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  1. #1
    Senior Member KtotheF's Avatar
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    Tubulars for regular riding?

    Do any of you ride tubulars on a regular basis? A friend of mine picked up a bike on craigslist with nice dura ace tubies, but I think they're a little more maintainance than he's willing to put up with. So I've been thinking of taking them off his hands in exchange for some clinchers. I always thought people on rode them in races, but it sounded like some of you ride them regularly, what do you do if you get a flat 30 miles from home?

    Other pros and cons of tubulars?

  2. #2
    rix
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    From Sheldon Brown's website: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tires.html#tubular

    The 'Pros' of tubulars:

    • Tubulars are a bit lighter than comparable clinchers, due to the absence of the beads. The development of Kevlar« beads has considerably reduced this advantage.
    • Tubular rims are lighter than clincher rims, since they don't need the flanges that hold the bead of the tire in place.
    • Tubulars are less prone to pinch flats than clinchers, since the rims don't present the sharp edges of the clincher flanges.
    • Many riders believe that tubulars provide a more comfortable ride and better traction than clinchers.
    • If you get a flat on a tubular, you can install a spare tubular faster than you can change an inner tube in a clincher.

    The 'Cons':

    • Tubulars are considerably more expensive than clinchers of comparable performance.
    • Tubulars are very much harder to repair once punctured. Most people just throw them away.
    • You need to carry a complete spare tubular in case you get a flat. This negates the weight advantage over clinchers, unless you have a team car following you with spare wheels.
    • If you replace a tubular on the road, you cannot corner safely at high speeds until you go home and re-glue the tire. For safe high-speed cornering, the glue needs to dry for at least several hours.
    • Tubulars have higher rolling resistance than the best clinchers.
    • Tubulars are rarely as true and round as clinchers.
    • Improperly glued tubulars can roll off the rim. This almost always causes a serious crash.
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  3. #3
    Steel is real, baby! frpax's Avatar
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    Lots of C&V'ers do.

    I'm not in that group.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    There are many threads on exactly this question, so check them in case we forget something. For flats, you carry a spare tubular tire with you. The fold up pretty neatly. Your presta valve frame pump will be able to inflate the tubular if it can do a modern clincher. You won't even need to glue the spare on the rim, if you continue your ride with some conservatism, and if the terrain isn't too steep or curvy. You don't patch a flat in the field, you replace the tire, take home the old one, and patch it at home or send it out. You can carry two spares if necessary.

    Pros: more supple and lively ride (this alone will start discussion), wheel is likely to be lighter, butyl tubes hold air very well, cornering is more consistent due to uniform tire cross section. Cost-effective servicable tires with decent feel can cost as low as $15.00 each (Yellow Jersey). Field tire remounts can take up less than 5 minutes. Wheelset prices dirt cheap on the used market. When built well, tubular rims hold up at least as well as clincher rims. Can ride on a glued flat with some degree of control. No pinch flats or snakebites. No issues with rim strip failure; tube is very well-protected.


    Cons: more involved to patch, needs glue or tape for a good mount, latex tubes need to be pumped every day, have to inspect sidewalls as part of maintenance. Best available tires can cost up to $200.00 (Dugast or FMB). May require stretching to place on rim.

    I'm sure others here will chime in.

  5. #5
    Se˝or Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    While I take a couple of the cons with a grain of salt (most notably the rolling resistance item), Sheldon's list that rix posted is a really good synopsis. I have ridden extensively on bicycles that have tubulars with no more incident than bicycles that have clinchers. That said, if I'm on a long ride, I'd prefer to be running clinchers, simply because of the possibiity of having multiple flats.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rix View Post
    From Sheldon Brown's website: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tires.html#tubular

    The 'Pros' of tubulars:

    • Tubulars are a bit lighter than comparable clinchers, due to the absence of the beads. The development of Kevlar« beads has considerably reduced this advantage.
    • Tubular rims are lighter than clincher rims, since they don't need the flanges that hold the bead of the tire in place.
    • Tubulars are less prone to pinch flats than clinchers, since the rims don't present the sharp edges of the clincher flanges.
    • Many riders believe that tubulars provide a more comfortable ride and better traction than clinchers.
    • If you get a flat on a tubular, you can install a spare tubular faster than you can change an inner tube in a clincher.

