How are Bike Inner Tubes Made – Introduction
Inner tubes are an important part of your bike unless you are riding a bike with a tubeless tire. Inner tubes are made up of latex or butyl rubber. During the manufacturing process, they are placed inside your tire before being inflated with a pump. Some of the things that you need to know about inner tubes are stated below.
This video shows how to remove and install typical mountain bike inner tubes (credit to Park Tool):
Types of Inner Tube Valves
This type of valves is used for lower pressure tires, such as in mountain bikes and kids bikes. It is also the same valve that is used on all motor vehicle tires. It features a core that is sprung loaded and a central pin where you can use a narrow object to release air from the tube.
This type of valves is used for higher pressure tubes such as in road bikes. It features a slimmer stem and is sometimes threaded to accept a locking ring. Before you can inflate or deflate them, you will need to unscrew the top section so the core of the valve can move.
It is also called the Woods Valve, and it is a pneumatic valve variation that is used occasionally on modern bikes. It was once popular, and it looks like a hybrid of the Schrader and Presta valves. Dunlop valve has the same rim drilling with Schrader, which means you can easily replace the older tubes with modern types.
Valve Caps of Inner Tubes
The inner tubes of bikes come with plastic valve caps, which keep the valve clean. You can use a Presta valve cap for the woods valve, but the woods valve cap cannot work for the Presta valve. You can also go for the metal Schrader valve caps, which have a rubber seal for preventing leakage.
How to Choose the Right Valve Length
You can get Presta inner tubes in various valve lengths suitable for deep section rim profiles. If your bike has deep-section rims, use a valve that is long enough to pass through the rim hole and still with enough valve stem for fitting the pump. You can buy valve extenders to fit a shorter valve and also in case of an emergency.
Inner Tube Material
Many inner tubes are made up of butyl rubber, the least expensive material. It is black and easy to repair by using a standard puncture kit when you have a flat tire. Inner tube manufacturers usually make use of lighter weight butyl tubes, which makes it fragile and more prone to punctures.
There are also latex tubes which are even lighter than butyl and roll faster. It is harder to fit and usually leak air more quickly than a butyl tube, which means you need to re-inflate them before going for a ride.
Tubeless tires are like car tires, and they feature a sealed inner rim so that you do not need a tube. Racers prefer tubeless tires because of their reduced weight, while some mountain bikers and cross-country riders prefer them because they can run on lower pressures. Before you use tubeless tires, you will need a tubeless-ready wheel and tire, lest you risk blowing the tire out while riding.
It is less expensive to fix your inner tube when it is damaged than replacing it. You can easily buy patch kits and sealant for repairing your inner tubes when damaged. However, if your inner tubes have been repaired several times, you could consider replacing your inner tubes once and for all.