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Designing the best TPU inner tube on the market

Introduction


Every cyclist knows weight counts. But whether you’re conquering mountain trails or racing on smooth tarmac the holy grail is striking the perfect balance between weight, performance and durability. No mean feat. True to our cycling philosophy, the Litebike Performance TPU inner tube is light, strong and fast. The perfect combination. In this article we’ll share some details on the R&D process, what makes the Litebike Performance’s TPU formulation unique and how we ended up creating the best TPU inner tube on the market. 


What is TPU? The science behind the TPU inner tube


Thermoplastic Polyurethane (or TPU for short) is a versatile polymer with a distinct combination of properties; it’s flexible, durable, and abrasion and chemical resistant. While TPU has been applied in various fields, such as automotive engineering, it’s relatively new to the cycling industry. But its properties make it an ideal base material for manufacturing a TPU inner tube.


Through our research in the lab and on-track testing we developed a brand new TPU formulation that we have tailored to create the Litebike Performance TPU inner tube. This formulation is a game-charger in terms of weight, performance and durability. We did this using a new nanotechnology technique that involves adding nanoscale additives into the TPU matrices, enhancing its mechanical properties and performance characteristics. 


These special nanoparticles have had a dramatic improvement on the strength and performance of our Litebike Performance TPU inner tube and it’s this technological advancement that makes it the best TPU inner tube on the market.


Litebike Performance TPU Inner Tube

A performance-engineered TPU inner tube. Our lightweight, compact design


Throughout the design phase of our TPU inner tube we refined two aspects of performance. Weight and rolling resistance. The evidence that weight impacts cycling performance is compelling. Studies consistently demonstrate that reductions in weight lead to improvements in cycling performance, particularly in scenarios involving uphill gradients or accelerations. We developed prototypes at several different thickness: 35mm, 40mm, 50mm, and 60mm. Mainly through our on-track testing we found that 50mm was the optimum strength-to-flexibility ratio. No TPU inner tube is immune to puncture. But much thinner than 50mm and the risk-profile increases significantly for only very marginal benefit in weight saving.


Rolling resistance refers to the force that opposes the motion of a tyre as it rolls along a surface, such as a road or trail. Minimising TPU inner tube rolling resistance is key to maximizing speed and conserving energy while cycling. Our research focussed on combination and volume of nanoscale additives and we have been able to dramatically improve the elasticity and flexibility of the Litebike Performance TPU inner tube so that its rolling resistance coefficient is very low when assessed using standardised testing protocols.

Best TPU Inner Tube

A strong and durable TPU inner tube


Just as much as light and fast, the best TPU inner tube needs to be strong and durable. Through our lab-based research we identified several new nanoscale particles that provide a significant boost to durability. We then double layered the TPU. The result is that our TPU inner tube is 2x as strong compared to Tubolito, RideNow and other alternatives on the market.


Through our on road testing we found that these tubes tend to be vulnerable where the valve stem connects with the TPU material. The Litebike Performance TPU inner tube solves this with a reinforced valve stem using an integrated nano plastic. 

Best TPU Inner Tube

The best TPU inner tubes. Are you ready?


Ready to take your cycling performance to the next level? Check out our product page to find out more about the Litebike Performance TPU inner tube: the perfect combination of light, strong and fast.



Litebike Performance TPU Inner Tube 50g


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Fantastic customer service.

I added a note asking if the purchase could be sent out in time for the weekend and it turned up next day, very impressed - thank you

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Litebike are doing things right

great product and service, follow up e mails to make sure im happy with it is a nice touch, the seat post is well made and looks really good on the bike, size is perfect when measured

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Rapid service, thanks

Ordered a waxed chain late on Friday evening with a cheeky note that I'm racing Outlaw Half following weekend and hoping to receive in time. Had a response at 23.00 saying they would dispatch Sat morning. Received it 10.00 on Monday morning.

