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Got some nice tyres....latex or butyl tubes?

ravey1981ravey1981 Posts: 1,111
edited April 2016 in Road buying advice
I've got some Vittoria corsa SC2 tyres for nice summer days. 320tpi casings so should be nice and soft riding. Do I go for latex tubes or lightweight butyls? I'm going around in circles with this...latex seem to be the best for ride feel but are they as robust as a butyl tube? The issue of them going down isn't so much of a problem as I check my pressures before every ride anyway....

Interested to hear from those who have ridden both. Thanks.
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  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,720
    I'd worry more about the robustness of the tyres, not the tubes. Having said that, latex tubes are generally every bit as reliable as butyl, as long as you check the pressures regularly.
  • ravey1981ravey1981 Posts: 1,111
    Imposter wrote:
    I'd worry more about the robustness of the tyres, not the tubes. Having said that, latex tubes are generally every bit as reliable as butyl, as long as you check the pressures regularly.

    Yeah the tyres are pretty thin to be honest. I wanted some tan walls and these review very well, may end up changing them out for something a bit beefier if they prove problematic...
  • nicklongnicklong Posts: 231
    Does anybody have any first hand experience of latex tubes with carbon clinchers?

    I've got a pair of Reynolds Assaults with Michelin latex tubes and Vittoria Corsa SCs. There was an article on Velonews which recommended that you avoided mixing carbon wheels and latex tubes due to hear build-up. At the same time, the author (Zinn?) mentioned he had been using latex without a problem...

    For sure, I won't be taking them to the mountains but I can't see the heat from local rides/races being an issue.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 19,058
    I used Michelin latex tubes in my Vittoria Paves. Once.
    Nice, but not that much different and have to be pumped up on a daily basis. Not much faff, but unnecessary.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,783
    Never used them with carbon clinchers but isn't there a proven gain of a watt or so from using latex tubes - OK it's marginal but for the price if you are going to buy nice wheels, nice tyres etc why not nice tubes. In my experience they are every bit as reliable as butyl tubes but again I've never used them with carbon clinchers - I have used them in the Alps on long descents in very hot conditions though.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • paulmonpaulmon Posts: 315
    nicklong wrote:
    Does anybody have any first hand experience of latex tubes with carbon clinchers?

    I've got a pair of Reynolds Assaults with Michelin latex tubes and Vittoria Corsa SCs. There was an article on Velonews which recommended that you avoided mixing carbon wheels and latex tubes due to hear build-up. At the same time, the author (Zinn?) mentioned he had been using latex without a problem...

    For sure, I won't be taking them to the mountains but I can't see the heat from local rides/races being an issue.

    I have latex in my Assaults and have run them for 12 months without any problems. I don't think heat build up will be a problem in the UK but would definitely be an issue on long alpine descents but I would question the use of carbon clinchers as a wheel choice rather than the tubes in this situation. As others have said just get into the routine of checking pressures before every ride.

    There is a significant difference in weight between the two types of tubes which makes them worthwhile in my opinion.
  • Alex99Alex99 Posts: 1,407
    ravey1981 wrote:
    I've got some Vittoria corsa SC2 tyres for nice summer days. 320tpi casings so should be nice and soft riding. Do I go for latex tubes or lightweight butyls? I'm going around in circles with this...latex seem to be the best for ride feel but are they as robust as a butyl tube? The issue of them going down isn't so much of a problem as I check my pressures before every ride anyway....

    Interested to hear from those who have ridden both. Thanks.

    Latex tubes are reliable. They are actually quite ressistant to pinch flats as latex is so much more stretchy than butyl.

    The differences quoted in rolling resistance are about the same difference as a good tyre, to a great tyre. So, if you're already buying nice tyres, why not go for it? Some say they can feel it. I would say I can, but no blinded test.

    Regarding pressure loss... if you're already taking time to think about which inner tube you want, then you're probably checking tyre pressure before each ride, so no issue.

