You may have noticed some funny looking orange valve stems on a few pro bikes. No, these aren't design choices but rather a trademark of an Austrian brand known as Tubolito. These are widely regarded as the best tubes on the market and come with a price tag to match! At $35 a tube some of you may be wondering how/why someone could charge this insane rate.
Lucky for you, we'll tell you all about it!
In this article, we'll spotlight the purpose of these ultra premium tubes; covering the pros & cons that come with your purchase.
What Are Tubolitos
Tubolito (the company) defines their product as:
"Bicycle tubes carefully engineered to exceed all expectations, breaking barriers of toughness, weight, and size." - Tubolito.com
And while this statement features quite a bit of flowery marketing language, it's actually quite accurate as to what these tubes are.
Extreme Weight Savings
There's no disputing that Tubolitos are the lightest by a landslide! Other brands don't even comes close as far as BMX inner tubes are concerned.
Tubolito quotes their inner tubes to be nearly 60% lighter than standard tubes. In a sport continually searching for the lightest equipment, it's clear to see why Tubolitos are so attractive. But we'll talk more about specific benefits to these tubes in a later section.
The extreme weight savings of Tubolitos may lead you to believe that they lack puncture resistance; However, you'd be wrong to assume so. Tubolitos are considered to be the most puncture resistant tube available.
Traditional inner tubes made from Butyl Rubber provide acceptable puncture resistance but are the heaviest option. On the other side we have "super light" tubes which are thinner Butyl tubes that save weight but offer very little puncture resistance.
In comes Tubolito with their magic material known as TPU. This material allows Tubolitos to offer double the puncture resistance at 40% of the weight of standard tubes. With Tubolitos you get proper puncture resistance AND save considerable weight!
Down below is a video from Tubolito that demonstrates the supreme puncture resistance of their tubes.
Convenient Form Factor
On top of extreme weight savings and increased puncture resistance, tubolitos also offer the smallest form factor. An unused tube (not inflated) is half the size of traditional tubes. This means that Tubolitos don't take up as much space in your gear bag or tool box.
This advantage is more important to endurance athletes (MTB, ROAD) as they often carry tubes on their person whenever riding. But nonetheless, Tubolitos offer more convince over their traditional counter parts.
Why Spend More?
So there's no denying the array of benefits that come with running these uniquely orange inner tubes. But is it really worth spending $35 a tube, or $70 a set? When you look at the breakdown, the price for two Tubolitos is equal to purchasing 14 standard inner tubes at $5 a pop!
Inner tubes are meant to be expendable (easily replaced) The Tubolito's cost-per-tube is a serious hurdle to overcome. So the question arises, is having a lighter, stronger, smaller inner tube worth triple the cost?
While I can't answer that question for you, I can layout some situations where Tubolitos make sense vs. when it doesn't.
When To Buy Tubolito
Looking at top-shelf carbon fiber builds with thousands of dollars poured into them, Tubolitos are a no brainer! If cost is no issue for your build, then there's no reason to skimp out on the tubes. The question isn't if Tubolitos are better (because they most certainly are) It's if Tubolitos are worth the higher cost.
But I have another scenario where Tubolitos make sense!
Saving weight in BMX Racing is considered crucial for performance. And one of the most impactful places to save weight is in the wheels. This is due to a concept known as rotational weight.
The topic of Rotational weight could serve as it's own blog article, but if you want to read more about that, click here.
In summary, through reducing the rotational weight of a wheel, less force is required to set the object in motion. Lighter wheels accelerate at an improved rate when compared to heavier wheels. With Tubolitos being 60% lighter than any other tube, it's clear to see how impactful they are for rotational weight.
Tubolitos paired with a lightweight Folding tire is one of THE most impactful upgrades you can make! While the cost for Tubolitos is high, there's really no other upgrade that you can make for roughly $100 that is this impactful.
While it may appear that Tubolitos are an extreme premium option. I would argue that if your budget doesn't allow for bigger upgrades like carbon forks or wheels, Tubolitos will give you a significant performance boost at a fraction of the cost.
$35 is a lot for a tube. But when looking at other upgrades such as carbon frames or forks, these cost hundreds to thousands of dollars and still don't offer 60% weight savings over their competitors. This is where we believe Tubolitos offer a lot of value for a tight budget. You may not be able to afford that shiny new frame or fork today, but you could spend less than $100 and get a good boost in performance with Tubolitos.
- Tubolitos are a great addition to a "no expense spared" build
- Rotational weight saving is the most impactful weight saving
- Tubolitos offer fantastic performance gains for just under $100 a set
When Not To Buy Tubolito
This may seem over simplified, but really the only time to not get tubolitos is if you really don't care about any of this stuff.
If cost is your biggest concern and you always opt for the cheapest alternative, then tubolitos aren't for you. You may be someone who isn't concerned with performance and cares more about having fun and riding. In this case, carbon components, ti spokes, and other fancy performance oriented parts probably don't strike your fancy anyways. And with that, tubolitos most likely won't either.
But chances are, if you're taking the time to read this blog, you're somewhat concerned with making your bike faster! And as I've highlighted multiple times throughout this post, tubolitos will most certainly do that.
Another reason to pass on Tubolitos is if you already have a large surplus of traditional tubes. as racers, we know how easy it is to run through tubes. Because of this, we often carry a surplus of inner tubes with us. If you're already deeply invested into Butyl tubes it makes the cost of Tubolitos harder to overcome. While Tubolitos offer increased performance, it may not be practical or worth it to reinvest into a new inner tube system.
- Why pay more if standard tubes fill your need?
- Tubolitos are best paired with high-end components
- Tubolito purchases gets harder to justify if you already have surplus tubes
Where Can I Get Tubolitos?
Now that you know everything you need to know, and your mind is most likely made up. Where can you get yourself a set?
We recently received a shipment of Tubolitos with inventory live on our site right now! You can click here to pick yourself up a set. We offer fast and accurate shipping with most orders leaving the same day or next business day! We also only display live inventory, so if it's in stock on the site we actually have it and will get it to you in a timely manner.
If you enjoy product spotlights such as this one, be sure to follow us on social and subscribe to our Newsletter so you can be notified when new articles go live. Thank you for taking the time to read our blog and we hope you gained some insight into this Austrian innovation.