The new Michelin “Protek Max” tube gets put to the test.
In my first post when I unboxed the Michelin Protek Max tubes, there were some things that I forgot to mention.
First, the shape of the tube. Unlike most other tubes, the Protek Max inflates into a square shape (not the circumference, see the image below.)
They’re also pretty thick – like the Goodyear/Kent tube that I previously had that didn’t hold up very well.
Michelin also has a line of tire casings known as the “Protek Max” – also offering superior puncture resistance.
I happened to find the two Michelin Protek Max tubes at a perfect time – they were 60% off. Normally, they’re $13 each, but I only purchased them for around $5 each.
Speaking of puncture resistance, that was put to the test. One accidentally, the other (admittedly) on purpose.
I found a tack – similar to the golden one that ruined the fun one day last fall with the Pinnacle – stuck into the tire tread. I yanked it out, fearing that a “hiss” would follow.
No hiss. The Protek Max passed a test and stood up fairly well to the tack. Granted, the tack is nowhere near the threat a nail, screw or glass can present to a bike tire.
After getting home, I decided to do a purposeful test to truly put the healing powers of the tube to the test. I inserted a paper clip into the puncture in the casing made by the tack.
Upon yanking the clip back out, yep – there’s the dreaded hissing. Even after spinning the tire quickly by hand many times, the hissing continued.
I checked the puncture hole with soapy water and yep, there were bubbles.
After a while, the puncture seemed to go away – or the bubbles went away.
A day later, the tire seemed to hold air fine. It held throughout the day and pressure loss seemed minimal – not even really noticeable.
Just to be on the safe side, I purchased a spare tube. Even with puncture-resistant tubes like the Protek Max, it’s a good idea to ride with a spare tube in case. The sealant isn’t able to seal larger punctures, gashes or tears. And if your tube blows out or you get a large puncture the sealant won’t fix… you’ll be happy you have that spare tube.
It’s even more important to carry a spare tube, as the Michelin Protek Max – along with most other slime (self-sealing) tubes – can’t be patched. The sealant (“slime”) won’t let the patch adhere to the tube properly.
Update (a couple days later…)
A couple days after the test, I’m happy to announce the tube is holding air very well. It’s like I didn’t even perform the test.
The curiosity got the best of me and I decided to break down the tire and see the puncture and the sealant.
The sealant itself doesn’t appear very different from what is used in the “Slime” tubes you can buy at Walmart. But, as mentioned earlier, the sealant is really the “second stage” of flat protection. The first stage is to prevent an object from puncturing the tube in the first place, hence the strange texture of the tube. (See my previous post for more info and better pictures.)
As mentioned earlier, Michelin sells the tubes alongside their “Protek Max” line of tire casings. That would add another line of dense against having a flat, as Michelin boasts added puncture resistance in the casing, as well.
Would I recommend these tubes? Absolutely. They’re pricey – $13 per tube. But they’re not as pricey as latex tubes that roadies use (got to shave off every ounce of weight!) and the quality and puncture resistance is much greater than your run-of-the-mill tube. They’re definitely worth the price and will pay for themselves in no time, especially if you experience often flats like I do.
Long Term Update (March 24, 2019)
I’ve been away from the bike for about a week, and haven’t even checked the pressure in both tires in a couple weeks at least. (Heck, I think I haven’t checked the pressures since the update above.)
Because the tires haven’t been inflated or checked in a couple weeks, it gives a great opportunity to see how these tubes perform in terms of air retention.
The front tube was the one punctured in the test. I inflated the tire to 60 PSI (which I ordinarily run in the front on this bike) during the last update. Today, the tire was down to about 50 PSI.
The rear tire hasn’t been punctured at all, at least to my knowledge. So, naturally, it stood up even better. It dropped to about 58 PSI from 65 PSI.
Overall, these tubes are still holding air very good and would definitely recommend if you want good air retention and a self-sealing tube. The downside is, as with other tubes filled with sealant, these tubes are heavier. So I likely won’t recommend if you’re obsessive about the weight of your bike and shaving off every ounce possible. (Then again, if you’re a racer or someone who is obsessed with weight – you’re probably running latex tubes anyways.)
I wanted to try a set of these tubes in the Pinnacle, but unfortunately Michelin does not make them in the 27×1 1/4″ (or 700c x 28-32mm equivalent) size. I’m thinking about trying Slime-filled tubes with the Pinnacle next, though – so stay tuned.