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MX News Update 2024

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Continental joins the trend and adds TPU bicycle tubes

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by Lars Hundley

Continental has launched ContiTPU, a German-made TPU inner tube designed for road, gravel and mountain bike riders. The ContiTPU inner tube is the latest addition to Continental’s product range, offering cyclists a new lightweight and durable inner tube for their rides.

The ContiTPU inner tube is made of seven sealed layers of high-quality, micrometer-thick thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). This multi-layer design ensures maximum airtightness and durability, making it suitable for both on- and off-road cycling. The tubes are left uncolored to maintain the highest material quality and prevent air retention problems that can arise from dye-related surface imperfections.

One of the key features of the ContiTPU inner tube is its lightweight construction. The 700c x 25-35mm size weighs just 35 grams, while the 700c x 40-60mm and 650B/27.5″ x 40-60mm sizes weigh 45 grams and 43 grams respectively. This lightweight design, combined with the low rolling resistance of the inner tube, makes it an attractive option for performance-oriented cyclists looking to reduce weight and improve their riding efficiency.

The ContiTPU inner tube also has a small pack size, making it easy for cyclists to carry a spare tire on long rides without sacrificing storage space. Each package includes a repair patch for quick on-the-go repairs.

Continental has designed the valve base to be slightly conical in shape, improving the fit on the rim and reducing unwanted movements. The valve is internally threaded, allowing the use of valve extensions or replacement valve cores if necessary.

It is important to note that TPU inner tubes should never be used with rim brakes as excessive heat exposure can lead to sudden loss of air pressure. Cyclists should also use suitable rim tape to protect the TPU tube from damage and ensure that the valve hole in the rim is the correct diameter to prevent the valve from twisting or shearing. When installing the tube, it should not be inflated more than 4 psi until it is fully seated in the tire and on the rim, as over-inflation during this process can over-expand the tube, rendering it useless. Finally, TPU inner tubes should not be reused with smaller tires; When installing a smaller tire, a new inner tube must be used.

TPU tubes, what’s the difference? An overview of pipe types

  1. TPU tubes: Made from thermoplastic polyurethane, TPU tubes are the lightest option of the three types. They are more compact than butyl inner tubes and offer excellent puncture resistance. TPU tubes are easy to repair and have lower rolling resistance, which can improve driving efficiency. However, they are generally more expensive than butyl tubes.
  2. Butyl pipes: These are the most common types of bicycle inner tubes, made of synthetic rubber. They are relatively cheap, durable and have good air-retaining properties. However, they are heavier than TPU and latex tubes.
  3. Latex tubes: Latex inner tubes are lighter than butyl inner tubes but slightly heavier than TPU inner tubes. They offer low rolling resistance and are often favored by professional and competitive cyclists. However, latex inner tubes have a shorter lifespan, require more frequent inflation and are more prone to punctures compared to butyl and TPU inner tubes.

Continental’s entry into the TPU tube market signifies the growing popularity and demand for TPU tubes among cyclists. Brands like Pirelli and Tubolito have already introduced their own range of TPU tubes, which are known for their lightweight, durable and compact design. A striking aspect of Continental’s ContiTPU pipes is that they are manufactured entirely in Germany, including the purchase of raw materials. This commitment to local production sets Continental apart from some of its competitors and could be attractive to cyclists who value products made in Europe.

The ContiTPU inner tubes are available in a wide range of sizes, including options for 700c (ISO 622) and 650B/27.5″ (ISO 584) wheels, which are commonly used on road, gravel and mountain bikes. With its combination of lightweight construction, durability and small pack size, the ContiTPU inner tube is an excellent choice for cyclists of all disciplines who want to optimize their riding experience.

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