I read with astonishment that a Tubolito tube made it into Dave Rome’s top 10 cycling products of 2022.
I’ve carried a Tubolito in its original packaging in my saddle bag for a year or so. Nice and compact, with a promise of being tough in the event I get a leak in my tubeless tyre I can’t plug. Great.
I rode the Mawson Trail from Adelaide up to and through the Flinders Ranges early October 2022 and nicked a sidewall on my tubeless WTB Sendero. So out came the Tubolito for its maiden run.
It was flat in less than an hour. Sorry boys, got a pump? I had a patch kit (30 minute cure time) but couldn’t find the hole using water in the hand basin of our accommodation that night. We had a support vehicle luckily so I fitted a spare tubeless tyre with fresh sealant.
When we got back to Buninyong my LBS shop assistant (I bought it locally) had bigger kahunas than I when it came to inflating it out of a tyre, and he found a tiny puncture. Probably a thorn. These were the only 2 flats we had out of 3 bikes over near 3000 combined km. Not very impressed truth be told given the tube was gravel bike specific and supposedly tougher than ordinary tubes.
I have another gravel bike, this aimed more at anyroad use, and for it I have two 700c wheelsets. One 38mm tubeless, that I ride mostly. The other 32mm in which I stuck a pair of Pirelli Cinturato Smartube 700 x 28-35c Reinforced tubes. One of those tubes seems fine. The other had a slow leak from new (fine for a few hours - reinflate every other day).
When I was repairing the Tubolito I pulled off the leaking Pirelli and found a TINY leak at the valve weld. Poor quality control.
I patched this with the Tubolito patch kit and a few days later refitted it and went for a ride. Within 40 minutes I was replacing the tube roadside. Upon inspection at home there was a very obvious leak from the side of the tube, 5 or 7 o’clock from the valve stem and at 3 o’clock on the cross section of the tube. Yep. Right on the side, so definitely a new leak. Given the location I concluded it wasn’t caused by anything I rode over and there is no fault with the tyre bead. I couldn’t fault the tyre at all and I had no problem with the butyl tube I replaced it with. I’m seriously questioning Pirelli’s claim this model is reinforced.
So that 2/3 of these $45 tubes that have proven to be rubbish. I’m lumping the two brands together on the basis of the CT review I read wherein James Huang stated they were made in the same factory in Austria.
Worse is knowing that they do not match the marketing hype, and can’t be patched roadside; we’ll, not if you don’t have 30 minute for the glue to cure. Good luck in the rain. So what will you do if you get two flats? With butyl tubes your tiny glueless patch kit gets you going again. With these you’re stuffed. I’m never buying these again. No way.