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TPU inner tubes vs tubeless

How the TPU inner tube is taking pneumatic tyres full circle.


Litebike TPU inner tubes
John Boyd Dunlop. The man behind the modern tyre.

The tyre dates back to 1887. John Boyd Dunlop, a Scottish inventor and veterinary surgeon invented the first pneumatic tyre for his son’s tricycle. An inner tube that offers flotation for a smooth ride and efficiency for a fast one encased in an outer layer of grippy rubber providing traction and protection against flats.


The tyre rolled better, so he moved on to larger tyres for cycling “with even more starling results”. Soon pneumatic tyres were winning cycling races and, spotting the opportunity, a cyclist from the Irish Cyclists’ Association, Harvey Du Cros, set up business with Dunlop to sell his tyres commercially.


The cycling tyre and inner tube went on to dominate for more than a century. Then in 1999, Mavic created the first tubeless tyre system for bikes. Rather than having a separate inner tube, tubeless tyres have continuous ribs molded into the bead of the tyre so they are forced by air pressure to seal with the flanges of the metal rim of the wheel.


Tubeless tyres could operate at lower air pressure and therefore were first heavily adopted by mountain bikers. But the invention expanded to cyclocross, gravel and even road cycling.


Today tubeless continues to be popular among the pro road cyclists. Evident from observing this years’ men’s and women’s Paris Roubaix. The likes of Jumbo-Visma's Wout van Aert who stuck with tubular tyres are few and far between.


This is important. Because we all tend to want to copy what the pros are doing. But we’re starting to see the trend buckle. Especially at the grass roots end of the sport.


For the past few years we’ve seen a shift towards cyclists opting for TPU inner tubes instead. TPU is a new exciting technology. Unlike butyl tubes, which can weigh in at 200g a piece, TPU inner tubes are ultra lightweight. From our own research we have also confirmed other studies which have shown reduced rolling resistance and improved durability when compared to conventional inner tubes.


We spoke to Paul from Transcontinental, who told us: “Professional cycling sets the trend and as tubeless tyres became the default at the major cycling events we’ve seen their popularity rise. But people forget these athletes have big support teams to prepare and maintain their bikes. More and more people are telling me the benefits of tubeless don’t make sense for them and are choosing TPU inner tubes instead.”


While cyclists are usually aware that initially fitting tubeless can be messier and more time consuming, they often don’t appreciate the amount of faff involved in regularly topping up the sealants and mess when it comes to resealing after a large puncture. Punctures en route that don’t seal can sometimes be fixed with a tyre plug, but if the puncture is too large they find they need a spare inner tube to get home anyway.




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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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