Tubolito, the Austrian TPU inner tube brand, has launched its X-CX/Gravel inner tubes promising extreme puncture resistance – backed up by a full one year replacement policy. If you manage to puncture one of these tubes, Tubolito will send you out a replacement.
The tubes have been designed to fit 700c tyres between 30 and 50mm wide, and feature a 60mm long valve for deeper section wheels. The claimed weight is 130 grams per tube, which is even a little lighter than a comparable inner tube with a standard butyl construction – Continental’s offering has a claimed weight of 155 grams.
They are quite expensive for inner tubes, coming in at $34.90 compared to $9.49 for the Conti tubes. Other butyl tubes come in cheaper still.
Tubolito has released an inner tube promising similarly high levels of puncture resistance before, in the X-Tubo-City/Tour that also offered a full one year warranty. The X-CX/Gravel inner tube is said to have been reengineered, but with the claimed weight and width range exactly the same, the only difference we can see is in the length of the valve.
The range now spans a broad spectrum of inner tubes, from ultra-lightweight tubes that are said to offer comparable puncture resistance to butyl tubes but weigh on 35g, to all-rounder tubes that weigh 60 grams and are said to be twice as robust yet pack twice as small as standard inner tubes.
You can find the X-CX/Gravel tubes on Tubolito's website here.
Tubolito X-CX/Gravel inner tubes: will they work?
I tested a set of the X-Tubo-City/Tour inner tubes last year. To get more miles in on the system, I set them up with gravel tyres and did most of my riding out on the trails. Not to beat about the bush, I got a puncture after eight rides on them.
That’s much better performance than I used to get when mountain biking with inner tubes, over a decade ago. Back then I’d expect to get a puncture every ride and fixing tubes was as routine as cleaning down the bike.
But it’s still very far off the performance of modern tubeless tyres. I’ve ridden Schwalbe’s Ultrabite gravel tyres many more times than I keep track of and I’m yet to get a noticeable puncture on those.
But although tubeless wins on cost, weight and puncture performance, it’s fair to say the system hasn’t won everyone over. Out on the trails, I still see a fair subset of mountain bikers running inner tubes and the proportion is greater for gravel.
Whether it’s the mess of setting up or less frequent riding making topping up the sealant levels proportionally more costly for the amount of use, there’s still a number of people who would greatly benefit from a more puncture resistant tube.
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Starting off riding mountain bikes on the South Downs way, he soon made the switch the road cycling. Now, he’s come full circle and is back out on the trails, although the flat bars have been swapped for the curly ones of a gravel bike.
Always looking for the next challenge, he’s Everested in under 12 hours and ridden the South Downs Double in sub 20. Although dabbling in racing off-road, on-road and virtually, to date his only significant achievement has been winning the National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Bike Championships in 2019.
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