Shopping for tires can turn out to be very educational. There are so many aspects of tires, from construction materials, construction methods, tire specifications, styles, purposes, and various other associated technologies related to tires. One basic and very important component of a tire is the inner tube.
Most are familiar with inner tube usage on bicycles or motorcycles, but few are familiar with the implementation of inner tubes in tires for passenger or commercial vehicles. Inner tubes are not necessarily limited to a specific vehicle type, but it is rare for contemporary cars to implement the use of an inner tube. The vast majority of tires used on vehicles in the 21st century are tubeless tires. Using a Schrader valve, the valve stem is attached through the wheel or rim for air pressure regulation.
What is an Inner Tube?
When many people think of or picture an inner tube, they envision something that is round and tunnel-like. Ultimately, an inner tube for a tire is simply a circular tube that inflates like a balloon. They are manufactured out of any number of materials, from rubber compounds to combinations of synthetic rubber and plastics.
For smaller vehicles, such as bicycles and motorcycles, the tubes are much smaller in scope, built to appropriate sizes and strengths based on the intended type of riding. Larger inner tubes are generally reserved for use in large vehicles.
Inner Tube Tire Applications
While most passenger vehicles, light trucks, and SUVs rely on a tubeless tire, there are many vehicles that possess tires that are large enough and have such a stout nature that they rely on the use of an inner tube to allow for proper inflation. Inner tube tires are most often used on vehicles such as tractors, large trucks, buses, and industrial equipment including earthmovers, dump trucks, and industrial graders.
The rubber compounds used in the tire manufacturing process of these industrial use tires are so stiff, thick and heavy that they tend to hold shape on their own. Unlike the contact patch, the part of the tire that touches the road surface on passenger tires, these heavy-duty tires often retain their round shape and boast tremendous amounts of off-road traction. The inner tube allows for maintained inflation with additional contained pressure from within the tire.
The Use of Inner Tubes in Classic Vehicles
While the use of inner tubes is most common in heavy machinery, as well as transport trucks, tractors, and smaller vehicles like riding lawnmowers, there are other wheels and tires that require the use of an inner tube for tire inflation. Many older classic vehicles that posses their original parts will still require an inner tube in order to inflate the tires for driving purposes. For those who restore older cars, and hope to get them as close as possible to their original state, there is a consistent need for inner tubes so that these vehicles can be fitted with original equipment tires.
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