If you thought the inner tube as daily bit of kit died a half dozen years ago – when tubeless systems really got their act together – then Schwalbe has news for you. The inner tube is alive and well. So well, in fact, that Schwalbe spent the last five years developing a new and better inner tube in the form of ‘Aerothan’.
Inner tubes, grandad? Who still uses them? A fair number of people it seems – not just on road and gravel bikes, but mountain bikers too. Perhaps they never took the leap across to tubeless, or they had a terrible trailside tubeless experience (or several) and vowed never to try tubeless again. With Aerothan, Schwalbe promises the light weight of a latex tube (87g for a 27.5in x 2.3in tube), with durability and near puncture resistance, using ‘thermoplastic polyurethane’ (or TPU) developed specially by German chemists, BASF. And it’s recyclable too.
Aerothan is a clear, tough-walled, non-stretchy inner tube. You need to get the right diameter for your wheel and width for your tyre (there are two widths, roughly 2.3in and 2.6in) as there’s no stretching it to fit. The tube is a cylinder with a ‘welded’ join. The thermoplastic valve stem is also welded on. Schwalbe expects riders to run this full time – they’re not really designed to be kept just for emergencies, as Schwalbe reckons that the tube gives a similar ride and can take similar low pressures to running tubeless.
Interestingly, the material isn’t designed to be used with any sealant (which is fair enough, it’s an inner tube) but Schwalbe also advise against the Aerothan tubes coming into contact with latex sealant for too long – which is exactly what would happen if you use one as a repair for a tubeless tyre. Or you’d have to whip the Aerothan tube out when you get home – presumably because the sealant will eventually degrade the tube.
Some riders will be very interested to hear about a new, tough and light inner tube, while tubeless fans may not. Especially when they find out that Aerothan tubes will cost nearly £30 a wheel. But hey, what price, progress? Oh, wait, that was tubeless, right? So, what price improved legacy gear?
There’s a whole website ready to answer your questions here: schwalbe.com/aerothan
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