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  1. #1
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    Roadside repairs: Clincher vs Tubular vs Tubeless

    I've been obsessing about upgrading my stock wheels to something nicer for the past few weeks (I'm sure many of you have been there too), and did quite a bit of reading on the different options. Still torn between remaining with clincher or switching to tubular/tubeless. I'm really interested to hear what experience some of you had with clincher/tubular/tubeless when it comes to roadside repairs.

    Clincher: Predominant type so everyone's familiar with the repair process.. patches, spare tube, etc. Luckily, I've only had to repair my clincher once with a patch, and it seemed simple enough. I also carry around a spare tube just in case -- not much of a hassle at all.

    Tubular: I was most interested in converting to tubular.. until I read all the horror stories of the repair process, blistered hands, taxi ride back home, etc...
    I know its a good idea to carry a spare tire, and sealant + patches. A buddy of mine who rides tubular (Zipp 404 w/ Conti) only needed to use patches and super glue for all the repairs he needed to do in the 2 years he's been using them. Can the majority of the repairs be done with patches or sealant? Or is it more common to rip off the damaged tire, put on the spare and carefully ride back home? I'm assuming this also means you'll need to drop out of the group ride...

    Tubeless: At this point, this option seems most attractive to me. From my understanding, it is the most puncture resistant of the 3 options, self repairing sealant, spare tube can be used in case of bigger cuts similar to clincher repairs. And from what I hear from others riding tubeless around me, it almost never requires roadside repair (if mounted correctly and using a proper tubeless system w/ sealant). Unless of course, it's a catastrophic cut, in which case it can't be repaired and the tire has to be replaced.. but this also applies when using a tubular or clincher as well. Is this about accurate?

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    I want to note that I already did a lot of searching and reading about this topic. It will be extremely helpful to hear your actual experiences to get a better idea of roadside repair frequency, usual method of repair, etc. for each of the different options

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    I had one definite flat since switching to tubulars ~4k miles ago and it was resolved by sealant and a hand pump. (There was one other and I've decided to ascribe it to the valve extender unscrewing out of the tube.) I had clincher flats way more often than that, but I suspect it may have been partly poor installation technique (unless you get the tube in perfectly right, it can be squeezed during installation and then blow from a sharp impact.) Carrying extras is a problem since a folded tubular is way too big to fit in most seat bags.
    In my opinion, if you're getting deep rims and you're in hilly terrain, tubular is the only option. If you're neither, I'd probably suggest to stick with clinchers. I fail to see any advantages tubeless has over properly installed clincher+sealant.

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    I've only ever ridden clinchers.

    Last weekend I saw a guy at the side of the road with his wheel in his hand. "Need anything?" I asked, slowing down long enough to hear the reply "I don't think you can help me, I have a hole in a tubular." He was right. I apologised, wished him luck and carried on.

    I ride with at least 2 guys who have tubeless-capable rims, but choose to ride clinchers because they just find it simpler.

    By all means, set yourself up for tubeless and check it out. If you don't like it, you still have a decent set of wheels that you can always just put tubes in. If you go tubular and find out you hate getting your hands covered in glue, then you're stuck with a pair of rims that can't be used any other way.

    I should mention I've had a flurry of flats lately, including yesterday, and have a new pair of GP4000s on order to replace the ones that I've had for < 2000 miles now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hamster View Post
    I had one definite flat since switching to tubulars ~4k miles ago and it was resolved by sealant and a hand pump. (There was one other and I've decided to ascribe it to the valve extender unscrewing out of the tube.) I had clincher flats way more often than that, but I suspect it may have been partly poor installation technique (unless you get the tube in perfectly right, it can be squeezed during installation and then blow from a sharp impact.) Carrying extras is a problem since a folded tubular is way too big to fit in most seat bags.
    In my opinion, if you're getting deep rims and you're in hilly terrain, tubular is the only option. If you're neither, I'd probably suggest to stick with clinchers. I fail to see any advantages tubeless has over properly installed clincher+sealant.
    One flat in 4k miles, that's impressive! Was an easy fix too.
    Carrying a spare is a concern for me too, not sure what's the best place to carry it.

    Tubeless seems to offer superior ride quality and significantly fewer flats than clinchers from what I read. Would love to hear about the experience other riders had with it

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    Quote Originally Posted by reqm View Post
    Carrying a spare is a concern for me too, not sure what's the best place to carry it.
    strapped under saddle, taped to seatpost, or tucked in jersey pocket are the usual ways

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    Clinchers make you the most independent. Patches, a spare tube and a spare (folding) tyre will fit into your pockets - you can pack them and carry them easily in a backpack, or in a bicycle pouch. Easy, cheap, quick. Even if a wheel gets smacked, you can get a clincher type one almost anywhere.

