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  1. #1
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    Are Clinchers dangerous?

    I really really don't mean to start one of cycling's many polarized arguments, but I just started riding track. I use clinchers. I am currently building a track specific wheelset, and I am having a very hard time deciding which way to go.

    I get so many mixed messages. People say clinchers these days are so good and high pressure that it takes all but the best tubbies to beat em. Talking to experienced track racers (most of them older), I hear things like "I'd never ride clinchers on the track in a million years..." Roger Young, the main guy at the ADT Center in Carson, claimed he rides Mavic Elipse clinchers during our class, but then he rolls up on tubbies the next day.

    So, can anyone give me advice on which way to go? My purpose is 95% track, 70/30 wood and concrete. I am not competitive. I just ride track twice a week for general training.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Iffacus's Avatar
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    I have been using Clinchers for the past 2 years for racing (stock wheels & tyres on a Fuji Track SE) mainly on a tarmac track (local league) and didn't have any problems on the wooden boards at Newport or manchester either.
    Prerace, I use a misplaced faith in my innate ability, with a dose of needless optimism. For recovery, I use self-delusional techniques.

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    I've always ridden tubulars on the track, except for teaching track classes, which have always been on low to medium quality clinchers.

    I do tend to subscribe to the theory that clinchers increase the risk of tires coming off during a high speed flat, but I have never witnessed a high speed flat on clinchers at the track. I can tell you that high speed flats on ANY tire on the track are exciting.

    For fun, I once took a few slow laps on a rear clincher with about 5 psi in it. Felt like I was riding a speedway motorcycle or something, as the back of the bike was a good foot below the front. Occasionally the tire would begin to slip from the rim, which exposed the rim itself to the track and added a bit of entertainment to the proceedings, but then the tire would slip back into place. I never felt as though the tire was going to come off, and this was with a very low quality tire that one could "float" on and off the rim without tools.

    I knew several guys who did all their training with clinchers. Some of these folks were pretty fast and didn't feel that clinchers hurt their performance much, at least as compared to training tubulars. I don't believe for a second that any clincher is as fast as a 150 gram or lighter racing tubular.

    I have never personally witnessed anyone riding clinchers on a board track and would caution against it unless Roger has given you the okay. He's pretty anal about such things; I am confident that if he says it's okay then it must be.

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    Their are alot of people riding clinchers at ADT. In fact, the rental bikes have clinchers.

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    Senior Member CafeRacer's Avatar
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    Think practicality. If your going to use them on the road once and a while then get clinchers. If they are only for the track go tubie. In modern days high end clincher tires work pretty good for most people. Alot of guys train on them on the track, then race on tubies. Where a good track tubie prevails is that it wont wobble or bouce slightly because its perfectly round. That all hinges on if its glued properly. Also bigger guys prefer tubies because you can run high pressure so they dont sag out. A clincher may hold 170 but most rims arent recomended past 130. If you flat either it sucks when your on the boards but a tubie is glued on so its easier to ride it out. A clincher rips off. It does happen.

    The age old debate if one is actualy faster than the other will never end. All I have to say to that is not one world cup sprinter races on clinchers. No matter how many home scientists try it out on their SRM cranks you cant tell me that there is no reason why guys use tubies and inflate them up to 200 lbs.

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    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    Lots of people ride clinchers on ADT, and I've seen Roger and a lot of the riders he coaches on Ellipses.

    I ride Ellipses with Rubino Pro tires sometimes, and tubulars other times. Sometimes I even ride one of each.

    Tubulars definitely feel better (at least to me)-- I use Vittoria Evo Pista's on my race wheels, but I ride intervals and open sessions on clinchers or tubulars. I started riding the clinchers more lately when a couple friends had unexplained sidewall tears and weren't sure which track or what they were from.
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  7. #7
    Upstanding member. Mike T.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by endo shi
    So, can anyone give me advice on which way to go? My purpose is 95% track, 70/30 wood and concrete. I am not competitive. I just ride track twice a week for general training.
    Clinchers! I can't think of too many reasons to ride anything else for your inteneded purpose. I'm like you but I'm 100% wood and in two years and about 100,000 laps there hasn't been one negative thing about my 150g Conti Supersonics.

  8. #8
    Upstanding member. Mike T.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Six jours
    I have never personally witnessed anyone riding clinchers on a board track.
    Then ya haven't seen me. Let's see - two years riding on a board track at an average of 2x per week for an average of 50k per session at 7 laps per kilometer, that's 72,800 laps and zeeeero problems. I'm sure many others on our track (who I know ride clinchers) have done lots more. I have yet to witness one negative issue.

