TPU Vs Latex Inner Tubes

If you’re looking for quick and easy performance, then a great route to go down is changing your butyl rubber inner tubes for performance alternatives. Not only can they make your wheels lighter, but they can also reduce rolling resistance and come with many more benefits.


The two biggest contenders when it comes to performance inner tubes are TPU and Latex. In this article, we will be answering a question we are often asked, “Which is better, TPU or Latex Inner Tubes?”


In this article, we’re going to be telling you everything you need to know, from what both inner tube systems are and where you are going to notice the real-world differences. We will be discussing:


  • What Are TPU Inner Tubes?
  • What Are Latex Inner Tubes?
  • Comparing TPU And Latex Inner Tubes
  • Which Is Best?
TPU Tube Valve


What Are TPU Inner Tubes?


TPU, also known as Thermoplastic Polyurethane, is a lightweight plastic that can be manufactured to be flexible, rigid, durable, and very resilient to contaminants. It’s often used in the medical and automotive industries and is an excellent material when it comes to inner tubes.


A TPU inner tube is incredibly lightweight, very strong, and perfect for giving your tire the required shape. They come in a clear or white color and can be recycled and reused in other goods if disposed of properly, unlike a butyl tube.



What Are Latex Inner Tubes?


Latex is a type of rubber. Latex can be made to be very lightweight, has some excellent elastic properties, and is very flexible. Latex has been used to make performance inner tubes and is one of the most popular materials.


Latex not only offers the flexibility for an inner tube, but it has an incredible effect at reducing rolling resistance within the tire itself. Latex rubber very popular amongst racing cyclists who run clincher tires. 

Road Bike TPU Slightly Pumped Up


Comparing TPU And Latex Inner Tubes


Now, for the exciting part, let's compare TPU and latex inner tubes. In this guide, we are going to be speaking about the real-world differences that are going to matter. 


Weight


The first topic of discussion is weight, and surprisingly, there's a huge difference between them both. They don’t call them ultra light TPU for no reason. TPU tubes come in around 30g to 50g, which is incredibly light. Latex tubes come in between 60g and 80g.


So what you're looking at is a possible 50g difference between them both, taking that over to both wheels 100g in difference. This is a lot when it comes to performance and could be the difference in a sprint. 


Rolling Resistance 


Next, we have rolling resistance, and although the inner tube doesn’t have direct contact with the floor, it does influence what the tire does. Again, we have a very big difference between latex and TPU here. 


Latex, because of its incredible ability to conform and adapt to bumps, keeps the rolling resistance right down. Compared to a normal tube, it can be up to 7 watts. TPU tubes are also excellent at reducing rolling resistance but only up to around 5 watts. Latex does offer the lower rolling resistance out of the two.


Durability


Although you might think durability doesn't matter when it comes to inner tubes, it does, and if you want every chance to stop those pesky punctures. Having the right inner tube is a good idea, and when flint or other objects get in, you want to know if the inner tube will be resilient. 


TPU is really tough, and it takes a lot for flint or thorns to push through. It’s not rare for people to take a look at their tires after a ride and see objects poking through and the tire still inflated. Latex is a little more fragile and can burst easily if anything gets through. 

TPU Tube In A Frame Bag

 

Air Retention


Air retention is not something you often worry about when it comes to an inner tube, but with latex and TPU, it can be an issue. You don’t want to keep getting to the bike and having flat tires before every weekly ride. 


TPU is very good at retaining air and is similar to butyl (Standard) inner tubes. Latex is quite well known for leaking air, which means you will need to be pumping up those tires a little more often. 


Cost


Cost is always going to be a big factor for anyone, especially if you're getting a lot of punctures or have multiple bikes. Unfortunately, the manufacturing process is much harder for both latex and TPU, bringing higher costs. 


As far as price goes, you will find latex tubes for $US20 and our TPU tubes for as cheap as $US25 all the way to $US40. Although not the cheapest, you do get much better performance and even reliability in some cases, but that has to come at a price. 


Longevity


If you're going to be spending a decent amount of money on some inner tubes, then you are going to want them to last. Preferably season after season, provided you don’t get too many punctures. 


TPU tubes are very good at lasting for a long time. Thermoplastic polyurethane is a material that is very resilient to wear and tends to last a very long time. Latex, however, is quite quick to wear, and you may find it lasting a season before becoming much weaker. 

TPU Tube Being Installed On A Dura Ace Wheel


Which Is Best?


When it comes down to it, both TPU and Latex are great inner tube materials. They both have a place in stores and on bikes. The choice really comes down to what you want as a cyclist.


If you are looking for an inner tube that is incredibly light, very durable, holds air excellently, and can last year after year, then you will more than likely want to go down the route of a TPU inner tube. 


If you are looking to completely reduce the rolling resistance and want to save a few dollars per tube, consider a latex tube. You will find that compared to the TPU tube, it might not offer the same lightweight properties but still offers some extra performance.

TPU Tube In A Frame Bag


A Final Note


Thanks for taking the time to read our article. We really like both TPU and latex systems. Although we do feel TPU is a better system than the latex inner tube, and of course, we will be a little biased because, as a company, that’s the route we wanted to go down. We can promise you one thing, both are great performance upgrades compared to other tubes.


If you enjoyed this article you might like TPU Vs Standard Butyl Tubes, TPU Inner Tubes A Comprehensive Guide, Tubeless Setups Vs TPU Setups, and TPU Pros And Cons.
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