    Tubeless make sense for fast downhill off road riding - you can keep them low pressure and avoid pinch flats.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hamster View Post
    In my opinion, if you're getting deep rims and you're in hilly terrain, tubular is the only option.
    Huh ??

    I race tubulars, and train tubed clinchers.
    No experience with tubeless.

    You can ride a replaced tubular at full speed on straights, but go very easy in the corners.

    I patch tubes, but doubt I would get around to patching tubulars. You can send them out for repair. Remember to have pre-stretched spares at home so you can glue on a new tire 24 hours before your next ride, or have a spare set of wheels.
    Last edited by Homebrew01; 09-15-14 at 06:04 AM.
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    Tubeless are Clinchers. I love the way small punctures are repaired on the fly with minimal pressure loss. I had. two punctures self repair this summer until I got a bigger cut Sunday. I had to put in a tube. i keep strips of Tyvek in my bag in case a cut is too big. I'm sold on Tubeless. 80-85 lbs is a comfortable ride.
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    I started out on tubulars. You can carry a spare tire in a tubular tire bag. It should to be pre-stretched and glued, if it is then swapping it out on the road is pretty easy. Carry a tire spoon to help break the flat tire from the glued rim, pull it off and put the new one on and air it up. For a super emergency carry some patches, dental floss already threaded through a needle and something to cut the threads. I actually carried a tiny sewing kit with a seam ripper. Never had to patch them on the road but I have done it at home. After you do it a few times it goes pretty quick. At worst you can ride home slowly on a flat. I've thought about going back to them but clinchers today are pretty dang good. The main reason I stay with clinchers is because the good tubular tires are so expensive. I have no experience with or interest in tubeless tires/sealant.
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    you can run sealant in your tubular tires

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    Just for completeness, OP should know that you can't patch a tubular tire without ripping the casing open and then restitching it afterward. It requires quite a bit of practice and skill to get a nice job that qualifies a tire to continue to be used and not just kept as an emergency spare. Unless super glue can be used to reclose it. That is why tubulars are not patched on the road. Hence the need to carry a spare tire. If sealant works as well as many say it does to keep tubulars going, then they will be much more attractive than in the past.
    Robert

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    Quote Originally Posted by reqm View Post
    I've been obsessing about upgrading my stock wheels to something nicer for the past few weeks (I'm sure many of you have been there too), and did quite a bit of reading on the different options. Still torn between remaining with clincher or switching to tubular/tubeless. I'm really interested to hear what experience some of you had with clincher/tubular/tubeless when it comes to roadside repairs.

    Clinchers

    Regular clincher: Predominant type so everyone's familiar with the repair process.. patches, spare tube, etc. Luckily, I've only had to repair my clincher once with a patch, and it seemed simple enough. I also carry around a spare tube just in case -- not much of a hassle at all.

    Tubeless clincher: At this point, this option seems most attractive to me. From my understanding, it is the most puncture resistant of the 3 options, self repairing sealant, spare tube can be used in case of bigger cuts similar to clincher repairs. And from what I hear from others riding tubeless around me, it almost never requires roadside repair (if mounted correctly and using a proper tubeless system w/ sealant). Unless of course, it's a catastrophic cut, in which case it can't be repaired and the tire has to be replaced.. but this also applies when using a tubular or clincher as well. Is this about accurate?

    Tubular: I was most interested in converting to tubular.. until I read all the horror stories of the repair process, blistered hands, taxi ride back home, etc...
    I know its a good idea to carry a spare tire, and sealant + patches. A buddy of mine who rides tubular (Zipp 404 w/ Conti) only needed to use patches and super glue for all the repairs he needed to do in the 2 years he's been using them. Can the majority of the repairs be done with patches or sealant? Or is it more common to rip off the damaged tire, put on the spare and carefully ride back home? I'm assuming this also means you'll need to drop out of the group ride...
    I rearranged things just a bit to clarify tire types. I didn't change your text for each type.

    I think you're looking for info on tubeless for the most part. I can't help you there. However I didn't find anything about them compelling enough to switch my regular clinchers to tubeless clinchers.

