The Tubolito - orange is the new black?

Review: Tubolito – a tube-shaped revolution

Sebastian 23. November 2017

Thermoplastic material, superior robustness and drastic weight savings, that’s the Tubolito specs. We have ridden more than 400 km with the tubes and are big fans.

The bright orange Tubolito tube debuted at Eurobike 2017. Its patented manufacturing technology, which allows the production of seamless tubes and the use of high-tech thermoplastic elastomers instead of butyl rubber created a hype in the industry.

But who is behind this little revolution in the cycling world? When the two Austrian engineers and avid cyclists Christian Lembacher and Akos Kertesz were trying to come up with a material for durable smartphone speaker membranes, they had the bright idea to use it for bicycle inner tubes as well. The thermoplastic elastomer possesses several unique qualities that make it ideal for use inside of a bike's tyre.

It can be stretched to about four times its size and resists forces about twice as powerful as conventional tubes can. At the same time, the material is about 65% lighter.

All this sounds really good on paper, but we wanted to find out how these qualities combine in the final product and how well the tube holds up in practical use.

Lightweight actually means lighter than tubeless

The weight savings of the Tubolito are actually huge when compared to a common butyl tubes. A normal 29” tube weighs in at about 220 grams, the Tubolito at 75 grams. These lightweights do have a “heavier” price tag, at 30 € per piece, but it makes for weight savings of 290 grams of rotating mass on a 29er MTB.

If you think about it, the Tubolitos are actually lighter than tubeless solutions. Conservatively assuming that tubeless sealant weighs as much as water, so 1 gram per millilitre, and that one uses about 90-120 millilitres of sealant per tyre, the Tubolitos still come out between 5 and 25 grams lighter. Of course, a Tubolito tube can theoretically still suffer a puncture, but it sure saves you from messing with the nasty sealant.

Record-breaking 75g per tube, that's Tubolito!

Record-breaking 75g per tube, that's Tubolito!


The thermoplastic elastomer feels stiff and weird when taking the tube out of the package. But one immediately notices the weight difference. Installing the tube is more or less the same as with a conventional tube, however a few differences due to the new material and production process remain.

When inflating the tube for the first time without a tyre, the Tubolito actually forms a rectangular shape rather than a loop.  No worries, as soon as you mount it inside the tyre, it moulds itself perfectly well. In the same manner, the valve might actually point outward instead of inward. Simply twist the tube and continue, it will stay in place once placed on the rim and inside the tyre.

Apart from these two peculiarities which have no negative effect on the performance, the Tubolito mounts just like any other tube. Mount one side of the tyre on the rim, slightly inflate the tube and place it inside of the tyre, then mount the second side of the tyre. After, inflate to the desired pressure and you are ready to go.

The initial inflation of the Tubolito does not always result in a round shape.

The initial inflation of the Tubolito does not always result in a round shape.

...the valve can also face outward. No worries, it does not cause any damage.

...the valve can also face outward. No worries, it does not cause any damage.

Let’s hit the trail

My co-worker Michael and I tested the tubes in different settings. Michael rides XC and AM and weighs in at 85 kg, being 194 cm tall. I’m only 185 cm and I pride myself on about 100 kg of body mass that I send regularly down gnarly and rough Enduro trails. Two very different use cases in order to make our review more relevant!

Michael rode the tubes at pressures between 1.8 and 2.2 bars on fast Cross Country courses while I prefer the traction of 1.4 bars on the front wheel and 2.0 bars in the back.

Frankly, the tubes weren’t noticeable while riding. Neither Michael nor I suffered a puncture during more than 400 kilometres of test-riding on various surfaces, during training rides and races. Be it roots, rock gardens, gravel or a mixture of all, the Tubolitos simply performed without loosing pressure.

Trust us, we were using the Tubolitos.

Trust us, we were using the Tubolitos.

Actually, the orange valve stem gives it away.

Actually, the orange valve stem gives it away.

Sizing and types

For MTB, the Tubolito is available in a regular and a super-light version called S-Tubo-MTB, each for 26", 27.5" and 29" respectively. The latter weighs in at a mere 45 grams in size 29". The Tubolito Road is due to reach the markets at the beginning of the 2018 season.

