Pirelli P-Zero SmarTube
Following on from the innovative Schwalbe Aerothan and Tubolito, Pirelli announced their version of the same kind of product and I’ve been using them for the last two weeks. Here are my first thoughts on my first rides (and a race).
So far with the Pirelli SmarTubes I’ve covered 300 miles and I even trusted them for a race (HIM PB!). They would have made a positive difference in the race time but the difference is not noticeable as you ride, at least it’s not to me.
I’ve used these types of tubes quite a lot over the last 9 months and have them on two of my bikes in some form or other. The Pirelli is on one set of wheels on my P5 TT bike, I think the Aerothan is on my R5 and the Tubolito is definitely in my saddlebag. A strange collection!
Broadly speaking I like them all but have notable reservations to the point where I would only recommend them if you fully understand both the upsides and downsides. Despite being similarly made, the Pirelli SmarTube, Schwalbe Aerothan & Tubolito each have their idiosyncrasies and there is no clear all-round winner between the three.
TPU tubes, like the P Zero Smartube, are all GREAT as saddlebag spares. Your saddlebag has limited space and they roll up to about one third the size of a regular butyl tube.
These tubes are easier to insert than butyl tubes. Their bright colours make them easier to see if you are about to get a pinch puncture when inflating and, furthermore, a pinch puncture is also avoided as the tubes are much thinner and slipperier.
They’re just easier to put on correctly when you are in a rush.
SmarTube, Tubolito and Aerothan all come with great marketing lines on their superior puncture-proof properties compared to butyl tyres. I’ve not yet punctured on either the Aerothan or SmarTube however I’ve used the Tubolito a LOT more and, consequently, have punctured on those few times. I can’t yet comment on the longevity of the Pirelli.
Repairing a Tubolito puncture is possible, albeit with a special and expensive repair kit. However, I had an immediate 2 in 3 failure rate of the repairs and wish I’d never bothered trying in the first place.
Pirelli’s SmarTube gets around that and Pirelli simply recommend throwing it away once you have punctured it!!!
Rim vs Rimless
The thinnest, lightest and hence best performer is the Tubolito S-Tubo. However, because Tubolito S-Tubo is extra thin it will fail from the heat of your rim brakes. Yes, I did try it!! And, yes, it did puncture albeit after a few hundred miles of careful braking.
On the other hand, the Pirelli SmarTube is fine with any kind of wheel just like the next model down from the S-Tubo.
SmarTube is only available with a 60mm road stem and that’s NOT long enough for my 50mm rimmed wheel and pump head. I now have the annoyance of using a valve extender.
Weight & Performance
The SmarTube is a creditable 35g/tube but the S-Tubo is lighter still at 22-24g but remember, you can’t use that one with rim brakes.
That said, they are still at least half the weight of your existing butyl tubes. Many of you are running GP5000 clinchers and these Pirelli tubes would be a sneaky little performance upgrade. The lower spinning weight would mean you accelerate more quickly and to the point where you might even notice the difference on a lightweight climbing bike! plus there will be slightly better rolling resistance to make you generally a bit faster. Win-Win.
Note: bicyclerollingresistance.com has not yet tested the performance gains on these yet
For out-and-out, one-off performance you would instead get latex tubes.
- Weight: 35g (700×23/32c).
- Valve: Presta, 60 mm, black.
- ETRTO: 622-23/32.
- Material: TPU.
Price: These are currently around the price levels of £25 a tube or Eu/$30.
Availability: Limited as of June 2021.
More info: pirelli.com
Only time will tell if these are more puncture-proof than the competition. Pirelli is quietly confident that is the case. We shall see.
Otherwise, Pirelli SmarTubes are a reasonable choice as a regular use performance booster and a great choice as a space-saving spare. The obvious downsides are cost and inability to repair.
Disclaimer: These were supplied FOC by Pirelli. This content is not paid for.