The majority of trail and XC riders have embraced tubeless tires for the increased traction and reduced weight and punctures. But hard charging riders in rough terrain have always had issue with burping tires on hard landings or even under high cornering loads. I’ve talked to more than a few enduro racers that have gone back to using tubes for just these reasons.
Schwalbe, who seems to have gained a shocking amount of the mountain bike tire market in the last few years, released info about its new dual chamber system that addresses some of the shortcomings of tubeless tires, while allowing for even lower tire pressures. The component maker Syntace was working on a similar system, but decided to combine forces with Schwalbe.
A small air chamber around the rim locks the bead onto the rim and acts much like the bottom out bumper on a shock, preventing the tire from contacting the rim to prevent pinch flats. The main chamber, inside the tire, allows for pressures as low as 14 psi. Besides what will no doubt be amazing amounts of traction, pressures that low will also provide a very supple ride. A final benefit is the ability to continue riding on a flat tire, which could be a boon for enduro racers who often times find themselves out of contention after a flat.
There are a few questions I have that probably won’t be answered the official release at trade show times later this year. First, how does one repair a puncture in the outer chamber? Assuming the outer chamber needs to be sealed off from the inner one, are pictures only able to be sealed from the outside? And what is being done to control tire squirm at such low pressures?
Similar technology exists for motocycles, as seen below. It will be interesting to see how well this works on our pedal bikes.