I'm a poor CX racer and have one wheel set for racing, commuting, changing course conditions, etc. I change tires a lot and don't want to go tubeless and can't afford to dive into tubulars. In racing my CX bike in short track MTB races and an off-road triathlon, I keep pinch flatting, which is frustrating.
So...I thought I'd give latex tubes a shot this CX season. I understand Challenge quit making them and Michelin doesn't make them in a CX size. Consequently, just about nobody has them. I found a supplier in the UK that can get me some, but with foreign currency and shipping it is expensive and seems silly to jump into something that seems to obsolete.
For those that have used latex tubes for cross...is there a reason they are hard to get? I'm left to presume they were just not that popular. Should I give it a try? Any leads on supply in the US?
Thanks for any input...
Well, I am not sure this fully relevant, but my .02 anyway. In the 90's when I was racing XC a lot, we used Air-B latex tubes. I could really feel a difference in the weight and they seemed much faster.
The big problem with them is that they can dry out. I would have some brand new tubes that were "dry" and they become very brittle and flat very easy. When they are not dry, I am not sure they would be any better for pinch flats.
I am not sure if there any any versions now days that are better, but I have not heard much about them for a while.
There was an CXmag issue that tested different tubes and pressures pinching flatting with the latex having a good showing. Like Oliver says looking at the tire pressure and adjusting riding style is likely going to make a bigger difference on avoiding flats. I generally opt to run slightly higher pressure vs. risking a race ending flat.
I never reported back, but so far I'm loving the latex tubes. I'm about 180-185 pounds and I've been running them with Clement Crusade PDX clinchers and have run them at 35 psi with no problems. Seems to be a great combo, lots of grip and I love these tires in the mud. After some wet and muddy races I re-coated the latex with some light oil. They soaked that up quick and it seems to keep them supple. Still have two new ones on stand-by, but so far, I'm a believer in the latex...
Thanks everyone for the replies and Martin for the offer. I will contact you off-list. I have always erred on the side of higher psi, except this summer, when I've been racing against mountain bikes in dry and/or rocky conditions. Admittedly, my CX bike wasn't the best tool for the job, but I tried to push it is little with lower pressures. Not the butyl's fault, I suppose.
I may give the latex a try, particularly when the weather turns wet and I start running my mud tires. I'll report back if I do. Thanks again,