    You occasionally see reports of the tyre or tube exploding when pumped up, which almost certainly only a sign that the person didn't seat the tube properly. Why would the material of the inner tube make a tyre explode??
  • BobbinogsBobbinogs Posts: 4,841
    PaulMon wrote:
    ...

    There is a significant difference in weight between the two types of tubes which makes them worthwhile in my opinion.

    Sorry, can't really let you get away with that :) We are talking about 20g per tube aren't we? If so, I am struggling to understand how anyone can call that significant. OK, if you are doing the national hill climbing champs and have drilled out your chainset, cut half your bars off and removed the saddle then it may seem a chunky saving but for the majority of riders out there, 20g does mean diddly squat.

    I will 'fess up, I haven't tried latex but I have ridden on many club rides with folks who are on latex. There seems to be no general consensus on ride feel but that doesn't mean that, for some, they do offer something. For me though, riding some decent tyres like the Vittoria SC's really does make a big difference; they are lovely, lovely tyres to ride, providing the right pressure is used (no point buying lovely supple tyres and pumping them up to 120PSI). However, they are down the scale in terms of puncture protection and are not durable (wear is consistent with a luxury tyre, as in, not great). The other problem is that if you get caught in a heavy downpour then the gum walls will stain badly which I don't mind but others might.

    The one downside of latex tubes for me (which is why I haven't tried them) is the fact that when they puncture they really go bang. I have yet to ride with anyone who has punctured on latex who has been left with a tube that could be repaired. Not a problem if you are in a TT or have plenty of tubes, etc., but if you are out on a remote 100 miler and need to rely on tubes/sticky patching to get you home on a bad day at the office then latex do not appear to be the answer.

    As per the OP, I don't think the "check pressure before each ride" is an issue, as I do that anyway in the same way I also check brakes, chain, etc.

    OP, latex tubes are pretty cheap so well worth a punt. Why not give 'em a go and let us know what you think?
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,426
    I've been using Michelin latex tubes for years and really like them. You can definitely feel they are more supple on the rough-surfaced roads where I live. They've been a good match over the years with Vittoria Open Corsa, Veloflex Pave and Black, Michelin Pro3 and my current Schwalbe One tyres. I don't have the expertise to comment on the claimed reduction in rolling resistance of latex but my experience suggests they are more resistant to intrusion and snakebite punctures - no doubt because latex is more stretchy than butyl. You can patch them successfully with standard Tip Top puncture kits. I've been running wider rims (Archetypes) for the last couple of years and have been experimenting with lower pressures in my Schwalbe Ones. Snakebite punctures over things like cattle grids were an issue with butyl tubes. So I switched to latex and I've had no punctures since - at the same pressure (92-96 psi on 23mm). And the more lively and supple ride is instantly noticeable.

    On the downside, you do need to pump them up every time you go out. Many people, however, would do that anyway, even with butyl tubes. They are obviously more delicate than butyl and slightly more fiddly to insert into the tyre, particularly open tubular types, but I use talcum powder and a bit of care and I've never pinch flatted one while fitting. I've had a couple of catastrophic failures such as when I've hit a rock, splitting the sidewall of the tyre and writing off the tube, or when a tube has split near the valve - but then I've had similar failures with butyl. I've also had a couple of old spare latex tubes perish into a myriad of little cracks, so I now carry butyls as spares in my seatpack. I've used them in the Alps with no issues on alloy rims, but I do know that they are not recommended for mountain use with carbon rims because of the overheating risk.

    So I think latex are well worth trying as a match for lightweight supple tyres.
  • Alex99Alex99 Posts: 1,407
    Bobbinogs wrote:
    PaulMon wrote:
    ...

    There is a significant difference in weight between the two types of tubes which makes them worthwhile in my opinion.

    Sorry, can't really let you get away with that :) We are talking about 20g per tube aren't we? If so, I am struggling to understand how anyone can call that significant. OK, if you are doing the national hill climbing champs and have drilled out your chainset, cut half your bars off and removed the saddle then it may seem a chunky saving but for the majority of riders out there, 20g does mean diddly squat.

