Innova isn't exactly a household name to most mountain bikers like Schwalbe or Maxxis is, but they're showing a clever integrated tire and tube system at the Taipei Cycle Show that is probably going to turn some heads. Their 'ITT' range tires employ what they're referring to as ''Integrated Tubeless Tech'' that, as the name suggests, combines the tire casing and tube into a single component. The final product is claimed to be slightly lighter than a standard tube'd setup, a touch heavier than tubeless, and not possible to pinch flat due to the construction of the insert and how it sits inside of the rim and tire.
So, why run this over a standard tubeless setup that so many of us use today, especially if Innova's system is heavier? A rep at their booth told me that the reason is two-fold; first, the integrated tube locks the tire onto any standard rim, with it being near impossible for the tire to blow off once installed. Second, installation is easier than a tight-fitting tubeless tire. I've neither ridden or installed an ITT tire, so I have no idea if those claims ring true, but it's interesting stuff nonetheless.
The ITT system isn't just half of a rubber tube glued to the inside of a tire casing. Instead, Innova takes a section of thin nylon and coats it in rubber before curing this together with the tire to create a single unit that can't ever come apart. The design uses a normal presta valve stem with a removable core, through which you can install sealant into the cavity between the casing and the liner, although you'll never be able to get the old, dried up sealant out once it has gone past its prime.
Innova says that, aside from the liner locking the tire onto the rim, the system actually 'feels' like a tubeless tire as well because the outer section of the tire casing is pretty much the same as any normal tubeless tire. In other words, an ITT tire should offer similar damping abilities as a normal tubeless tire, but with apparently zero chance of it ever coming off the rim when running extremely low air pressure. This is also what a lot of those new inserts claim to do, but Innova's ITT system doesn't add hundreds of grams to each wheel. That said, it also doesn't add the rim and flat protection that the Huck Norris, Cush Core et al. will provide. There is a similar system for dirtbikes, in case you're wondering where you've seen it before.
There are currently four ITT-spec tire options, starting out with the 620-gram, 26'' x 2.0'' Mustang and 670-gram 27.5'' x 2.1'' Mustang, both of which are fast roll tires designed for cross-country use. At the other end of the spectrum is the burly looking Schist that comes in a 26'' x 2.5'' size (990-grams) or a 27.5'' x 2.5'' option (1,080-grams), both of which are essentially downhill tires with a folding bead. No word on pricing at this point, but I'd expect Innova's ITT tires to be priced as competitively as their standard options.