Review: Silca Pista, Ti-Torque, Latex Tubes
article & images by Nick Salazar
Apr 5, 2018
Finally, the humble inner tube. Silca is selling latex inner tubes, in partnership with (which I believe is code for "manufactured by" Vittoria). You might already be hip to why latex tubes are important. If not, here's a quick primer. In short, they have lower rolling resistance, and therefore make you faster.
"Rubber snobs" in the cycling world are those who pay attention to the measurable performance data of bicycle tires and tubes, particularly as they relate to rolling resistance (or to be even more nuanced, rolling resistance considered with aerodynamic performance). There are a number of good, although somewhat niche and esoteric sources to find information about comparative bicycle + tire performance. Perhaps chief among these is Bicycle Rolling Resistance, which conducts independent rolling resistance tests and publishes the results for free. Another is Tom Anhalt's Blather About Bikes blog, where Tom has written insightful articles about his own rolling resistance AND aerodynamic performance tests.
If you aren't inclined to read all of these sources, the upshot is that the fastest tires today happen to be clinchers, but ONLY if you run them with latex tubes (or in the case of the best-performing tire, either with latex tubes or in tubeless rims). Currently the best performer is the Vittoria Corsa Speed TLR (for clincher or tubeless use), followed directly by the same tire in tubular form (the Vittoria Corsa Speed, which we used in our Omni Prime build). After that, it gets a little more muddled, with a bunch of tires that have varying rolling resistance performance and also varying aerodynamic performance. The default "go-to" choice is often the Continental Grand Prix 4000S II tire, which offers decent (but not superlative) rolling resistance, very good aero performance, and very good puncture resistance (many of the faster rollers are VERY thin tires, leading to more punctures on average). That's why we stock the GP 4000S II stock on our own Omni builds, but for pure "as fast as I can go and I don't care about flats" performance, other tires can do better.
But as mentioned at the top, you must be using LATEX tubes in order to get this performance. Using standard butyl tubes can cost you 3-4 Watts PER WHEEL, which is huge. At a cost of $10-15 per tube, this is the biggest performance bang-for-buck you can get out of ANY equipment. Latex tubes generally require a little more care to install, to ensure you don't cause a pinch flat, but aside from that, and the fact that they cost marginally more than butyl tubes, they have absolutely zero downsides.
Silca's offering is as good as it gets: it's a pre-talc'ed tube, good for tires 24-30mm, removable core, and a 42mm valve stem (which works well with most common valve extenders). They are a no-brainer for any racer or performance-minded athlete.
For the tubes, the tools, and the pumps, head to Silca.cc.