    The 'Cons':

    • Tubulars are considerably more expensive than clinchers of comparable performance.
    • Tubulars are very much harder to repair once punctured. Most people just throw them away.
    • You need to carry a complete spare tubular in case you get a flat. This negates the weight advantage over clinchers, unless you have a team car following you with spare wheels.
    • If you replace a tubular on the road, you cannot corner safely at high speeds until you go home and re-glue the tire. For safe high-speed cornering, the glue needs to dry for at least several hours.
    • Tubulars have higher rolling resistance than the best clinchers.
    • Tubulars are rarely as true and round as clinchers.
    • Improperly glued tubulars can roll off the rim. This almost always causes a serious crash.


    In my opinion Sheldon overgeneralized in the tubular area, and times have overtaken him. Of course, he cannot update his web pages any more. I believe that the areas I've made red are those where his information is no longer reliable, and the yellow one is to be taken with caution. The rest of it is good.

  7. #7
    Bianchi Goddess Bianchigirll's Avatar
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    I ride tubulars quite a bit and really enjoy them. it might be in my mind but I do think the ride is smoother, especially with a old style box section rims and 32 or 36 3x spokes. it is definitely better than my Krysiums.

    Vittoria makes a nice tire in the $25-29 range. I have ridden lots of miles on a tubular that I replaced on the road and forgot to glue on. but this is solo riding and not fast paced training riding.

    plus I think it is real cool looking to ride around with the 'spare' under your seat! *giggle*

    OH I almost forgot. a flat is a good excuse to cut your ride short and go home and have a cocktail
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
    I ride tubulars quite a bit and really enjoy them. it might be in my mind but I do think the ride is smoother, especually with a old style box section rime and 32 or 36 3x spokes. it is definitly better than my Krysiums.

    Vittoria makes a nice tire in the $25-29 range. I have ridden lots of miles on a tubular that I replaced on the road and forgot to glue on. but this is solo riding and not fast paced training riding.

    plus I think it is real cool looking to ride around with the 'spare' under your seat! *giggle*

    OH I almost forgot. a flat is a good excuse to cut your ride short and go home and have a cocktail
    Well said. I ride them too. The spare under the seat completes the vintage look.
    I went the economy route with the 3 tires for $50 deal at Yellow Jersey. A little out of round, but I dont notice when riding them. And they are butyl tubes, hold air just fine.

  9. #9
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    I ride tubulars every day, and find them a heckava lot easier to deal with then clinchers.

    I carry a pre-glued spare. If I flat, I jump off, rip the old tire off, spread a little glue on the rim, and stretch the new one on. 5, maybe ten minutes, I'm back on the road.

    I gave up on clinchers. Prying the damn thing off, prying the damn thing on, hoping the tube won't get pierced or pinched while I change it, hoping the tire will catch and not blow off the rim and take the tube with it...

    Yadda yadda yadda....feel the road better...more cool...real racing tires...at one with the bike....whatever. All that tubular talk could be all hooey as far as I'm concerned, and it doesn't matter. I'm convinced anyone who says changing clinchers is easier hasn't tried tubulars. I've been on tubulars for almost a year now, and I refuse to change another clincher, ever. When people who I provide bike support to ask, I give them ten dollars and tell them to take it to the bike store.

