Question: Can you explain the difference between inner tubes made of butyl rubber versus latex? Is one choice lighter or more puncture resistant? — Bill W.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Latex tubes are usually lighter than standard butyl tubes, and their fans say they have a “nicer ride.”
They’re also reputed to be more puncture-resistant because they’re more flexible. The idea is that a thorn or other sharp object that penetrates the tire will push into the tube, deforming it but not causing a puncture.
I confess to some skepticism. On the downside, latex tubes are usually more expensive and they’re more porous. You need to inflate them before each day’s ride.
Butyl tubes, on the other hand, hold air longer, meaning you don’t have to air up so often. Plus, they’re typically less expensive and easier to find (especially in a pinch).
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred's full bio.