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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 08-17-04, 12:39 AM   #1
Oni
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Tubular or Clincher

So, I got this lecture today on how tubular rims are SOOOO much better than Clincher rims. But I've never ridden tubulars and I'm wondering what benefits or disadvantages you all feel they have.
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Old 08-17-04, 04:53 AM   #2
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Main benefits of tubulars are that they are a lighter than clinchers as there is no wire or kevlar bead in the tire. A tubular rim can also be made lighter than its clincher counterpart as there is no "hook" needed to secure the tire. In its place, glue is used to secure a tubular tire to a tubular rim. Some people think that it is easier to mount a tubular than a clincher. Tubulars can also be inflated to greater pressures than clinchers.

Downsides mainly consist of tubulars being more expensive than clinchers. You have to spend money to get a decent grade tubular. Only place I have seen cheap tubulars of decent quality is from www.yellowjersey.org for $20 apiece. Availability can also be a problem.

One interesting product hails form Tufo: a tubular-clincher hybrid tire. Think of them as a tubular that can be mounted on a clincher. I would like to try out a pair, but the price is prohibitively high running at more than $50 apiece.

All in all, I believe that clinchers have matured to the point where the difference between the two is negligible for all but racing.
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Old 08-17-04, 06:29 AM   #3
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The supposed main benefit of tubulars is ride quality...e.g. a totally round tubular profile gives a more supple & true ride than a half-round clincher. Also, they typically leak slower when punctured - important I guess for pros descending alpine passes. I think #3 would be that they don't pinch flat, but I've never actually seen a road clincher pinch flat anyway. Of course, I don't ride cobbles at 30 mph where that may actually happen.

The main drawback to tubular would be the pain in the butt factor...stretching, gluing, having to carry a whole tire for a spare vice just a tube. Oh, and they are known to roll off the rim while cornering, putting bike and rider firmly on the ground. Did you see Beloki in last year's TdF? He's still not right and it's been over a year now...I'll bet he never descends with complete confidence again. I can imagine myself mounting a new tubular and then spending the next 100 miles wondering if I glued and cured it properly....yeah, that's what I want to think about when I ride.

Weight is almost a wash and a small enough difference not to matter. I'll bet you can find thread after thread about tubs v clinchers on the roadie side if you really want to pursue it.
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Old 08-17-04, 04:50 PM   #4
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Van Dessel Country Road Bob--clinchers front and back (cyclocross tires)
Motobacane Mirage--clincer rear, tubular front
Motobacane Nomade--tubulars front and rear
Schwinn Le Tour--Tufo tubular clinchers front and back

My next project, a Lotus Elan will have tubulars front and rear.
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Old 08-18-04, 08:41 PM   #5
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Tubulars ride really nice, I think the ride quality might be a little better, espcially in the corners. But yeah, they are a huge pain in the ass, to me at least. Pricey too, maybe if you are racing and somebody else is paying for them.
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Old 08-18-04, 08:59 PM   #6
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If I had lots of cash, I'd probably ride tubulars, because the ride is nice and I honestly just like the idea. If you're a skid-crazy fixie rider, the cost just makes tubulars stupid. If you never skid, it's less of an issue. It's just a different way of doing things.

And as I understand it, if a tubular is mounted properly, the chances of a roll-off are extremely low. Yeah, they roll off, but usually due to mounting error and other conditions (hot roads softening adhesive, as with Beloki's wipeout).
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Old 08-19-04, 02:13 PM   #7
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Good tubular rims are strong.

Cheap tubular tyres are nothing to write home about. Really light, expensive ones are fragile. Heavier expensive ones are ....expensive.

Years ago the bike snobs were correct- the ride was sublime, compared to clinchers available in the 70's.

There is little argument to be had now, unless your budget is unlimited, you weigh less than 150 and ride predominantly on newly- laid tarmac.............
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Old 08-19-04, 03:59 PM   #8
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I commute on my tubulars. I don't ride crazy and I use my front brake.
I shop for wheelsets and tires on Ebay and save plenty of money.

My crash a month ago (geared) ripped the front tire off, but the fork was jammed sideways by the impact and the wheel couldn't spin. The rim will survive though. It's Mavic Gel 280 rim, with 28 Advanced Systems Ti-Dyed spokes, and a Hershey Naked hub. The tire was a really nice silk cased, professional level Corsica. I just reinspected them. The rim had been very well glued. The accident ripped off the valve stem and partially clawed the tire off. The rim still looks to be dead-on true. A minor bit of buffing to a tiny section of the rim and it will be almost as good as new. Oh, by the way, it weighs in at about 1170 grams, 1430 grams with a fully inflated tire. That's one well built custom wheel.

Last edited by Mr. Shadow; 08-19-04 at 04:09 PM.
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