    One thing I should note: I am commuting and touring. I don't know that I would race down a steep curvy road on a newly glued tubular. But in real world testing, I'd never go back to clinchers.
    Last edited by sciencemonster; 08-22-09 at 09:33 AM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member sykerocker's Avatar
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    I've been riding tubulars on my fixie in an urban setting for about a year and a half now with no particular problems. Yeah, given the lighter wheel, you watch out for the road surface ahead of you more closely than, say, if you were riding 26x2.0's - but I do that normally, anyhow.
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  11. #11
    Wrench Savant balindamood's Avatar
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    I commute on them. I like them. No problems.
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    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
    In my opinion Sheldon overgeneralized in the tubular area, and times have overtaken him. Of course, he cannot update his web pages any more. I believe that the areas I've made red are those where his information is no longer reliable, and the yellow one is to be taken with caution. The rest of it is good.
    And if you use e.g. Tufo's tape instead of glue, the yellow caution doesn't apply.

  13. #13
    Senior Member love2pedal.com's Avatar
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    I ride on sew-ups only. About 3000-4000 miles a year. No problems. Love the ride.

  14. #14
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    Tubulars aren't realy safe IMO. Even if they are, riding a racing bike on them is harsh, don't see that you can use them under 7 bars. So unless for "racing", I go for clinchers. 700 x 25, not 23. One proponent of larger tires has taken the thing a bit far again IMO, claiming that 32's are faster or something, but riding a less from perfect road surface when you are on your last legs, you stand more chance of making it home on nice comfy shock absorbing 25 c's than on rock hard thnny sewups. Punctures on a clincher being hard to repair ? Yes, maybe if you are using some of those incredibly tight and hard to fit beadless 23 ones. Otherwise, carrying three tire levers (or the great plastic VAR tool, thx M !) and a spare inner, some glue and patches in case of multiple punctures is the saner option.

    Tubs look great, and the spare attached with a leather clip strap (shortened) under saddle looks massively cool, but it's a choice. Prefer to look massively cool and ride gingerly (and on long rides with Brooks saddle end up with your rear end looking like a Baboon's face), or just ride without worrying, be able to put all your energy into the pedals, not use half of it to protect your butt by taking all the weight on your legs (at the same time pushing your shoulders out of their sockets).

    Controversial, a load of people won't agree, just please don't shoot me because my personal view differs from your's. View backed by perso experience of how long it takes me to do a long course on good old clinchers, and the same course on rock hard tubulars.

    So, conclusion, keep the tubs for parading the cafe fronts or bicycle meets, or racing if you are really that fast and fit that you can get an advantage from tubs, use the clinchers for regular riding. Tubulars are likely faster in experimental "tests", in real life they are a real pain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sciencemonster View Post
    I ride tubulars every day, and find them a heckava lot easier to deal with then clinchers.

    I carry a pre-glued spare. If I flat, I jump off, rip the old tire off, spread a little glue on the rim, and stretch the new one on. 5, maybe ten minutes, I'm back on the road.
    You should skip adding new glue on the rim. A pre-glued spare and what's left on the rim, properly inflated is fine to get you home. Fresh glue could cause the tire to slip off IMO.

    Should cut your R&R time down to a minute or two as well.

  16. #16
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    batman_3000,
    I don't disagree with everything you say, but not safe? I'm not sure I follow.
    can you expound on why you don't think they're safe?

    There are tubulars you can pump to less than 7bar, and larger diameter tubulars too.
    Some of the cyclocross tubulars are more like nice fat low pressure road tires.
    yes 19mm tires are harsh, but 23cm, 25cm tires or wider are simply plush.

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  17. #17
    Senior Member Chombi's Avatar
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    Most of my road racing classmates in college attribute their few crashes to rolled tires, so I guess it does happen. But they usually admit to not being good about their glue jobs on their rims afterwards. I think they were too busy trying to juggle classes and their training schedules that they end up sometimes forgetting to re-glue tires they might have been replaced in a hurry on the road duing training rides when they get flats, then they race these same wheelsets on the weekends. Otherwise, I'm really impressed on how a tubular can stay on the rims in hard accellerating/cornering criteriums that I watched them race in back then.

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  18. #18
    Building a better Strida
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    i just got a pair of continential giro tires from PBK.. i was expecting them to be all black..

    but they have gum/skin wall sides.

    i am going to mount them on my stretching wheel when i get home and check how round/true they are.


    if this new batch from PBK is infact, a good tire, then its good for 145psi, for $24usd each.

    use velox tubular mounting tape for $7/2 wheels and you can ride the tubular experience for under $38/wheel.

