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Newbie question about tubes

Old 09-03-14, 01:00 PM
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AMusingFool
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Newbie question about tubes

Aside from questions of weight and valve length, is there any real difference between different inner tubes? Is there anything I'm missing?

Thanks.
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Old 09-03-14, 01:21 PM
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J.C. Koto
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1. Tubes are designed for specific wheel diameters. A 26" tube is definitely not ideal to use on a 700c wheel.
2. Tubes are intended for specific ranges of tire widths but in practice you can fudge this a bit e.g. using a 26x1.5 tube with a 26x2.1 tire, etc.
3. There are different valve *types* most common are Schrader (like cars have) and Presta
4. Some tubes contain sealant in case of puncture. I don't like this as IME it usually just makes a mess and makes the tube more difficult to patch.

...maybe other stuff. Brand doesn't really matter. Tubes can last a really long time, I just keep patching them until they suffer a big rip/tear or the valve breaks.
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Old 09-03-14, 02:15 PM
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The word here on the forums is that there is probably only 4 or 5 companies that make bike tubes. Probably all of them are in China. However I have found that Bontrager brand tubes seem to leak down less than other brands.
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Old 09-03-14, 02:30 PM
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The other factor is butyl vs latex.

Many people swear by latex as having a superior ride feel, but I personally haven't tried them, so I can't give you my 2 cents.
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Old 09-03-14, 02:35 PM
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My only advice on tubes...., carry a spare one and a means to inflate it. Walking sucks.
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Old 09-03-14, 02:51 PM
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What sort of riding do you do? If you're a commuter, a tube is a tube. If you're a racer, ultralight latex (or tubulars) becomes attractive. If you spend all your time riding a fat bike through goatheads, you should think about slime tubes or tubeless. Need more info.
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Old 09-04-14, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
What sort of riding do you do? If you're a commuter, a tube is a tube. If you're a racer, ultralight latex (or tubulars) becomes attractive. If you spend all your time riding a fat bike through goatheads, you should think about slime tubes or tubeless. Need more info.
Sorry, yeah, just standard road riding (and over pretty decent-condition roads) for fitness.

Forgot to ask. Any difference in durability with, say, lighter-weight tubes?
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Old 09-04-14, 09:29 AM
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Durability? Butyl tubes in road bikes will last nearly forever as theres no abbrasion or anything else to wear them out. They will get punctured but those are almost always patchable. I just threw out a Michelin Aircomp tube with 7 patches and felt guilty about it.

Resistance to puncturing is another question and gets complicated between getting pierced, cut or pinched. In my experience, the large majority of flats are caused by some small sharp object getting stuck in the rubber of the tire and working its way through the tire and then the tube over a number of rotations. IMO, thicker heavier tubes only take a few more rotations before they're punctured compared to lightweight tubes so don't provide much of a benefit. On rarer occasions, I'll get a cut or puncture from some sizable sharp item that does it as I ride over it. It has to go through the rubber of the tire, the tires cords and then the tube. In this case, the thicker tube may provide a bit more margin, but not much IMO. Next is pinching, where I hit a sharp edge of some sort and it compresses the tire enough to pinch the tube between the fold in the tire's sidewalls hard enough to cut it. IMO, thicker butyl tubes or latex tubes provide some benefit here. Latex's advantage in this case is that it'll stretch a lot more and thinner before giving way than will butyl tubes.

Anyway, I run lightweight butyl tubes, carry a spare and some stick on patches, and repair punctured tubes at home with glue-on patches.
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Old 09-04-14, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by AMusingFool View Post
Sorry, yeah, just standard road riding (and over pretty decent-condition roads) for fitness.

Forgot to ask. Any difference in durability with, say, lighter-weight tubes?
Not noticeably so, IMHO. But if you're just riding for fitness, nearly any butyl tube will provide a pretty optimal combination of serviceability and economy. If puncture flats are a concern, a better tire will be worth more than a better tube.

I race, and am a bit of a weight weenie, so I run lightweight latex tubes on my road bike. I like how they feel, and they MIGHT have less rolling resistance (or maybe I just think that - either way, I'm happy with them). But that means paying $15-$20 for my tubes instead of the $3-7 I pay for the butyl tubes I run on my other bikes and my wife's bike.

Crux of the matter - obsess over tires. They'll have a MUCH more noticeable impact on your bikes performance.
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Old 09-04-14, 10:43 AM
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Thanks all. Appreciate the help. Will now not feel guilty largely ignoring them.
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Old 09-04-14, 01:02 PM
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Latex tubes wont matter much in a $20 tire .. you need to also drop some serious coin for a light supple casing tire, too.
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Old 09-04-14, 09:38 PM
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I buy mine from the "N" internet store and have never had a problem...I wait until they are on sale and buy a bunch.
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Old 09-04-14, 09:43 PM
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You can buy lightweight tubes and run them in a flat-proof tire - worth the extra weight in an urban environment or where you encounter goat head thorns.

The combo should work well for every day riding.
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