    Note: I try to get the most durable tire for a given performance level. With clinchers I'm not interested in 170g tires, I want a reliable 225g tire. Likewise with tubulars I'm looking at 250g tubulars, not some "croon" 190g tubular.

    Clinchers - I typically have a flat every one-two years, usually at about the 4000 mile mark. That's about when the tires are pretty worn. I've had two flats due to moving rim strips. Overall they're very reliable.

    Tubulars - I don't have a mileage number. I race them, except for an occasional test ride. My tires last 2-3+ years. I used to train on tubulars and I'd get maybe a season on a rear (take into account that I'd race 30-55 days during such a season so those are days I'm on my "best" tubulars, vs the older race tires that I trained on). With regular/narrow rims (21mm wide) you can ride a flat tubular for quite a while, at pretty decent speeds. I've even bridged up to two racers on a training ride doing a pace line while riding a flat front tire. It was a rolling, slightly downhill road, and I was doing a pretty consistent 25-35 mph to catch them, then 25-28 mph or more while riding with them. I ended up riding about 10 miles total on that flat front tire, that's what it took to ride home. With wider rims (23-28mm for the current batch of wide rims, like HED Stingers and the like) I wouldn't ride a flat tubular. The carbon lips will hit the road and damage the rims immediately.

    I prefer tubulars for racing because in case of a catastrophic failure (blowout) in a hard turn a tubular gives you a really good chance of staying upright (because a tubular doesn't rely on tire pressure to stay put). Clinchers virtually guarantee you'll hit the deck in the same scenario. I have maybe 2-3 hard turns in a 1 hour training ride but maybe 100-120 hard turns in a 1 hour crit. Therefore it's important to me to have tubulars in a crit but not so much for training.
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    Quote Originally Posted by reqm View Post
    I've been obsessing about upgrading my stock wheels to something nicer for the past few weeks (I'm sure many of you have been there too), and did quite a bit of reading on the different options. Still torn between remaining with clincher or switching to tubular/tubeless. I'm really interested to hear what experience some of you had with clincher/tubular/tubeless when it comes to roadside repairs.

    Clincher: Predominant type so everyone's familiar with the repair process.. patches, spare tube, etc. Luckily, I've only had to repair my clincher once with a patch, and it seemed simple enough. I also carry around a spare tube just in case -- not much of a hassle at all.

    Tubular: I was most interested in converting to tubular.. until I read all the horror stories of the repair process, blistered hands, taxi ride back home, etc...
    I know its a good idea to carry a spare tire, and sealant + patches. A buddy of mine who rides tubular (Zipp 404 w/ Conti) only needed to use patches and super glue for all the repairs he needed to do in the 2 years he's been using them. Can the majority of the repairs be done with patches or sealant? Or is it more common to rip off the damaged tire, put on the spare and carefully ride back home? I'm assuming this also means you'll need to drop out of the group ride...

    Tubeless: At this point, this option seems most attractive to me. From my understanding, it is the most puncture resistant of the 3 options, self repairing sealant, spare tube can be used in case of bigger cuts similar to clincher repairs. And from what I hear from others riding tubeless around me, it almost never requires roadside repair (if mounted correctly and using a proper tubeless system w/ sealant). Unless of course, it's a catastrophic cut, in which case it can't be repaired and the tire has to be replaced.. but this also applies when using a tubular or clincher as well. Is this about accurate?
    Your summary is pretty accurate insofar my personal experience with both clincher and tubeless. I run predominately tubeless now and suffer very rare flats twice in last a few years: one is because rim tape broke, and I just stuck a tube in there and rode home and re-tape and it was all good. The other is bad cut that the tire has to be replaced.

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    Quote Originally Posted by reqm View Post
    One flat in 4k miles, that's impressive! Was an easy fix too.
    Carrying a spare is a concern for me too, not sure what's the best place to carry it.

    Tubeless seems to offer superior ride quality and significantly fewer flats than clinchers from what I read. Would love to hear about the experience other riders had with it
    It's true about the ride quality too. I'm 160 and normally I run 90/95 with no problem, and in the odd days that I have ride gravel, I run even lower like 70/80.

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    Quote Originally Posted by reqm View Post
    I've been obsessing about upgrading my stock wheels to something nicer for the past few weeks...
    I ride tubulars in the summer, both daily commuting and weekends. Each tire has about 20cc of Stan's latex-based sealant pre-injected. I had one flat in May from a nail that went clean through the tire and then the rim. With Stan's, it takes something really special to flat, something that would have killed the casing of most performance tires, tubular or clincher. Changing a tubular on the road is simpler than fixing the tube on a clincher. But I still always carry a spare. BTW: I have ridden a flat tubular several times in the last 40 years, up to about a mile distance. This was because I was close to the ride end, and I had no interest in salvaging the old tire that went flat. Never any rim problems.

