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TPU Tube experience and Failure mode

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TPU Tube experience and Failure mode

Old 05-22-24, 01:45 PM
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Micro holes, difficulty in patching and just being two delicate are not what I need in a tube. Although informative this posting has been full of assumptions and some well honed selective reasoning by some replying to others comments. I'm going to stick with the devil I know. I don't like tube failures so I put the largest volume butyl rubber tubes that work in my tires. I currently use Continental Freeride tubes in my 26x2.15 Schwalbe Pick-Up tires.
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Old 05-22-24, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Rick
Micro holes, difficulty in patching and just being two delicate are not what I need in a tube.
Just to be clear, none of that is true about TPU, or at least less so than it would be for comparable butyl. Hole size is to do with the size of the intrusion, and in any case, a smaller hole means a slower leak, so I don’t know why you would prefer that to a sudden flat. Patching is easier with TPU: just wipe down and stick on. There’s no scuffing or need to wait for cement to get tacky and dry. And in the delicacy department, TPU is more puncture and cut resistant than butyl, more stretchy, more slippery, and doesn’t tear, so it’s less likely to get damaged upon installation.

Originally Posted by Rick
Yeah, your kind of bike and riding are probably not ideal TPU candidates because, since weight and other factors are non-issues, you can just run a thick, oversized butyl tube and achieve the durability level you desire. It’s only when you get into a more complex “needs matrix” — such as considering weight and rolling resistance— that TPU really smokes butyl.

That said, the Tubolito X series TPU tubes are claimed to be impossible to puncture, and they provide a 1 year warranty to back that up, so even if durability is a priority, there’s a TPU tube for that.
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Old 05-22-24, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by chaadster
…[some] folks who think it's perfectly smart to conclude TPU isn't ready for prime time because some yokel couldn't even manage to install one properly. It's pretty crazy, but honestly, what isn't anymore?
I, too, take umbrage with being called a “yokel”. I’ve installed, patched, repatched, reinstalled, etc. more tubes than most people. I have numerous tubes with as many as 30 patches, so I know a thing or two about installing tubes. I’ve instructed hundreds of people on how to fix flats.

I also know what causes flats and mine was not because of improper installation. I found the foreign object that punctured two tubes in the same spot. I learned long ago how to clock the valve stem to the tire label so that I know where to look for punctures. I’m not “some yokel”.

Originally Posted by mihlbach
I have been using TPU tubes for years and have even converted a number of friends. I find them completely dependable, however they are not fool proof. If you treat them like heavy thick butyl tubes, you will fail.
If you are accustomed to butyl, there is a learning curve to successfully using TPU

A TPU tube is thinner and more pliable than a butyl tube, making it more vulnerable to getting pinched during initial installation, and a TPU tube can be punctured by small sharp objects already embedded in the tire that would not fully penetrate a thicker butyl tube. They require more care during installation. Check your tires for foreign objects (as you should anyway), and use care when seating/unseating the tire.
I disagree. There is nothing special about about TPU tubes nor about installing them. They are pretty idiot proof and shouldn’t be any more prone to the pinching on installation than butyl tubes. They do have to be closer to the size of the tire and will be damaged if they are too small.

At to the comment about small sharp objects already embedded in the tire, that is exactly the issue I had. But that doesn’t speak all that well to the idea that TPU tubes are superior to butyl when it comes to puncture resistance.

If installed correctly, they hold air as well as butyl and puncture no more frequently. The few punctures I have had with them have all resulted in very slow deflation and the punctures, all nearly microscopic pinholes, were exceptionally hard to locate. On a couple of occasions the leaks were so slow, I simply topped off the tire pressure mid-ride.
On the other hand, they don’t puncture any less frequently. And they are much harder to fix in the field.

​​​​​​​I have only been able to find punctures by submerging in water and looking for tiny bubbles. This makes them very difficult to repair in the field, but the solution is to ditch the patch kit and carry more than one tube with you. Patch your punctured tubes after the ride. They take up very little space and multiple TPU tubes can be stowed in less space than occupied by a single butyl tube. I have patched numerous TPU tubes (post-ride) without fail, but again, if you expect to use the same methods that you use to patch a butyl tube, you will fail.
Not sure where you live but I have had more than a single puncture while out riding. The RideNow stick on patches are less than useless. They wouldn’t hold air for more than 3 miles. Luckily, I had a butyl tube…it had been patched many times before…that I could use when the second TPU flatted.

Perhaps other TPU tubes are better but, honestly, if the $7 ones don’t live up to the hype, I’m hesitant to go spend 5 times that much as an experiment.
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Old 05-22-24, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
Perhaps other TPU tubes are better but, honestly, if the $7 ones don’t live up to the hype, I’m hesitant to go spend 5 times that much as an experiment.
What kind of person buys the cheapest version of a thing and then transposes the qualities of that thing to all versions of it??

