Schwalbe Aerothan Review – Race Tube 28″, 700C, 41g
Since their introduction in 2020, the Schwalbe Aerothan tubes have been high on my list of performance products to review but Tubolito arrived first and so now I have the opportunity to compare them to each other and to my trusty Conti Race 28 Lights. Which is best? To my mind, best means lightest, fastest and most durable as well as some other lesser features.
Tubolito & Aerothan were two of the products I most looked forward to reviewing this year. Whilst I wasn’t especially concerned about shaving off tiny amounts of the weight I had to carry, I was keen to save the spinning weight in my wheel. That could make me accelerate just that little bit faster, as well as save me a tiny bit of space in my clever SmrT Cargo carrier. If either was more puncture resistant than a butyle tube, that would be a bonus.
TakeAway: Aerothan probably gives lower rolling resistance (RR), extra lightness, smaller size and increased strength. However, neither the Schwalbe Aerothan nor Tubolito Road can match the extra lightness of the Tubolito S-Road but remember, the latter is only for rimless wheels (disc brakes). Latex lovers won’t change to Aerothan as Latex gives lowest RR.
Here’s a quick summary review of the Aerothan, I’ve only used the 40mm valve version for a few hundred miles on my Mavic R-Sys SLR climbing wheels (rim) with Conti GP5000 tyres. I’ll update my full experience here in 2021 plus add in any stats from BicycleRollingResistance if they test the Schwalbe Aerothan.
Price - 60%60%
Build Quality & Design - 90%90%
Suitability for high-level performance - 90%90%
I couldn’t feel any difference between the ride quality with the Aerothan and the Tubolitos.
However, with confirmation bias probably kicking in, I could feel a more rapid acceleration compared to the Race 28 Light when I used either the Aerothan or Tubolito.
That said, the Schwalbe Aerothans are probably more of a ‘performance compromiser’, meaning they are almost certainly faster than butyl but with extra benefits such as their practicality as a tiny spare (or two), ease of mounting and possibly improved puncture resistance. The claimed increase in durability might be more of a factor for the MTB version of Aerothan.
- Clearly smaller
- Manufacturer-claimed lower rolling resistance
- Suitable for RIM brakes
- Clearly lighter – absolute weight & spinning weight.
- Easy installation,
- Claimed to be more puncture-resistant and further resistant to instant deflation
- Claimed to give a stable ride at lower pressures
- Claimed to be 100% recyclable
- Latex has even lower rolling resistance
- Needs special patches
- Only comes in one valve stem length
Schwalbe Aerothan – Rolling Resistance
It’s difficult to contextualise the claims made by Schwalbe, below. If you compare to ‘Brand A’…just say who they are. It’s not defamatory if you beat them! It makes people like me suspicious! I suspect the orange colour in the chart is Tubolito 😉
However what we can see in the chart is that the Aerothan saves 1.5w/wheel at 40km/h compared to their own Extralight tube (80g, £6). A vague assumption here would be that ExtraLight is a similarly performing competitor to the Conti Race 28 Light. We should also note that Schwalbe’s test was performed at 40km/h and BicycleRollingResistance always use a more realistic 18 mph / 29 km/h. I’m guessing that if Schwalbe’s tests were performed at a lower speed, the watt saving would be reduced.
So perhaps here there is a real-world saving of less than 1watt/wheel by using Aerothan over Conti Race 28 Light.
If, instead, you look at the Tubolito data from BicyclingRollingResistance, below, then you might assume that Tubolito Tubo-Road and Schwalbe Aerothan are probably similar performers based on RR. (I’ll update this when the actual data comes in, ping me if you see it please)
Note the S-Tubo Road is ONLY for RIMLESS wheels
Aerothan Review – Weight
I’m not a weight weenie. That said, if I can reduce the weight of a spinning wheel to accelerate faster as well as having some imperceptible hill-climbing gain from a 40g lower setup then…why not?
So my interest in the weight-saving comes in 2 parts
- The absolute weight saving per wheel is 30g vs Conti Race 28 light OR 50g vs Conti Race 28. So even a total 2×30=60g saving is small but ‘of interest’ in the pursuit of marginal weight gains. Of course, no-one could feel this difference in weight when riding.
- The spinning weight saving: There will be an equation somewhere for this and you’ll have to trust me that you might be able to notice the difference when accelerating. I think I can tell the difference on my R5 with my Mavic R-Sys SLR wheels. Anyway…there IS a mathematical difference.
- You get weight savings compared to Latex too, with Vittoria Latex 28 coming in heavier at 80g.
Tubolito Review – Puncture Resistance
When I spoke with Schwalbe they seemed to accept that Tubolito and Aerothan were similar for rolling resistance and weight. However, they sounded much more confident that their product was more durable, specifically that it is better at resisting pinch flats.
Here are some of their in-house results which support their assertion, the orange bar might be Tubolito…or not.
Note that the snake bite test (road) is performed at 8bar/115psi.
I’ve no way of easily verifying these tests myself but here is some competing data from Tubolito about Tubolito vs butyl at 2.5bar, 36psi.
I don’t quite know what to make of either chart. Those tyre pressures are simply not representative of any of the pressure that I or my cycling buddies routinely use.
Take Out – Will I Keep Using Them?
Yes, I will gladly keep using them until I get a puncture then I’ll probably dispose of them just like I do with other tubes.
If they were a similar price to butyl I’d definitely buy them…but they are not.
That said, I have a nagging suspicion that I need more puncture-resistant tubes for winter riding in Surrey, I probably also need sturdier tyres too. “Trying to beat people up hills” is the problem that gets in the way of a sensible solution to my occasional puncture problems. With the right tyres, tubes and inflation you can easily save 5watts and maybe quite a lot more depending on which of your mate’s setups you compare it to. Even 5w is a nice amount to save and in the realms of a difference that you might be able to feel.
Buy Schwalbe Aerothan – Review Prices, Discounts, Availability
Aerothan is now shipping to selected shops and Amazon all across Europe but they don’t seem to have made their way to the US yet, at least not in a widespread way.
There is only one valve stem size available for the road tyre and that’s 40mm. If you want to use Aerothan in deeper section wheels then you need a valve extender
There are other tube sizes eg for MTB usage.
- Schwalbe Aerothan – 700C, 40mm valve stem
- Tubo-Road-700C -for rim or disc brakes. These are light but not super-light (38g; 18-28mm tyres; 42mm, 60mm, 80mm valve stem), €29.90rrp $34.90rrp
- S-Tubo-Road-700C – these are the super-light, disc-brake only model (23g; 18-28mm tyres; >42mm, 60mm, 80mm valve stem), €32.90rrp, $37.90rrp
Disclaimer: 2x Aerothan tubes were supplied FOC by Schwalbe and you have to make up your own mind as to whether or not the free tubes influenced the content.