"How light are these tubes?" i hear you say? Like most things in life, once a standard has being set in place and it is accepted, anything other than the standard seems so far fetched that people simply choose to not accept it. Sometimes though, it pays to stay open minded and challenge the conventions.
Take Tubolito tubes for instance. 38g for the "standard" 42mm road variant. Sounds pretty darn light right? But have a think carefully and think about your standard tube. Let's say a typical 125g road tube. Is that heavy? Maybe for a tube but certainly not something you would say is heavy as an object. 125g as a number by itself does not exactly scream overbuilt in the case of a tube, yet, it is accepted as the default standard because it is what we ride and what we have always ridden. If you think about it, what is so ridiculous in letting a 37g tube air up your tyre vs a 125g tube? They are both very light for doing such a critical job.
Let's look at this from another angle, if the Tubolito's work as per your normal expectations of a tube, then what are the negatives to having this tube?
The price of the Tubolito tube certainly isn't cheap, but it is cheap given what it can do for you. As we all know rotating mass is the most important place to lose weight on a bicycle. It is the reason why highend wheelsets cost as much as they do amongst other factors and it is almost always a critical factor in how much a brand charges you to roll on their hoops. How much would you pay to lose 150g out of your wheelset? $500? $1000? $2000?
Does it make more sense now?
One of the feelings i remember fondly is rolling out on a set of 1200g clincher wheels. This made a noticeable difference vs a set of 1400g clinchers i was riding previously. I could hold 2 taller gears whilst maintaining the same power numbers. The bike felt more agile and responsive. I felt like i had permanent good leg day. When i decided to long term test a set of Tubolito tubes, i was reminded of that day i rode out with the 1200g clinchers.
I was on a set of standard road tubes weighing approx 128g so with a 37g Tubolito setup i lost 182g in rotational mass combined. Anyone telling you they can't notice this difference would be lying through their teeth. The bike felt more responsive and whilst my wheelset of choice was not heavy, they felt completely different once the tubolito tubes was installed.
Does the price of the tubes justify the performance? Wholeheartedly yes. However, no matter how great the tubes are, they would be useless if they were unsafe or unreliable and we wanted to have our own real world experience with them to come to a conclusion. Through our period with the Tubolito tubes, we rode the same terrain as we rode previously and as riders, we typically puncture maybe once every 3 month or so given how unlucky we get on Sydney roads.
In a similar period, we have to admit, we punctured on the Tubolito tube. In the rear wheel but upon inspection, we also found the cause of this puncture. You can see the cut that was caused in the tyre in the below image which corresponds to the puncture received on the tubolito tube. Something that did this damage is out of pure luck and crappy roads and there is no promise that on a chunkier tube, it would have come away unscathed. You would probably need to be on a much harder carcass tyre to be safe and in this case, there is also the advantage of running a heavier carcass tyre but still netting the advantage of a super lightweight tube.
It did give us the opportunity to use the "flix kit" and to repair the tube. Without going in-depth into how to fix a tube, the process was as simple as can be especially with the provided alcohol cleaning swab and self adhesive patches. 5 minutes later, we checked that the tube was holding pressure and installed it back in the wheel. We have continued riding the setup for a further 3 weeks and found no abnormal leaks at all.
In closing, yes, the tubes are more expensive than your typical tubes but for what they offer given what you pay, they are an absolute bargain. As a bonus, they come packed in the smallest footprint which means less bulk in your riding pocket which means more comfort and even the option of having 2 x backup tubes if you really need. We find a lot of bikepackers and mtbers have gone the way of utilising a single Tubolito tube to offset their tubeless setup in the event they slash their tyres and have to limp back home.