It’s looney tunes around here these days…
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Old 05-22-24, 05:02 PM
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chaadster: Butyl rubber tubes are immediately patchable. TPU tubes are problematic. I use Rema Patch Kits on regular thickness butyl rubber tubes. I use tires that are less vulnerable to flats. I couldn't find the holes in the AEROTHAN tubes. I have never had this problem with butyl rubber tubes. Rene Herse has an article describing the problems with some other brands of TPU tubes. They claim theirs are a little thicker and they use steel valve cores to avoid problems. I am considering the Rene Herse tubes but am waiting on a squirtdad explanation about what caused his flat. I have looked at articles and you tube videos about patching TPU tubes and it appears to be hit and miss on dependability. So just to be clear TPU tubes are not as dependable as butyl rubber so far in my experience.
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Old 05-22-24, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Rick
chaadster: Butyl rubber tubes are immediately patchable. TPU tubes are problematic. I use Rema Patch Kits on regular thickness butyl rubber tubes. I use tires that are less vulnerable to flats. I couldn't find the holes in the AEROTHAN tubes. I have never had this problem with butyl rubber tubes. Rene Herse has an article describing the problems with some other brands of TPU tubes. They claim theirs are a little thicker and they use steel valve cores to avoid problems. I am considering the Rene Herse tubes but am waiting on a squirtdad explanation about what caused his flat. I have looked at articles and you tube videos about patching TPU tubes and it appears to be hit and miss on dependability. So just to be clear TPU tubes are not as dependable as butyl rubber so far in my experience.
I don’t think any of that’s true, and I detailed why a mere three posts back, which apparently you didn’t read.

I have no idea why you couldn’t find a hole spewing air, but it’s not like water test was invented for TPU, it was invented for butyl a long time ago, so that’s just not a knock on Aerothan or any other TPU. Punctures are small sometimes. Welcome to real life.

I’ve never seen any tube with anything other than metal valve cores, so I’m guessing you meant to say stems rather than cores. In any case, I’ve been using Aerothan for more than three years, and haven’t had any problems with the “plastic” stems. Same goes for the RideNow I’ve got in service, too. I’m not inclined to see the benefit of metal stems over plastic, but I’ll take a look at what RH has to say about what they think the bennies are give it consideration.

As I think I said upthread, I’ve successfully patched both Aerothan and RideNow with Lezyne patches. I wipe down with 90% isopropyl (or Gyeon Q2R Prep, a degreaser for automotive ceramic coating application) and they work fine. One of my original Aerothans is patched and in service now, three years later. chwalbe says Aerothan can be patched with their glueless patches. Vittoria includes patches and a wipe in their Ultra LIght Speed TPU tubes. RideNow includes patches with theirs and sells them standalone. Rene Herse say, “Patching TPU tubes is simple: Wipe the tube with alcohol, then apply a self-adhesive Rene Herse patch. That’s much easier than patching a butyl tube, where you have to roughen the surface with sandpaper and deal with messy vulcanizing fluid.” What? Am I lucky? Am I smarter than the average bear? Can I follow instructions? Just what, exactly, do you think it is? What’s the variable here? A whole lotta people patch ‘em just fine, but a few cannot. I have my ideas, but what is your thought on that? What really makes the most sense to you? How valuable do you think what you know is if you’re sitting around here waiting for Squirtdad to say something that might sway you? The guy who said he went from full to “riding on the rim instantly,” but yet can’t find the hole responsible for dumping all that air. That’s who you’re waiting on with revolutionary info? Dude…
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Old 05-22-24, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by chaadster
What kind of person buys the cheapest version of a thing and then transposes the qualities of that thing to all versions of it??

It’s looney tunes around here these days…
The kind of person who wants to see what all the hubbub is about but would rather not invest $90 in 3 tubes just to see if they work. The RideNow gets good reviews for all the same qualities that the higher priced ones do. Yes, I could go drop that $90 (or if I equipped all of my bikes with them $720 with 2 spares) but I’m a bit hesitant to go that route for kind of obvious reasons. I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t be patching those $30 tubes thirty times or, to get the same values as I do out of butyl tubes, 150 times.

To be fair, I am running a set of the RideNows and they are fine. Not great, not better than sliced bread, not the greatest thing to come down the pike, etc….but just “fine”. They have flatted on me once in about the last 6 months of use. There is no getting around the fact that they are problematic to fix. Maybe other stick-on patches work but how many am I going to have to test to see which ones work? The chemical patch method is not something that can be used on the road since it takes 30 minutes to cure.