  19. #19
    dork delicious's Avatar
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    trueno, please keep us updated. also, have you used the vittoria rally's? it would be interesting to hear a comparison between the two.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Batman_3000 View Post
    Tubulars aren't realy safe IMO. Even if they are, riding a racing bike on them is harsh, don't see that you can use them under 7 bars. So unless for "racing", I go for clinchers. 700 x 25, not 23. One proponent of larger tires has taken the thing a bit far again IMO, claiming that 32's are faster or something, but riding a less from perfect road surface when you are on your last legs, you stand more chance of making it home on nice comfy shock absorbing 25 c's than on rock hard thnny sewups. Punctures on a clincher being hard to repair ? Yes, maybe if you are using some of those incredibly tight and hard to fit beadless 23 ones. Otherwise, carrying three tire levers (or the great plastic VAR tool, thx M !) and a spare inner, some glue and patches in case of multiple punctures is the saner option.

    Tubs look great, and the spare attached with a leather clip strap (shortened) under saddle looks massively cool, but it's a choice. Prefer to look massively cool and ride gingerly (and on long rides with Brooks saddle end up with your rear end looking like a Baboon's face), or just ride without worrying, be able to put all your energy into the pedals, not use half of it to protect your butt by taking all the weight on your legs (at the same time pushing your shoulders out of their sockets).

    Controversial, a load of people won't agree, just please don't shoot me because my personal view differs from your's. View backed by perso experience of how long it takes me to do a long course on good old clinchers, and the same course on rock hard tubulars.

    So, conclusion, keep the tubs for parading the cafe fronts or bicycle meets, or racing if you are really that fast and fit that you can get an advantage from tubs, use the clinchers for regular riding. Tubulars are likely faster in experimental "tests", in real life they are a real pain.
    I don't mind you having your say - this is America, after all, you can have your say even when you are wrong. No one gets shot. You might have to go to Bike Forum Jail for a while, but no one gets shot.

    However, this is a strawman argument you put forth. You say they are dangerous, then don't back it up! You just go on and on about 'comfy'. Then you say they aren't easier to change, you just need glue, patches, little plastic tools...(what about sand paper, some scissors...a little handiwipe to clean the spot where you put the glue...a little pouch to keep everything in)...a special kind of tire that goes on easy...Then you say if I use a special tool, clinchers aren't so bad to change...then you ridicule people who ride on tubulars...discount 'tests' that come to a conclusion you don't agree with...say...you aren't one of those internet-type trolls I always read about, are you?

    I stand by what I say. Tubulars are a snap to change. They ride about the same as a clincher. No contest.
    Last edited by sciencemonster; 08-24-09 at 04:32 PM.

  21. #21
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    When I first set up my bike I ran tubulars, the Vittoria Rallys. They were light, responsive, and smooth. With the light rims the acceleration of the bike felt great. I loved them. Then I flated. No problem, I did the roadside replacement routine with the spare straped under my seat. Got home, reglued it, put the flat in the "I'll get to it one day" pile. A week or so later I flated again. Another week or two, another flat. Again and again. A couple of times the damned tire just blew out with a loud "Bang!" and I couldn't even find anything that caused the flat. The last time I was on a section of road under construction where they had stripped the first layer of asphalt off. It was bumpy as hell and there was no shoulder when all of a sudden, yep, you guessed it, Pop! Pfssss. Having heard that you can safely ride a glued flat tubular a short distance and having nowhere to pull off the road I rode it a few hundred yards until I was past the road construction and had a place to stop. I changed the tire and started riding home only now I had a "thump, thump, thump" from the flat spot in the rim caused by riding the flat over the rough road surface.

