The humble inner tube can mean the difference between enjoyable riding and a world of dirty fingers and kerb-side cursing. And finding the right tube for the right situation is becoming more important now there are so many different types of tyre from which to choose.

Tubes made from butyl are more prevalent, while latex has more specialised applications. The latter promises greater resistance to punctures and improved ride quality, although we couldn?t attest to either in our testing.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

The three most important areas to consider when buying an inner tube are:

Valve length

Too short and you won?t be able to pump up the tyre without an adapter; too long and your wheels will look ridiculous.

Weight

Choose an appropriate weight for the type of riding you intend to do. Use light tubes for time trials/hill climbs and heavy tubes for winter training.

Price

Expensive doesn?t always mean best. Consider buying in bulk to get the best price and you?ll save on visits to the shop as well.


Michelin Air Comp latex £7.99

Well reinforced around the area where the tube is joined and the valve is attached. Care is always needed as contact with oil will damage the tube. More cut-resistant than a butyl tyre but more prone to pinch punctures too. 47g

Contact: Michelin

www.michelin.co.uk

Continental Race Light £7.95

A useful selection of valve lengths and good build quality are notable from

one of the market leaders. We found this tube to be the best performer in terms of a compromise between weight and price. 78g

Contact: Cambrian Tyres

www.conti-tyres.co.uk

01970 833902

Specialized butyl £4.99

Generally a good all-round performer although we did experience multiple failures around the valve/tube joint.

It has a slightly rougher finish than

the others in the test but does come lightly talc?d. 111g

Contact: Specialized

www.specialized.com

020 8391 3500

Schwalbe Ultremo £8.99

The lightest of the butyl tubes. Like Conti?s Supersonic, it?s very thin and not an everyday tube. A high risk of puncturing is inevitable at this weight. A nice touch is that each one comes with an alloy valve extender and fitting tool. 49g

Contact: Bohle UK

www.schwalbe.co.uk

01743 874496

Vredestein Standard £3.99

This tube has a good, robust finish with a substantial valve/tube joint and tested well ? a good winter tyre. Vredestein offers a good selection of valve lengths (35/40/60/80mm) with replaceable cores too. 112g

Contact: R.J. Chicken

www.chickencycles.co.uk

Continental Race Light £7.95

A useful selection of valve lengths and good build quality are notable from

one of the market leaders. We found this tube to be the best performer in terms of a compromise between weight and price. 78g

Contact: Cambrian Tyres

www.conti-tyres.co.uk

01970 833902

Continental Race 28 Supersonic £8.95

This was the smallest of the tubes tested and also one of the most fragile. It?s best suited to time trialling on good road surfaces or for hill climbs and certainly not recommended for everyday use. An excellent third tube to squeeze into a saddle bag though. 52g

Contact: Cambrian Tyres

www.conti-tyres.co.uk

01970 833902