I recently got these new transparent plastic-like tubes that are currently available in the local market. The one being sold locally is under the brand FOSS. One of the main selling points of these new tubes are its claimed lighter weight compared to traditional tubes. According to FOSS, it is 30% lighter compared to ordinary rubber tubes. Second to that is the ease of treating or repairing punctures. You will only need a lighter to burn and seal any puncture. So I brought one pair recently but the excitement fizzled out after getting the actual product.
For one, the actual weight is 127 grams and this is no fluke sample as both the two tubes I bought weighed exactly the same. This is in contradiction to the claims printed in its box that the tubes weight was supposed to be at around 88 grams. This is actually heavier than the lighter versions of rubber tubes. I have the XXX Lite Bontrager tubes that weighed at around 91 grams. The average weight of rubber tubes is around 150 grams.
will make it unusable. So I guess this time around, it’s not the gospel tube we are waiting for. Just like the other predecessors such as the latex tubes, it may not be accepted by the public even if it has its advantages as the cost outweighs the advantages. Not sure though if this is the same as this product which I have read a couple of years ago and which I have longed to see and try out: http://luckynino.blogspot.com/2009/03/eclipse-mtb-supertube-56g.html (Eclipse Bicycle Tubes from Switzerland).
Further expanding the talks on tubes, other options for your wheel upgrade include the “no tubes” solutions offered by quite a number of manufacturers and as pioneered by Stans No Tubes. A similar solution has long been in existence from the automotive market as car emergency fixes for flats which you can buy from the car sections of the big hardware stores. This is actually a great solution but for me, it’s best if you are competing, as you want to rule out flats to have a better winning chance. But for recreational use, it may be costlier and time consuming to maintain such setup as you will need to replace the liquid sealant every three months or so. In fact if it is true to its claim of no more flats, then it should already be a must for racers out there but again for the ordinary Joe, without the support of a sponsored mechanic; better stick with the old rubber and patch kits. By the way, these kits, though already adaptable to ordinary tires and wheel sets were first intended to improve the tubeless versions. Given that fact, then there are actually inherent disadvantages using this other option- the tubeless wheels. Disadvantages includes expensive and limited tire selections, difficulties in inflating as you need high pressure so that the tires would lock on the rims during inflation as well as well as added care in checking tire inflation every so often as such setup has given poor air retention capabilities.
Another upcoming product being tested in the market are the tubular wheels but early on, I don’t think it will be accepted by the community as it is difficult to use and maintain, requiring messy glues. And the fact that this solution will be much more expensive than the traditional set-up will make it more of a specialty product rather than mainstream.
This only shows that even the less technical amongst the bike parts are having its own technological leaps and bounds. Maybe in the future, a solid wheel material will already be invented that will become the ultimate flat free tires. FYI- there was already a similar intent product sold in the US market in the 90s but it was not successful as there were still a lot of flaws on that version 1.Who knows, version 2 may revolutionize the cycling community and removes this current Achilles heels of the bike.
(June 2011- I got my first puncture using FOSS. I tried using the lighter and as expected and feared, the rubber melted and the hole got bigger. I might be stupid at this (and/or inexperienced or didnt followed the instructions properly) but hey as a person, am not really that stupid so if this happened to me- it may also happen to you. So dont bother- buy the regular tubes)