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Latex Lament

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Latex Lament

Old 04-28-17, 06:45 PM
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Latex Lament

I would like to use latex tubes in the tires on my road bike. Perhaps they're all thea same, but I'm currently using Vittoria. I was warned and experience has shown that they're more fragile than their butyl counterpart. Consequently, I have gotten more than my fair share of flats. The curious thing is that a majority of the flats occur when I'm not even riding the bike. I have yet to experience a flat that was caused by a puncture! I've seen a few pinch flats as well as flats resulting from a mysterious tear or puncture. I know it's not uncommon for something to puncture the tube without remaining in the tread, but I'm not seeing any evidence that has occurred. More often than not, the tube experiences a sudden decompression while the bike is sitting idly in my apartment. On more than one occasion this has occurred shortly after I have topped off the tire in preparation for the next day's ride. I've heard a number of theories. The latest came from my mechanic who suggested that the frequent refilling required by latex tubes is creating micro-tears in the tube. Additionally, the chuck on my pump is secured to the valve stem by friction. Compared to pumps that use a locking lever to secure the Chuck to the valve, removing my chuck requires significantly more force. According to the mechanic, that stress might be creating micro-tears; which eventually rupture.

Another bike shop employee suggests it might be the rim tape I'm using. As opposed to cloth, my rim strip is "plastic." When installed, the rim tape terminates within two or three millimeters of the valve hole. Coincidently, that's where many of the mysterious "punctures" are occurring. I'm just wondering whether it's possible that the edge of the tape is cutting the tube.

I'm having to replace a latex tube about every other week! If that is typical for latex tubes, then it might not be worth it. However, I have my doubts. The purpose of this thread is not to debate the pros and cons of latex versus butyl. I've already decided that I prefer latex. However, the high maintenance costs in time and money might not be worth whatever benefit I think I'm getting. Is my desire to use latex tubes a lost cause?

Last edited by babyboomer; 05-05-17 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 04-28-17, 07:22 PM
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Tackle this informative thread when you've got ~30min...

Best latex tube - which one? - Weight Weenies

No, you shouldn't have to replace latex tubes anymore than butyl.

I've happily ridden latex tubes for years now. Through trial and error I finally got my installation technique down. Hang in there!
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Old 04-28-17, 10:38 PM
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Actually latex tubes are supposed to be more resistant to punctures. But that isn't your problem. Install old time Velox cloth tape and see what happens.

I much prefer light butyl tubes to latex. I can't feel any difference and the butyl tubes are just easier to deal with. Mine are 67g and ride great.
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Old 04-29-17, 02:17 AM
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I just went through the same set of experiences. For me, the holes were all next to the valve, on the rim side. In most cases, they were in the joining of the valve segment to the tube proper, depending on model specifics. And, in all cases there was a wavy shape left in the tube. I sort of concluded that the problem is that the tube is not sitting flush and/or straight around the valve hole, which has left enough room for the tube to bulge out when inflated to somewhere above the 80-100psi where I've noticed the problem.
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Old 04-29-17, 03:35 AM
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if you have had no flats caused by punctures, as stated in your original post, then the problem should be easy enough to determine. put the inflated (about 100PSI should be enough) tire/wheel in the bathtub with about a foot of water in it and see where the air is coming out. if you can't see any air bubbles coming out, then there is no leak or at least nothing to be concerned about. and your flat tires are caused by the normal porosity of latex tubes compared to butyl tubes. IOW latex tubes normally lose enough air after a day or two to be considered by many cyclists, 'flat'. mine do.

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Old 04-29-17, 05:56 AM
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Oh yeah, I totally forgot to mention how fast latex tubes lose air normally. Could that be the problem?
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Old 04-29-17, 08:39 AM
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Yep, they bleed off air pressure quickly. Like stated above, about a day or two. I check pressure before each ride any way, Butyl or latex. Part of my pre ride look over. I have had latex last the entire summer with no issues and prefer latex when using a high thread count tire like my Vitoria Corsa Evo CXIII's. Something sounds amiss if your going through that many tubes.
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Old 04-29-17, 09:12 AM
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I have had issues with plastic rim tape, as you describe. In butyl tubes.
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Old 05-05-17, 01:02 PM
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I have switched the rim strip on my wheels from plastic to cloth (Velox). the next month or so will determine whether that makes a difference. I'll update this thread at that time.
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Old 05-05-17, 01:12 PM
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As someone who has never bothered with latex tubes... what are the advantages? Why do people use them?

Is it purely about weight? How much total difference are we talking for 2 tubes?

Seems like a big hassle to pump every day versus every 3rd or 4th day, just to save a few grams.
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Old 05-05-17, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Dan333SP
As someone who has never bothered with latex tubes... what are the advantages? Why do people use them?

Is it purely about weight? How much total difference are we talking for 2 tubes?

Seems like a big hassle to pump every day versus every 3rd or 4th day, just to save a few grams.
Suppleness is the biggest advantage IMO. I've only used them for cross but there is a noticeable increase in suppleness and grip at low pressure compared to butyl in that case. Will probably pick up some latex tubes for the road bike this summer. I don't ride that bike every day so pumping each time I ride is not a big deal.
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Old 05-05-17, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Dan333SP
As someone who has never bothered with latex tubes... what are the advantages? Why do people use them?
Same reason people use supple tires. Latex rubber offers very little resistance to being flexed.

