Last updated: August 9, 2021

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Welcome to our big bicycle inner tube test 2021. Here we present all the inner tubes we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best inner tube. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should be aware of when buying a bicycle inner tube.




Summary

  • Bicycle inner tubes are essential for cycling. They not only make riding possible, but also have an effect on handling and speed.
  • All bicycle inner tubes are made of plastic, but they can be further divided into three different materials.
  • It is always worthwhile to buy several inner tubes in stock. You never know when you will need a new one.

The Best Bicycle Tube: The Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a bicycle tube

Why do I need an inner tube?

You will inevitably need a bicycle inner tube if your old tube is broken or if you want to buy a tube in stock. Wikipedia describes the inner tube as a container of compressed air that seals the inside of the tyre against pressure loss. The inner tube is therefore essential for a bicycle and it is definitely not a bad investment to buy several inner tubes in stock.

Fahrradschläuche sind essentiell für das Fahrradfahren.

The tyre and the inner tube it contains are the foundation of every bicycle. They are essential for every cyclist.
(Image source:unsplash.com / Eric Crawford)

What size should the bicycle inner tube be?

The size of the bicycle inner tube depends first on your valve type. Later in the guide, we have listed all three types and will go into more detail about them. Next, you need to determine your tyre size.

This marking is usually printed or embossed and is usually located on the tyre sidewall. The form of this marking is also known as the ETRTO standard and is structured as follows: XX-YYY (ZZ x A.AA). To help you understand the meaning of this code, we have prepared a table that explains the individual components:

component meaning
XX tyre width in mm
YYY inner diameter in mm
ZZ tyre size in inches
A.AA tyre width in inches

What does a bicycle inner tube cost?

The price of a bicycle inner tube ranges from 6 - 25 Euros, depending on the material. If you want to save a little money,1 you can also buy a double pack directly. These usually cost 1 - 2 euros less than if you ordered the inner tubes individually.

Another advantage is that you can put another hose aside as a backup and be covered in case of an emergency. Especially when travelling, you can never have enough spare inner tubes.

If you learn how to mend a tube, you can mend your tube in a few minutes. You can theoretically repeat this until the tyre is almost completely punctured and save money in the process.

What are the alternatives to inner tubes?

The bicycle inner tube is the all-time favourite and despite its quirks it also has its advantages. We have briefly summarised these here to then present you with an alternative to the inner tube.

Advantages
  • Inexpensive to buy
  • Can be patched or easily replaced
  • Can be easily carried in a backpack as a replacement
Disadvantages
  • Must be inflated more often depending on the material

An innovative alternative is the new Airless System from Schwalbe. Here, air is completely dispensed with and instead the hollow space is provided with a type of plastic. This is also used in various sports shoes and comes from BASF.

However, this variant is also a lot more expensive than hose systems, but can still convince with its advantages. The advantages and disadvantages of the airless system are explained briefly and simply in table form here to give you a better idea:

Advantages
  • No pumping necessary
  • No risk of punctures due to plastic in the tyre
  • Higher shock absorption
Disadvantages
  • Expensive to buy and maintain
  • Only available from certified dealers

Decision: What types of bicycle inner tubes are there and which is the right one for you?

What is a bicycle inner tube with Dunlop valve and what distinguishes it?

A bicycle inner tube with a Dunlop valve, also called a Blitz valve, is mainly found on city bikes today. It is the cheapest of the three valves and does not offer any major advantages over the other types.

It is mainly characterised by its non-return valve, which has to be overcome by a stronger counterpressure of the air pump. It is also connected to the hose via a thread, which makes it easy to replace, but also easier to steal.

In addition, it is not particularly suitable for high air pressures and the current air pressure of the tyre cannot be determined due to the type of construction. So the Dunlop valve is rather weak compared to the other bicycle tube valves, but it can easily be replaced and is therefore a good choice for occasional riders.

What is a Sclaverand valve bicycle inner tube and what distinguishes it?

The Sclaverand valve or French valve was previously only used on racing bikes. Suitable for high air pressures, it is now also used on some touring bikes and mountain bikes. The characteristic feature is the screw valve which has to be unscrewed for filling and measuring the air pressure.

Some air is always lost during this process, which is why you should always work quickly. The great advantage of this valve is its narrow design, which leads to increased riding stability, especially on racing bikes and mountain bikes. In addition, it can handle a pressure of up to 15 bar and can be filled using a floor pump.

The air pressure can also be measured. However, the narrow design also brings a big disadvantage. The valve tends to deform more easily and cannot simply be replaced when needed. A completely new inner tube may have to be purchased.

What is a bicycle tube with a Schrader valve and what distinguishes it?

The Schrader valve is also called a car valve and is identical in design and function to a regular car valve. Inflation is similar to the Sclaverand valve: Unscrew the cap, put on the pump and inflate. However, deflating is not quite as easy.

A small pressure point must be pressed with a pointed object to let the air flow out. A major advantage, but also a disadvantage, is the fact that the car valve cannot usually be inflated with common cheap pumps. This requires either a proper bicycle pump or a car pump. However, the latter can be found at any petrol station, which is a great advantage.

The choice of valve depends on personal preferences and the range of requirements.

