What to look for in bike tubes?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    What to look for in bike tubes?

    Before buying a few tubes for a 24" and 26" mtb, is there anything I need to look for?

    How do I tell bad tubes from good tubes? Are there tubes that perform better on specific road conditions? etc...

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Most important: Tubes come in sizes. Common mistake is to put a 26x2.1 tube into a 26x2.3 tire. It works - but the tube is stretched thin and hence prone to fail more likely than a tue of the correct size.

    Besides that... all possible features can be bought. From extremely light to very flat resistant (e.g. slime tubes). I usually run standard tubes in my MTB and slime tubes in my commuter. Ultra thin tubes seem to fail too easily and the thorn resistant tubes (other than slime/gue) don't work as well as the self sealing sort.

    I try to buy my tubes inexpensive. When I find a sale I am stocking up.
    "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit." - And I agree.

  3. #3
    Braille Riding Instructor
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    Negative. The most important attribute a tube can have is that it holds air.

    Seriously, though, I echo Kaba's recommendation for the cheap tubes. I usually buy mine five for $10 from Price Point. I haven't needed to buy any for a while, however, because I puncture /pinch a lot less than I used to (more experience, I guess) and because:

    Also, patch kits. Why throw out a perfectly good $2-$8 tube for a pinprick when a 30 cent patch will make it whole again? Most patch kits retail for $1.50-$2.50 and come with five or six patches.

  4. #4
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Get the right kind of valve.

    From my reading, don't mess around with latex. (You'd have to go out of your way anyway.)

    I recently bought a pair of Maxxis Ultralight tubes. For the sake of disclosure, I don't know what they'd cost someone else. But based on claimed weights (I don't own anything more precise than my bathroom scale) these things save 50g each, without doing anything like buying the next size down. They're also supposed to have fairly competitive rolling resistance advantages with latex tubes, although I can't re-find the article right now.

    I've only done about ten hours of riding since installing the new tubes, so I'm not ready to say they're awesome. I also switched to a lighter set of tires at the same time, so I'm not really sure how much I'm feeling lighter tires and how much I'm feeling lighter tubes. I can tell you that they've been trouble free for those ten hours, including some fairly rocky terrain. (Smoothish rocks, though, not jagged ones.) If I flat one, I guess I'll be doing a back-to-back test with a cheap one, because in the past I've always bought those. They work fine. I do the patch kit thing too - I have trouble with the glue drying, so I wait until I have six tubes that need patching, then do them all at once.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
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    I'm looking at MTB tubes on pricepoint and see the tubes are made for a range of bike tires: 26x1.75-2.5.

    Besides the 26, I'm guessing the next most important # to look at is the 2nd value, in this case 1.75". This way, the tube does not have to stretch out to fill a 2.5" tire and thereby, making the tube wall thinner from the stretch.

    Ex. Tire are 2.35". Therefore, I would want to buy a tube that is 26x2.35-2.50(or get as close as possible to 2.35 on the 2nd value.

    Is this correct?

    And I do have a patch kit. But like someone said, I rather just swap in a new tube then try to patch up a tube while outdoor. Once I get home, I can patch up the bad tube.

    Thanks!

  6. #6
    Braille Riding Instructor
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimmyNeutron10101
    I'm looking at MTB tubes on pricepoint and see the tubes are made for a range of bike tires: 26x1.75-2.5.

    Besides the 26, I'm guessing the next most important # to look at is the 2nd value, in this case 1.75". This way, the tube does not have to stretch out to fill a 2.5" tire and thereby, making the tube wall thinner from the stretch.

    Ex. Tire are 2.35". Therefore, I would want to buy a tube that is 26x2.35-2.50(or get as close as possible to 2.35 on the 2nd value.

    Is this correct?
    Assuming you want a set of five tubes, go here: http://www.pricepoint.com/detail/174...--Set-of-5.htm
    Then, from the pull-down menu, select the "26 x 2.25-2.50" option with the valve of your preference (Presta or Schrader).
    Quote Originally Posted by JimmyNeutron10101
    And I do have a patch kit. But like someone said, I rather just swap in a new tube then try to patch up a tube while outdoor. Once I get home, I can patch up the bad tube.
    I wasn't suggesting you patch a tube on the trail. I merely stated that patching a leaky tube is more cost effective than throwing it out.

    I take a spare tube and patch kit on every ride. The patch kit is a contingency, lest I also blow my spare; I don't like sitting around in the heat, waiting for rubber to cure, either.

  7. #7
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    I really like Qtubes, got some from Jenson. I will have to give those pricepoint tubes a try though that is a great price if they are good tubes. I have rubber cement patches but I also have these "Flatboy" patches from Specialized. They are great for patching tubes/tires on the trail and last a long time, and go on like stickers.

  8. #8
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    like others have stated the main points are

    1: tube sizes, 26x XX make sure it fits your bikes 26 x XX, useally tubes dont give exact sizes but example 26x 2-2.3 so if you looking for 26x2.1 you may find you have to search a little harder.

    2resta, presta, presta, these are the best valve no dout, the shreddar(bad spell?) is ok but it hold air as good as grandad trying to hold his breath, it trys hard but it isnt going to last presta works best at holding air.

  9. #9
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    I don't know that I've noticed a difference in performance between my Schrader and Presta tubes. But I'm pretty good about topping up every week or so. I generally buy Presta tubes, but I have to admit it's as much about fashion as function - better rims for tubed tires tend to use that standard.

    OP - getting too wide a tube can make it hard to mount properly, leading to a snake bite flat as soon as you inflate the tube, or maybe after you ride about 20'. Getting one with too narrow a diameter makes it a real PITA to get onto the rim, and getting one with too large a diameter means you get a bump at every revolution. Way too narrow, and you may find it leaks more air and is more vulnerable to pinch flatting, but tubes can be inflated to many times their original size before the pressure causes them to fail.

    So if you ride a 26"-wheeled mountain bike with 2.1" tires, you need a tube that's 26xsomething, and that something should be either a number smaller than or equal to 2.1, or a range starting at a number smaller than 2.1. My previous mechanic suggested using one size smaller tubes as a cheapskate way to cut rotating weight; I think I may even have done that on my 'cross bike for a while, just because I have more tubes for little tires around.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  10. #10
    Cantankerous Old Fart
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    Quote Originally Posted by blablablacksheep
    like others have stated the main points are

    1: tube sizes, 26x XX make sure it fits your bikes 26 x XX, useally tubes dont give exact sizes but example 26x 2-2.3 so if you looking for 26x2.1 you may find you have to search a little harder.

    2resta, presta, presta, these are the best valve no dout, the shreddar(bad spell?) is ok but it hold air as good as grandad trying to hold his breath, it trys hard but it isnt going to last presta works best at holding air.
    1. A 2.1 falls within the 2.0-2.3 size.

    2. Gee how have all the cars, trucks,heavy equipment, farm tractors, aircraft, etc managed W/those defective schrader valves all these years.

    A schrader valve has it's faults, but holding air isn't one of them

    .

  11. #11
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    Something to be aware of is tire sizes. 2.1-2.3 tubes work fine with my large volume 2.0 tires. I've had other tires that claimed to be 2.1's and were noticeably narrower and shorter than my 2.0 tires.

    I've also used smaller tubes without too much issue, but I recommend getting the right size. The smaller tubes are probably lighter but don't feel as "solid" when inflated in a larger tire if that makes sense. Personally I prefer schrader as I seem to break the valves on presta too easily.

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