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Pirelli P-Zero SmarTube
this should come as no surprise as only last month Pirelli effectively used this same material for the inners of their new Peloton-level tubs (P-Zero Race).
I’ve used these types of tubes quite a lot over the last 6 months and have them on one of my bikes now. With reservations, I like them for PERFORMANCE and for SPARES. The main downside is that they puncture more than the claims suggest and the replacement cost is exorbitant. Basically, if these were £10 a pop I would stump up the extra cash and buy them as a disposable item but at £/Eu20-30 a tube then my wallet starts to complain. They can be patched but that’s an expensive, time-wasting nightmare as well.
Pirelli P-Zero SmarTube vs Tubolito/Aerothan
Tubolito is orange and Aerothan white whereas Pirelli chose a distinctive yellow colour. Whilst you might think the colour of a tube is irrelevant…it’s not. It actually makes it REALLY easy to see if you have all the tube inside the tyre before you start to inflate it. That might save you a pinch puncture here or there.
The Pirelli range seems limited and Tubolito has the biggest range of sizes for both road and MTB. It also has a range of stem sizes for deep-section wheels and that was where my interest piqued as I bagged a few for my aero wheels and some shorter-stemmed ones for my lightweight R5 climber.
As you can see in the image, below, the Tubolito comes in at 24g and the P-Zero is 35g. Fairly similar? and you might think that 10g or 30-40g, when compared to a butyl inner tube, is irrelevant. Nope, it’s VERY relevant.
The spinning weight at the edge of the wheel absolutely does make a difference. Even if you can’t feel the difference in a faster acceleration you will almost certainly BE accelerating faster. As it happens I did a max effort up Box Hill at the weekend with butyl inners, it was 15 seconds off my PB and my PB was with the Tubolitos. I’m probably fitter at the moment than when I set the PR/PB so this class of tube really do make you faster in some circumstances (as does latex).
There’s always a but.
The S-Tubo Tubolitos (the fastest ones) are not compatible with rim brakes as the heat in the rim will eventually burst and deflate them. Did I ignore that advice? Answer: yes, obviously. Did they deflate? Yes eventually! Tubolito does make a slightly heavier tube that is compatible with rim brakes and the Schwalbe Aerothan sits at the same weight level as that slightly heavier one from Tubolito.
The interesting thing with the new Pirelli is that it claims compatibility with rim brakes. OK, you lose 10g compared to the lightest Tubolito but you shouldn’t get a puncture. The Pirelli is then lighter than the Tubolito that claims to be for rim brakes.
Waffle Aside: If you have rim brakes like me then the Pirelli is probably the best of the 3 options.
The other great thing with this genre of inner tube is that they are great as a space-saving spare. Generally, they are at least half the size of a regular tube as well as being lighter in your back pocket.
Anyway, those are some quick thoughts. I discuss the details more cogently in the detailed reviews of the competitor products. If I get some tubes from Pirelli I will write a more detailed comparison.
MUST-READ: Schwalbe Aerothan Review
MUST READ: Tubolito Review
This might help if you are comparing to Latex/Butyl
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