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Tubolito Review | Tubo S-Road |
Since their introduction in 2016, Tubolito has expanded and developed its product range and I’ve finally got round to doing a long-promised Tubolito Review where I’m looking at the Tubolito S-Road and Tubolito Road versions.
Tubolito has been one of the few products this year that I looked forward to using and reviewing; for a mere inner tube, that’s strange…but true. Then again, it’s an inner tube that promises to make you faster and save you space and weight in your saddlebag.
TakeAway: They seem to live up to the promises of lower rolling resistance, extra lightness, smaller size and increased strength. However the S-Road is designed for rimless wheels (disc brakes), so temper your excitement.
Here’s a quick summary review of the Tubolito. I used a variety of their tubes (rim vs rimless, 80mm, 60mm and 42mm valves, Tubo Road and S-Tubo Road) covering everything from my climbing wheels to my TT wheel. There’s more detail further below.
Tubolito Review | Tubo S-Road
Build Quality & Design - 90%
Price - 60%
Suitability for high-level performance - 90%
Tubolito Verdict | Tubo S-Road & Tubo Road
For absolute performance, you will probably already have latex tubes, tubs or tubeless tyres in your race-day armoury and Tubolito probably won’t quite appeal to you. However, for the rest of us, there are some interesting practical performance improvements that Tubolito can offer, especially if you want to pay the premium price.
I’m always keen to save a watt or two. So I scanned bicyclerollingresistance.com (BRR) for their test results and, handily, they test Tubolito together with the tubes & tyres I currently use – Conti Race 28 (Light) + Continental Grand Prix 5000, the best performance all-rounder, IMHO. BRR seem pretty confident that I could save up to 2watts per wheel. Not to be sniffed at. Although if I use the more fragile Race 28 Light there’s not much extra that S-Tubo gives me and if I really want the lowest rolling resistance then Latex just beats S-Tubo.
I’m less worried about durability despite cycling weekly on some not-so-great Surrey roads. After 500 miles with Tubolito, I’m still puncture-free. Whether that’s the Tubolito or my good luck, I’m not sure. Tubolito certainly claims better durability. Perhaps for some of their MTB tubes then this makes them more attractive?
Turning to lightness then everyone loves a bit of carbon. Does my love of absolute weight-saving extend to tubes? Probably not. Nevertheless, these babies are light, there’s no denying that. Comparing S-Tubo to a pair of Race 28 (non-Light) tubes there’s a whopping 186g/pair weight saving (spinning). And there certainly seems to be an improved, smoother acceleration and even I can spot that difference! So, comparing Tubo-Road to Conti R28 Light, there’s a 70g/pair weight saving (spinning).
Price. Well, err, let’s gloss over that should we 😉 They are around Eu30/£30/$40 per tube though you can get them for 30% less than that sometimes (£24)…if you’re lucky. With Conti Race 28 Light (butyl) coming in at £8, you’re looking at buying Tubolito at 3x the price for a similarly-performing tyre albeit a lighter and probably more puncture-resistant one. If you’re looking at Vittoria Latex 25/28 then you will pay from £8 to £10.
Then we finally come to size considerations. These are SMALL when uninflated and they feel slippery. They are undoubtedly a great space-saver when used as a spare and I found they went on the wheel and inside the tyre much more easily than butyl tubes.
Finally, the speedier S-Tubo tubes are NOT designed for RIM brakes (think heat). You can risk it, but that’s your call. Further to that general warning, my understanding is that carbon clinchers are worse at dissipating heat than aluminium – just in case you were thinking of risking it with a carbon braking surface.
Personally, I’m never going to go down the deflating tube of doom that is Latex. Putting that to one side, I’ve definitely vowed to choose my tubes more carefully next time. Conti Race 28 Light will be my default. However, I am REALLY LIKING the S-Tubo Road on my climbing wheels. Like, REALLY liking. So, I’m in somewhat of a quandary. If they were cheaper I’d be in less of a quandary.
My Key Points: Low spinning weight, compact size as a spare.
- Clearly smaller
- Lower, independently tested rolling resistance compared to butyl. Up to 4w/pair?
- Clearly lighter – absolute weight & spinning weight.
- Claimed to be more puncture-proof
- Undoubtedly expensive
- Not quite as low rolling resistance as latex
- Needs special patches
Tubolito – Rolling Resistance
Here are the detailed test results from bicyclerollingresistance.com. Handily I use Conti Race 28 and Race 28 Light. Even more handily the site tests both the S-Tubo Road and the Tubo Road.
