Let’s see what is the difference between a tube and a tubeless tire

What is the difference between a tube (TT) and a tubeless(TL) tire? Short answer? An embedded rubber liner on the inside of the tire carcass. The objective of all the materials used on a tire are about improving every performance aspect; the best balance between grip, durability and flexibility. Surprisingly, the ideal rubber mix in a tire is porous, it is designed to unnoticeable leak air.

Here is where the tube comes in. Back in the day, manufacturers would fit tubes with a much better air containment and would have almost no effect on the performance of the tire. The biggest flaw with this design happened when a puncture occurred. In this case, the deflation of the tube would cause a sudden loss of air and air would escape through the spoke heads on the wheel, something very dangerous at high speeds.

With this in mind, manufacturers tried finding a better way to address this problem. Since safety at high speeds became a concerning issue, the tubeless tire was created. This design was made possible by taking tube rubber mix material and making a single continuous layer on the inside of the tire carcass. The embedment of this tube rubber was not only safer, but made the tire lighter. A tubeless tire also forms a better seal onto the wheel.

This tubeless design doesn’t mean that the tire can’t get punctured,it can. But the object puncturing the tire usually stays stuck on the thick tread of the tire. This makes the tire deflate slowly at high speeds and gives the rider an opportunity to slow down. It also allows for spokeless wheel to be fitted, allowing more freedom for a cast wheel design.

Although both types of tires are still produced, tube tires are most commonly found on small city and dual-sport motorcycles. These kind of motorcycles often require an high profile tire and therefore can work best using a tube. If you plan on fitting a tube inside a tubeless tire, be aware that it will add additional weight to the total wheel assembly. This can lead to more heat generation, which ultimately means faster tire wear. Simply put, if a tire is identified as a “tube type” tire, it won’t have an embedded rubber liner on the inside of the carcass. Therefore, it will need an inner tube to work properly.

Can you run a tube in a tubeless tire?

The answer to this common question is, yes. Just be sure to check there is nothing obstructing the smooth surface of the carcass. Something like a loose label on the inside of the tire could cause a problem with the tube.

Does running a tube reduces your tire’s speed rating?

Yes and no. Up to a maximum of 130 mph (H speed index), the addition of a tube has no effect to the speed rating. When surpassing the speed mentioned, the tire would typically be rated at the next speed down.

Now you can differentiate a tube from a tubeless tire, when to use each type, and its pros and cons.

Until next week!