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Old 09-06-08, 11:40 AM   #1
Robert Foster
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The times are changing?

I was looking over one of the forums asking the question about my favorite decade. While I couldnít decide I did start thinking about how things have changed since when I was riding in the late 80s and today.

My first road bike of that era was a Schwinn Varsity. Not a real light bike but a durable one. Frame mounted friction shifters and some of those aftermarket brake levers that you could use when riding on the Hoods. I donít even remember them calling that part of the bars ďhoodsĒ. But the biggest difference I believe was in the wheels and tires. My next Road bike was a Viscount Aerospace Pro. It was a bit more aggressive than the Varsity but all in all it has about the same shifters even if the components were better. The wheels and tires were lighter but still not that different. It seems to me the average road tire then was a 27 inch 1.20. A high-pressure clincher was a 1.0. We thought a 1-inch tire was pretty narrow. The real racers seemed to use sew-ups. It seems to me they were less than an inch wide. Today just about every road bike I see in the shops are 700c x 23. I see clinchers a lot smaller than that on the top end bikes. I canít remember the last time I saw a sew-up. Do they even use them any more?
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Old 09-06-08, 01:54 PM   #2
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Sew ups evolved into the Tubular tyres that the racers use so they are still around.

And on the 90's bikes. I bought a Kona Explosif in 93. May have been a 92 model but the 94 catalogue listed Marzocchi Front Suspension as standard. Mine had Project ll rigid forks- still one of the best rigid forks for MTB's about. The Explosif also had Sugino Cranks- Still a good aftermarket crankset -if you can find them. But more than that- It had XT drive chain and Mavic wheel rims on XT hubs. Still the Same as I use today on my MTB's. My tastes haven't changed but XT and Mavic have improved over the years. What hasn't changed though is the prices. Reckon I can get an equivalent bike now for about the same proce.
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Old 09-06-08, 02:41 PM   #3
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Sew ups evolved into the Tubular tyres that the racers use so they are still around.
Thanks, but I donít think I have seen any Tubular tires in any of the LBS I have been in. What would be the advantage over clinchers today? I do like the new shifters a lot better than the old friction ones.
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Old 09-06-08, 02:49 PM   #4
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Tubular tyres have a couple of advantages over Clinchers. They can be run when flat for a certain amount of time- and apparantly (Never tried them) they are have less rolling resistance. They are marginally lighter aswell as they have no tube as such but have a bit more Rubber involved in manufacture. Disadvantage is that they cannot be repaired at the roadside easily and do require a different rim.

And on the new shifters- I do like the position of the changers being incorporated into the brake lever- but have to admit that Top shifters on mountain bikes are fantastic when the hands go cold and numb.
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Old 09-06-08, 02:56 PM   #5
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... A high-pressure clincher was a 1.0. We thought a 1-inch tire was pretty narrow. The real racers seemed to use sew-ups. It seems to me they were less than an inch wide. Today just about every road bike I see in the shops are 700c x 23. I see clinchers a lot smaller than that on the top end bikes. I canít remember the last time I saw a sew-up. Do they even use them any more?
In the 1960s, all racers used tubular tires, as did some of the more serious tourists. The early 1970s brought a major paradigm shift with the introduction of the truly lightweight, high pressure, high performance clincher. First it was 90PSI 27x1-1/8" skinwalls fron Japan, followed by the very low profile Michelin Elan. By the late 1970s, high performance race-worth clinchers were commonplace, and only the truly dedicated or well-sponsored clung to tubulars. Through the 1970s, I had two sets of wheels, one tubular, one clincher, on my Nishiki, but I gave up the tubulars after I moved to San Diego County in 1981 and discovered goathead thorns. As career and a growing family began to eat up more of my time, I had less and less inclination to spend time stitching tubular tires.
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Old 09-06-08, 06:05 PM   #6
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Through the 1970s, I had two sets of wheels, one tubular, one clincher, on my Nishiki, but I gave up the tubulars after I moved to San Diego County in 1981 and discovered goathead thorns. As career and a growing family began to eat up more of my time, I had less and less inclination to spend time stitching tubular tires.
My tennis partner, accountant, the guy that got me interested in cycling and next door neighbor, all the same guy, had a Nishiki. He also had two sets of wheels, one for sew-ups. He talked me into getting the Viscount and high-pressure tires. I think he was the first guy I ever saw that bought clipless pedals and shoes. Not the first one to get them but the first one I knew personally.

