The EVELO Blog

Keep Riding With Thorn Resistant Tubes

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One consideration for the commuter cyclist or recreational rider is whether to use thorn resistant tubes or not.    There are several factors to consider and an argument can be made either way.

Advantages:

You will tend to get fewer flats.   Especially if you ride in areas with a lot of debris on the roads, such as glass and metal bits, or thorns (you in the southwestern parts of the US know what I’m talking about!)

The reliability of your bike is improved, an important factor for commuters, or folks who just don’t enjoy having to fix things.

They last longer.

They tend to stay inflated longer because the rubber is thicker and less porous.  That means you    don’t have to top them up as frequently.  Again, this is a time saver.

Disadvantages:

Heavier, which reduces performance a small amount.

More expensive.

Most bikes don’t come with them, so it’s up to the rider to make this upgrade.

Can be hard to find in big box stores, and bike shops that cater more to sport riders than   commuters or low-key recreational riders.   Often the only place to find them is online.

The additional weight in the wheels also makes the bike feel a tiny bit less “sporty”.

While they generally aren’t appropriate for racing or club riding, most riders won’t notice the small performance reduction.   In fact, it has been my experience that in the long run, my average speeds are about the same.   I go a tiny bit slower, sure, but I also don’t spend as much time patching flats or adding air.   I have a non-Electric bike that I use for commuting, errands and recreational riding that I have put over 10K miles on in the last 5 years, and since adding thorn resistant tubes and Kevlar belted tires to it, it hasn’t had a single flat.   And I frequently ride in urban areas with lots of broken glass and other sharp debris.

Especially with an Electric Bike that you want to use for commuting and errand running, the confidence that they bring is well worth the additional 1.5 lbs, in my opinion.   It’s one less thing to worry about when you’re running late for work, or the store is about to close!

One thing to be aware of is that there are “thorn resistant” and “heavy duty” tubes, and they are not the same thing.  Heavy duty tubes have somewhat thicker rubber all the way around, whereas thorn resistant tubes are much thicker on the outside edge  (tire side) of the tube than on the inside edge (wheel side), putting the extra rubber where it does the most good.

I particularly like the Sunlite Thorn Resistant Schrader Valve Tubes, and use them on all of my bikes except my road racing bike.

If you have an Aries, Aurora or Luna, you will need the  “ 26 x 1.50-1.95 SCHRADER Valve” size.

If you have an Orion, you need the “700 x 40-45 / 35mm SCHRADER Valve” size

One final note.   Some people use “self-sealing” tubes, a common brand being “Slime”.  These are not the same as thorn resistant tubes.     These are also more flat resistant than a standard tube,  but personally, I do not like them.    They’re even heavier than thorn resistant tubes, and can often be a pain to deal with, in my experience.    They do seal if you get a small hole in the tube, but they don’t work as well when the hole is larger, and patching them is a real chore.

In addition, the valves tend to get clogged, especially if you don’t make sure that the valve is in the 12 o’clock position and the bike upright when air is being added.  The liquid inside will flow into the valve, sometimes causing it to stick ever so slightly open, so it leaks very, very slowly.     I want to stress that this is my personal opinion from my own experience and that other people swear by them and wouldn’t ride without them.  In the end it’s a matter of personal choice.

Flat tires are one of the annoying facts of life that every rider ends up having to deal with if they ride long enough, but with some forethought,  a few dollars and some time, you can make it much less annoying!

What do you do to prevent flat tires?

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