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Thread: "aging tires"

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    "aging tires"

    Every once in awhile you read stories about mechanics and teams "aging" tubulars for a year or two to make them better.
    If this works, why wouldn't the "aging" process clinchers?

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    Mr. Dopolina Bob Dopolina's Avatar
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    According to tire manufacturers, the idea of aging tires is absurd.

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    The aging concept comes from high-grade tubular (sew-up) tires made in the past that had the tread strip hand glued to the casing and were not heat vulcanized. The glue would "cure" over time at room temperature and aging allowed that process to complete.

    Currently almost all tubulars and all clincher tires are heat vulcanized as made and aging has no beneficial effect. If anything, the tire just oxidizes and eventually gets harder and brittle from long storage, particularly if stored in a hot place or near any electric motors.

    However, as with most ideas that may have had validity in the past, the aging concept lingers in folklore. There are those who will still swear an aged tire rides better, has better traction, lasts longer, etc., etc. As Bob noted, the manufacturers say this is nonsense with modern tires.

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    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    I have no experience with aging tubular tires myself, but I remember seeing a segment on TV during the Tour de France a couple of years ago where the head mechanic of Team Discover/Postal Service showed off his basement where he ages the team's tubulars. He's reportedly been a top mechanic (maybe TdF?) since 1963. Is he subscribing to folklore? I have no idea, but the guy certainly has had his share of success with his aged tubulars. Again, I have no experience with aging tubulars myself, whether there's any benefit, etc. but it certainly adds some credibility to the idea when a mechanic of his stature does it.

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    Senior Member Old School's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by well biked View Post
    I have no experience with aging tubular tires myself, but I remember seeing a segment on TV during the Tour de France a couple of years ago where the head mechanic of Team Discover/Postal Service showed off his basement where he ages the team's tubulars. He's reportedly been a top mechanic (maybe TdF?) since 1963. Is he subscribing to folklore? I have no idea, but the guy certainly has had his share of success with his aged tubulars. Again, I have no experience with aging tubulars myself, whether there's any benefit, etc. but it certainly adds some credibility to the idea when a mechanic of his stature does it.
    I recall this segment as well. He claimed Lance's were over in the pile somewhere!
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "WOW! WHAT A RIDE!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by well biked View Post
    ... but I remember seeing a segment on TV during the Tour de France a couple of years ago where the head mechanic of Team Discover/Postal Service showed off his basement where he ages the team's tubulars. He's reportedly been a top mechanic (maybe TdF?) since 1963. Is he subscribing to folklore?
    Yes he is. What saves him is the way the tires are aged, i.e. in a cool dark area so no harm is done but no benefit either.

    Remember, these are good mechanics but know little or nothing of chemistry or polymer science. They repeat what they heard from their predicessors and, at best, the folklore does no harm.

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    If you age the tire it will last longer, the exact length of time that you aged it. But you will not get any more wear out of it.
    Rudimentum mendum menda
    Iudicium mendiosus
    Judicium per erratum
    Judicium et erratum!

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    The idea about aging tires is to let the rubber in the tire cure, this has to be done in a cool dark place, preferably with the tire immersed in talcum powder. After a tire cures the the tire is both more puncture resistant and has better grip. I know this works because I used to do it, but without the talcum, and still would with some tires if. I did have a friend who qualified for the 1936 Olympics who built a donut shaped "tub", filled it with talcum bought his silk tires a dozen at time and aged them in it, his tires had great grip andhe had less flats than anyone. You can still get still get silk tubulars/sew ups but they're $175 each, (and more), from an outfit in France. I used to ride silks and they out corner, out roll, ( especially if you rub alcohol or hairspray on the tread b4 you ride 'em, this will make most tires stickier), and have a better ride than anything and were super tough too. You could get some "fat" ones made by Clement? called Paris Tours and Paris Robaixs designed for rough roads that had a ride so smooth it was hard to describe. There are still some high quality tires that use the real thing and I think it still works, as Ive compared cured to uncured. Of course mfrs say it won't work because they want to sell more tires. And by the way, Lance Armstong raced on aged silk tires in every one of his 7 wins, they did put his sponsors labels on 'em just like some of his, (earlier), bikes
    Last edited by pat5319; 12-08-07 at 09:37 PM. Reason: spelling/typo
    Pat5319


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    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    Yes he is. What saves him is the way the tires are aged, i.e. in a cool dark area so no harm is done but no benefit either.

    Remember, these are good mechanics but know little or nothing of chemistry or polymer science. They repeat what they heard from their predicessors and, at best, the folklore does no harm.

    I won't argue with you, because I simply don't know. And honestly, I have very little interest in tubular tires anyway.

    I couldn't remember the mechanic's name earlier, and so I did a search, it's Julien Devries. He's worked as a mechanic in the Tour de France for forty five years; he was the mechanic for Eddy Merckx, and of course Lance Armstrong.

    One thing I would not do, however, is presume to know what he knows or doesn't know about tires and their construction. When it comes to bicycles, tires included, I'm thinking he probably knows, for lack of a better term, "a lot."
    Last edited by well biked; 12-08-07 at 11:15 PM.

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    Thanks!

    To everyone that replied. I did a little more poking around on line and found a funny Jobst Brandt article on tubulars which I posted on my blog. If interested check it out here
    Thanks again to everyone who helped debunk another myth!

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