tires for my carbon fiber road bike. I use butyl tubes and Continental Grand Prix Classics (the reddish brown skinwalls) for my Centurion Ironman. Still a nice ride, but not quite as nice on rough pavement as latex tubes.
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Old 03-07-22, 12:29 AM
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I had a flat :-(
Sung to the tune of ...

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Old 03-07-22, 05:54 AM
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I've not had a flat for over 5 years now when I converted to tubeless. I'll never go back to tubes again.
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Old 03-07-22, 06:48 AM
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Bad Lag can you share what rims, what rim tape and what brand of latex tube you are using?
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Old 03-07-22, 10:23 AM
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Rim - MAVIC (for sure); MA-2 (unsure, have to look)

Tape - VELOX

Tube - Vittoria

Installation - yes, done very carefully

Tires - Challenge Parigi-Roubaix

These failures were not punctures. I almost wish they had been. That was expected but never happened.

Perhaps a different rim tape might have helped. That such a specialty item and extra-special care are needed and the seemingly random nature of the failures does not bode well for these. I no longer trust them and won't be repairing either.


I bought this pair of wheels in about 1985 from Performance Bikes. After all these decades, they are beginning to show their age but are still going strong. I have never had to do any maintenance or truing on them.

Last edited by Bad Lag; 03-07-22 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 03-07-22, 10:49 AM
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Is there any more reason to use latex tubes now that TPU tubes exist?
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Old 03-07-22, 12:25 PM
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Older Velox is a bit of a red flag for a trouble free latex tube installation. The cotton canvas material becomes brittle over spoke double ferrules when it is old despite looking intact.

Did you install the Challenge tires with or without tire levers? If it was with tire levers, this is another source of an installation error.

When you brought the up to pressure after installing the latex tubes were you methodical about verifying that the complete perimeter of each rim bead was clear from any pink segments being visible at all? If so, you have a pinch which most definitely would lead to a puncture in short order.

The type of blowout you described (for one of your 2 flats) would be more likely to happen from some type of installation error. From what I have read and from personal experience, when you get an ordinary flat with a latex tube, the air loss is typically gradual not instant like a butyl tube.

​​​​​Bad Lag I get it that you say you were very careful with the latex tube/ Challenge Parigi install. I certainly cannot ascertain if there were any problems with your install but the potential problem areas that I listed were things I have personally experienced even when I thought I did my due diligence to do as good of an install as I could…

Last edited by masi61; 03-07-22 at 07:00 PM.
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Old 03-07-22, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by masi61 View Post
Older Velox is a bit of a red flag for a trouble free latex tube installation. The cotton canvas material becomes brittle over spoke double ferrules when it is old despite looking intact.
Been there ... done that. I got punctures on the inward-facing surfaces of a couple of tubes before I figured this out. (A bit slow on the uptake, admittedly. I was blaming my installation technique, even though I am an old pro at that.)
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Old 03-07-22, 08:58 PM
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Thank you for the advice. It is well received.

I just hand-installed the tire onto the rims. It is a sort of "roll it over the edge" maneuver.

I also checked to ensure the tube was fully encased by the tire and was not trapped between the bead and rim. This was done by flexing the tire at partial inflation.

The rim strips were installed when the tires went on, just a few years ago. So, although they are cotton strips, they are not very old. Even so, this has to be at least a contributing factor, no? I do run relatively high pressures because I am physically big.

I'm wondering if adhesion between the tire and the tube could have caused these troubles. They were quite well stuck together. I feel some talcum powder inside the tire might have prevented that.

Last edited by Bad Lag; 03-07-22 at 09:03 PM.
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Old 03-08-22, 10:31 PM
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Yup, Velox and any cloth tape is a no-go with latex tubes. Nowadays there are better choices -- tubeless rim tape, or any strong tape like Gorilla tape.

As I mentioned above, keep the valve stem hole to a minimum.

And Silca strongly recommends using talcum, cornstarch, etc., to ease installation.

My main reason for using latex tubes is to minimize road vibration in my old school skinny tire road bikes, with 700x23 and 700x25 tires -- nothing wider will fit. Over the past few years our formerly smooth asphalt roads were redone with coarse chip seal. It's the harshest pavement I've ever ridden on. Due to neck pain from injuries and stenosis, I'm trying to minimize the jolt, without going to tubeless. Yet. But pretty soon I'll probably swap or trade my old school road bikes for a mixed terrain drop bar bike with wider tires and tubeless setup.
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Old 03-09-22, 01:38 AM
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I had similar experiences to the OP when I first used them, swore them off for a while and gave them a shot again a few years ago. Only one puncture since and that piece of flint would have flatted any tube. I've found the most important trick being to stuff the tube well into the tire before rolling the tire onto the rim. They're otherwise super easy to pinch and can lead to the blowouts described.

Once sorted, I feel they really do roll better and have them on all of my bikes now, except for tubeless on the gravel ride.
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Old 03-09-22, 06:38 AM
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I've been waiting to post..... VINTAGE FLATS!
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Old 03-09-22, 11:30 PM
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Chuckk, that is the story of my life. :-)
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Old 03-09-22, 11:38 PM
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Thanks for all the replies so far, folks. I had a new idea about this flat tire business. Read on if you dare.

The tubes are two years old. Does latex age and go bad? Surely, it does, don't you agree? Perhaps what happened was either embrittlement and/or decomposition with age.

Our latex rubber brake hoods go south in a big way with time. They happen to be very thick, I'm guessing but let's say about 1/8" to 1/4" thick.

The tubes are very much thinner than that and are being subjected to fairly high pressure and stress due to inflation and vibration from riding. Maybe that thin wall cannot hold off the aging process more than a couple of years and then you get the bang or hiss.

A weak rim tape doesn't help.

Sticking to the insides of the tire doesn't help, either. I wonder if the adhesion is the result of the decomposing rubber, which as you know, is very sticky (think brake hoods here).

It's just a thought.

Last edited by Bad Lag; 03-10-22 at 10:18 AM.
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