The Tubolito Tubo MTB P-SENS inner tube incorporates an NFC chip to actively monitor tyre pressure, but that comes at a significant cost of £41.99 / $49.90 / €44.90 per tube.
Previously, live tyre pressure monitoring was only offered by Quark’s TyreWiz. The P-SENS changes that, and its battery-free design hopes to simplify tyre pressure monitoring.
The unpowered near field communication (NFC) chip lives inside the inner tube and is small enough to allow the tube to be stored folded. It communicates with compatible smartphones using NFC technology where the passive chip is powered by the electromagnetic field created by the active receiver.
Once powered up, the chip transmits tyre pressure data to Tubolito’s iOS or Android smartphone app.
Because NFC’s electrical induction capacity is low, the receiver needs to be within three centimetres of the chip to power it and receive data. The chip is positioned close to the valve stem but in order for it to be read safely, the wheel and bike should be stationary.
To be clear, this means you will have to stop, get off your bike and place your phone next to the tube to get a pressure reading – it won’t transmit live data on the fly as you’re riding.
Tubolito claims the P-SENS’s tubes are two times stronger according to their tests and have “better air retention than standard butyl inner tubes”.
We’re yet to actually test a Tubulito tube, so we can’t say whether these claims stand up to scrutiny.
The brand says tubes will weigh between 90g and 93g and are available for both 27.5in and 29in wheels for tyres between 1.8in and 2.5in wide. The tubes are presta valve only, with stems that are 42mm long.
BikeRadar’s Take | An interesting bit of tech, but we have more questions than answers
Unless you’re performing at the upper echelons of cycling competition, being able to monitor small changes in tyre pressure while on a ride is unlikely to have a significant effect on your experiential enjoyment of riding.
That said, if you’re a chronic tinkerer and like changing tyre pressure while out on the bike with a regular mini pump, the P-SENS has a clear function, as it negates the need for a separate pressure gauge.
Of course, you could then argue most performance-minded riders who would be tinkering away are more likely to be running their tyres set up tubeless anyway.
Thinking more broadly, it would be interesting to see how the P-SENS’s battery-free technology could be incorporated into tubeless valve stems, in a similar fashion to the Quark TyreWiz.
To my mind, the battery-free application and easier between-bike transferability a valve adapter offers is a more exciting prospect than needing to swap inner tubes to access tyre pressure reading tech.
How accurate the pressure sensors are is currently unknown, but it will be fairly easy to verify this with reliable pressure gauges.
It’ll also be interesting to assess how long the tubes remain puncture-free in real-life circumstances, and whether that makes the £41.99 / $49.90 / €44.90 inner tube a worthwhile investment.
It feels like the Tubolito P-SENS tech is well-placed to develop further and have broader applications, and I’m still excited to get my hands on a couple of tubes to see how they perform. Stay tuned.