TPU tubes aren’t new. The problems associated with them aren’t either.
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Old 05-23-24, 12:02 PM
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OK as promised back with report after some quality tube diagnosis time

Summary (with a bit of red face). It appears to be a pinch flat (never had one before...but see pics below) in that there are marks and 2 punctures in a line on the rim side of the tube

The biggest puncture is not really a tear, the mark is elongated, but the hole is at one end

these are close to the valve, while i would have expected pinch flats more likely on the other side of the rire from the valve as that is where it is harder to move the tire bead over

I did have to use a water dunk to find the leaks as the tube lost air too fast to find it by feeling the air coming out

based on the number, I going to junk the tube

Based on this I still maintain field patching is not practical for TPU (the Rene Herse patch kit comes with what looks like alcohol swabs and little round stick on patches which might be easier)

I only got 2 miles in, so not enough to really get feel for differences but didn't feel anything earthshaking. The only think i noted is tires sounded louder...go figure

packing a small TPU tube in my undereat bag is super nice

So for me personally, I am going back to my conti race lite tubes, carry 2 and a rema tip top patch kit. Which is not to say that I might not try TPU again in the future, but I have a pair of tubies than need mounted so that is next project

the biggest puncture...is it not the full length of the mark but at one end



the line of marks with one more puncture, that leads me to think pinch flat

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Old 05-23-24, 12:37 PM
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chaadster: TPU is not as dependable as Butyl Rubber. Patching them alongside the rode is hit and miss. The pressure in my tires went down slowly. The hole or holes were small enough that they were more than a nescience to find at home let alone down the road on a camping trip. TPU is made for the people who count every gram and don't mind paying allot for the weight savings. I like hassle free and dependability. That is why I have A Rohloff equipped bicycle.
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Old 05-23-24, 02:10 PM
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Try patching the holes and add some sealant in the tube, these tubes are pricey to just throw it away.
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Old 05-23-24, 02:35 PM
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Interesting thread.

Animosity aside, it seems that TPU tubes are a great alternative for some riders and less so for others.

I use butyl (I know---what a troglodyte.) I don't patch tubes on a ride .... unless Everything goes wrong---and then I usually use insta-patches just to get me home (hit-or-miss success with those.) Usually I don't get more than two punctures a ride ... usually (and if I did having a coupe TPU backups would make sense.)

TPU sounds like a worthwhile investment ... when I run low of butyl---but I think I will still carry one butyl spare just in case. We have all had those flats in the dark,, in the rain, from a piece of tire wire which is invisible under anything but optimal conditions.

On the other hand, being 80 pounds overweight, saving 80 grams isn't a huge deal for me ....

But thanks, sincerely for all the different views. I'd much rather read what the other yokels here have to say, than trust the comments section on the product page of the manufacturer's website.

--Signed: a Proud Butyl Yokel.
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Old 05-23-24, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs
Interesting thread.

Animosity aside, it seems that TPU tubes are a great alternative for some riders and less so for others....
Like just about everything that's "debated" endlessly. Disc Brakes, Electronic Shifting, E-Bikes, Immersion Wax Lubrication, you name it.
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Old 05-23-24, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by M.Roshi
Try patching the holes and add some sealant in the tube, these tubes are pricey to just throw it away.
AFAIK sealant does not work with TPU
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Old 05-23-24, 04:39 PM
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Since TPU is just plastic, in theory all one needs to patch it with is a non-permeable sticker or tape. Unlike with butyl tubes, the patch won't bond chemically, but the sticker or tape should hold well enough to last an all day ride (I top up my tires before every ride out of habit). In the past I've tried patching TPU with Gorilla Glue tape and with Alien tape with success but I do like the sticker patches intended for TPU better.
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Old 05-23-24, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad
Based on this I still maintain field patching is not practical for TPU
I’m sorry…based on what? You made no attempt to field repair the tube.

Had that been a butyl tube you’d snake-bit with that much force, you’d have a much more damaged tube with probably four, long, field irreparable cuts. Would you say then that butyl is not field patchable?

Seriously, please think about this, and the entire situation, before you respond, because I’m sure you’ll realize the fundamental problem if you do.
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Old 05-23-24, 07:06 PM
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I am a bumbling old drunk and I have had no issue patching Aerothan tpu tubes in the field. I do carry a couple of alcohol pad packets and both Schwalbe and Park kits work equally well. clean the tube let it dry and then push the patch on and lay the tube over your seat and rub the patch with some force and re-install and ride away. I have one patched Aerothan tube that has about 3000 miles on it and I looked at the patch the other day when swapping on some gravel kings and there is no way that patch is leaking. it is totally bonded to the tube. I see this sealant is out there.https://eclipse.bike/products/eclipse-tpu-tube-sealant
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Old 05-23-24, 07:08 PM
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[QUOTE=squirtdad;23247769]AFAIK sealant does not work with TPU[/QUOTE

https://eclipse.bike/products/eclipse-tpu-tube-sealant
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Old 05-24-24, 12:48 AM
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I've found this a really useful thread. I tried TPU tubes for a while and found that in wider tyres (54 mm) they made a noticeable improvement to comfort and and responsiveness over standard butyl tubes. There was more tyre noise that sounded like a resonance. I suspect this is TPU absorbing much less energy than butyl. With 30 mm tyres the improvement was much less marked.

