Review and Photos by Michael Lindsay
The majority of my younger life was spent on a motocross track, and part of my pre-ride check list was ensuring my tire pressure was correct. At a younger age, 12 1/2 PSI seemed to suit me just fine and I never found a reason to try anything else (probably wouldn't have noticed much back then as I didn't care about much, such as my dirty, scratched up goggles for instance). As I progressed and eventually ended up on 250Fs, I found that a tad bit lower pressure could work well with certain tires, but this would typically end with a pinched tube.
Later on, I pushed more into off-road and found that I was typically running heavy-duty tubes with a bit more pressure than I'd like, or running a mousse insert to survive some of the longer and nastier events. During this time, I heard of a few riders running the early version of the Tubliss system, but dismissed it and followed suit of the teams by running a mousse. Recently however, the Tubliss system caught my eye and I decided to see if I had missed out in the past.
Nuetech Tubliss Rear Tire System Features:
- Two valve stems feed the system for different purposes.
- Capable of running extremely low tire pressure without failure (four PSI in our own tests)
- High pressure bladder seals against tire bead to seal the tire to the rim.
- The Tubliss system is available for 21" front wheels, 19" rear wheels, and 18" rear wheels.
- MSRP $99.99.
The Nuetech Tubliss is a very interesting product to look over, but fairly simple once you take a few minutes to see how it works. It consists of a small bladder that sits inside of a red casing, which replaces your standard inner-tube. It also features its own bead lock and two valve stems.
Even though the word Tubliss makes it sound like there isn't a tube, in a way there is, as there's an inner bladder that's surrounded by a red outer casing. Once installed, the inner bladder is filled with a higher pressure, expanding the red casing, which presses against the inside of the tire and in turn seals the bead of the tire. Overall, it's a simple but unique idea. Once sealed, you adjust the actual tire pressure through a valve stem, which feeds through the bead lock to the area between the inner tire and the red casing. Since the inner bladder takes care of sealing the tire to the rim, the tire pressure can be lowered without fear of a flat or a failure of the tire's bead.
Installation can be a tad bit interesting the first go around. I implore that you read the instructions, as there's a few steps that are different than just changing a tire with a standard tube. Even better yet, you can watch all the steps in video clips that are on their website (which can be found here).
There are a few key steps when installing. First off, you need to tape the wheel and drill the existing hole, or a new one for the larger valve stem on the bead lock. The bead lock and bladder valve stem need to be placed four spokes apart. On some wheels, you'll have to drill an entirely new hole or in the case of the Suzuki RM-Z450 we tested this on, drill one of the existing holes to 10mm. After this, you install the Tubliss system to the rim and then things get a bit different. Because the Tubliss system is already on the rim, you must slide the rim inside the tire.
This stage of the installation is where I found some difficulty, depending on which tire was used and and how warm it was. Nuetech provides a metal glide plate that slides onto the bead of the tire, to help keep the tire open as you're sliding the rim in place. In my case, I had the glide plate pop out multiple times, until I finally pushed my foot on the top of it, which kept it pressed down while sliding the rim into the tire. Once in, you will mount the tire as normal. At this point though, you want to take care with your tire spoons. If you get too agressive with it, you may damage the Tubliss system inside or tear the bead of the tire, which can effect the air seal. For more clarification on what I've explained, I highly recommend you check out those videos.
On the Track
My first test began with a Dunlop MX32 120/80-19 on a motocross track, which I'm very familiar with. I started at my standard 12 1/2 PSI and noticed that the tire felt a tad bit stiffer than before. I chalked this up to the fact that the sealing bladder and inner red casing are pressing up against the inside of the tire sidewall, causing a bit less flex. I felt like taking about a pound to a pound-and-a-half of pressure out brought me back to the feel I was used to. Beyond that, I dropped the pressure at half-pound intervals until I reached down to nine PSI. At this point, the motocross based tire would have too much sidewall flex, and I could feel it folding over too easily in corners. In off-road situations, I felt more comfortable running the tire around seven or six PSI to gain traction when climbing rocks and other situations that are lacking in traction.
After this, we took the advice of Jeff Douglas (Nuetech's owner), and tried out some more off-road based tires. Included in this test was a Dunlop AT81 RC 110/90-19 $144.95, Dunlop D739 A/T 120/90-19 $167.95, and a Sedona MX8887 IT 120/80-19 $85.95.
