What inner tube to use isn’t often a question most cyclists worry about until they’re shopping for a replacement, but if you’re interested in a marginal gain, choose latex inner tubes shows a new test by AeroCoach.
The test compared the weight and rolling resistance of butyl, latex and Tubolito inner tubes. The Tubolito inner tyres were the lightest on test, saving 128g per wheelset than the lightest butyl inner tube in the test, the Continental Race 28 Light.
But the real difference that really matters is rolling resistance, and here the latex inner tubes draw ahead with a 7 watt saving compared to a regular butyl inner tube.
The lightest inner tube on test, the Tubolito, produced lower rolling resistance than the regular butyl inner tubes on test by a couple of watts but lagged behind the latex inner tube to the tune of 4.8 watts.
The testing was conducted in controlled conditions on smooth rollers, using a Continental GP 5000 25mm tyre and testing at 45kph. How the test data transfers to real roads with all their imperfections are unknown.
The aero company, headed by Dr B Xavier Disley, specialises in optimising aerodynamics for cyclists and it has worked with Tour de France racers winners and stage winners, according to its website.
road.cc has no affiliation to AeroCoach, and neither can we verify their test data ourselves, we’re just reporting their findings with the proviso you take it at face value. We’ve reported on the company’s test results before, most recently regarding the new Continental GP5000 tyres.
So should you rush out and replace all your heavy butyl inner tubes with latex? If you’re racing or time trialling, and you’ve looked at every other aspect of your setup to extract as much performance as possible, then yes definitely.
But remember that latex tubes need regular inflating (their air retention qualities are poor), they are fragile, installing them can be tricky. Oh and they are more expensive, retail price for a Vittoria Latex inner tube is £12.99, so you’ll definitely want to shop around for the best discounts.
Do you run latex inner tubes? What are your experiences like? Let us know down below.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.