Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Michelin AirComp latex inner tubes – Something for the weekend, sir?

Posted by Colin | May 24, 2009 | 13 comments so far

Michelin AirComp latex inner tubes
It really sucks doesn’t it when a perfectly flowing and enjoyable ride gets blighted by the dreaded curse of the flat. Although we’ve been reasonably lucky over time, several Moles rides this year have been littered with the things. It also seems odd that once a rider is inflicted on a given ride, the poor sod gets ‘flatted’ at least once more.

The Fourth Way – The Fight Against Punctures Continues

Lee and Tony have both been there recently. Matt also nearly died of hypothermia back in March when he flatted in a freezing hurricane only to find he was alone and out of usable patches.

The alternatives explored so far to my knowledge are (in addition to just lumping it and repairing/replacing tubes):

  1. Tubeless Conversion of standard equipment
  2. Tubeless specific rims and tyres
  3. Slime Filled Tubes

Running tubeless seems like a great idea and its one of those things that when it works, its so damn good. However, most folks seem to find the conversion process a complete pain in the arse. Proper rims and tyres alleviate that but then there’s also the risk of when things go wrong out on the trail, you need to revert to tubes. Also, you will probably spend the rest of your ride covered in sealant as if you’ve been under the flight path of a flock of seagulls with bad guts!

Personally, I’m not a fan of running tubeless – I just like the comfort of knowing there’s a tube in there, which is probably a very lame argument.

Finally (or so we thought) there are slime filled tubes, as promoted by Tony and DaveC in almost evangelical fashion. I like this idea, particularly the Slime Lite versions, that offer almost no weight penalty. I’ve been running these in one bike with great success, although Tony has had some bad luck of late with them, but then that guy covers some miles!

In view of this, I adopted the spirit of the Moles quest for the ultimate solution and stumbled on The Fourth Way. Steady yourself for a stream of childish double-entrendres!

I never thought I would find myself putting a couple of Durex in my rims (normally its the other way round!) but yes folks, I think I’m onto something here. Michelin AirComp Latex tubes.

Not only do they claim to offer much-improved pinch resistance and anti-puncture properties (the latex gives against pressure from a thorn’s penetration) but they are also LIGHTER than standard tubes. They come in a garish lumo turquoise colour and there aren’t flavoured or ribbed versions!

I’ve been running them for a while now and haven’t been let down (tee hee) yet. They most certainly do resist thorns as a quick inspection found two of them in the tyre but the latex had held firm (fnar fnar). I like to run tyres quite soft and haven’t yet had a pinch flat either.

Unlike the contraceptives the only drawback (for those who aren’t one of life’s tinkerers like me) is that they do seep a little (air I mean) so they’ll need a top up every 1-2 weeks. Hardly a hardship… Can’t help wondering why the latex seeps air but not other substances, though in my case, with 3.9 kids (4th due in a few weeks) perhaps that offers some explanation as to my recklessly large brood!

Something else to try if the frustration gets too much for you!

Filed under Components, Reviews in May 2009


About the author

There are 13 comments on ‘Michelin AirComp latex inner tubes – Something for the weekend, sir?’

We love to get comments from our readers - if you've spent a few moments to comment, thank-you.

If you haven't had a chance yet, jump to our comments form if you have something to say.

  1. KC says:

    Frustration is not the word! I was running slime lites and when the first one went on the start of Alsation I was mighty disappointed. OK drag an innertube out of the backpack and get on with it. (Thanks to John R who rode back up again to see what my problem was).

    Sadly within 100 metres the new inner exploded and I was back to square one with no more spares! Rule number 1 take more than one spare innertube. After wheeling my bike back down the track I met John and Andy (?) who had another innertube. After taking care to remove a thorn we put the tyre back on and after some enthusiastic inflation from John the next innertube exploded too!

    Now we were out of options so a call to wife and a bit of sunbathing was in order as I waited for the recovery vehicle.

    In the cold light of day I took a look at the rim and tyre and could find no reason why the second inner should have behaved in this way. The only theory I can come up with is that, maybe, the valve had rubbed against the innertube whilst in the backpack and abraded the rubber sufficiently such that under pressure it gave way.

    Sadly the rim came in for a bit of a bash so I have spent an hour today improving the condition of the rim and fitting a standard slime to the rear. Theory is the rear takes more of the weight but I may be proven wrong.

    Anyway, the real point of this post is to apologise for delaying the progress of the Group and to thank John and Dave for their assistance (I owe an innertube to Dave or John, I cannot recall who, so please claim a new one from me when we next meet).

