Have you ever wished your phone could communicate wirelessly with the tube in your tire to check the air pressure? What if that tube had a super catchy, and definitely not chuckle-inducing name like MTB PSENS? Same here, but Tubolito's latest addition to their line of lightweight tubes is actually a pretty clever innovation.
The Austrian company has put a NFC (Near-Field Communication) chip that's encased in foam inside their thermoplastic polyurethane tubes. The chip wirelessly sends a pressure reading to the Tubolito app when a smartphone is held against the tire. The chip doesn't require any batteries, and only adds around 7 grams to the tube. It's located around the valve stem, which makes it easier to remember where to place the phone to check the pressure.
The MTB PSENS tube has a 42mm presta valve and is available in 27.5” and 29” diameters. Claimed weights range from 90 – 93 grams, although my sample actually came in a little less, at 86 grams for a 29” tube. Even with that NFC chip, that's still significantly lighter than a standard rubber tube. The $49.90 price tag will also leave your wallet a good deal lighter than a traditional tube.
I installed a MTB PSENS to give it a try, and can confirm that the technology works. Once I opened the app and held my phone against the tire the pressure would show up in a couple of seconds. I did run into some little bugs with the app – at one point it kept showing the previous pressure reading until I exited and restarted it, and a few times an error message showed up and I had to scan again, but I'd imagine those will be sorted out relatively quickly.
At the end of the day, I'm not really the target audience for this tube. I run tubeless on pretty much every bike I own, which means the only time I deal with tubes is on the off-chance I need to fix a flat. In that case, I'm usually not too concerned about having the perfect tire pressure; I just want to get rolling again and make it back home.
However, the NFC technology is
intriguing, especially if it can be incorporated into a tubeless valve stem at a reasonable price. We saw Quarq release their TyreWiz
device a few years ago which communicates via Bluetooth, but that costs $200 and uses batteries. A quick scan of a few DIY sites brought up a concept
that look promising - it'll be interesting to see where else this technology gets applied in the future. Who knows, maybe someday you'll be able to quickly check shock, fork, and tire pressures with your phone.
More information: tubolito.com