However I would question the use of Sew-ups on a century. How would you carry a spare and how do you fix one after getting a flat? It is not hard to carry two tubes and a patch kit for clinchers.

I do like the trigger shifters on my MTB much like Stepfam mentioned. But the shifters in the brake levers are pretty nice for road bikes. And somehow the compact gear set reminds me of the simplicity of the old ten speeds.


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Old 09-06-08, 08:09 PM   #7
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Sew-ups = tubulars
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Old 09-06-08, 10:26 PM   #8
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So maybe I should ask, does anyone on these forums use tubulars?
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Old 09-06-08, 10:42 PM   #9
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People do still use sew ups, If I could afford them I would. They ride great as i recall. Was easy to carry a spare , just fold it up and tie under the saddle with an old toe strap. Easy to change on the road too, but if ya had more than 1 flat you were screwed. No cell phones in those days either
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Old 09-07-08, 04:47 AM   #10
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People do still use sew ups, If I could afford them I would. They ride great as i recall. Was easy to carry a spare , just fold it up and tie under the saddle with an old toe strap. Easy to change on the road too, but if ya had more than 1 flat you were screwed. No cell phones in those days either
Ditto. Good tubulars are the ultimate in riding pleasure as far as ride, cornering, etc. I rode tubulars exclusively from 1982 to 1992, but rising prices for good tubulars and the improvement in clinchers finally made me give them up.
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Old 09-07-08, 04:56 AM   #11
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My first road bike of that era was a Schwinn Varsity.
One of the cool things about working at a university is that I see quite a few of these or their close relations on campus all the time, as parents hand down bikes to their kids.
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Old 09-07-08, 05:01 AM   #12
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Just a very minimal google search would have told you all you want. There's no shortage of information about the use of tubular tires and their advantages or disadvantages. It's been written about a billion times on here too.

And sew-ups is just another word for them. They didn't "evolve" into tubulars.
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Old 09-07-08, 02:05 PM   #13
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Cross section of a modern Tubular tyre. No sewing involved.


http://www.parker-international.co.u...er/googleP1889
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Old 09-07-08, 02:22 PM   #14
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So maybe I should ask, does anyone on these forums use tubulars?
Tubulars are used extensively on the track. Aside from the weight advantage, if you look at a cross section of a tubular vs clincher, you note that a tubular has about 90% or more of its air chamber above the rim. A clincher has may 75% of its air chamber above the rim, with maybe 25% between the braking surfaces that hold the tire in place. This means that a tubular conforms better to the road surface, while a clincher would tend to be stiffer. The conformability is a distinct advantage on a banked track and on sharp turns, especially if you are running slightly lower pressures (such as in a rainy criterium). The stiffer clincher might be an advantage in a straightline time trial. The other advantage of the clincher is that it is easier to mount straight. Because you glue on the tubular, there's always a chance that you'll put some wiggles into the tire (although inflating to full pressure while the glue is still wet/tacky will usually get rid of these).

All my track wheels are for tubulars. I used to run tubulars in criteriums, but I think the technology has gotten to the point that it doesn't make much difference on the road.

Back when I first started cycling (early 70's), the 390-gram Clement Campionato del Mundo Seta was the last word in a training or touring tire, and if you could afford it, you raced on the 250-gram Clement Criterium Seta, or the 220-gram Seta Extra ("seta" is "silk" in Italian - yes, the casings were made of silk for weight reduction). (My memory is a bit foggy here about the tire weights. Could be that the 250-gram tire was the plain cotton Clement Criterium.)