TPU was great for a while until I started getting punctures. These were tiny and took a while to find. With butyl I'd inflate a tube to expand it and the hole would be obvious, but with TPU 4 psi is the maximum recommended 'out-of-tyre' pressure so that the tube is not permanently stretched. Once found the holes were easy to mend with Park Tool self-adhesive patches provided the area was cleaned (I used IPA). I spent a lot of time finding very small pieces of debris (old, worn tyres) that were causing small holes in TPU and replaced plastic rim tape with Velox to try and cushion the tube. Let's see if all this stops the punctures.
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Old 05-24-24, 02:48 AM
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From what I gleaned here I think I will stick with latex. Immediately patchable, easy to use, fast rolling and compatible with sealant. On top of that I am slow to change - heck I took me until last year to try road tubeless LOL. I do have a couple TPU tubes in my bag as spares and gleaned some install insight from this thread. VERY delicate by all accounts.
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Old 05-24-24, 04:54 AM
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I've had two TPU tubes (Pirelli P-Zero) in service in 28mm tires for about 8 months. Each has had one flat, both ordinary goathead punctures, both fixed satisfactorily with Park adhesive patches after locating the leak generally by listening for a hiss and feeling an air stream on my face, and precisely using a mere glass(!) of water. I did not wipe with alcohol, but did roughen up the area with the supplied piece of sandpaper.

In other words, they have been perfectly serviceable for me, so far.

I also carry them as spares. Haven't tried the 48mm ones yet, but have ordered the Eclipse sealant (from edubied.com as the Eclipse site will not ship to the States).

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Old 05-24-24, 05:05 AM
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Originally Posted by daviddavieboy
VERY delicate by all accounts.
You should ask a friend or caregiver to explain how a TPU tube described as “impossible to puncture” and which comes with a 1 year warranty against flats, does not mean “very delicate.”
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Old 05-24-24, 05:18 AM
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Originally Posted by chaadster
You should ask a friend or caregiver to explain how a TPU tube described as “impossible to puncture” and which comes with a 1 year warranty against flats, does not mean “very delicate.”
LOL from the accounts of others here I would think differently. From my experience so far with tubeless I will stick to them for now and keep the TPU for emergencies and latex in my other bikes. Possibly one of those emergencies will make me a convert to TPU. One thing I am curious about is from your experience what is the benefit over a latex tube ?
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Old 05-24-24, 06:41 AM
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Originally Posted by daviddavieboy
LOL from the accounts of others here I would think differently. From my experience so far with tubeless I will stick to them for now and keep the TPU for emergencies and latex in my other bikes. Possibly one of those emergencies will make me a convert to TPU. One thing I am curious about is from your experience what is the benefit over a latex tube ?
Similarly off topic and appropriate for its own thread, it’s interesting that, as adults, we recognize how mothers lie to their children about how sweet, smart, and handsome they are, yet so few of us ever critically examine what we believe about ourselves. It’s a character flaw which really makes some people look stupid, even when they may not be, simply because they proceed from an unexamined premise.
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Old 05-24-24, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by daviddavieboy
One thing I am curious about is from your experience what is the benefit over a latex tube ?
You didn't direct this towards me but I'll chime in anyway: TPU is lighter, more durable, and easier to install than latex. Latex is subjectively more supple and objectively faster rolling than TPU.
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Old 05-24-24, 08:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daviddavieboy
One thing I am curious about is from your experience what is the benefit over a latex tube ?

Originally Posted by tFUnK
You didn't direct this towards me but I'll chime in anyway: TPU is lighter, more durable, and easier to install than latex. Latex is subjectively more supple and objectively faster rolling than TPU.
TPU tubes retain air much better than latex tubes

at one time (decades ago) I used Air B latex tubes in all of my bikes - road and off road … they worked very well - but latex tubes lose air relatively quickly … you basically need to air the tires before every ride

TPU tubes retain air similar to a butyl tube - can actually go a week / weeks without touching them (even the ‘flimsy’ RideNow tubes that appear to be slightly thinner / less robust than an Aerothan tube retain air fairly well)

Last edited by t2p; 05-24-24 at 08:41 AM.
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