    I will 'fess up, I haven't tried latex but I have ridden on many club rides with folks who are on latex. There seems to be no general consensus on ride feel but that doesn't mean that, for some, they do offer something. For me though, riding some decent tyres like the Vittoria SC's really does make a big difference; they are lovely, lovely tyres to ride, providing the right pressure is used (no point buying lovely supple tyres and pumping them up to 120PSI). However, they are down the scale in terms of puncture protection and are not durable (wear is consistent with a luxury tyre, as in, not great). The other problem is that if you get caught in a heavy downpour then the gum walls will stain badly which I don't mind but others might.

    The one downside of latex tubes for me (which is why I haven't tried them) is the fact that when they puncture they really go bang. I have yet to ride with anyone who has punctured on latex who has been left with a tube that could be repaired. Not a problem if you are in a TT or have plenty of tubes, etc., but if you are out on a remote 100 miler and need to rely on tubes/sticky patching to get you home on a bad day at the office then latex do not appear to be the answer.

    As per the OP, I don't think the "check pressure before each ride" is an issue, as I do that anyway in the same way I also check brakes, chain, etc.

    OP, latex tubes are pretty cheap so well worth a punt. Why not give 'em a go and let us know what you think?

    You're right, it's not the weight, it's the suppleness. They're only a fraction lighter.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,783
    Bobbinogs wrote:

    The one downside of latex tubes for me (which is why I haven't tried them) is the fact that when they puncture they really go bang. I have yet to ride with anyone who has punctured on latex who has been left with a tube that could be repaired. Not a problem if you are in a TT or have plenty of tubes, etc., but if you are out on a remote 100 miler and need to rely on tubes/sticky patching to get you home on a bady at the office then latex do not appear to be the answer.


    I've been using latex in my best wheels for years and haven't found they puncture any differently to butyl. What I have found is as with Mercia Man they are easier to pinch between the rim and the tyre if you have tight fitting tyres and aren't careful - this may account for the tyres going bang because that is symptomatic of a pinched tube. So long as the tube is fitted properly though they don't puncture any differently to butyl and can be repaired with normal butyl patch kits - that is my experience anyway.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • paulmonpaulmon Posts: 315
    Bobbinogs wrote:
    PaulMon wrote:
    ...

    There is a significant difference in weight between the two types of tubes which makes them worthwhile in my opinion.

    Sorry, can't really let you get away with that :) We are talking about 20g per tube aren't we?

    I think it was closer to 30g when I weighed them last :roll: which equates to a 60g saving of about £6 or £7. People pay silly amounts to reduce weight on set of wheels so if you are already running a set of lightweight wheels then removing another 50 or 60 grams from the total weight for such little outlay is a no brainer.
  • PaulMon wrote:
    Bobbinogs wrote:
    PaulMon wrote:
    ...

    There is a significant difference in weight between the two types of tubes which makes them worthwhile in my opinion.

    Sorry, can't really let you get away with that :) We are talking about 20g per tube aren't we?

    I think it was closer to 30g when I weighed them last :roll: which equates to a 60g saving of about £6 or £7. People pay silly amounts to reduce weight on set of wheels so if you are already running a set of lightweight wheels then removing another 50 or 60 grams from the total weight for such little outlay is a no brainer.

    Lightweight butyl like Supersonics are actually lighter though (50g compared to 75g Michelin Latex).
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,426
    What ultra lightweight butyl tubes don't have is the supple ride feel of latex tubes combined with good quality tyres. It feels like you are running your tyres at 3 or 4 psi lower. And they also seem to "sing" or "hum" as you are riding along - something that has been commented on by others riding alongside me. I would also argue that latex tubes are more puncture-resistant that ultra lightweight butyl.