Dunlop AT 81 110/90-19: I'll start off with this, out of three off-road tires tested, this would be my choice for a more moto-oriented rider. The tread pattern on this tire is reminiscent of a certain Dunlop prototype that many pro riders quite like. Enough, that a few racers tried this tire out during outdoors but with one main problem, the side wall is a bit too stiff for moto. Now with the Tubliss system, I was able to run around eight PSI on the track and be quite happy. At this range, the tire has more flex and has better lay-in qualities when entering corners. The big plus is that this was a 110 rear tire, meaning the extra squish didn't make this tire overly wide. The positive over running the MX32 was the fact of how much tougher and longer lasting this selection was. It's pure off-road capabilities were fairly good, but offered a bit less straight line traction and climbing abilities compared to the other two, wider choices.
Dunlop D739 A/T 120/90-19: This tire was my favorite choice for more off-road based riding. It did fairly well on a track, but once the tire pressure was lowered enough to get past the stiff sidewall, the tire would squish out and become so wide that it became a bit tougher to enter corners with any moderate lean angle. It also would tend to stand up easily when the throttle was applied. For tracking around flat corners however, it was excellent. In off-road conditions it was unmatched for traction when the pressure was dropped, which worked well even down in the four PSI range. This tire worked amazingly when climbing nasty uphills and over rocky mounds, while this type of terrain would normally tear a motocross tire to bits within a ride or two.
Sedona MX887 IT 120/90-19: As you may have already guessed, I didn't prefer the Sedona over either of the offerings from Dunlop. Except in one category, bang-for-your-buck. This tire is nearly half the cost of the other two options and is just as tough, if not tougher. However, I didn't feel any performance advantage with this tire over the other two, but makes an excellent choice for the price minded rider.
As for durability, I haven't had a single problem with the system itself. Even more interesting is the fact that you can run more durable/ heavy-duty tires, thus expanding your tire's life and spend less time changing tires. If you puncture the tire however, the air will leak out. In this case, you plug the tire with the kit from Tubliss and go back to riding. If you don't have the kit with you, the system is capable of running on flat to get you back to your camp or pit. This may sound like a downfall, but realistically anything that's sharp enough to puncture the tire would normally puncture the tube inside as well. The Tubliss system is well protected from punctures by the thick red casing around the inner bladder.
The Last Word
There really is a lot to like about the Nuetech Tubliss System. It can potentially save you money, as you can run harder compound tires longer and spend less time changing them. On top of that, you're keeping comparable traction because of the lower PSI possibilities, and even gaining traction on certain terrains with even lower settings. Plus, don't forget the fact that you're almost eliminating the chances of ever getting a flat. Based on you tire vs. previous tube choices, it may also shed a little bit of weight as well. Overall, I find this an excellent product for someone that rides off-road or for riders that use the same bike for both trails and the track. I do feel like it has a tad bit less merit for a pure track rat, as I'd personally still prefer a straight moto tire (such as the MX32 for instance), which for me doesn't benefit from a lower pressure under around ten or nine pounds (because of sidewall flex). As noted, we spent our time with the rear system, which I feel has more gains then the front.
Rating wise, this averages out a bit for myself. For a moto only guy, I'm not 100% sold on it, but it does have some great benefits, so I'd give it a four star rating. For a rider that takes on moto and off-road on the same bike, I'd rate it a bit higher at four and a half stars. Finally, this system really benefits the true off-road enthusiast and would rank in with a top score.
Vital MX Rating
To find out where you can get your hands on a system, check out Nuetech.com.
About the Test Rider
Michael Lindsay - is a born-and-raised moto freak and gearhead from the heart of motocross in Southern California. First swinging a leg over a bike at the age of five, he immediately caught the racing bug, spending nearly every weekend behind a gate…and a lot of time on the couch while injured. While swinging back and forth between moto and the off-road scene, giving him a wide range of experience on the bike. Of course, all of this led to one thing: Lindsay loves working on his bikes almost as much as he loves talking about them. When he’s not in the Vital MX forum or writing his latest product review, you can find him out at the track taking dirt naps, snapping some pictures, or drooling over the latest parts for his bike. With an outspoken personality, gearhead background, and as Vital MX’s guru for product, Michael is here to share his unbiased opinion.