One of the growing trends here in Central Washington is the Tubliss Tire system made by Nuetech. In case you haven't heard of them, the system essentially allows you to convert your tradition tire and tube combination to a sort of tube-less system like you see on atv's, cars, trucks etc. I say "sort of" because there is a still a tube involved, but it has a very different role than a traditional tube. Essentially the tube is very skinny, like a bicycle tube and it along with a special liner seal the center of the rim and act like a big rim lock. You can find lots of videos online about the mechanics of the system if you want to know more. There are some big advantages to this system over the tradition tire and tube combo. The biggest is tire pressure. Since the tube and liner act as a giant rim lock you can run your tire at very low pressure or even flat. Which in turn allows much more flex in the tire and gives better traction. And you don't have the issue with pinch flats. If you ride the desert, this can be real problem. The ability to run with no air is really nice as well. If you have ever had to ride out on flat you know how tough this can be, not to mention the damage it can do to your bike. The other advantage, is that if you do get a flat it can be repaired with a plug and does not require the tire removed. Again, if you have had the fun experience of fixing a flat in the backcountry this feature might get your heart rate up a bit.
I, being the eternal skeptic, did not immediately jump on the bandwagon. The system runs right around $90 per wheel and you have to install a new tire. My worry was (and still is) that the liner will only last a few tire changes and then you have to buy the whole thing again. After reading lots of reviews and personally talking to several people that have them I finally decided to give it a try. The installation was a little nerve wracking for me since it is similar, but not the same as a regular tire change. I was nervous about damaging something and pretty much throwing money out the window. But, fortunately, Nuetech has good instructions with the product and Youtube videos. Of course the video makes it look easy, and I suspect when I do my next one it will be. After some choice words that may have left marks on the garage walls, I was able to get everything installed. Unfortunately we still have several inches of snow on the ground it’s hard to get a feel for traction, but a couple of low speed runs around the track seemed like it was gripping nicely.
The next step was to get out and do some real riding, so off we went to Mattawa. After riding for the day in snow, mud, loose rock, sand, etc. I have to say I did notice a difference. In fact on one loose hill climb it hooked up almost too good. I noticed that goosing the throttle over whoops was much more effective and made hopping some of those giant dips much easier. Only time will tell, but I am excited to give it a try in the mud next month when we head to Northern California for a few days, assuming the snow doesn’t follow us south that is!