Latex vs Butyl

As you all know by now, I’ve been spending my hard-earned euros on lightening my bike these days. The latest replacement that I’ve decided to turn my attention to is tubes. My intention is to lose weight, and if you’ve ever tried to do this by buying stuff for your bike you’ll know that you are really talking ‘marginal gains’, often at astronomical prices.

Not with inner tubes. I can save 50 grams or more by switching from butyl to latex (or thin butyl…another blog post maybe) for just a few €€. Actually, you can call it 150 grams since you have two tires and one more either in your saddle bag (another victim on my list!) or in your pocket. It’s pennies per gram, which is far, far, FAR better than anything other than actually losing it from your body.


And then, while out on a ride the other day with John, he reminded me that taking weight off rotating bits of the bike is better than the fixed parts. This article concludes that latex tubes add 5 watts to your motor over butyl. Hardly more expensive, lighter AND and an extra 5 watts – how can I say no?

Well, there are a couple of downsides to latex of course. One is that it loses air far faster than butyl, but I don’t think you need to stop mid-ride or anything like that; just make sure you add a few psi before you head out each day. Second, latex tubes are less robust than butyl and they might be more prone to punctures. This is more important, but the roads I ride on are generally ‘clean’ and if my one puncture a year becomes two, it might be worth it.

I’ve actually had latex tubes in the past and I can’t remember why I gave them up. Does anyone out there have any experience with them? If so, give it to me straight. I can take it.

18 thoughts on “Latex vs Butyl

  1. Yes! They are expensive. I went back to latex after i forgot that i had butyl tubes and helped a stranded cyclist who didn’t even have a spare tube with him. Boy was i pissed when i realized that when i hot home.

        • Pretty negligible actually….in my world they were 3 times the price and if for example you go through a bad patch of flats, lets say an unforseen burr in the rim etc…as for anything else they do pack up smaller in the kit and they are easier to handle. At the end of it though i didn’t find it was worth it.

  2. Use tubs with latex! save loads more weight, if you ride good roads, punctures aren’t an issue and trust me, a pre glued spare is very hard to roll off.

  3. How about no butl or latex, tubulars! risk of puncture is low if you have glue in them for prevention or with you for reparation, and, I think they ride nicer with no risk of pinch flats. Of course if you’re stupid like me in HR pyrenees this year, you forget to bring glue and then get a slow puncture, wasting a ton of time for help…

    • Well that’s interesting news! I read a couple of reviews of those tubes and there were some negative comments on them, particularly getting them inflated without tearing them. I’d like to think I could avoid that, so I might give it a try. Thanks.

  4. I look forward to your comparison with the standard “butl” tubes. I wonder how they will resist punctures and if they feel any different. I applaud your quest for losing weight – even to the point of dropping the “y” in this post! Merr Christmas and a happ new Ear!

    • Good catch. This reminds me of the many posts I was writing in the early days, when I insisted on spelling ‘pedal’ as ‘peddle’. It nearly drove my writer friend, Ed, up the wall.

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