I heard about Foss tubes when I was reading Mike Hall’s account of the “Tour Divide”. His kit list was all good stuff but I wondered why he’d mentioned the tubes.
So I looked up Foss tubes. Alledgedly:
- they have better puncture resistance
- they are lighter weight
- they are made from recycled materials
Which all sounds good, so I thought I’d give them a whirl.* I found them on the online bike store www.bike-discount.de. Unlike standard butyl tubes they come in more exact sizes and the correct size must be used. They cost more than standard tubes. The tubes I normally use, Michelin A2 cost € 3.52 on the bike-discount site. The Foss tubes are € 14.02
* skip to the end for two updates on long term use
I am due to do a 600km event next weekend so I thought I’d change the tyres on the best bike and at the same time put in the Foss tubes.
When I opened the pack it seems that they also include rim tape. I suppose this helps make the higher cost a little more acceptable. The rear wheel tape looked a bit tatty so I thought I’d replace it.
Before I put the new tube on the wheel I weighed it and a Michelin A2 for comparison. The Foss tube was 103g and the A2 was 148g. The A2 is not the absolute lightest but I’ve found them to be reliable. If the Foss is almost 50g lighter this is quite a nice bonus. Some people say that an ounce off the rim is worth a pound off the frame. I don’t think I’d go that far but even a small weight loss on the rotating rim is good news. For the pedants out there, it’s approximately 1.59 oz per wheel based on the tubes I weighed.
The rear tyre/tube went on easy: it’s an Open Pro and quite narrow rim
The front rim is a Exal LX17. This has the same ERD as an Open Pro and I replaced the old Open Pro rim with this. The LX17 has a wider internal width, 17mm like a Velocity A23 or other “wide” rims. It was a bit more tricky fitting the tube on this wider rim but not that difficult. The tyre was more difficult to get on too but with the shoe trick (using your foot as a lever) it went on in a few minutes
All set now for a ride across Wales at the weekend!
UPDATE: after using the tubes for a month or two I can’t tell you if they have some kind of amazing puncture resistance. I haven’t had a flat but that doesn’t mean a thing. The tyres do not have any massive sharps in them that the tube has dealt with. One downside I have noticed is that the tubes leak air faster than normal Butyl. After a few days a tyre pumped up to 7 bar / 100 psi will be down to 5.5 bar / 80 psi
UPDATE2: after about a year of no punctures i did finally get a problem. I had just come down a very steep hill (and dangerous, I broke my collar bone there a couple of years before) pulling on the brakes hard. On the climb up the other side the front wheel had a flat. I didn’t find a sharp and switched to a spare tube, no drama. Later inspection showed a small slit near the valve. The rim wasn’t sharp there. All I can surmise is that the high temperature of the rims melted a hole in the tube. I’ve stopped using these tubes now. If they melt in the UK on a short steep hill probably they would be a really bad idea on the Alps.