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    Fair enough. I don't mean to say "I haven't seen it so it shouldn't be done" but rather "I haven't seen it, so can't give you firsthand information on it."

    Judging from this thread, I see no reason not to use clinchers on the boards, although I personally would still prefer tubulars for racing.

  10. #10
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    Here are the potential issues with clinchers:

    1. If you have a sudden deflation on a steep track, a tubular is hard enough to manage but a clincher is a good bit harder. Take care of your wheels, don't use worn tires, if it's an outdoor track be sure it's swept clean of glass (including the apron and infield circle), and don't touch tires with someone else, and you aren't likely to have a sudden deflation. If you can't control any of the above, you risk a sudden deflation and the almost inevitable fall that goes with it. Now I don't get too heated up about a fall, but a fall followed by three riders T-boning me at speed is something to think about.

    2. You probably won't feel the same kind of stability on clinchers that you feel on tubulars until the pressure is a big higher than your usual road pressures -- say you do 140-150 psi on tubulars, you probably want to do 120-125 psi on clinchers (pressure depends on weight, track, your preferences, tire choice, etc. etc.). Some rims aren't all that happy with that much lateral pressure in the bead area. And some tire and rim combinations don't fit together as well as one might like, and high pressure can occasionally exacerbate a sudden failure -- it happens on the road (Vittoria Evo Corsa CX road clinchers had a pronounced problem for a while until Vittoria reduced the dimensions slightly) so you should anticipate it on the track.

    3. Some clinchers create an egg-shaped profile for the tire. On the road it isn't bad, but as you go on and off the bankings at lower speeds (anything where you are more upright), you can change the contact point on your tire and feel a bit less stable. This is easily avoided with a fairly round-profile clincher (like a Veloflex Pave).

    4. It's hard to get clinchers down to the same weight as tubulars, and if you want to use higher pressures it's hard to get them up to equivalent pressures.

    5. The high-end track wheels are pretty much only available in tubular. Same for the best track tires. If you aren't aspiring to be a high-end competitor, this may not matter to you.

    6. As you progress, you are more likely to want to be on tubulars. When you're good enough that they make a difference, they're really nice to have. You might as well learn how to use them properly from the beginning.

    What do clinchers have going for them?

    1. Ease of use -- that's the primary reason they're used on rental/class bikes at tracks. I used to have to glue on all the tubulars for track training programs, and believe me, you get really tired of it. And if I don't like the look of a tubular wheel, I have to allow a couple days or more to re-glue it, while I can be on a clincher wheel in ten minutes. I ride tubulars myself on the track, but I have a couple pairs of track wheels built with clinchers that I'll throw on if I'm in a jam for a functional wheelset (or if I want to loan wheels to someone and don't want them flatting my expensive nice track tubulars).

    2. If you ride on the road as well, your proclivity for flats may make clinchers more practical if you use the same wheels for both. Someone riding fairly serious track will often have a pure training pair of wheels (or more) and then pure racing wheels and they will fairly often be tubulars. When you're at a track event and trading equipment around, you get to borrow better wheels if you have better wheels to offer when you need to lend them.

    3. If you can't stand gluing tires, or can't seem to do it right, stick to clinchers.

    4. Costwise, you probably come out a bit ahead on clinchers. I say "a bit" because you can get amazing mileage out of a good but inexpensive tubular like a Conti Sprinter. Frankly, if you pick appropriate tubular tires, you can probably make the costs work out even.

    5. You find all kinds of sub-communities at the track. Some think tubulars are essential; others think that clinchers are the only way to go. Depending on the team you're on, the people you like to ride with, the events you want to do, etc., clinchers may fit with your riding.

    Frankly, don't ask on this forum. Instead, go to the track where you'll be riding and see what they're using. I've never seen a track where people weren't friendly about answering questions for newcomers, or even letting you try different wheels to see how they do for you. Local track conditions and preferences predominate, and what the crowd at ADT likes and what the crowd at Dick Lane does may be very different. To start, you can ride just about anything, then decide how good you think you want to be and how much you want to spend. Borrow some wheels on training nights and see how you like them yourself, and listen to local opinions. In the end, spending money on racing is more fruitful than spending it on bikes or wheels. If you want to be riding nice wheels as well, decide what you want to get nicer wheels for (training, power events, pursuit, massed start, etc.), and then pick wheels appropriate for that application. For better wheels, the recommendations become different for different events.

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