Is it purely about weight? How much total difference are we talking for 2 tubes?
Weight is a minor bonus, maybe a few tens of grams compared with typical butyl road tubes. They don't tend to be lighter than ultra-light butyl tubes.

Seems like a big hassle to pump every day versus every 3rd or 4th day
I set my PSI before every ride anyway, so for any bikes I'm riding regularly, it doesn't really matter.

Last edited by HTupolev; 05-05-17 at 01:38 PM.
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Old 05-05-17, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Dan333SP
As someone who has never bothered with latex tubes... what are the advantages? Why do people use them?

Is it purely about weight? How much total difference are we talking for 2 tubes?

Seems like a big hassle to pump every day versus every 3rd or 4th day, just to save a few grams.
More sensation for her pleasure
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Old 05-05-17, 07:46 PM
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Primarily ride latex for its proven lower Crr (rolling resistance) that saves a few watts.

Suppleness of the ride and lower weight are nice side benefits, as is allegedly greater pinch flat resistance.

YMMV.
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Old 05-05-17, 09:52 PM
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Another rider running latex and Velox rim strips. No problems. Mine lose ~10 lbs. overnight. I wouldn't like a pump that I had to pull off the valve. I've had several tubes ruined by pumping on the road with mini-pumps until I got my Road Morph G, usually from the too-enthusiastic pumping of friends. And many more butyl tubes fail at the valve for no apparent reason. The valve is definitely a weak spot. New pump. Specialized Air Tool Comp is the best I've used so far. Not that expensive and should last you 20 years.
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Old 05-05-17, 11:27 PM
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Originally Posted by redfooj
More sensation for her pleasure
i'm so cheap i just bought the butyl ones and told her they were latex. don't think she could tell the difference, to be honest.
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Old 05-06-17, 12:45 AM
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Whether latex tubes make a difference in ride feel is largely determined by the tire. If you buy nice tires with flexible sidewalls and lesser or softer tread then latex may be felt. Riding heavy tires?, don't bother.
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Old 05-06-17, 06:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
Another rider running latex and Velox rim strips. No problems. Mine lose ~10 lbs. overnight. I wouldn't like a pump that I had to pull off the valve. I've had several tubes ruined by pumping on the road with mini-pumps until I got my Road Morph G, usually from the too-enthusiastic pumping of friends. And many more butyl tubes fail at the valve for no apparent reason. The valve is definitely a weak spot. New pump. Specialized Air Tool Comp is the best I've used so far. Not that expensive and should last you 20 years.
I pull the valve off latex tube valves all the time. Never a problem. As long as you just pull it cleanly and swiftly off, it works fine. If you diddle with it, you will damage the tube.
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Old 05-06-17, 09:58 AM
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I've had two tubes fail at the valve. After the second failure, I took a a good look at the valve hole and determined the bored edge of the hole had a sharp edge that was cutting into the tube. I ended up chamfering and softening the edge by hand with a piece of sandpaper. I also re-enforce the tube at that location by cutting a postage size piece from an old tube, cutting a tiny hole in the patch and pressing it over the valve and gluing it in place.
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Old 05-07-17, 06:05 AM
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Ditch the plastic crap. If you're having issues at the valve another option is to put a piece of electrical tape over the hole and then push the valve stem through.
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Old 06-15-17, 11:06 AM
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Much to my chagrin, yet another tube experienced a sudden decompression while my bicycle was sitting idly in my apartment. It is not unprecedented, and was described in my opening comment. The common denominators are that the failure is occurring where the valve is bonded to the tube, and it occurs within hours after I've topped off the tire. I am not riding as frequently as I used to, so within several days the tires can get pretty low. I do not know whether the frequent inflating and deflating is causing the problem.

To address the possibility that the friction-based chuck installed on my pump was contributing to the problem, I purchased that company's locking-lever style chuck. Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to get that adjusted well enough to stay on the valve.

I have replaced the plastic rim strips with cotton.

On this latest occasion, I couldn't help but notice that the workmanship where the valve is bonded to the tube is seriously flawed. I compared it to a new tube, and the difference is profound! I guess it's possible that's how that junction looks after a tube has been in use for a while, but I won't be sure until I've had an opportunity to replace another tube. In the future, I will be sure to inspect each new tube before installing it.

Last edited by babyboomer; 06-15-17 at 01:08 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 06-15-17, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by ReneV
I just went through the same set of experiences. For me, the holes were all next to the valve, on the rim side. In most cases, they were in the joining of the valve segment to the tube proper, depending on model specifics. And, in all cases there was a wavy shape left in the tube. I sort of concluded that the problem is that the tube is not sitting flush and/or straight around the valve hole, which has left enough room for the tube to bulge out when inflated to somewhere above the 80-100psi where I've noticed the problem.
Was there a solution?
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Old 06-15-17, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by babyboomer
Was there a solution?
I didn't find one and have given up on latex tubes, at least for now.
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Old 06-16-17, 05:38 AM
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Use tubeless tape and a lot of these issues will disappear. This is a good read, too.

Latex tubes for dummies : Triathlon Forum: Slowtwitch Forums
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Old 06-16-17, 01:52 PM
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In the meantime, I love my Vittoria Corsa 25c G+ tires! After a brief break-in period, they are incredibly supple – eliminating the need for tools when dismounting and mounting! Consequently, when my latex tubes get a flat, the process of getting back on the road is not as onerous. I do not carry latex tubes as spares, but rely on butyl instead.
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