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The Best Bicycle Inner Tubes

author image Max Roman Dilthey
Max Roman Dilthey is a science, health and culture writer currently pursuing a master's of sustainability science. Based in Massachusetts, he blogs about cycling at
The Best Bicycle Inner Tubes
Inflating a bicycle tube. Photo Credit: Kelly-Anne Leyman/iStock/Getty Images

A clincher tire is a two-part tire system that consists of a tough outer tire and a flexible inner tube with a valve. These tubes are made from either butyl rubber or latex rubber and use a Schrader valve or a Presta valve. The valve doesn't impact the performance of the tube, but Schrader valves match the air compressor hose end at most gas stations.

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Lightweight and Fast

Latex rubber is the traditional material for a bicycle tube. These tubes can expand to two to three times their deflated size, and this flexibility provides an even pressure across the inside of your clincher tire. Latex is naturally porous, so air escapes the tubes over time. It's easy to correct for the loss of pressure by topping off the tubes with a bicycle pump. Many professional racers prefer latex for the lighter weight and reduced rolling resistance that results in a better performance on race day.

Toughness and Longevity

Butyl rubber was first used after World War II as a replacement for the dwindling supply of latex rubber. Butyl is just as flexible as latex and is superior for holding air over longer periods of the time because it is significantly less porous. It is heavier, but the inexpensive and durable butyl rubber tube is ubiquitous in the modern bicycle world. It's the best choice for frequent riders and is much more convenient for most people than latex.

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