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  1. #1
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    Clincher or Tubular?

    I am still a newbie to triathlons. I completed 4 triathlons then blew my left knee out while training for the Chicago marathon. I am recently starting to get back into this wonderful sport and am looking for some advise. First of all, I purchased a Softride Qualifier SE TT late last summer and love the bike. I am looking to upgrade the wheels though.

    I still have the factory wheels on the bike and am looking at getting a Renn composite disk and a set of HED 3 spoke wheels. I am wondering what are the advantages to both clincher and tubular? And, which ones do you prefer?

  2. #2
    Prefers Aluminum Sprocket Man's Avatar
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    Hi triathaholic,
    Some advantages of clinchers:
    1. Wider selection of tires
    2. Cost (when you flat, you only change the tube)
    3. Ease of repairability (patch tubes)

    Advantages of tubulars
    1. Higher maximum psi = lower rolling resistance
    2. Lower weight
    3. Ease of changing in case of a flat during a race (Normann Stadler would disagree)

    I prefer clinchers. But if I were to buy a high end wheelset, I'd buy tubulars.

    It's worth mentioning that these are just generalities, therefore exceptions may apply. The HED 3 and Renn disk sound like an awesome combination. Hope your training is going well and your knee is back to normal.

  3. #3
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    A carbon fiber tubular wheel is going to be a little bit lighter. Not a significant advantage in a relatively flat tri. Some of an advantage on a hilly course.

    Max tire pressure is irrelevant. First you can get clinchers rated at 145psi. Second in the real world pumping up tires that high actually increases rolling resistence ( a whole nother thread though.) In fact one of advantage of tubulars is that they can be run at lower pressure (therefore more comfortable) without pinch flatting.

    The big disadvantage of tubulars is the hassle factor of gluing. It's a pain, done right takes a couple of days, and it's messy. Done wrong, you roll a tire and you crash.

    Also realize if your using tubulars in a tri, you need to carry one (or 2 if your paranoid) complete tires with you when you race. This adds up to an additional 500 grams or so and negates the weight advantage.

    The weight advantage of tubulars, over modern clinchers, really only becomes substantial if you go to carbon fiber wheels. Now you've got the problem of special brake pads, and having to change brake pads every time you put the cf wheels on.

    Bake in the day I always rode tubulars. But now clinchers have closed so much of the performance gap, the hassle, and safety factors just aren't worth it to me.
    Last edited by merlinextraligh; 02-23-06 at 12:17 PM.

  4. #4
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    I prefer tubulars for my race wheels. I use clinchers on my training wheels. ....for the reasons stated by Sprocket Man.

    I've never flatted in a race. (I think I shouldn't say that.) Even though they say tubulars are more likely to flat, I've noticed that a lot of folks that I know who ride clinchers in the race end up with flats (perhaps pinch flats???).

    Good luck to you!

  5. #5
    Flatman RoadToad's Avatar
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    Uh oh...Ironwoman is destined to have a flat in her next race now!
    BRING THE HEAT

  6. #6
    Senior Member Dubbayoo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sprocket Man
    Hi triathaholic,
    Some advantages of clinchers:
    1. Wider selection of tires
    2. Cost (when you flat, you only change the tube)
    3. Ease of repairability (patch tubes)

    Advantages of tubulars
    1. Higher maximum psi = lower rolling resistance
    2. Lower weight
    3. Ease of changing in case of a flat during a race (Normann Stadler would disagree)

    I prefer clinchers. But if I were to buy a high end wheelset, I'd buy tubulars.
    Ditto. I train on Mavic Ksyrium Elites which I got a good deal on. I just can't see dropping $1,500 on a pair of carbon clinchers...just seems sacreligious. High end tubs for me.

  7. #7
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    I use tubulars on my race wheels (Hed 3 tri spokes). Switching to tubulars wasn't my intension, just the type of wheels that looked good on e-bay. I used glue tape (no mess) to mount the tires so I was familiar with the process. That didn't help much when I flatted during a race. It is a total pain to change a tubular flat without tools (I eventually had to rip the tire off with my teeth). I am sure when you are an expert with tubulars, it is not a problem but there is no easy way to practice the procedure like you can with clinchers. And as stated above, carrying extra tires (not just tubes) sucks. For what it's worth, my next set of race wheels will definitely be clinchers.

  8. #8
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh

    if you go to carbon fiber wheels. Now you've got the problem of special brake pads, and having to change brake pads every time you put the cf wheels on..
    Wow, that's a bummer. The brake pads only last about 100 miles???
    Hi 'o Silver away

  9. #9
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    Before racing I "practice" changing my tires. (I usually mount new tires before Ironman, so I take off the old tire and practice putting it back on again before I mount the new one.) I am not super strong, so it is kind of difficult for me to get a glued tire off...and a new tire on, but with practice I've learned a few tricks that help.

    I carry tire levers with me...and I use them to help me with leverage to get that tire off/on the wheel.
    The spares I carry with me are used, pre-glued, (pre-stretched) tires. In Hawaii, if you throw the tire on the pavement while ripping the flat off, it will heat up a little and make it easier to stretch onto the wheel. Practicing the process does help.

  10. #10
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    BTW I've got carbon rims on both sets of my race wheels. I've never had to use special brake pads...and never had a problem braking. I think the braking surface is a different material (alloy?) I didn't even know they made special brake pads for carbon wheelsets. ...That said, if they would recommend special brake pads for my wheels, I'd get them and use them for the race. It wouldn't be that big a deal to switch the brake pads when I switch the wheels.
    Last edited by Ironwoman; 02-24-06 at 01:17 PM.

  11. #11
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
    Wow, that's a bummer. The brake pads only last about 100 miles???
    No, the problem is you need special pads for the CF. If you use these same pads on aluminum rims, then they get aluminum shards in them, which will tear up your CF rims. Thus if you want your $2000 CF tubular wheels to last, you need to dedicate a set of cork (or other material designed for CF) pads just for use with them.

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