    I think it makes sense that if you are spending money on really supple 320tpi tyres, you should try the most supple tubes to get the maximum benefit. On the other hand, if you are on Conti Gatorskins or Schwalbe Marathons, butyl is best.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 19,058
    Mercia Man wrote:
    What ultra lightweight butyl tubes don't have is the supple ride feel of latex tubes combined with good quality tyres. It feels like you are running your tyres at 3 or 4 psi lower. And they also seem to "sing" or "hum" as you are riding along - something that has been commented on by others riding alongside me. I would also argue that latex tubes are more puncture-resistant that ultra lightweight butyl.

    I think it makes sense that if you are spending money on really supple 320tpi tyres, you should try the most supple tubes to get the maximum benefit. On the other hand, if you are on Conti Gatorskins or Schwalbe Marathons, butyl is best.
    Not to be argumentative, but butyl is hardly stiff.
    Surely pressure is more relevant?
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • stueysstueys Posts: 1,332
    I used latex in my Alu clinchers for ages without issues, liked them a lot. I moved back to butyl on my carbon clinchers when I read this article https://enve.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/artic ... her-Wheels.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 19,058
    Stueys wrote:
    I used latex in my Alu clinchers for ages without issues, liked them a lot. I moved back to butyl on my carbon clinchers when I read this article https://enve.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/artic ... her-Wheels.
    Try that test with butyl tubes too.
    I am wondering is some cheap branded tubes are actually seconds.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,426
    PBlakeney wrote:
    Mercia Man wrote:
    What ultra lightweight butyl tubes don't have is the supple ride feel of latex tubes combined with good quality tyres. It feels like you are running your tyres at 3 or 4 psi lower. And they also seem to "sing" or "hum" as you are riding along - something that has been commented on by others riding alongside me. I would also argue that latex tubes are more puncture-resistant that ultra lightweight butyl.

    I think it makes sense that if you are spending money on really supple 320tpi tyres, you should try the most supple tubes to get the maximum benefit. On the other hand, if you are on Conti Gatorskins or Schwalbe Marathons, butyl is best.
    Not to be argumentative, but butyl is hardly stiff.
    Surely pressure is more relevant?

    Latex tubes are far more stretchy than butyl - something that can easily be seen by pumping them up outside a tyre. I reckon that this makes them conform to the road surface better than butyl at the same pressure, thereby providing the supple ride quality for which latex is known.

    For the full latex effect to be felt, they are best paired with lightweight and supple summer race tyres like the Vittoria Open Corsa rather than more substantial four season tyres like the Open Pave you tried them with briefly. They are great for a best summer bike but I wouldn't use them with carbon clinchers or for touring, commuting or regular all-year riding.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,783
    Stueys wrote:
    I used latex in my Alu clinchers for ages without issues, liked them a lot. I moved back to butyl on my carbon clinchers when I read this article https://enve.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/artic ... her-Wheels.


    Doesn't say what their fears are based on, if it's just pumping a tube up outside a tyre doesn't seem to mean much, Vittoria claim latex tubes are more puncture resistant than butyl (yes they do sell them but they also sell butyl) so I would go with personal experience.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 19,058
    Mercia Man wrote:
    For the full latex effect to be felt, they are best paired with lightweight and supple summer race tyres like the Vittoria Open Corsa rather than more substantial four season tyres like the Open Pave you tried them with briefly. They are great for a best summer bike but I wouldn't use them with carbon clinchers or for touring, commuting or regular all-year riding.
    Hmmm. I thought Paves at 320 tpi were supposed to be supple?
    Never mind as personally I don't want to be using anything less durable on our roads, and the Paves are hardly durable.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    ravey1981 wrote:
    Do I go for latex tubes or lightweight butyls? I'm going around in circles with this...latex seem to be the best for ride feel but are they as robust as a butyl tube?

    Is this a joke?
    Why don't you just try them?

    Have never used lightweight butyl, but latex feel/ride great IME.
  • cookeeemonstercookeeemonster Posts: 1,991
    So...if you gotta pump latex tubes up every day...how much pressure would they lose on say an 8 hour ride for example?
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    So...if you have gotta pump latex tubes up every day...how much pressure would they lose on say an 8 hour ride for example?

