Latex tubes nowadays - best performance tubes for race clinchers

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
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LouisN
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Location: Canada

by LouisN

Seems like there is less and less latex tubes users.
I did a little search and most of the talk and tech is from 3-7 yrs ago.

Is it because of the min use of full carbon clincher rims mainly ?
Too expensive to produce, too little quality control ?
Other factors ?

I was looking for the best race clinchers tubes, especially at Vredestein race latex tubes, but they are a pretty rare find nowadays.
Personally, I haven't had any luck with latex tubes.
I installed about 5-6 of them (mostly between 2013 and 2014), and none of them lasted more than 2 weeks.

So in 2018, what's the consensus on the best performance, and reliable inner tube for race wheels ( material, brand, model) ?

Louis :)

CrankAddictsRich
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by CrankAddictsRich

I used Vittoria latex tubes all season last year, in my race wheels, no punctures or issues.
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by Weenie


glepore
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by glepore

I'm a vittoria fan as well, suspect its a hybrid though because it holds air much better than latex of yore.
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Chris3g
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by Chris3g

I was getting Vredesteins from fairwheel bikes for a while and never had any issues with them, but seems their stock is gone now as well. Have gone tubeless since and don’t think I’ll be going back to tubes. For a race wheel the corsa open tlr run tubeless is the fastest tire you can get.

pdlpsher1
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by pdlpsher1

The issue with latex has nothing to do with carbon clinchers, but all clinchers including alloy clinchers. The issue of latex in clinchers is that clinchers don't have a uniform shape that latex is pressing against. Because latex is so stretchy, when pumped up to a high pressure, you end up with an expanded latex that has variable thickness along the surface. This inconsistency in wall thickness causes durability issues that you are experiencing. Latex tubes is used on all high-end tubular tires because latex is superior in reducing rolling resistance AND a tubular tire is round which is the perfect 'container' to contain a latex tube. This is the reason why Conti makes a tubular tire that has a latex tube but they don't sell a standalone latex tube for you to put inside a clincher tire. In a nutshell, the largest bicycle tire manufacturer doesn't believe a latex tube is safe inside a clincher, not just a carbon clincher. You can read more about it here: https://enve.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/artic ... her-Wheels

I have also experimented with latex and had too many failures, some of them quite dangerous as I lost all the air in an instant. I've been using Conti Supersonic tubes which are very thin butyl tubes, at 50 grams each. They roll almost as good as latex and have the advantage of being lighter than latex. Durability is way better than latex. So I find it to be a good compromise especially when price is factored in. I can get them for $10 a tube here in the U.S.


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TonyM
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by TonyM

I use latex tubes for more than 30 years now (with Vittoria or Veloflex tires). In all my wheelsets, aluminum and carbon (Bora and LW). And whenever I use a butyl tube I do really feel the difference.

The latex tubes give me a more pleasant ride and are also better in terms of puncture - but in order to have this you need high quality latex tubes (the latex tubes from Vittoria, Challenge, Vredestein, Continental long time ago, michelin ,....are quite different), high quality tires (only Vittoria or Veloflex), pump your tired before each ride, set the pressure depending on how many hours you ride, use plenty of talcum, replace the tube whenever you replace the tires, be very gentle with them when you install the tire on the rim, clean the tubes at least once a year and use new talcum, etc...and I personally replace also my latex tubes latest every two years.

If this is too much hassle then go for butyl or tubeless.

I suppose it is also a matter of time and the tubular tires (which usually only use latex tubes) will also disappear.
Last edited by TonyM on Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Marin
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Location: Vienna Austria

by Marin

I run latex in 4 of my 5 wheelsets, and in all 3 carbon clincher sets. 2 x Vredestein, 1 x Vittoria, 1 x Challenge.

