The Pirelli Scorpion Smartube packs more tube into less space.
The mountain bike world might be mostly about tubeless tyre systems, but the humble tube still plays a role. And now, many tubes aren't even that humble. Butyl rubber tubes can run from about 120g up to 250g for a typical mid-sizer 29er tube, and most people will ride with at least one as a spare. And you have probably experienced that moment when you reach for the trusty spare tube – and it has degraded and split.
Pirelli have joined the likes of TuboLito, RevoLoop and others in creating light weight thermoplastic innertubes. They are said to be stronger, but they are lighter and also smaller when packed down. The Smartube is yellow, but don't worry, the valve stem is black. The valve core is also replaceable.
Pirelli's new Scorpion Smartube isn't the lightest I've seen, but weighing 96g on my scale. It also packs down to about 30% less size than the lightest Schwalbe tubes I have purchased as spares to carry for racing, and it should be stronger as well. My spares don't get an easy life either riding or racing. And when you call on a spare tube, chances are it is going into a mucky tyre that may have some damage that you haven't been able to repair with a tyre plug.
When fitting the Smartube, you do realise it's a little more plastic than rubber. The expansion under pressure is different, so you might need to put a little more air in than you think before fitting it into a tyre.
Riding with the Smartube shouldn't feel much different, and compared to sealant and a valve the weight difference is negligible. But I still ride tubes differently, and so personally I wouldn't change from tubeless to using the Smartube. That said I had no punctures when using them, and changing tyres without sealant everywhere was a nice change. I will certainly be using these as spare tubes, given the higher strength and lower pack size. And I think for that, the price is worth it. I've made the call of shame due to damaged rubber tubes too often.
- Light weight, low pack size
- Black valve stem
- Low weight and low pack size costs more