I used to patch my tubulars, but it is very time-consuming, and the re-stitching never holds, even using an awl and waxed thread. After a while I switched to the Czech Barum tires (which have evolved into today's TUFO tires) and never patched the flats - just threw them out. If you went to international events, you could always buy the cheap Russian tires (unrepairable) for real cheap because they needed US currency. I think I bought about 10 for $20 at one time... Also bought a long-sleeve jersey from Russian sprinter Vasily Davidenko, red with "CCCP" on it. The good old days!

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Old 09-07-08, 02:46 PM   #15
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First "ten speed": Raleigh Record. Oddly enough, mine came through with Simplex Derailuers front and rear. Apparently, a lot of them had the more common Hurrets of the day. This was basically the same frame as the 3-speed Raleigh sport. The wheels were heavy steel, and the brakes were center pull Weinnmans. The saddle was a hard leather Wrights saddle. As much as I rode that bike, in all kinds of weather, that saddle refused to break in. I found out later that the wrights saddle was simply a cheap knock-off of the Brooks. Oh well, live and learn.

Second Bike: A Motobecane Grand Touring. I wish I still had this. What a difference light alloy wheels and components made. Jeesh!

Dabbled with mountain bikes for a bit. I still own my Trek 950, purchased in '92. Mountain biking is just not my style though.

Love my Gunnar Street Dog. Just might consider one of the newly introduced Raleigh One Way's. Finally! A production bike that doesn't look like it came from outer space.

By the way: Who still has their original copy of "Richard's Bicycle Book", with the cover price of $1.95?
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Old 09-07-08, 03:15 PM   #16
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I race on Tufos http://www.tufonorthamerica.com/tire...hp?seriesid=26 and Specialized Mondo. Tufo has an interesting technology. It uses a Butyl tube that holds pressure over a long period of time and can be used in combination with the Tufo Sealer. If a piece of glass punctures the tire, the sealer reseals the tubular tire with a resulting slight loss of pressure. Also, Tufo makes tape that can be used to mount and secure the tires on the rims.

Many other manufacturers use latex tubes which allow the slow leakage of air and cannot accommodate sealant.

Which is better? Well, we can start a comparison war between riders / racers who swear by both systems. The Tufos theoretically have greater rolling resistance and are not as supple. However, you do get to the finish line. Latex tubes theoretically have lower rolling resistance and a better ride. So, some riders / racers feel they are faster on latex tubes. Hopefully, they get to the finish line.

At the track, most racers use tubulars and glue the tires on the rims. The tape is not strong enough for most of the track events.

LBSs are all over the map on advice / support for tubular tires. They charge a lot for mounting and removal of the tires and the tires are expensive. The shop I use carries a large selection of tubulars and supports / promotes their use.

Are they worth it? Well, there is a significant body of evidence in bike tech review showing that clinchers with latex tubes have lower rolling resistance than tubulars which trumps any weight savings. However, races are not won in the laboratory but on the road with varying conditions. If a racer thinks he / she can win with a particular tire then that is the one that will work the best.

I go back to my initial point which is you have to finish to win. I prefer a little more robust system and that is why I like Tufos for the road. On the track, I am still considering what tire system makes the most sense.
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Old 09-07-08, 03:27 PM   #17
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Well I guess I will have to attend some races to check out the tires. The shifters still seem like a big improvement. Thanks for all the information.
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Old 09-07-08, 07:18 PM   #18
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[QUOTE=stapfam;7419282]...modern Tubular tyre...No sewing involved...

and no repairs possible, it would appear. They had better be good @ >$75 a pop! Having seen what flinty back roads can do to tubulars, it would be nice to be able to repair them!
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Old 09-08-08, 07:19 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by John E View Post
In the 1960s, all racers used tubular tires, as did some of the more serious tourists. The early 1970s brought a major paradigm shift with the introduction of the truly lightweight, high pressure, high performance clincher. First it was 90PSI 27x1-1/8" skinwalls fron Japan, followed by the very low profile Michelin Elan. By the late 1970s, high performance race-worth clinchers were commonplace, and only the truly dedicated or well-sponsored clung to tubulars. Through the 1970s, I had two sets of wheels, one tubular, one clincher, on my Nishiki, but I gave up the tubulars after I moved to San Diego County in 1981 and discovered goathead thorns. As career and a growing family began to eat up more of my time, I had less and less inclination to spend time stitching tubular tires.
I must not have been shopping at the right bike shops.

