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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 04-10-06, 10:58 PM   #1
sr20det
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Are Tubular Tires like Aging Wine?

Just wondering if Tubulars are more desirable if they have been mounted to a rim for some time.
Because I have a set of NOS Vittoria Corsa CX's that have been mounted to my campy rims and now have been pre-stretched for 10+ years.
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Old 04-10-06, 11:10 PM   #2
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Not really - unless it's some super cool vintage tire.

You gotta be careful of dryrot. Even if you can't see it, older tires can get safe.

You really only need to strech the tires for a few days.
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Old 04-10-06, 11:20 PM   #3
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there are more than a few coaches (mostly in europe) who have stashes of old tubs.
apparently the secret is to keep them in a dark, cool , not-too-dry enviromment, (like a cave [wine cellar]) and supposedly they get more supple without getting fragile.
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Old 04-10-06, 11:30 PM   #4
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holy shiz. thanks dolface and teadoggg for quick replies.
I was just wondering as I brought my wheelset to the shop today and one of the mechanics went bonkers seeing JUST the tire and offered to trade/buy it off me. I was taken aback a bit so I just asked to confirm.
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Old 04-10-06, 11:33 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by dolface
there are more than a few coaches (mostly in europe) who have stashes of old tubs.
apparently the secret is to keep them in a dark, cool , not-too-dry enviromment, (like a cave [wine cellar]) and supposedly they get more supple without getting fragile.
the discovery channel rocks...
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Old 04-10-06, 11:38 PM   #6
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mythbusters rocks.
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Old 04-11-06, 07:41 AM   #7
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mythbusters rocks.
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Old 04-11-06, 07:44 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sr20det
Just wondering if Tubulars are more desirable if they have been mounted to a rim for some time.
Because I have a set of NOS Vittoria Corsa CX's that have been mounted to my campy rims and now have been pre-stretched for 10+ years.
Supposedly Lance Armstrong had his tires aged in the freezer a few years before use.
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Old 04-11-06, 08:34 AM   #9
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Tubulars today are manufactured by a variety of methods and in a variety of materials. One of the basic distinctions to make for this thread is whether they're vulcanized or not. Vulcanized tires use high heat to more or less melt the tire tread onto the casing. If the treads are vulcanized, they use a rubber compound high in sulfur that doesn't gas off meaningfully (i.e., cure). Consequently, there's no improvement from storage, and they are best off used as soon as possible. If you spent under $50 for a tire, it's probably vulcanized, but you can tell by looking at the edge of the tread -- if it looks like it's melted or squashed into the casing, it's vulcanized. If it sits on top of the casing at the edges and looks like there's a glue holding it on, it's not.

If it's a nonvulcanized tire, it's made by a more expensive method and may be made of a high-grade natural rubber, which in turn is made of a mixture of solvents, stabilizers, and the molecules that make up rubber per se. This is all sort of like a jello -- and like jello, if you let it dry out a bit, it toughens up quite a bit. Unlike jello, this treatment actually improves most tubulars made of such rubbers. Not all nonvulcanized tires use natural rubber treads, but natural unvulcanized rubber is more supple, which creates the more comfortable (and more grippy) ride that is the holy grail of good tires. When the rubber dries out a bit, it doesn't reduce the suppleness meaningfully, but it dramatically improves the cut and puncture resistance of the tire, increases wear resistance, and actually improves wet weather performance slightly.

At the same time, on that better tire, if it's got a cotton or silk casing, the aging allows the latex on the sidewalls to dry out. This happens in a month or two (versus six months to a few years for the rubber), but it also improves the suppleness and durability of the casing quite a bit. So even if you don't have the time (or money) to store expensive tubulars for years, you still can realize a meaningful improvement just keeping tires in storage for a couple months. Plus that time is enough to make a lot of the solvents gas out of the rubber.

This is all complicated because you can get weird combinations of materials and assembly methods. For example, the famed Dugast tubular tire works (once located in a little cubicle under the banking of the Gent velodrome, but now in new hands and relocated) will strip the tread off a tire whose tread you happen to like and reapply it to a cotton or silk casing -- they'll put a Conti Steher tread on a Dugast silk casing, or a Michelin Mud cyclocross clincher tread on a Dugast cotton cross tubular. And then you have the inventive Thai who combine newer materials with older assembly techniques on Vittoria's high-end tires.

