There are pros and cons to running tubeless mountain bike tires, though most mountain bikers have decided the benefits outweigh the costs. Innova Tire believes they’ve found a way to make tubeless tires even better by adding some of the benefits provided by traditional tubes back into tubeless.
The Innova Integrated Tubeless Tech (ITT) system adds a fused liner to the bottom of a mountain bike tire that essentially acts like a beefy half tube. The liner clearly adds weight to the tire (roughly 100g based on a quick analysis), but not as much as a full tube. A valve stem is integrated into the liner, making it an all-in-one system.
Here are some of the issues with tubeless tires that the ITT system solves:
Not All Rims Are Tubeless-Ready
In the early days of tubeless tire adoption, this seemed to be a deterrent to some riders, though today tubeless rims are fairly standard on new wheel sets. But for those who simply don’t want to go through the hassle of converting an older or inexpensive set of wheels to tubeless, an Innova tire with ITT makes it easy to go tubeless (or “half tubeless,” or “tubeless light”… whatever we’re calling it).
Dealing with Tubeless Tire Sealant Can Be Messy
One of the advantages of the ITT system is that it keeps tire sealant inside the liner, which minimizes leakage in the shop. The sealant is still bathing the inside of the tire, which allows it to seal regular punctures, but in theory, it won’t come out at the bead or spoke holes.
Tubeless Tires Can Be Tough to Mount
Sometimes, mounting tubeless tires can be difficult and may require the use of an air compressor or at the very least, a special floor pump. With an ITT-equipped tire, even a mini pump can be used to inflate the tire.
Tubeless Tires Burp
Mountain bikers love tubeless tires because they very rarely get pinch flats, especially compared to tubed-tires. But tubeless tires do burp sometimes, which happens when the tire bead is temporarily un-seated–say, when cornering a bit too hard or landing a jump–which allows air to rush out.
Because the air in an ITT tire is actually contained between the tire and lower liner, there is no chance for air to burp out. However, pinch flats are still a real possibility, though Innova says they are less likely than with tubes due to the placement, thickness, and bonded construction of the liner.
In addition to the benefits listed above, Innova says the ride quality of ITT tires is improved, especially compared to traditional tubes + tires. It’s hard to say whether this is the case, and this would be difficult to determine without testing a similar tire with and without the liner. At the moment, Innova is only offering ITT-equipped tires in 26″ and 27.5″ diameters, though there are regular, mid-plus, and plus widths available. In terms of claimed weights, the Innova Schist 27.5×2.5″ DH tire is said to weigh 1080g. Weights for other versions can be found here. Pricing and availability in the US are unknown.
Your turn: Do you think there is a market for a product like ITT for mountain bike tires?