I used tubulars (sewups) well into the 1980s. It wasn't until the mid-1980s when Mavic came out with a strong, lightweight clincher (MA40) and companies light Specialized came out with good, lightweight clincher tires (Turbo).

Quote:
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My tennis partner, accountant, the guy that got me interested in cycling and next door neighbor, all the same guy, had a Nishiki. He also had two sets of wheels, one for sew-ups. He talked me into getting the Viscount and high-pressure tires. I think he was the first guy I ever saw that bought clipless pedals and shoes. Not the first one to get them but the first one I knew personally.

However I would question the use of Sew-ups on a century. How would you carry a spare and how do you fix one after getting a flat? It is not hard to carry two tubes and a patch kit for clinchers.

I do like the trigger shifters on my MTB much like Stepfam mentioned. But the shifters in the brake levers are pretty nice for road bikes. And somehow the compact gear set reminds me of the simplicity of the old ten speeds.


Bob
If you fold a tubular properly, you can carry two of them under your saddle. Of course, after you change a tubular out on the road you have to take corners very carefully. These days, though, I only use tubulars for racing and the velodrome.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
I race on Tufos http://www.tufonorthamerica.com/tire...hp?seriesid=26 and Specialized Mondo. Tufo has an interesting technology. It uses a Butyl tube that holds pressure over a long period of time and can be used in combination with the Tufo Sealer. If a piece of glass punctures the tire, the sealer reseals the tubular tire with a resulting slight loss of pressure. Also, Tufo makes tape that can be used to mount and secure the tires on the rims.

Many other manufacturers use latex tubes which allow the slow leakage of air and cannot accommodate sealant.

Which is better? Well, we can start a comparison war between riders / racers who swear by both systems. The Tufos theoretically have greater rolling resistance and are not as supple. However, you do get to the finish line. Latex tubes theoretically have lower rolling resistance and a better ride. So, some riders / racers feel they are faster on latex tubes. Hopefully, they get to the finish line.

At the track, most racers use tubulars and glue the tires on the rims. The tape is not strong enough for most of the track events.

LBSs are all over the map on advice / support for tubular tires. They charge a lot for mounting and removal of the tires and the tires are expensive. The shop I use carries a large selection of tubulars and supports / promotes their use.

Are they worth it? Well, there is a significant body of evidence in bike tech review showing that clinchers with latex tubes have lower rolling resistance than tubulars which trumps any weight savings. However, races are not won in the laboratory but on the road with varying conditions. If a racer thinks he / she can win with a particular tire then that is the one that will work the best.

I go back to my initial point which is you have to finish to win. I prefer a little more robust system and that is why I like Tufos for the road. On the track, I am still considering what tire system makes the most sense.
I just started using Tufo tires (http://www.tufonorthamerica.com/tire...php?seriesid=5) and so far they've felt fine.

I have a very practical reason why I race on tubulars (vs. the fact that I prefer the feel of tubulars). You can't pinch flat a tubular. I had a VERY scary moment during a high speed decent during the ONE race I did with clinchers -- never again.

BTW, I had not idea that tubulars weren't sewn together anymore. I guess I can throw away they sewing kits that I still have to repair them.
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Old 09-08-08, 07:43 AM   #20
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A lot has improved, but it depends what we think improvement is. Certainly, bicycle frames and the equipment mounted on them are more high tech. They end up lighter, for sure. You might get somewhere a little faster, but you might also enjoy getting there a bit less. But with these improvements come a price. Many of us in the past valued the simplicity and elegance of the bicycle. But the improvements have made it less simple and less elegant.