    I had enough of that. I got home and ordered a set of clincher rims. They are heavy and sluggish compared to the tubulars - 420g per wheel heavier in fact, almost a pound! But I haven't had a flat since in almost three years now. I'm much happier. For my next build I was considering trying tubulars again but getting the expensive Paris-Roubaix type from Dugast or FMB but at $200 a piece I was really having trouble justifying that. Then some NOS Mavic MA-2 clincher rims came along and I decided to just go with those and the clinchers again. But nice light clinchers this time.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kommisar89 View Post
    When I first set up my bike I ran tubulars....snip snip
    This is all true. I admit, I feverishly watch where I ride, avoiding anything that looks like it might flat me.

    However, I ride clinchers the same way. I get flats, no matter what kind of tire I use. I haven't noticed more flats with the tubulars. And I don't patch them - I get cheap tires and throw them out. It's a few bucks more than paying for a flat repair, but worth it for the weight savings and hassle-free tire changes.

    If I was a carefree rider, riding bad roads, I would probably reconsider clinchers. I do ride industrial roads a lot, and hit my share of pot holes. I ride in Oakland and San Francisco. But I don't consider the roads all that bad around here. But of course, if I was riding that hard, I'd probably not be on a skinny delicate road bike, either...

  23. #23
    Senior Member KtotheF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kommisar89 View Post
    When I first set up my bike I ran tubulars, the Vittoria Rallys. They were light, responsive, and smooth. With the light rims the acceleration of the bike felt great. I loved them. Then I flated. No problem, I did the roadside replacement routine with the spare straped under my seat. Got home, reglued it, put the flat in the "I'll get to it one day" pile. A week or so later I flated again. Another week or two, another flat. Again and again. A couple of times the damned tire just blew out with a loud "Bang!" and I couldn't even find anything that caused the flat. The last time I was on a section of road under construction where they had stripped the first layer of asphalt off. It was bumpy as hell and there was no shoulder when all of a sudden, yep, you guessed it, Pop! Pfssss. Having heard that you can safely ride a glued flat tubular a short distance and having nowhere to pull off the road I rode it a few hundred yards until I was past the road construction and had a place to stop. I changed the tire and started riding home only now I had a "thump, thump, thump" from the flat spot in the rim caused by riding the flat over the rough road surface.

    I had enough of that. I got home and ordered a set of clincher rims. They are heavy and sluggish compared to the tubulars - 420g per wheel heavier in fact, almost a pound! But I haven't had a flat since in almost three years now. I'm much happier. For my next build I was considering trying tubulars again but getting the expensive Paris-Roubaix type from Dugast or FMB but at $200 a piece I was really having trouble justifying that. Then some NOS Mavic MA-2 clincher rims came along and I decided to just go with those and the clinchers again. But nice light clinchers this time.
    Wow, pretty damning review. I just bought some rallys too, damn! Well, I mostly bought them because the were so cheap, I'm planning on replacing them with conti sprinters (which, if they're as puncture resistant as the clincher gatorskins, I'm very confident in) one at a time. Hopefully I get more use out of the rallys than you did though!

  24. #24
    Senior Member ScottRyder's Avatar
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    I'm very,very new to tubulars ... and it's a love fest for sure. I use the Vittoria Rallys and while I don't put on as many miles on tubulars as some of you, I've yet to have a flat. I'm prepared if I do, but no more than if I was riding on clinchers with a tube. I'm also I huge fan of tire scrapers or flint catchers, not sure if that has anything to do with my good luck.

    Scott

  25. #25
    Senior Member KtotheF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scottryder View Post
    I'm very,very new to tubulars ... and it's a love fest for sure. I use the Vittoria Rallys and while I don't put on as many miles on tubulars as some of you, I've yet to have a flat. I'm prepared if I do, but no more than if I was riding on clinchers with a tube. I'm also I huge fan of tire scrapers or flint catchers, not sure if that has anything to do with my good luck.

    Scott
    Well that's good to hear. What are your impressions on the differences? I'm really excited to get this damn bike finished so I can get riding! (as if I didn't already have a perfectly good road bike )

    What are tire scrapers/flint catchers?

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