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate bicycle inner tubes on the basis of these factors

Material

The material of the bicycle inner tube is decisive for the weight and thus also for the resulting riding behaviour of the inner tube. There are three different typical materials used for bicycle inner tubes. In addition to a brief explanation, we have also presented the various advantages and disadvantages in tables.

Butyl

Most manufacturers use inner tubes made of butyl, a very elastic, airtight synthetic rubber. The most striking advantage of butyl is the particularly high seal, so that the tyre loses very little air over time. Butyl is also cheaper than thermoplastic or latex versions. Nevertheless, butyl is a relatively heavy material, which is why most inner tubes weigh about 200 g and are thus heavier than the competition.

Advantages
  • Holds air particularly well
  • Low price
Disadvantages
  • Relatively heavy

Latex

Bicycle inner tubes made of latex are sometimes the lightest you can find on the market, which makes them especially popular in racing. In addition, they score points for their high elasticity and are therefore very puncture-proof. However, latex requires a lot of maintenance. The material is very permeable to air and requires frequent inflation. In addition, latex bicycle inner tubes are more expensive to buy.

Advantages
  • Very light
  • High elasticity
  • High puncture resistance
Disadvantages
  • Very permeable to air, requires frequent inflation
  • Higher price

Thermoplastic

Thermoplastic is a real innovation and also relatively new on the market. Mountain bikers and road cyclists in particular appreciate thermoplastic compounds because of their low weight, low air permeability and positive effect on riding behaviour.

In addition, they can also convince with their high puncture resistance. Nevertheless, it must be said that bicycle inner tubes made of thermoplastic are correspondingly more expensive than the competition, and significantly so.

Advantages
  • Lowest weight
  • low air permeability
  • positive effect on riding behaviour
  • high puncture safety
Disadvantages
  • Most expensive

No solo permiten conducir, sino que también afectan el comportamiento y la velocidad de conducción.

Mountain bikes in particular demand a lot from inner tubes and tyres. Here, a tube made of thermoplastic can be a sensible investment.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Christian Erfurt)

Weight

The weight of a bicycle inner tube depends on the material chosen. If you are a racing cyclist, you should focus on the lowest possible weight and prefer latex or thermoplastic. If you are an occasional rider or if your demands are not too high, you can safely choose a tube made of butyl.

Type of valve

The type of valve also depends on your preference or your sporting activity. If you are a racer, the Sclaverand valve is the first choice. Due to its narrow design, it takes up less space and harmonises perfectly with narrow tyres.

Es lohnt sich immer mehrere Schläuche auf Vorrat zu kaufen.

Sclaverand valves are most suitable for racing bikes, as they harmonise best with the narrow design of the tyres.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Velobar+)

Mountain bikers also often use French valves. More often, however, the Auto valve is used. Thanks to its design, it can withstand even tougher conditions and can be easily refilled at petrol stations.

If you don't have any special requirements, the type of valve will be relatively unimportant. However, Sclaverand and Dunlop valves are a good choice, as most cheap bicycle pumps are compatible with them.

Width

Even though you always have some leeway when choosing the width of the inner tube, it still makes sense to choose one that fits as well as possible. Depending on the area, narrower tyres make more sense than wider ones. In racing, tyres are as narrow as possible, while on trekking bikes or mountain bikes they tend to be wide. Accordingly, you should also adapt the width of your inner tube to the mounted tyre.

You always have some leeway when choosing the width of an inner tube.

Size

As described above, you can find out the size of your inner tube by looking at the code on the tyre. You can then use this code to find the right inner tube online or in the shop.

Interesting facts about bicycle inner tubes

Emergency vocabulary

If you travel a lot by bike abroad, it can be very useful to know at least a few words of the respective language. Especially in the event of a breakdown, it is extremely helpful to be able to communicate and describe the problem. We have selected the terms for bicycle inner tube in English, Spanish and French and summarised them for you here:

Language Translation for bicycle tube
English Bicycle tube
Spanish Tubo de bicicleta
French Tubo de la bicicleta

If you at least know the word for bicycle tube, you can definitely ensure that you will be helped with your problem in most cases.

How do I properly dispose of my inner tube?

As a rule, you can simply dispose of your old inner tube in the residual waste. However, if you have large quantities, you should always dispose of them at a recycling centre. Alternatively, you can also take the inner tube to the bulky waste collection point. There are federal states in which it is mandatory to recycle bicycle inner tubes. The easiest way to do this is to take the inner tube to a bicycle dealer.

How can I patch/repair my inner tube?

Theoretically, a tube can be repaired an infinite number of times. With expensive models it also makes sense to patch the holes as often as possible. However, at an average price of 7 euros, the effort is too great for the inexperienced.

With a little practice, however, you can learn to get your bike ready to ride again in about 10 minutes. The tools you need are a suitable spanner, a pump, a water bath, a pen and a repair kit. To show you how to repair your bicycle tube, we have summarised the procedure here:

  1. Remove the tyre from the bracket using the spanner and take off the casing
  2. Take the inner tube out and check it with a water bath. The bubbles that rise will help you locate the hole. You should mark it with a pencil to make it easier to find later.
  3. Repair the tube with the repair kit
  4. Re-install the tube and tyre

Image source: Banyen/ 123rf.com

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