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If it aint broke (what I learned the hard way)- latex tubes(8 posts)

If it aint broke (what I learned the hard way)- latex tubesfiltersweep
Jul 11, 2003 4:10 AM
After several thousand flat-free miles, and at the recommendation of a riding buddy, I decided to tempt the tire gods and switch to latex tubes. Keep in mind these babies cost three times what a normal tube costs and they don't hold air as much...

So I stop by the LBS to pick up a pair- and they literally only have a pair (should have been a warning- why are they not stocked more heavily). One of the boxes had been opened but was taped shut (should have been a warning). I stop by another LBS and pick up a third for the other rear wheel (I'm lazy and like to swap wheels on impulse rather than swap cassettes).

When I make it home, I start swapping out the tubes. The tube in one of my rears simply won't hold air (the one from the box already opened). I find a pinhole next to the valve. I guess I'll find out what kind of return policy the LBS has. I rip that tube out of the tire and move on to the other two. The other two install without a hitch.

I leave to meet the guys for tonight's ride. A few blocks from home I hear a loup SNAP- uncharacteristic of a blowout. I look down at the tires and see I still have air. I stop and notice the bead was blown off the rim in the rear- AND that the rim is completely skewed (to the point I need to open the brake to allow the wheel to spin). I bleed out a bit of air and hobble back, thankful this didn't happen further from home.

I call the guys to let them know I'm late, pop one of the "old" tubes back in the other wheel, and hit the road. The rest of the ride was a comedy of errors. One guy had installed a new cassette for an upcoming trip to the Colorado Rockies and had a major autoshifting problem, so we stopped by an LBS to sort it out- then he flatted and didn't have a tube with a long enough valve stem- no one had an extender, then the CO2 pump went off "pre-maturely" after it was cross-threaded, and on and on and on....

After the ride I examine the tube- it is literally ripped along the side and is unfixable. Also, the wheel fell back into true after the tube was replaced...

Is it just me, or are these things quite fragile? Anybody else have a better batting average with these things?
I've heard many glowing accounts of them, yet I always had <i>more</i> problems than w/butyl tubes. -nmTig
Jul 11, 2003 5:20 AM
I found them hard to stuff inside the tire.dzrider
Jul 11, 2003 6:14 AM
The material is quite limp and can be tricky to inflate outside the tire without getting a bubble. Once I got them in place they worked fine and lasted a really long while. For me, lighter butyl tubes has made the added expense and difficulty seem foolish.
You save what, like 5 grams over lightweight butyl?Tahoe Gator
Jul 11, 2003 7:22 AM
Recently was about to try some latex tubes and asked to see the box for the lightweight butyl. The latex were only 5g lighter! For that difference, I'm sticking with butyl. A post I saw a while back said it simply: "latex=flats (nm)"
Jul 11, 2003 7:46 AM
Never used latex but I've ridden on my butyl tubes for the past two months (and through two centuries) and the only problem I've had is that they loose air when not in use (so what, you have to fill them a couple of pounds before each ride, you should do that anyway). Soooooo much lighter than standard tubes and easy to use as well, imho. Go with butyl.

not the tube's faultLC
Jul 11, 2003 9:48 AM
A faulty tube can not cause your tire to blow off the rim. Not saying that latex is all that great, but your problem was bad tire installation and not really a problem with the tube.
re: If it aint broke (what I learned the hard way)- latex tubesIronbutt
Jul 11, 2003 10:37 AM
I have ridden latex tubes exclusively since switching from tubular tires in 1993. I have had two flats in the last 30 months, or about 12,000 miles. I realize that I don't ride nearly as much as many of you here on the list, but in suburban Fort Lauderdale, that's pretty good. I have found a few things that will help if you choose to ride latex tubes.

First, never, ever accept at tube in a package that has been opened. It's just asking for problems. When you get the tube home, remove it from the package and pop it into a zip lock baggie with about a tablespoon of talc. Shake the tube around in the baggie, then let the air outof the baggie and stick the whole thing in your saddle pack, or wherever you keep your tubes. When installing, inflate the tube by mouth so that it has enough air in it to give it a tubular shape. Then, install it carefully, not using a tire iron for those last bits to get the bead of the tire over the rim. Inflate to about 40 psi, then spin the wheel to check the mounting and fit of the tire on the rim. If OK, take it to full pressure.

Whenever mounting latex tubes, always talc the tube and the interior of the tire so that the tube can move freely inside the tire. Never, ever, use anything other than your hands to fit the tire onto the rim. If you use tire iron you will almost certainly damage the tube. I always releave the pressure in the tire after riding to about 40 psi, but that's probably a carryover from my days of Clement silks.

A good supple clincher with a latex inner tube will very closely duplicate the ride of all but the finest tubulars and are a lot cheaper, even counting the cost of the latex tube.
Jul 11, 2003 11:01 AM
I think I probably pinched the tube in the tire when I installed it... it was a quite new kevlar beaded tire with a very tight fit (it was a chore to get it on)- and I did use tire levers (had to, basically).

The LBS was cool about taking the other tube back today- the one with the pinhole near the valve...