    In the winter, I commute on Vittoria Randonneur clinchers, and have never had a flat. But then I ride an internally-geared hub on the winter bike, and I don't want to be stuck out in the dark and rain trying to fuss with a rear gear linkage.

    Tubulars are a night and day performance upgrade to clinchers. Limited to alu, any set of tubular wheels, even my rack of 70's vintage leftovers is superior all of my clincher wheels, no matter what they cost. Low profile carbon tubulars go beyond this, they are a revelation.

    Main reason for riding tubulars: Much of my riding involves brutal climbs followed by warp speed descents on twisty roads. I am too nervious to ride clinchers in these conditions.

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    Senior Member KantoBoy's Avatar
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    I've gone tubular once and while there are pros to riding them, I just refuse to do "all" that work.

    The only time I'll go tubular again is if someone's willing to glue and mount them for me (for free too!). I just don't have the patience and time. I did it once and swore I'll never do it again.

    I use clinchers exclusively now and swap tires for training and racing. It's still less time cleaning a rim/glueing it back.

    I'm curious about the Tubeless system but again, the prepping I think is the same as a tubular. I highly doubt I'll be buying new wheels anytime soon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
    Just for completeness, OP should know that you can't patch a tubular tire without ripping the casing open and then restitching it afterward. It requires quite a bit of practice and skill to get a nice job that qualifies a tire to continue to be used and not just kept as an emergency spare. Unless super glue can be used to reclose it. That is why tubulars are not patched on the road. Hence the need to carry a spare tire. If sealant works as well as many say it does to keep tubulars going, then they will be much more attractive than in the past.
    Can patches/superglue be used without ripping the casing open as a temporary fix? I'm not sure what my buddy did with his tubular, but for the 2 flats he got this season, he just repaired it with 1 patch the first time (had to replace tire afterwards), then superglue the second time (still using this tire 2 months afterwards). He uses Continental tires only.

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    Quote Originally Posted by reqm View Post
    Can patches/superglue be used without ripping the casing open as a temporary fix? I'm not sure what my buddy did with his tubular, but for the 2 flats he got this season, he just repaired it with 1 patch the first time (had to replace tire afterwards), then superglue the second time (still using this tire 2 months afterwards). He uses Continental tires only.
    I think you are misremembering. How are you going to seal a hole in the tube if you don't get inside the tire? Sure ealant can work, but that is a whole different fix strategy.

    For patxhing where are you going to put the patch or the super glue if not on the tube to cover the hole? They didn't nickname tubulars as "sewups" for nothing.
    Robert

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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    I rearranged things just a bit to clarify tire types. I didn't change your text for each type.

    I think you're looking for info on tubeless for the most part. I can't help you there. However I didn't find anything about them compelling enough to switch my regular clinchers to tubeless clinchers.

    Note: I try to get the most durable tire for a given performance level. With clinchers I'm not interested in 170g tires, I want a reliable 225g tire. Likewise with tubulars I'm looking at 250g tubulars, not some "croon" 190g tubular.

    Clinchers - I typically have a flat every one-two years, usually at about the 4000 mile mark. That's about when the tires are pretty worn. I've had two flats due to moving rim strips. Overall they're very reliable.

    Tubulars - I don't have a mileage number. I race them, except for an occasional test ride. My tires last 2-3+ years. I used to train on tubulars and I'd get maybe a season on a rear (take into account that I'd race 30-55 days during such a season so those are days I'm on my "best" tubulars, vs the older race tires that I trained on). With regular/narrow rims (21mm wide) you can ride a flat tubular for quite a while, at pretty decent speeds. I've even bridged up to two racers on a training ride doing a pace line while riding a flat front tire. It was a rolling, slightly downhill road, and I was doing a pretty consistent 25-35 mph to catch them, then 25-28 mph or more while riding with them. I ended up riding about 10 miles total on that flat front tire, that's what it took to ride home. With wider rims (23-28mm for the current batch of wide rims, like HED Stingers and the like) I wouldn't ride a flat tubular. The carbon lips will hit the road and damage the rims immediately.

