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Tubulars?

Old 12-11-02, 07:56 PM
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roadbuzz
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Tubulars?

All this recent talk about wheels, and facing the spectre of replacing my rims in the not to distant future has me wondering... maybe it's time to give tubulars a try. So, I'm polling for opinions.

What's the learning curve... how many tires am I going to have roll off the rim before I get it right? Do I have to buy tires in advance and let them season before mounting? How hard is it to repair a flat "on the road." Do I have to worry about overheating the rim (and consequently, glue) on long descents? Great for "events", but not everyday? I like working on my bike, but not as much as riding it. How much extra trouble are they, really, and is it worth it?
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Old 12-11-02, 09:24 PM
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With the quality of clinchers, why would you ever want to go through all the hassle of tubulars? Now for a second set of event tryes, that would be something to consider...
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Old 12-11-02, 09:54 PM
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Originally posted by roadbuzz
How hard is it to repair a flat "on the road." Do I have to worry about overheating the rim (and consequently, glue) on long descents?
You carry a spare and put on a new tubular like the old pros use to do.I did not see any tires coming off on the long decents in the Giro,Tour or vuelta this year but maybe them guys have enough ba--s they don't use the brakes. Since i dont race at a high level, I would never consider them.
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Old 12-11-02, 09:58 PM
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I've never actually seen tubulars mounted. What does it actually involve? Needle and thread? Glue? Do tubulars make sense for non-racers?
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Old 12-11-02, 11:34 PM
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tubulars are great but they require a learning curve just like someone changing a clincher for the first time. Once you get used to them, they are pretty easy to maintain and even a roadside repair only takes a few minutes.
They require more skill to properly glue them but tubulars don't flat as often as clinchers- don't ask me why.

If you ride good tubulars, clinchers don't even come close. The only people I've heard say clinchers are "just as good" are ones that don't ride tubulars and believe the hype thrown out by tire companies.

Personally, I wouldn't use them on a daily basis because of the hassle and I'm used to maintaining clinchers. Tubulars make good race day wheels though.

With the type of questions you are asking, I think you would be most happy sticking with clinchers.
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Old 12-12-02, 06:38 AM
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how many tires am I going to have roll off the rim before I get it right?
Most likely none, unless you want to ride with your tyres unglued. Most roll-offs result from either that (surprisingly), or from the occasional racer who used FastTak in a pinch the season before, and has neglected to reglue the tyres the next year.

Do I have to buy tires in advance and let them season before mounting?
No. That is an old wive's tale. Rubber that sits for a while will harden, which used to be a good thing for super-thin silk cased tubulars of years ago. A decent tubular today need no waiting.

How hard is it to repair a flat "on the road." Do I have to worry about overheating the rim (and consequently, glue) on long descents?
These both depend on the type of glue used. If you use Vittoria Mastik1, it will require a bit of prying to remove (especially when cold), but will never get loose by braking heat. Tubasti (or other white gutta cements) are always pliable, so they don't hold as well. These glues could loosen with brake heat, but they are also easier to dismount in cold weather. I actually use this type of cement on one wheelset for this reason.

Great for "events", but not everyday?
Depends on the tyre. Tufo S22, S33, Conti Sprinters, Vittoria Corsa tyres are all very nice riding, and are good for everyday riding. Conti Competitions, Tufo Giros, etc, are probably too fragile for normal street use.

How much extra trouble are they, really, and is it worth it?
Depends. You will get a better ride from tubulars (even from a Tufo S33 special), the rims will weigh less, the tyre will weigh less than a clincher/tube combo, and tyre changing on the roadside will be quicker. You will always need to carry a spare. If you buy a sew-up type, you will eventually have to fix one, and will need a tubular repair kit (needle, thread, patches, glue). Tufos, OTOH, can not be opened, so you will need to buy the Tufo sealant (it usually works).

If you are looking for a decent set of training tubulars, I'd suggest Tufo S22. They ride very nicely, wear well, and are inexpensive ($25 each, or so).
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Old 12-12-02, 06:48 AM
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Thanks for the detailed response.

Originally posted by D*Alex
If you buy a sew-up type, you will eventually have to fix one
What types are there?

Also, the next question... which rim?

Last edited by roadbuzz; 12-12-02 at 07:08 AM.
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Old 12-12-02, 09:51 AM
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I have an old lugged steal racer with tubulars that I loved to ride, but I was flatting out quite a bit, and was too lazy to learn how to repair them properly. A flat was costing me a new tyre and I debated my options. I rebuilt the wheels with clincher rims and put on Specialized Pro 700c-22's and 23's on them. Most LBS people told me that I would probably not notice the differnce in bike feel.

The result was mixed. I rode them hard all summer and had no down time and no flats. The bike handled well and the front end felt fairly light. I was happy with the move: BUT-no it is not the same. The exhileration and feel simply cannot be duplicated with clinchers-at least to the level of quality that I went to with rim and tyre.

Solution-I am going to get a second set of wheels for the old racer and put on tubular rims. For the flats, I am going to look at Tufo's, but I do not know much about them yet. Alternatively, I am going to learn how to patch and sew properly.

As long as the frame is responsive and gives good feedback, I would suggest the two-wheel set solution. My impression is that a wheel set with tubulars gives my old bike a three thousand dollar feel. And I am certainly not going that route.

Hope that helps!
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Old 12-12-02, 11:51 AM
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Originally posted by Cipher
With the quality of clinchers, why would you ever want to go through all the hassle of tubulars?
That's the big question. And I've probably posted the same argument in response to others.

