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Weighing a mere 69g each, Kenda’s Ultralight tubes would be my choice over Latex variants if I was trying to shave every last gram from my bike. So if you’re a nimble, lightweight racer, these could be a good investment but the heavier and more puncture prone amongst us should look elsewhere.
Wall thickness is a mere 0.6mm so greater care is needed to avoid pinching the tube, and be sure to file any rough valve holes to prevent chafing this area. Ours had a threadless presta extension so as not to cause any hassles when paired with deep section aero rims.
Pressure retention is a vast improvement over Latex but while never completely flat the tyres needed topping up every three days or so. I managed to avoid puncturing over the test period, despite chasing through forest tracks with scant regard for thorns and brambles. If you do hole them their supple construction should mean successful repair with a decent patch kit.
Given that the rotating mass of the wheels is the best place to save weight, these tubes could be the easiest and least expensive way for lighter or more careful riders to improve performance on a race or TT mount but the limited sizing limits them to road or XC mountain bike duties which is a shame given it rules out crossers, Moultons and recumbents which could also benefit.
Excellent choice for weight conscious road or XC riders.
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Make and model: Kenda Ultra Lite inner tube
Size tested: 26x1.5-1.75
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
As the name suggests, the Ultralites are minimalist tubes intended as the least expensive means of weight reduction for road and XC MTB riders. I would generally agree, although they wouldn't be my first choice were I a heavier rider.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
69 Gram Butyl construction. 0.6mm wall thickness makes for a very, very thin tube.
No punctures throughout the test period and held their pressure better than Latex.
Varies - if you're prone to punctures and were determined to have minimalist tubes then Latex might be a better choice.
A very good performance upgrade for the money but only really viable with a light wheelset.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
No problems, required slightly more frequent inflation but improves rolling resistance with lightweight tyres.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Low weight and pleasing, round profile.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? As part of a bike's calorie controlled diet yes.
Age: 35 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)