Tubolito’s City/Tour inner tubes are a great idea, doubling down on the higher strength of TPU inner tubes. With a one-year warranty, the Austrian brand is standing by its puncture-proof claims. Nevertheless, after around eight rides I did suffer a flat. Considering the tyres and the terrain, that is still better than what I’d expect from a butyl inner tube – but it is much worse than a robust tyre (such as a Schwalbe Marathon) paired with a butyl inner tube.
Better puncture resistance than a standard butyl tube
Lighter than a standard tube
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This is at least backed up by a one-year warranty against punctures. If you ride over glass and prick the tube, or if you hit a curb square-on and get a pinch flat, Tubolito will send out a replacement. Naturally, the policy doesn’t cover tubes that have been improperly mounted or if the tyres have been run at too low a pressure.
The construction: Tubolito X-Tubo-City/Tour review
TPU inner tubes are claimed to have a much better strength to weight ratio than a standard set of butyl inner tubes, giving a range of options for their application.
It's possible to make a tube which is just as strong as a classic butyl one, but in a much, much smaller and lighter package. Or, as is the case with the Tubolito City/Tour inner tubes, that balance can be tweaked heavily in favour of strength.
Thanks to the properties of TPU, the City/Tour inner tubes still manage to be lighter and pack a little smaller than a standard butyl tube – even though they are strong enough for Tubolito to place a one-year warranty on their puncture resistance.
Unlike some of the other, thinner inner tubes in Tubolito’s range, the City/Tour is strong enough to cope with the heat generated from rim brakes and are not disc brake specific. They come in just one size, 700c, and for tyres between 30 and 50mm. There’s also a Schrader valve option too, should you require it.
Reasonably assessing the puncture resistance of an inner tube – or tyre – is a tough one. Taking a batch of tubes to a lab and testing to see how much force is required to pierce the tube will carry you a certain amount. But being such a controlled environment, there’ll still always be the question of how they perform in the real world.
But in the real world, there’ll always be that counterfactual element of doubt for any particular puncture. Yes, this rusty nail might have caused a flat, but would it have gotten through any tyre or inner tube?
Looking at the rate of incident of punctures across a large group would help to manage those questions. But equipping 1,000 people with these tubes and sending them about their business would be somewhat beyond the scope of this review.
So, with all of that in mind, I set up these tubes and put them to use.
In Tubolito’s imagery, the tubes are set up with a pair of Schwalbe Marathon tyres. It might hit the aesthetic of town use head on, but it’s hardly championing the merits of the City/Tour tubes. After all, I’ve used the same set of Schwalbe marathons on my commuter bike (with butyl inner tubes) for years and have only had one puncture – and that was from a vicious rusty nail.
Given that in the wording of the warranty there’s no stipulation of the model of tyres you should be using – the emphasis is on these tubes themselves being puncture-proof after all - I set them up with a pair of Schwalbe G-One Ultra-Bite gravel tyres and took them out on the roads and trails.
This might not count as city-use, but the fire-roads and trails I’ve been down certainly fall into what I’d ride when touring. Essentially it’s terrain that Schwalbe's Marathon Mondial touring tyres were designed for.
Anyway, in my experience rocks are less testing than shards of broken glass and, as I’m no longer commuting daily, it meant that I was able to put in more kilometres per week on the tubes.
After about 8 rides, I got a puncture.
There wasn’t anything particularly testing about that ride, no thorn bushes or botched bunny hops over gullies. It was just a standard gravel ride across the fire roads of St Gwynno Forest. Fortunately, it was quite a slow puncture, so I was able to top it up with air and made it home without going through the hassle of any trailside repairs.
In fairness, eight rides and only one puncture is a lot better than I used to get 'gravel' riding on a cross-country mountain bike over a decade ago – back then I would average one puncture a ride. That said, since the advent of tubeless, the bar has been raised significantly.
I’ve never punctured those Schwalbe Ultra-Bite tyres when set up with sealant – with the City/Tour tyres claiming to be puncture proof, flatting after that many rides isn’t very encouraging.
At £22.99 / $29.90, Tubolito’s City/Tour inner tubes are an expensive proposition. Branded Continental inner tubes cost around £6.99 / $8.40, while cheaper tubes can be bought for £2.99 / $3.49.
Perhaps the most relevant comparison is between the City/Tour tubes and a Schwalbe Marathon touring tyre. There are many different models, but the Schwalbe Marathon Plus Smartguard Rigid Road Tyre comes in at £41.49 / $51.68.
If the City/Tour tubes were unpuncturable, then they would be a great, low cost alternative to a dedicated City/Touring tyre. However, as they’ve proved less so, it would be less hassle – and potentially less expensive in the long run – just to get the better tyres.
With a one-year warranty, Tubolito is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to the puncture resistance of the City/Tour inner tubes. Considering the material qualities of TPU, doubling down on their strength is a very good idea.
But still, after around eight rides I did end up with a puncture. It’s still better than what I’d expect from a butyl inner tube, considering the tyres and the terrain. But it is still not as good as a robust tyre, such as a Schwalbe Marathon, paired with a butyl inner tube.
- Weight: 131g
- Sizes: 30–50mm x 700c
- Contact: www.tubolito.com
Are Tubolito tubes worth it?
Of the Tubolito X-Tubo-City/Tour tubes we had on review, unfortunately they aren’t worth it. Billed as unpuncturable, they very much proved punctureable.
If you’re after top performance and fewer punctures, you’re better off going for tubeless tyres and sealant – it’s a more reliable system than these inner tubes. If you’re after a low faff solution which doesn’t involve topping up a tyre with sealant multiple times a year, than a highly robust tyre such as those from Schwalbe’s Marathon line will be a more foolproof solution.
What are Tubolito tubes made of?
Tubolito tubes are made of a thermoplastic elastomer, which allows the tubes to be built lighter, stronger, and stretchier – TPU tubes typically cover a wider range of tyre widths than standard butyl inner tube.
What is my bike inner tube size?
Your bike inner tube size depends on your tyre size. Inner tubes typically cover a range of different widths, so if your tyre is 35mm, then an inner tube rated for 32–47mm would work fine.
You’ll also need to make sure you are getting inner tubes for the correct wheel size. There are three typical sizes, but many different names for them: 700c, 29in, 28in, all refer to the same rim diameter. Likewise, 650b and 27.5in both have the same rim diameter. 26in wheels are typically only referred to as 26in wheels.
Can you use CO2 with Tubolito?
Yes, you can use CO2 cartridges to inflate a Tubolito inner tube, but just like with a butyl inner tube, the gas will leak out more quickly than just standard air. You’ll be fine getting home, but don’t expect to get a week’s riding out of it without a top up from your pump.
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