If you mount them correctly you won't have any problems.

pdlpsher1
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Location: CO

by pdlpsher1

I recall someone here posted a question. He took a good latex tube out of a tire and found the tube has stretched such that it was bigger in circumference than the tire. I have a feeling that the great properties of latex is also a disadvantage when it comes to durability. It appears that because latex is so stretchy, any part of the tube that is slightly thinner than the rest will stretch tremendously, and eventually something bad will happen to the stretched part when the stress exceeds the tensile strength of the latex. If you take a new latex tube and pump it up outside of the tire, you will see a balloon form somewhere on the tube. That balloon part is the part that is thinner than the rest.

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TonyM
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by TonyM

The thickness of the latex tubes is very different depending on the brand. Think about Vredestein/ thin vs. Michelin/ thick for example. And the quality of the latex will also have different characteristics.


That’s why you should use only high quality latex tubes and never use old one, change them when you change the tire etc...

I really can understand why some people have problems with latex tubes as they don’t follow all these steps and procedure etc....

It is like me with tubulars. I don’t use them any more as it is too much hassle for me. For others the advantages are bigger than the disadvantages.

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spookyload
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by spookyload

Thanks Matty! I too was getting them from fairwheel. My main function of using them is for flathead thorns. If you pick one up that isn’t right under the contact point of the tire, you can leave it alone and the part inside the tube will hold air for 30 minutes or so. Enough to get me home usually. Can’t tell you how many times I have ridden home not knowing I even had a goat head till I go the next day to ride. If it is under the contact area, doesn’t help much

AJS914
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by AJS914

I used Michelin latex tubes for a couple of years with good luck. Flats were zero with Conti GP4000es and minimal with other tires. I finally gave up on them because they were a bit more hassle than butyl tubes and I didn't want to pump them every single ride. And honestly I don't think I notice any difference in ride quality.

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TonyM
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by TonyM

AJS914 wrote:I used Michelin latex tubes for a couple of years with good luck. Flats were zero with Conti GP4000es and minimal with other tires. I finally gave up on them because they were a bit more hassle than butyl tubes and I didn't want to pump them every single ride. And honestly I don't think I notice any difference in ride quality.
You will feel more difference latex vs butyl in Vittoria or Veloflex tires. In the Conti 4K the difference is much less indeed.

alcatraz
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by alcatraz

If you have issues with latex then I suggest you check your rims for sharp edges. I found some on my new rims that I dremeled away. Make sure you check deep under the hooks as well. Sometimes it's in the deepest part.

Also because latex is so elastic, a small cut in the tire casing is enough to create a point where the tube is not supported and it blows out. A small weak spot doesn't mean the tire needs replacing. Just put a small not too thick tube patch over the hole on the inside of the tire to support the latex tube.

I do some steep descents on carbon clinchers (not super light ones) and I haven't had any tube failures on descents but rather just normal punctures on flat roads.

I use challenge latex tubes @50-60gr

Latex tubes might not be as forgiving as butyl. I certainly wouldn't recommend them for others than people who like to tinker with their bikes. However they are not nearly as bad as people make them out to be. As long as your rims and tires are in good shape then the latex will hold fine. Also make sure you use talcum powder for any light tire/tube setup. I don't recommend using latex with tires nearing the end of their life.

I also found latex tubes to be super easy to patch. Latex patches are thin and weigh almost nothing. I have one tube with like 10 patches and it's still going strong. Never had a patch leak either. Always puncture in a new spot. It's never the fault of the tube, always tire issue.

Finding a slow leak on latex can be very hard though. Because it can't take almost any pressure before inflating like a balloon, you can look for leaks for a long time. I found that the best way to find such a leak is to use a heavy transparent round item like a thick fruit bowl/dish and wedge the tube between that and a round bucket with water. That way it can take more pressure and the leak is visible through the glass.

/a
Last edited by alcatraz on Thu Jan 04, 2018 2:53 am, edited 9 times in total.

AJS914
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Joined: Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:52 pm

by AJS914

I tried Vittoria and got more flats than ever. Yes, the ride was a tiny bit more supple than the GP4000 but I didn't think it was a big enough difference to put up with the flats.

by Weenie


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