    I prefer tubulars for racing because in case of a catastrophic failure (blowout) in a hard turn a tubular gives you a really good chance of staying upright (because a tubular doesn't rely on tire pressure to stay put). Clinchers virtually guarantee you'll hit the deck in the same scenario. I have maybe 2-3 hard turns in a 1 hour training ride but maybe 100-120 hard turns in a 1 hour crit. Therefore it's important to me to have tubulars in a crit but not so much for training.
    Thanks for reorganizing the tire types. Looks much better this way.

    I'm leaning towards tubeless clinchers now, but want to convince myself to get tubulars. It's just that the roadside repair process seems a bit intimidating, and I want to get a realistic idea of what method of repairs are mostly used. If it's required to change tires every time I get a flat, that seems like a lot of work, especially if it's as tough to take off the tire off the rims as I've read on the forums.

    So would you say tubulars are only really worth it for race days and not for everyday use? At the moment, I'm looking for just 1 set of wheels, and don't plan to swap wheels for different occasions. As for my rides, I'm focusing on climbs and descents, but also go on some long group rides (usually to the hilly areas for the climbs!).

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    Quote Originally Posted by reqm View Post
    Thanks for reorganizing the tire types. Looks much better this way.

    I'm leaning towards tubeless clinchers now, but want to convince myself to get tubulars. It's just that the roadside repair process seems a bit intimidating, and I want to get a realistic idea of what method of repairs are mostly used. If it's required to change tires every time I get a flat, that seems like a lot of work, especially if it's as tough to take off the tire off the rims as I've read on the forums.

    So would you say tubulars are only really worth it for race days and not for everyday use? At the moment, I'm looking for just 1 set of wheels, and don't plan to swap wheels for different occasions. As for my rides, I'm focusing on climbs and descents, but also go on some long group rides (usually to the hilly areas for the climbs!).
    Carrying a spare tubular tire is a PITA. Changing a tubular tire with the spare is fairly easy. Of course you should limp home as the roadside replacement is not a fully functional fix. I wouldn't trust it on fast, hard corners or screaming descents.
    Robert

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    Quote Originally Posted by reqm View Post
    Thanks for reorganizing the tire types. Looks much better this way.

    I'm leaning towards tubeless clinchers now, but want to convince myself to get tubulars. It's just that the roadside repair process seems a bit intimidating, and I want to get a realistic idea of what method of repairs are mostly used. If it's required to change tires every time I get a flat, that seems like a lot of work, especially if it's as tough to take off the tire off the rims as I've read on the forums.

    So would you say tubulars are only really worth it for race days and not for everyday use? At the moment, I'm looking for just 1 set of wheels, and don't plan to swap wheels for different occasions. As for my rides, I'm focusing on climbs and descents, but also go on some long group rides (usually to the hilly areas for the climbs!).
    I may have incorrectly understood how he fixed it. Can the superglue seep into the inner tube when applied to the puncture in the tread? It wasn't that long ago, and all he used to repair it last time was superglue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by reqm View Post
    I may have incorrectly understood how he fixed it. Can the superglue seep into the inner tube when applied to the puncture in the tread? It wasn't that long ago, and all he used to repair it last time was superglue.
    He must have had sealant in the tube to seal the hole. The glue was just to close off the hole in the tire and protect the tube from a tiny rock getting stuck in the hole. That is how many follow up punctures occur. You cannot seal a hole in a tube from outside the tire casing.
    Robert

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  24. #24
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    Compromised solution; open tubulars (a tubular without sewing up)made by Veloflex, Vittoria, and Challenge. Lightness of tubulars, supple like tubulars, and like clinchers easy to fix. I ride Veloflex Corsa Open Tubulars and their fantastic all around tire. I'm considering putting the open tubulars on Campagnolo Shamal Two Way Fit as a tubeless setup, when I get around to it.
    85 Gios Professional - 95 Cinelli SC -06 Colnago C50

  25. #25
    Senior Member Homebrew01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gioscinelli View Post
    Compromised solution; open tubulars (a tubular without sewing up)made by Veloflex, Vittoria, and Challenge. Lightness of tubulars, supple like tubulars, and like clinchers easy to fix. I ride Veloflex Corsa Open Tubulars and their fantastic all around tire. I'm considering putting the open tubulars on Campagnolo Shamal Two Way Fit as a tubeless setup, when I get around to it.
    Doesn't that just mean high quality clincher ?
    Bikes: Old steel race bikes, old Cannondale race bikes, less old Cannondale race bike, crappy old mtn bike

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