    Just the right amount that they are a bit more comfortable when you need it most :wink:

    Have never checked after a ride but 10% would be fine by me.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 19,058
    So...if you gotta pump latex tubes up every day...how much pressure would they lose on say an 8 hour ride for example?
    IIRC a tyre inflated to 100psi would drop to around 80psi over a 24 hour period with an 80-100 mile ride in-between.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    I tend to start with 120psi (as they do not feel that hard) so its not an issue after say 6-7 hours.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 19,058
    Carbonator wrote:
    I tend to start with 120psi (as they do not feel that hard) so its not an issue after say 6-7 hours.
    No, not on the day. But it becomes a minor inconvenience if you ride on consecutive days.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    Ride, sleep, pump, repeat
  • mugensimugensi Posts: 559
    I fitted Vittoria latex (19/23mm) tubes with 25mm Conti GP4000's a few weeks ago. They loose less than 10psi overnight to the point that I only check/pump them every 2 or 3 days (which is the same as I would have done with butyl tubes previously)

    I found them extremely easy to fit (I put them in a plastic bag first and dumped in some talc to coat them) and i had both wheels done within 5 or 6 minutes.


    BTW GP4000's are simple to fold on by hand compared to ultra tight Pro4 SC's!!!
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    Pah, 5-6 minutes! I made my fat bike tubeless in about that last night lol.

    But on a more serious note, I would pump latex up every ride (or maybe not for next day if its a recovery ride 8)).
    10psi overnight is a big difference over 3 days.

    If thats what you do with butyl anyway then somethings wrong as latex deflates much quicker.

    I have just got a Topeak smart head for the track pump.
    Hopefully it will be much better than the standard valve head which just blows off the smooth stems you get with latex tubes.

    Should also mean that you don't rip the valve from the latex when pushing the head onto a partially inflated (with no lockring) tubes stem.
  • onyourrightonyourright Posts: 509
    So...if you gotta pump latex tubes up every day...how much pressure would they lose on say an 8 hour ride for example?
    Easily 10 PSI.

    I have used a variety of tubes including:
    • 50 g butyl (Continental Supersonics)
    • 75 g butyl (Michelin Aircomp Ultra Light)
    • full-fat butyl (~100 g)
    • 70 g latex (Michelin Aircomp Latex).
    The 100 g butyl tubes of the sort you get on new bicycles tolerate a lot of abuse during fitting (and bad rim tape, rough rim beds, etc.) and hold air for a long time. So much so that you can go a couple of weeks without pumping if you’re not fanatic about tyre pressure. However, a pair of them absorb maybe 3 W more than lighter options, and they feel slightly less supple than latex.

    Latex tubes feel slightly better and sound a bit different too (as someone already mentioned). According to tests, they reduce rolling resistance by just enough to matter. They are also more resistant to pinch flatting. Installing 70 g latex tubes requires some care but you don’t have to be a mechanical wizard to do it. However, they leak rapidly, so you need to pump them up before every ride.

    The 50 g Supersonic butyl tubes are a specialised choice. They have rolling resistance and feel similar to 70 g latex tubes, but they hold air noticeably better. Can be pumped up every few days. However, they are paper thin and ridiculously easy to damage during installation. You have to take extreme measures to ensure the tube is not pinched or twisted before inflating, that the rim tape fits perfectly, that there are no particles of dirt in the tyre, etc. Additionally, the Continental ones (the only 50 g butyl tubes I know of) have threaded valve stems that wreck the rubber washers in traditional pump heads (like my Silca Super Pista).

    The 75 g butyl tubes are a halfway house offering a decent advantage in feel and rolling resistance over 100 g butyl, greater durability than 50 g butyl, and less leakage than latex. I think they make sense for many people. The Michelin Aircomp Ultra Light tubes have good valves, too.

    I like latex, but having to pump every day is certainly annoying. Maybe it’s okay if you only ride once a week and would check tyre pressures anyway.
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