This may be extremely boring. That’s just an acknowledgement.
I’ve probably put more thought into bicycle inner tubes than 93% of the world’s population. And why? They’re just tubes, right? Yes, for many. But. If you’re like me and you ride your bike 200 days per year or more, you want to think more about the tubes that you use.
Let’s talk about Schwalbe inner tubes. This is the brand The Shop stocks and recommends for the bikes we sell. We carry the “Standard” tube in middle to big-ish sizes.* All with Schrader/auto valves.**
Schwalbe are a bit more money than many “brand-x” tubes and totally worth it. Why?
Schwalbe tubes consistently hold air pressure better and are arguably easier to inflate. This means you’ll be spending less time because you’ll be filling your tires less frequently. “Time is money”, as it’s been said.
Schwalbe Standard tubes inside tires with good volume allow you to check air pressure only once a month. In fact that’s Schwalbe’s recommendation. With most other brands I would check pressure every week. Now everyone’s mileage will vary, but Schwalbe seem to be better in this regard.
In the case you’re a “terrible person” that uses an air compressor at the filling station you can end up spending more in quarters than the $2-$3 price difference of Schwalbe inner tubes.
The Schrader/auto valve stem on Schwalbe tubes are threaded all the way to the base of the stem. Big whoop? This allows the use of a knurled nut to secure the valve in place on the rim. Now you can engage the chuck of air pump quite a bit easier. Plus the threaded stem looks neater…in my opinion.
These tubes have a clear domed valve cap. This again looks nice. To my knowledge the cap doesn’t perform any differently than a plain black one.
Schwalbe claim their inner tubes use butyl rubber of higher “purity” than other brands. Really, I’m not sure how to verify that statement. The material does feel slightly stretchy-er than most others. In addition tube wall is a little, tiny bit thicker and more consistent. I’m guessing this plays a role in the tubes holding air pressure.
If you’ve read this far the question that must be at the tip of your tongue is, “How the heck is “Schwalbe” pronounced?” My best guess is something like: “shval-buh”, “shoal-bay” or “shval-beh”. Most folks in Chicago say: “sh-wall-bee”. Anything close to those work for me. The company name and logo seemingly refer to the bird, the swallow. You know, like the ones that fly to Capistrano.
*At the time of writing The Shop stocks Schwalbe Standard inner tube sizes: 20″/AV7, 24″/AV10, 26″/AV13, 700c (28″)/AV15, AV 17 & AV19. We sell them for $8.50 + tax USD.
**Most presta valve stems are already threaded top to bottom. Presta valves are often used for sportier bicycles where light weight is a feature. Schwalbe tubes are generally a few grams more rubber. In addition The Shop doesn’t stock much that requires presta valves. We don’t stock Schwalbe tubes with presta valves. We do stock presta valve tubes. Just not Schwalbe brand. We may change our minds though.