So here's why I'm interested. First, how much more bother are they? It doesn't really sound like much, except for patching. I rarely get flats, and 95% of the time, those are pinch flats. I'm told tubulars are less susceptable (true? I dunno). So, if you get a training grade tire, maybe that's a non-issue. Then, there's ride quality. It doesn't matter who you ask, the best you get is "modern clinchers ride almost as good as tubulars." Ride quality seems to be pretty important to me, these days. I've got good tires gathering dust in my garage, simply because I don't care for the ride. Sooo, I want to try the "gold standard." And, hey! They're lighter. I'm not a weight weenie. Well, okay, I'm not obsessed with weight. Anyhow, Mavic OP+Mich PR+Mich C4 tube = 425+220+144 ~= 790 gm. Mavic Reflex+Tufo S22 = 375+260 = 635 gm. So, it's about 5.5 oz (1/3 lb) less, which isn't bad, and it is all out there where it makes the most difference. Finally, the S22s D*Alex mentions are as less expensive than pretty much any clincher I use... So, what's not to like?

I'd like to hear from the "used to use 'em, would never go back" contingent, if there are any. To bad Jobst Brandt isn't a BF reader. I think he's in that category.
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Old 12-12-02, 01:56 PM
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What about Tufo's tubular clinchers? Anybody have experience with them?
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Old 12-12-02, 02:41 PM
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I guess I am sort of in the "used them, but would never go back" category.

I had a short relationship with tubulars. I'll grant you that I didn't really give myself enough time to learn how to take care of them properly, nor did I try lot's of different tires (just two brands actually) or different glues. But, I am sure that I put more time into gluing and repairing the couple that I had than I have with mounting and repairing all the clinchers I have ever owned, combined, with several chain cleanings thrown in for good measure.

I take it that you've read Jobst Brandt words of wisdom on why he won't go back to them, but in case you (or others) haven't see, http://yarchive.net/bike/tubulars.html

and http://yarchive.net/bike/rolling_resistance.html where he implies, if I read him correctly, that the glue contributes to deflection and hence more rolling resistance (gotta look a good way down the page) even if tubulars themselves have a lower rolling resistance.

If you have some time and some money, give them a try. I would strongly suggest you learn to glue them from someone who really knows what he/she is doing.

Cheers,
Jamie

Last edited by jmlee; 12-12-02 at 02:49 PM.
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Old 12-12-02, 04:07 PM
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Originally posted by Rotifer
What about Tufo's tubular clinchers? Anybody have experience with them?
They work great.
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Old 12-12-02, 04:21 PM
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Thanks Racer. I think a set of those are going to be my next purchase.
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Old 12-12-02, 08:54 PM
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If Jobst Brandt is now against tubulars, anything he would say would trump my recommendation for them. I have his book on building bicycle wheels, and he knows. I didn't know about his web site, thanks to JMLee for the link. Maybe Tufo tubular clinchers are the way to go after all, or some great clincher tyres, and latex tubes, since the expensive tubulars use them anyway.
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Old 12-12-02, 09:08 PM
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I think you should take his comments on tubulars with a grain of salt. For example, he seems to think that pro racers don't use tubulars on the alpine descents which is far from the truth. You need only watch the videos or television coverage to see that they do.

For example, Lance uses Ksyrium SSC tubulars and Lightweight tubulars for the mountain stages. He doesn't swap bikes or wheels at the top of a pass for the descent. Nor do others in classics, one-day races or other races that many, many pros use tubulars on.

He also mentions a 120 tpi as high quality. Maybe for a clincher but good tubulars are around 400 tpi so its not even close on that.

Anyway, there are ups and downs to both systems. For racing or someone experienced with it, tubulars are the best.
For the sake of convienence, clinchers are the best for 80% of the people out there.
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Old 12-13-02, 04:03 AM
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This talk makes me wonder whether the Tufo Tubular-Clinchers have more deflection (and thus more rolling resistance) than glued Tubulars. Anyone know? (And, if so, do you have some numbers? Like Mr. Brandt, I am a bit skeptical of mere speculation.)

I trust that RacerX is correct in saying that many pros are still riding tubulars on Alpine descents. Could it be that they are using hard-setting track glues on their tires? After all, if they get a flat, they get a fresh wheel from their mechanics, they don't change the tire. Hence, they don't have to use the malleable road glue, which permits an easy tire change.

First, Brandt makes it clear that road glue is the stuff that melts at high temperatures--track glue does not. So no worry about a melt-down on a fast Alpine descent.

Secondly, according to his tests, road glue gives tubulars *more* rolling resistance than good clinchers. It would therefore seem logical that the pros would also be using track glue in order to minimize rolling resistance.

Can anyone confirm my speculations as to what kind of glues the pros are using?

Cheers,
Jamie
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Old 12-14-02, 11:46 PM
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Thanks again to all that have posted on this thread. Lots of good stuff here.

For now, I'm going to stick with clinchers, and replace the hoops with something that will support tubulars when I get another wheel-set. Given the input, and my ride/maintenance requirements, I'm not comfortable putting all my eggs in the tubular basket.

Barnaby: I'm with RacerX when it comes to Jobst Brandt. He knows his stuff, and much of it he supports with objective test and measurement. But he also tends to be very opinionated and rides with different goals and objectives than a lot of recreational riders. I have high regard for his opinions, but don't always consider it the final word.
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Old 12-15-02, 07:52 AM
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how do you pump up a tyre to 200psi ? i have difficalty geting mine up to 115
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