Type Size Weight*
Tubo-MTB 26" 78 g
Tubo-MTB 27.5" 82 g
Tubo-MTB 26" 78 g
S-Tubo-MTB 29" 45 g
S-Tubo-MTB 27.5" 44 g
S-Tubo-MTB 26" 42 g
Tubo-MTB-Plus 27.5" 105 g
Tubo-MTB-Plus 29" 110 g
Tubo-Road 700 C 33 g

*according to manufacturer

Our verdict

The Tubolito didn’t let us down even once during 400 kilometres of heavy riding on all kinds of ruthless surfaces. Its robustness, reliability and light weight make the revolutionary tube a serious alternative to conventional ones and even tubeless setups. The latter requires no hassling with the sealant and the Tubolito can be ridden at almost the same low pressures.  It also makes for a very lightweight spare. Michael and I feel that the high-tech Tubolito is worth its hefty price and will both continue to use this easy weightsaver on our rigs. It's never been that easy and cheap to shave of serious amounts of weight from your bicycle, rotating mass that is.

Tubolitos Tubolitos


Have you already had the chance to ride the Tubolito? Or do you have more questions about the product, then drop me a line below.

Sebastian von bike-components

  • Peter C. 28. February 2018

    Do you have Tubolito S-Tubo available yet (need 29")? Thanks

    • bike-components 28. February 2018

      Hello Peter,

      sorry but unfortunately the 29" version is not in stock, we are still waiting for the delivery. As soon as they are in stock, we will go online.
      The 27,5" version will launch in the next few days, next week they will be online for sure.

      Best Regards Sebastian

  • Marvin C. 1. February 2018

    PS: I've been asking 'Tubolito' questions on Facebook(whilst discussing things here), & they told me that they have a new patch version which takes 3 minutes to bond(instead of the 5x3 mentioned here) - I hope to see said Tubolito patches on sale on Bike Components soon... =]

    • bike-components 2. February 2018

      Hello Marvin,
      Thanks for the information, we forwarded it to our Product Management team. As soon as we can we will have it listed.
      Best regards Sebastian

  • Marvin C. 29. January 2018

    I think we need to talk to Tubolito & urge them make improvements on the time it takes to patch their tubes... >.> PS: Even with regular patches - I always include a razor blade in my kits(along with coins back in the day of pay phones)so I can cut patches in half when I have small enough holes - so I see myself doing same with Tubos as well... =P

    • bike-components 1. February 2018

      Hi Marvin,
      Thanks for the feedback. The amount of time it takes to repair a tubolito tube is all due to the material they are made of. Thankfully, the tubes offer increased puncture protection and rarely ever experience holes. However, if they do have a puncture, the best thing to do is replace the tube and repair the punctured one back at home.
      Enjoy the trail and the tubolitos!

      Regards, Sebastian

  • Sebastian B. 19. January 2018

    Hey there,

    this sounds very interesting - since you seem to have tubeless-experience: How does the performance on the trail compare to a tubeless setting? Does the tubolito hold it's won against a tubeless tire? What about the rolling resistance?

    Thanks for your take on this

    • bike-components 19. January 2018

      Hello Sebastian,

      Thank you for your question. In my experience, there is no large difference between Tubolito and a tubeless setup. Of course, grip is subjective, but I was riding with 1.4 bar in the front and 2.0 in the rear and I never had a problem. Of course, a tubeless setup lets you ride lower pressures, but that also increases the rolling resistance. Overall, I couldn’t tell the difference between Tubolito and tubeless when it comes to rolling resistance. Hope this answered your question.
      Best regards Sebatian

  • Viesturs O. 23. November 2017

    does it pays off to ride with tube

    • Viesturs O. 23. November 2017

      wich costs x10 more than usual tube?

    • bike-components 24. November 2017

      Hi Viesturs,
      Thanks for your comment. It’s obviously a question of how much you are willing to spend for weight-savings and performance improvements. When you look at the former, there is no cheaper way to trim weight off your wheels than the Tubolito tubes.
      Take care, Sebastian