I use 23mm Conti tyres but the stats for those are highly similar to the 25mm ones they test. Their rolling resistance test is at a sensible 18mph and they use 42.5kg which is a tad more than half my weight plus half the bike weight. I ride at between 85psi and 100psi, normally 90-95
I used to always use the Conti Race 28 Light tubes but somewhere along the way, the similarity of the packaging or lack of availability means that I seem to have quite a few of the regular Race 28 tubes. THAT seems to have been my downfall. Had I obsessively stuck with the 28 Light then the watt savings over a pair of the S-Tubo would be less than a watt and so not worth worrying about. However, going from the Race-28 to S-Tubo there is probably a more significant watt saving of 2watts/pair. That saving should make anyone think.
Then again, the Conti Race 28-Light is definitely more puncture-prone than Race-28. So comparing the 28-Light to the S-Tubo you have to weigh up the potential superior puncture resistance and lower weight of the latter.
Tubolito Review – Weight
I’m not a weight weenie. That said, I do care about carbon frames and light climbing wheels but then I go and spoil it all and carry two water bottles full of my magic Sunday-Cycling mixture adding 1.5kg to the bike weight.
These people ARE by their own admission Weight Weenies and care greatly about these things. Marginal gains and all that…
So my interest in the weight-saving comes in 2 parts
- The absolute weight saving – 53-83g PER TUBE vs Conti. Sweet. Can I feel that difference, even just picking up the tubes? A: Nope. (Yes, really 186g saving for a pair of S-Tubo vs Conti Race 28!)
- The spinning weight saving. You’ll have to fill me in on the physics here but a spinning, heavier weight is harder to accelerate I reckon. THIS is a key takeout and probably why I would use these on my climbing wheels.
Now, whilst I can NOT tell the difference between one setup that’s 4w easier on the resistance than the other I could definitely sense some positive difference here between the S-Tubo and the regular Conti Race 28 when accelerating. But on my heavier, aero wheels the 28-Lite and S-Tubo felt the same. Maybe a pro could tell some difference but I couldn’t (there probably was a real difference)
I guess the point here is that you just have to believe. Cycling is a religion, after all 😉
Tubolito Review – Puncture Resistance
I’ve no way of testing this.
The manufacturer claims that the compound they use, thermoplastic elastomer (TPU), is up to twice as ‘tough’ as a regular inner tube but that it performs only slightly better in a Snake Bite Test.
However, what I can say is that these tubes are clearly orange! When you are putting a new tube on it’s REALLY easy to see if there is any orange tube sticking out from the rim of the uninflated tyre (inside the rim). Plus they are a bit more slippery and certainly thinner than butyl and, I could be imagining it, but they seem to go up into the tyre much more easily than butyl tyres. So they probably reduce the chance of my laziness causing a pinch puncture.
Take Out – Will I Keep Using Them?
Ask me after 2000 miles! If I can go that long without a single puncture then maybe I’ll go for more Tubolitos for regular use. I’m guestimating I get a puncture every thousand miles??? Maybe it’s more often, IDK. So if Tubolito can last twice as long then it significantly improves their true cost-effectiveness as I usually tend to throw away a punctured tube rather than patch it.
I’ll probably keep some ‘in reserve’ for special occasions like races or when I try to beat my proper cyclist friends (rather than the triathletes, who don’t count).
Either way, I’m going to keep using my current pairs for a while longer and see what happens. I must be wanting it to be true but they do feel quicker and they do feel comfier when I inflate to higher levels.
Buy Tubolito – Review Prices, Discounts, Availability
These are the product types, choose wisely. RRP prices included and if you shop around with the links provided, you should find them cheaper
- Tubo-Road-700C -for rim or disc brakes. These are light but not super-light (38g; 18-28mm tyres; 42mm, 60mm, 80mm valves), €29.90rrp $34.90rrp
- S-Tubo-Road-700C – these are the super-light, disc-brake only model (23g; 18-28mm tyres; >42mm, 60mm, 80mm valves), €32.90rrp, $37.90rrp
- Tubo-MTB – €29.90rrp, $34.90rrp
- S-Tubo MTB – >€32.90rrp, $37.90rrp
- S-Tubo MTB+ – e-MTB for 27.5+/29 wheels €29.90rrp, $34.90
- Tubo-CX/Gravel – for 30-40mm tyre widths, – €29.90rrp, $34.90rrp
- Tubo-BMX – for 20″ BMX wheels – €29.90rrp, $34.90rrp
- Tubo City/Tour 28″ – – €/$24.90rrp
- Tubo-Cargo 20″ 24″ and 26″
- TUBO-FOLDINGBIKE 16″ – €29.90rrp, $34.90
- TUBO FLIX KIT – 5 special patches – €3.90rrp, $4.90