TPU tubes are lighter than Latex but Latex is faster as numerous tests have shown on Aerocoach and BicycleRollingResistance. I have some good wheels that are not tubeless compatible.
I have been using TPU tubes for a year. They have some advantages in making me feel like my heavy aero road bike is a climbing bike on the hills. In races and hard group rides on hills 6%+ I would always feel fast responding to attacks while I would notice my friends who are stronger than me on lighter bikes and different tyre types take a few seconds to get to speed.
For me the biggest downside is dealing with punctures. TPU tubes do have some puncture protection capabilities but on rough roads they seem to suffer a bit. This comment I found on one the forums resonates with my experience:
There is a clear limit in the TPU tubes that is not widely mentioned: their stiffness increases the impedance losses (how much vibrations are transmitted to the rider, then energy wasted) when the road degrades.
Their “equal” performance to Latex is only valid on very very good roads. Overall Latex remains more efficient.
For puncture resistance, they do resist better to perforation but lets be honest, if you have something in your tire that penetrated the protection bed, the tube is not what will resist. where latex has another benefit if for “snake-bite” types of punctures, they resist more when “pinched”
Patches work sometimes but if it does not then it becomes an expensive headache. Ridenow tubes were cheap but the prices are slowly increasing.
I have considered adding some sealant inside the TPU tubes for training as I hate dealing with punctures in races and hard hard group rides but only a few TPU brands have removable valve cores like Schwalbe. Schwalbe on their website recommend not adding sealant inside their Schwalbe Aerothan tubes while Tubolito recommend using OKO sealant and those spray sealants like Vittoria Pit stop however their road tubes do not have removable valve cores.
Can Tubolitos be used with sealant or repair sprays?
Only with Tubolitos with premounted valve extenders.
We performed tests with different products. Following products seal Tubolitos:
Sealant: Oko Puncture free Bike
Repair Spray: Nigrin Reifendicht; Vittoria Pitstop Super Magnum; Tip Top Pannenspray; Güp Kwiki
Residues of tubeless milk do not harm Tubolito products
I am considering the move to Latex. They cheaper, more repairable and is proven to work with sealant which saves me from stopping to change a puncture. My questions are
At what gradient on a hill would I be better of with TPU tubes? Put differently at what stage does the advantages of the lower rolling resistance of latex tubes fall away to the weight advantages of the lower weight of tpu tubes?
Has anyone tried pre-filling tpu tubes with a bit of sealant to help it self seal without having to stop?
If I do move to Latex I have read that I need to also add two loops of tubeless rim tape to the wheel. With the rim tape and the sealant added is the rolling resistance still faster than TPU tubes?
Some context: I ride a Merida Reacto Aero bike which is quite heavy. I am already close to my racing weight of 67 kg’s at 1.77m tall and cannot lose any more weight. I tend to feel the drop in weight of anything part on my bike quite quickly. I live in a mountainous area and ride 12 - 15 hours a week.