  2. Colin says:

    Hi Keith, I wrote this a while back and should’ve updated it after your nightmare yesterday. I feel really guilty for not having the energy to ride up Alsation for the 2nd time on the day to assist but the rather pretty horserider kept us transfixed at the bottom (or should I say on her bottom!).

  3. John says:

    Keith – the inner tube was provided by Andy C (from Kingston). I hope your taxi was prompt.

  4. Muddymoles says:

    Ride report: Sunday 24 May – Bookham to Gatton Park

    Perfect summer riding weather brings out ten riders for an XC run to Reigate and Gatton Park

  5. Dave says:


    Slime-lite are the work of the devil! Dr Sludge is what you want from CRC. It’s a mans tube!!

    I did have a problem a while back where the rim tape was moving and causing problems around the valve. I just use insulation tape now.

  6. KC says:

    I am running down my stock of Slime Lites (one spare left) after that I intend using the heavier duty Slimes for a while and in compensation will shun the cream cakes and shave a pound or two off!

    If they fail I will give the other options a go. I have also upped the tyre pressure 5 psi just in case my guage is inaccurate and I am running too low.

    Shame about Sunday, I was just about to peak! The recovery vehicle has also left me overdrawn in the brownie points at home :(.

  7. Colin says:

    In defence of the Slime Lites – I picked up two thorns in the rear on Sunday’s ride and no flats. (the latex tube is in the front)

  8. jem says:

    Tubeless ust tyres on ust rims. NO PUNCTURES!! 2 years now.

    Standard tyres on standard rims, converted to tubeless cheaply!

    (following the Blue Peter conversion technique using a washing up bottle and an egg box held together with blue tack)

    No Punctures, 3 rides now. Hopefully time will tell.

    As you may see I am a tubeless convert and find the lower pressures you are able to run, can give you added traction on the slippy stuff.

    Being a “Muddy Mole Lite” I find it works for me.

  9. Matt says:

    Have to echo Jem’s thoughts, I remain a tubeless fan but it depends on the execution – UST rims (819s) are not only super stiff but offer reasonable weight and guarantee a decent seal.

    UST tyres are designed to go with them and while they tend to be a bit heavier than the equivalent non-tubeless varieties they also work well (I use Panaracer XC Fire Pro 2.1s).

    I’ve had one puncture in 1300 miles that wasn’t sorted by the sealant – and that was repaired with a Panaracer repair kit, since then no problems.

    Tried to use Specialized Storm tyres (2Bliss – sic – ready) and they have been very prone to cuts. Much lighter but my front one cut up badly first and second time out. Shame, very supple so I might use on the Inbred with these latex tubes which could be a viable option.

    In short, tubeless seems to work but requires a full commitment to it. Will be interested to see how Jem gets on with the ‘ghetto tubeless’ experiment; I fear the tyre may separate from the rim more easily in extremis.

  10. Steven Dunn says:

    Interesting read, I am running tubes (punctures are like London buses, none for ages and then a load come along all together). Maybe I am just old skool but I am sticking with tubes for now.

    Question for the MMs, what tyres do you use ? I am going to need new rubber for the winter, my XDXs have been brillant but there is no way they are going to work in proper mud. I am thinking about Bonty Mud-Xs (that is what the LBS recommends) but I would appreciate input. My rides are a mix of tarmac, trail, woodland and bridleways. I am not too bothered about how good or bad they are on tarmac – it is a means of getting from one trail to another.


  11. Dave says:

    Hi Steven,

    I’ve tried Trailrakers which were OK but side walls failed quite early in my opinion. Currently running Conti Edge as my mud tyre on 26″ rims and I’m pretty impressed with those. Nevegals on 29″ all year round on my single speed.



  12. Related: Ride report: Sunday 24 May - Bookham to Gatton Park | Rides | Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

  13. Andrew Porter says:

    AirComp, 700c by 23 mm latex for a racing bike, one ride and the seal between the valve rubber and latex failed, causing the valve and latex inner tube to become two parts. Tried another brand new AirComp 700c by 23 mm latex inner tube, hand fitted, no pinching, correctly inflated and the same problem, 25 miles, and the valve sealed rubber fitting had an adhesive failure, thus valve and latex inner tube became two. Anybody aware of any manufacturing defects for Michelin AirComp 700c x 23 mm inner tubes?

Leave a comment…

Have your say – we'd love to hear what you think.

If you have something to add, just complete this comment form (we will not publish your email address).

*Required information.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.