It seems like forever ago that we were actually at a trade show, seeing new goods first hand. In 2015, that included the opportunity to check out Schwalbe’s revolutionary new inner tube made from a material they called Aerothan. While it was certainly an exciting product, it had some serious weaknesses – like not being rim brake compatible. Now that Schwalbe has been working with BASF for the past five years, it seems like they’ve perfected the Aerothan thermoplastic polyurethane material. The result is a tube that claims to be superior in almost every way.

Aerothan

Schwalbe Aerothan Schwalbe Aerothan tubes

Unlike most tubes that are made of rubber, Aerothan tubes are made from thermoplastic polyurethane. That helps cut down on the weight, but it also has a number of other benefits.

Now Rim Brake Compatible

Schwalbe Aerothan tubes

The previous Aerothan tubes claimed to offer equal puncture protection to standard tubes. These new Aerothan tubes now claim to offer more than double the puncture protection with a force of 47 newtons needed to puncture the tube. Schwalbe goes on to claim that the new Aerothan tubes are the best performers for the snake bite guillotine test, and they also offer the best heat resistance.

That last part is critical. The original tubes were not rim brake compatible because they couldn’t take the heat. New Aerothan tubes are capable of withstanding more than 150°C at 78km/h in a special test developed by Schwalbe. Considering road riders are the most likely to still be running tubes, and a lot of riders are still on rim brakes, this compatibility is a big plus for Aerothan.

Schwalbe Aerothan tube

Schwalbe also states that since the material offers extra stability compared to rubber, Aerothan tubes are safer in the event of a puncture. Instead of going instantly flat, the tubes should hold their shape and slowly go flat in a controlled manner.

Even though the tubes are more stable, they also claim to offer a more damped ride feel with lower rolling resistance – about equal to a latex tube.

Actual weights

Schwalbe Aerothan tubes actual weights Schwalbe Aerothan tubes sizing

Of course, then there’s the weight question. Schwalbe says that on a road bike you can expect up to 100g of savings per bike with normal inner tubes. Considering these may offer better puncture protection, lower rolling resistance, and a better, safer ride, the fact that they’re lighter as well is pretty impressive.

On our scale, the MTB 29 and MTB 29+ came in slightly heavier than claimed at 87g vs. 92/93g, and 116g vs. 119/122g. Road tubes have claimed weights as low as 41g, and there are also tubes available for 26″ and 27.5″ Technically, there are three categories – road (race/endurance), trekking (Allround), and mountain bike (MTB & MTB+).

Schwalbe Aerothan tubes comparison

Compared to a standard inner tube, the Aerothan tubes are definitely more compact, but not massively different in size. But the light weight is noticeable when you tuck a spare into your jersey pocket.

Not all pumps are compatible

Schwalbe Aerothan tube valve

It’s worth noting that these have a plastic valve stem, with a standard, removable valve core. However, since the valve stem is unthreaded, these are not compatible with certain pumps that require those threads to ‘thread on’ to the valve. If you’re carrying one of these as a spare, make sure your pump is compatible ahead of time!

Patching

Schwalbe Aerothan tube patch kit

Schwalbe Aerothan tube patch kit

If you do manage to puncture a tube, no worries. Schwalbe offers a glueless patch kit that is simple to use. Rough up the tube with the included sand paper, stick the patch on, and press.

Pricing

Schwalbe Aerothan tubes

Schwalbe Aerothan tubes

Schwalbe Aerothan tubes

Now for the catch. You knew there had to be one, right? Like the Tubolito, these tubes are much more expensive than your average inner tube. The Aerothan tubes run between €27.90-29.90. That’s roughly $32-$35 per tube. Even the high end Silca Latex inner tube is only $16. However, if these really do offer increased puncture protection and durability, that cost may be worth it in the long run.

Personally, like the Tubolito, I see these as the perfect backup tube. With all of my bikes set up tubeless, I always bring a spare tube just in case. But I hardly ever flat. And when I do, I can’t remember a time in recent memory that it couldn’t be fixed with a tire plug. That leaves me carrying heavy rubber inner tubes around for so long without using them, that I recently discovered one had a hole in it even though it had never been used. It’s a pricey spare, but the lower weight and more compact form is welcome in a flat kit where space is at a premium.

schwalbetires.com

16 COMMENTS

  1. Have you ever covered Tubolito.com? To my knowledge they are the originators of using this technology for bicycle inner tubes. They are a couple of grams lighter, they have more options, and the customer service is the best in the business. Seriously, support the little guy…especially when they are the innovator. Or, are these just rebadged Tubolito’s with Schwalbe’s name on them?

  2. This is great to see. As more manufacturers get into the game of alternate-material tube making, the price will eventually go down (especially if Specialized or Trek decides it’s worth the investment). I’ve been carrying two Tublito tubes in my MTB kit since they were released, and they’ve yet to get the “pack flat” like rubber tubes tend to get. They’re also so light & space-saving that the cost is really the only negative.

  3. Fatty tubes?? I know it’s a small market, but it’d be much appreciated by many. Tubeless on a fatty in cold temps simply doesn’t work when you are running 1-2 psi. The weight savings is huge.

  4. No mention of how well they hold air. It seems like latex tubes are better, lighter and lower rolling resistance, at a fraction of the price. No mention if regular patches will work. From my personal experience glueless patches will fail in about a year. Regular patches are permanent.

  5. Most intriguing.
    My curiosity is surpassed only by the hope that someone, somewhere, will have:
    a) the idea of sewing this tube into a performance tubular tyre and
    b) the means of bringing it to fruition.

  6. Hey Zoso. Check out revoloop who make a plastic full-width fatbike tube weighing only 150g.
    R2 superlight in Germany sell them.

  7. Polyurethane tubes are not new tech, I was riding on them 20 years ago. I forget the brand name. They were compatible with rim brakes, as that is all that was available back then. They were durable and light, just like those being advertised here. They were also expensive, just like these. The drawback is that they are not stretchy and need to be matched to tire size. These days with so many tire size and rim width combinations I see this as being an uphill marketing battle. They didn’t catch on before, despite high performance. I don’t see them catching on now.

  8. Sorry if off topic a bit but Schwalbe has no email on their webpage and I can only hope they read this. I wish they made durable tubes and tires for e-scooters like the Xiaomi M365 which there are probably a few hundred thousand or million rolling around the world. I have many tires of theirs on my bikes, but a flatproof pneumatic 10″ tire for the M365 doesn’t exist.

  9. I run Tubolitos on my ibis hakkalugi instead of tubeless because I like swapping tires frequently for weather etc. if you didn’t want to mess around with goo for changing tires these could be a good option.

  10. I have tubolito tubes since four years, and it’s for me personally the best one for riding with my FOCUS RAVEN MAX FACTORY every day to ride to work and at the weekends to ride in the dirt.

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