So how to store tires? If it's not going to benefit from storage, it's best stored (if it's a nice tubular) in an open circle -- i.e., not folded up or flattened -- in a heavy plastic garbage bag, in a big tire box (to protect it from dings) in a dark, temperature controlled space. I.e., don't leave it in your garage for the summer, or in an attic or anywhere that cooks the tire. Good tubulars hate heat. Keep the tires lying flat if possible (tire boxes, which manufacturers ship clincher tires in, are great for tubulars -- they open on the large flat side so you can lay tires in flat and get easy access to them). You don't have to keep the tires on rims, but plan on stretching the tires on clean, unglued rims for a day or two before mounting. You can put a thin coat of glue on the basetape of a new tubular, brush it in really well so it gets into the fabric, let it dry well for a few days, and then stretch it on a clean rim. You won't get much if any of the glue coming off onto the rim. I usually keep a pair of tubulars of this variety stretched and ready to go.

If you have some very nice tubulars that merit aging, I'd suggest stretching them for a month or two, inflating regularly to 50-60 pounds and hanging them (letting them sit on their own weight is worse than not aging them). Then put them in a rim box, but don't put a plastic bag around them and cut some holes in the box so it can breathe. If you happen to have a bunch of extra tubular rims around, you can always store the tires on them, but then you have to inflate them regularly, find a way to hang them in good controlled conditions, never let them sit on the ground, and keep them from getting whacked or from getting covered with dust (which is also bad for them).

Butyl tubes in tubulars will last pretty much forever, but latex tubes will gradually dry out and deteriorate -- they get worse while the exterior of the tire gets better, ironically. Latex tubes used to have a weight and suppleness advantage, but butyl tubes have gotten so thin that the differences are pretty small, and more and more manufacturers have switched to them. I don't mind them and I don't have to worry about aging these tires as much. But be aware that you can't keep latex-tubed tubulars around forever.

One last thing: If you have bare fabric sidewalls (i.e., no colored rubber painted over them), then the aging process will dry out the sidewalls long before the tread has aged well. This is easy to address. Get a bottle of latex solution for tubulars (Jevelot is the most common brand, but you'll probably have to special order it) and paint it on the sidewalls every six months or so. It protects the casing and keeps it supple. Once you've mounted a tire on a wheel, it's worth using this solution every couple months or so (or more often if your tires get wet regularly). You'll prolong the life of your tires quite considerably.

Sorry this thread is a bit ambiguous about how to handle tires. You just have to figure out how your tire is constructed, and the materials, and decide whether aging is better or worse for you. It's only in the past few years that tire construction has gotten so diversified that it isn't an easy decision like it used to be.
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Old 04-11-06, 09:20 AM   #10
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Holy ****.
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Old 04-11-06, 09:23 AM   #11
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just ride clinchers. why would anyone rock tubular unless you're a pro on a team with a mechanic? it's the engine not the tires at the level 99.9% of us are ridin' at!
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Old 04-11-06, 09:33 AM   #12
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11.4 needs to write a book. He/she could be making mad bank off of all this expertise.
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Old 04-11-06, 09:40 AM   #13
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The knowledge is amazing. Terrible how $5 clinchers can wipe out such history through convienience.

Now that I think about it, people used to churn their own butter, too.
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Old 04-11-06, 09:43 AM   #14
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The knowledge is amazing. Terrible how $5 clinchers can wipe out such history through convienience.

Now that I think about it, people used to churn their own butter, too.
i'd go so far as to say that if tubular tyres were the only thing available i wouldn't ride. there. i said it. god made clinchers on the 8th day.
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Old 04-11-06, 10:13 AM   #15
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Tubulars might not be fine wine but 11.4's posts are savoured as such. Thanks for the fascinating info.
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Old 04-11-06, 10:20 AM   #16
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Seriously. 11.4 for Pope.
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Old 04-11-06, 10:40 AM   #17
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It's just a different tool for getting around. They're not going to be anywhere near as univerally awesome as clinchers. Whew! Thanks again to the poster who reminded us of this.

Quick, someone bring up rotational weight.
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Old 04-11-06, 10:41 AM   #18
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And freshly churned butter is ****ing amazing.
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Old 04-11-06, 11:03 AM   #19
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who is 11.4, and where does s/he come from, dropping all this knowledge?
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Old 04-11-06, 12:34 PM   #20
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11.4 posts are the highlight of my internet day
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