It's comparable to the "improvements" in the automobile world. These machines are now more closed systems that nobody can work on except the high priests. You become a slave to your dealership. Indexing and fine tolerances for the multiple gears (an excessive number of them, I think), and the combined brake levers and shifters have made us slaves to the OEM and to the LBS mechanics. So you get more convenience in use and more automatism, but you get less involvement in the actual mechanics and operation of the bicycle.

People who weren't racing but were enthusiasts used toe clips, but without actual cleated shoes (for the most part anyway). This allowed our feet to find their natural position on the pedals. Now they use clipless pedals and cleated shoes. But most people don't have free and constant access to a cycling coach. So, whereas I almost never heard complaints about knee pain, now it's the most common thing we hear about.

In the past, shifter maintenance consisted of occasionally finger-tightening the little knob on the downtube shifters. But those shifters worked for the life of the bicycle and beyond. They were lifetime items. Now, shifters wear out and they either need an expensive replacement in the case of one major make, or a rebuild in the case of the other. The rebuild is not that big a deal in terms of expense if you have a local shop that can do it, but it certainly is an inconvenience. I like the convenience of my ergoshifters, but I prefer the durability and simplicity of the downtube shifters I used to have.

In the end, I guess it all depends on what a person values in life.
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Old 09-08-08, 10:02 AM   #21
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In the past, shifter maintenance consisted of occasionally finger-tightening the little knob on the downtube shifters. But those shifters worked for the life of the bicycle and beyond. They were lifetime items. Now, shifters wear out and they either need an expensive replacement in the case of one major make, or a rebuild in the case of the other. The rebuild is not that big a deal in terms of expense if you have a local shop that can do it, but it certainly is an inconvenience. I like the convenience of my ergoshifters, but I prefer the durability and simplicity of the downtube shifters I used to have.

In the end, I guess it all depends on what a person values in life.
Thanks for the insight. I understand the high regard some people have for the simplicity of the good old days. I seriously thought about getting an old vintage ten-speed rather than a new road bike. But I think some of the joy of riding my old Viscount was the fact that I was much younger. Now I need more in a bike than I did back then. I also realize that we see the good old days through rose-colored glasses.
The reason I asked the question here was because I wanted the response to come from other riders in my age group rather than the raw statistics on an Internet search. Your response has shown that you care about the sport and the equipment. My passion comes in a different direction. I simply want the best tool for the money and it doesnít look like tubular tires will be on my radar screen for the type of riding I will be doing for the next few years. However I did get toe clips with my new road bike because I prefer to wear shoes I can walk in. I did get sixsixone bike shoes but not the ones with SPD clips. I wonít say I will never go clipless because I thought I would never buy Bibs and I did.
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Old 09-08-08, 05:58 PM   #22
Bikewer
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I started out with one of those likely-the-same-vintage Varsity jobs as well; a pleasant little bike. Then (as I always do...) I delved into the whole subject and did a lot of research ..... and bought a Schwinn roadster that had just come out that year. (1974-75...I forget) Though it was a much nicer bike, I never learned to like it. (most likely I never got the position adjustment right...)
Sold the thing right in the middle of the "bike boom" back then and almost doubled my money!

I progressed through a variety of bikes and finally ended up with a "serious" roadster, a Trek 2120 with carbon-fiber main tubes, 105 components, and so forth. About 1500.00 MSRP....I paid 1000.00
Again, I never really got turned on by the thing. The brake/shifters were convenient and accurate, the 105 brakes would stop on a dime, and the carbon frame soaked up the bumps.
But....
I'm currently riding a thoroughly-cobbled vintage roadster; a 1970s Cilo-Swiss with a Columbus frame and Shimano 600 components.
I threw away the stock Malliard wheels, and replaced them with a modern Shimano wheelset with a seven-speed freehub. Added a 39/52 crank to replace the 42/52 steel number that was stock.
Thing is extremely comfortable, rather ratty looking, and oozes character....
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