Electric Vehicles For India Electric Bikes Approaching ‘Ultra Light Speed’ with new TPU inner tubes from Vittoria

Approaching ‘Ultra Light Speed’ with new TPU inner tubes from Vittoria

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Vittoria spent the last year researching materials and production to try and produce a new generation of lightweight inner tubes. With the bike company’s latest product, the Ultra Light Speed, it claims to have accomplished that goal.

Compared to Vittoria’s standard butyl inner tubes, the new ones are 70 percent lighter, 14 percent faster and 57 percent more resistant to punctures. If you’re worried about the environment, fear not, as these tubes are also recyclable.

Vittoria achieved its intended goal of ultra lightweight tubes through a not-so-secret ingredient called thermoplastic polyurethane, or TPU. Let’s take a closer look.

TPU inner tube

Thermoplastic polyurethane

If the technical name of this material sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because it’s everywhere. Google it and you’ll get what we mean. Its extreme durability and wide applicability, which Researchgate.net briefly summarizes here, made it popular across industries and consumer products.

Vittoria clearly agrees. TPU is not only recyclable, but flexible in its uses. It’s stable from 47°C all the way up to 100°C (116°F-212°F), and retains its shape even when stretched thin, the company said.

It’s also elastic, airtight while retaining air pressure, and resistant to punctures. Even if it a cyclist does manage to puncture the tube, Vittoria maintains that it retains air longer when compared to butyl and latex.

Compared to butyl inner tubes, which usually are 1mm thick, the TPU tubes measure just 0.35mm. As a result, they can only be welded with “high frequency technology,” Vittoria said.

Vittoria’s info for riders

Speed freaks among cyclists may embrace the Ultra Light Speed tubes for their ability to reduce the rolling resistance caused by internal friction between the tire and the tube, Vittoria said

“So if you’re that rider who uses folding tube-type tires, this is the easiest way to drop weight and make your tires roll faster,” a spokesperson says in the above video. “If you’re a tubeless rider, this is the ultimate accessory to keep in your jersey pocket or saddlebag because it takes up no room and weighs next to nothing.”

If you need a refresher on these differences, check out this handy explainer from a Vittoria white paper.

An important caveat: rim brakes plus TPU tubes equals no-no

While TPU offers many benefits, it also has a significant downside. It’s highly sensitive to heat above its established threshold.

“High temperature is the sworn enemy of thermoplastic polyurethane,” Vittoria said in the release. In rare circumstances, rim brakes can overheat the rim to extremely high temperatures, creating a potential safety issue.

That’s why cyclists should only use TPU tubes on bikes with disc brakes, the company said.

“To guarantee total safety for the rider, we recommend using these inner tubes exclusively with bicycles equipped with disc brakes,” Vittoria emphasized.

Ultra Light Speed inner tube

Ultra Light Speed final details

While Vittoria said the TPU tubes resist most punctures, the Ultra Light Speed still comes with a repair kit included. If a puncture does happen, the repair kit required is “not easy to find,” Vittoria said, electing to chuck one in along with the tubes.

In seeming contrast to the rarity the company claims over the kit, it includes a self-adhesive patch and a napkin.

The Ultra Light Speed come in a single length, but with an extendable valve. It’s available in 700x25c and 700x30c with a 60mm valve and a removable Presta core. That makes the tube fully compatibility with any rim depth up to 50mm. By removing the Presta core and using valve extensions, the inner tubes can also be used with higher rim profiles, Vittoria said.

The tubes sell for $30 each.

Vittoria.com

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