Monday, July 21, 2014

Goodbye to Tubliss

After a few thousand kilometers of mixed road and trail riding with the Tubliss system on my WR (combined with Heidenau Scout tires F/R), I've decided to revert to tubes. Here're my observations from the experiment.

1. Balancing is a pain. Tubliss is intended for off-road use, and the reason probably boils down to balancing the rim lock and heavy hardware for higher speeds. Provided you're not racing at high speeds, where tire heat may cause problems with the inner tube, there doesn't seem to be any reason why the Tubliss shouldn't be fine on-road except for balancing. I found that over 50km/hr, vibration on the front was a real issue (especially on long rides!) despite adding a whole lot of wheel balancing weights. Couldn't tell if the back wheel was also a problem. It just became too much for me, and no reasonable amount of Slime or weights made it tolerable.

2. What a mess! The combination of sealant and finicky installation is not conducive to trailside repairs while being attacked by bugs. Nope, would rather set myself on fire than go through that in some fetid swamp. On the other hand, if you're doing pure MX, where there's a higher chance of flats, then the hassle of Tubliss may be worth the additional puncture resistance. But not for my comparatively sedate DS riding. I'm tackling dirt tracks, fire roads, water crossings, and pavement--not exactly high-risk puncture zones, although thorns are a real threat. I also noticed that the Slime seemed to attack the aluminum of my rim, causing discoloration in places but no pitting. Finally, I could not see stuffing a regular tube into the tire if the Tubliss failed outright.

3. Regular tubes are simple and readily available. I can change them fast. Tire spoons, Armor-All, and years of practice make it way easier than a Tubliss repair. There's only one valve to worry about, no Slime, no extra nuts, and no need for high pressure tubes. To be fair, the Tubliss only lost about 10 lb per week, but pumping up any tire to 100 psi is a pain with a small bicycle hand pump, which is what I carry on the road. Thanks, but I'd rather trust my tube patches and mounting skills over the Tubliss system, which relies on a several finicky elements all working together perfectly.  

4. Less weight with tubes. Although I didn't weigh the Tubliss vs. inner tube, clearly the combination of Tubliss tire, Tubliss inner tube, wheel weights, and bottle of slime per wheel exceeded the weight of a standard inner tube.


I never got the chance to try the Tubliss at low pressures, where they probably work well. I just didn't feel confident about risking tire or wheel damage at low pressure on some remote trail. Also, since most of my trail rides entail a long (50km) approach on paved roads, stopping to re-inflate afterwards would be necessary and time consuming.

KISS principle: tubes are simple to repair/replace. Combined with some Stans (not Slime!) for resistance to thorn punctures, they perform just fine for my type of 50/50 riding. In the end, I never really felt confident with the Tubliss system. However, I'd have no problem installing them on a pure trail bike.