Pirelli has announced the launch of its new range of super-light, reinforced inner tubes made with thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). The tubes are the result of a custom tubular update for Pirelli’s World Tour teams and is said to be 70% lighter than a standard butyl tube.
The new tube is available in three options. The P-Zero, a 35g road-specific version, the reinforced Cinturato a gravel/endurance tube weighing in at 70g, and the Scorpion, an MTB option at 100g.
The Smartubes are built using the “latest generation” TPU to create a tube Pirelli claims is “stronger than butyl and has a better air retention than latex.” As a bonus, Pirelli claims to have tuned the properties of the TPU in the reinforced Cinturato tube, to offer “double the puncture protection compared to a standard butyl tube”, although there is no mention of how this is tested.
The new tubes are said to use 50% less space in a jersey pocket or saddlebag, meaning more space to carry food. The P-Zero and Cinturato tubes also feature a 60mm valve to suit most rim depths, while the Scorpion comes with a 42mm valve.
The Smartubes are only available in this “highly visible” yellow, which I guess is useful if you are replacing an inner tube in the dark of night… I can’t think of another scenario where a highly visible inner tube would be useful.
At $37 a tube, the fear of puncturing such an expensive tube could kill the joy of any ride, especially given that Pirelli explicitly states not to repair (patch – Ed) a damaged tube or valve. However, I can see the appeal of the Smartubes minimal weight and space-saving size as a barely noticeable backup tube.
Interestingly while the Smartubes are rated for use with disc or rim brake road setups, Pirelli states the new tubes should not be used with rim brake mountain bikes.
With the introduction of the Smartube, Pirelli joins Tubolito and Schwalbe in the TPU inner tube market. However, unlike Tubolito who claim its S-Road tube offers “extremely low rolling resistance”, Pirelli has made no reference to efficiency gains at all. UK outfit Aerocoach recently published results of its rolling resistance testing and found that while TPU tubes compare well, latex is still the fastest.
The new tubes are available in a range of sizes (see below) and priced at US$36.90 / £27.99