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  • Why is weight so important?
    Reducing weight is the most noticeable upgrade you can make. Lightweight bikes accelerate faster and are more responsive to the power you generate, helping you reach your performance potential. Lightweight means going faster and further, for longer. We help cyclists reach their goals - from competitive racers to weekend riders.
  • Do lightweight parts mean compromising durability?
    There is a sweet spot between weight and strength. Most of our bike parts are made from carbon fiber which is lightweight, stiff for optimal power transmission, and flexible in certain dimensions making cycling more comfortable. We put every part through rigorous testing by us and our small team of cyclists. This means you can be confident that our parts will perform for thousands of miles.
  • How come your bike parts are so lightweight for the price?
    The cycling industry is full of gimmicks, poor quality parts and expensive marketing. We are flipping the switch. We work directly with the same manufacturers producing parts for the top cycling brands, avoid the marketing gimmicks and expensive packaging, to bring you top quality products at a fraction of the cost.
  • Are your products sustainable?
    We aim to set the industry standard for high quality bike parts that last. We are the opposite of fast fashion. We are slow fashion - for bikes.
  • Is your packaging recyclable?
    We use biodegradable packaging for all our products wherever possible. We reuse packaging that comes to us too.
  • How long will it take for my order to arrive?
    We aim to deliver all UK mainland deliveries in 1-3 working days.
  • How can I track my order?
    We use Royal Mail’s tracked delivery service. You will get an email with tracking information so you can keep tabs on where your order is and exactly when it will arrive.
  • Do you ship to Europe?
    Yes. Please choose your country at the check out. We charge a flat fee of £5.50, roughly €6.30, for shipping. This is less than it costs us but we don't believe in Ryanair-style add-ons! You may need to pay some taxes on delivery.
  • What’s your returns policy?
    We’re only happy if you’re happy. You can return any part you bought from us within 30 days and we will give you a full refund. Please return the item in its original condition, with any labels attached.
  • Do your handlebars have external cabling?
    Yes. Our handlebars are easy to install for the home mechanic. The cabling is externally routed in a groove running along the bottom of the bars.
  • Are your handlebars DI2 compatible?
    While some customers have fitted DI2 this requires drilling extra holes and we wouldn't recommend it unless you are an experienced mechanic. Please get in touch if you have any questions.
  • Can I fit your carbon handlebars with an alloy stem?
    Yes, our carbon handlebars can be fitted to an alloy stem, such as our super light UNO Kalloy x Litebike.
  • Will the tubes fit my bike?
    Our TPU inner tubes are size 700 x 18-32c and fit a standard bike wheel. Unless you cycle a Brompton you probably have a standard wheel. 18-32c means the tube will inflate to fit a range of tire widths between 18 mm and 32 mm. Our Litebike Performance 50g tubes are suitable for disc and rim brakes. Our RideNow 35g tubes are also suitable for rim and disc brakes.
  • Are your inner tubes difficult to install?
    TPU inner tubes are a performance product and should be installed carefully. This includes cleaning the rim and inflating the tube to a max of 8psi before installing in the tyre. Anyone can install TPU inner tubes at home, but if you are fitting them for the first time it's worth following the instructions on the box carefully.
  • You also sell RideNow gravel TPU tubes. How are these different?
    Our RideNow gravel tubes are sized 700 x 32-47c. This means the tube will inflate to fit the full range of tire widths between 32 mm and 47 mm.
  • Can TPU inner tubes puncture?
    Like with butyl and latex tubes, TPU inner tubes can puncture. However, studies have shown that TPU is more puncture resistant than other materials. You can take steps to reduce the chances of getting a puncture, for example by cleaning your tyre to remove any debris and not inflating the tubes above 8psi outside the tyre.
  • Are TPU inner tubes sustainable?
    TPU is made from renewable sources like plant-based oils and non-toxic chemicals, making it an eco-friendly alternative to petroleum-based synthetic rubbers and plastics.
  • What are the benefits of a waxed chain?
    You will go faster. Studies have shown you will save up to 7 watts. You will save time cleaning. Wax repels dirt. You will help the planet.
  • How do I wax my own chain? It sounds complicated.
    Chain waxing can be done at home with an old slow cooker and a few other household items. Once you have done it once it’s easy to repeat. If waxing is not your thing, but you’re still after the performance benefits of a waxed chain, we sell a small selection of top quality, pre-waxed chains. We wax them ourselves in our workshop.
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