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Tubular vs clincher rolling resistance

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Tubular vs clincher rolling resistance

Old 05-27-12, 10:05 PM
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jyl
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Tubular vs clincher rolling resistance

I was hunting around for information on which tubular tire to get for my first attempt at mounting and riding tubulars (a bike I bought came with tubular rims), and ran across this article.

http://www.rouesartisanales.com/article-1503651.html

At the bottom, there are tables of rolling resistance, traction, and puncture resistance for the tested tubulars and the tested clinchers. Okay, seems helpful, and the tables are conveniently sorted by rolling resistance. But wait a minute . . .

. . . the rolling resistance of the tubular tires looks higher than the rolling resistance of the clinchers, as a group. Quite a bit higher.

Does anyone know of other data confirming or contradicting this? If it is true, does that reduce the reason to use tubulars? Or do their other qualities still make them a sensible choice?

I am a guy who has never ridden a tubular - still - so I may be totally misunderstanding something.

Last edited by jyl; 05-27-12 at 10:19 PM.
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Old 05-27-12, 10:12 PM
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Interesting. I guess that goes to show how much clincher technology has caught up to tubular.
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Old 05-27-12, 10:56 PM
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That site has some info that stinks of wrong.

A wider tire will roll better and have better grip compared to a very narrow tire, but will suffer at high speeds due to aerodynamic drag.
Aerodynamic drag?!

I think they really meant, that a narrow tire with low pressure (700x23c at 50 PSI) would have more rolling resistance than a wide tire low pressure, (700x35c at 50 PSI).

Last edited by ben4345; 05-27-12 at 11:02 PM.
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Old 05-27-12, 11:30 PM
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Originally Posted by ben4345 View Post
That site has some info that stinks of wrong.



Aerodynamic drag?!

I think they really meant, that a narrow tire with low pressure (700x23c at 50 PSI) would have more rolling resistance than a wide tire low pressure, (700x35c at 50 PSI).
nope, it's correct. narrow tires, even at the proper inflation levels for given weight, have higher rolling resistance in comparison to wider, lower psi tires. The key here is how supple the tire is. Wider tires have more surface area to deflect, which translates into suppler, even if the TPI is quite low.

Narrow tires are preferred on road bikes because they are lighter and have less aerodynamic drag.

rolling resistance is somewhat overrated. What's really annoying is wind resistance. That is what holds you back from going faster, more so than anything else that causes resistance on the bike.
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Old 05-27-12, 11:31 PM
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According to Sheldon Brown's site:

Their rolling resistance is actually worse than with good clinchers in most cases, due to imperfect contact of the glued section with the rim, so there is rubbing.
http://sheldonbrown.com/gloss_tp-z.html#tubular

See also: http://sheldonbrown.com/brandt/rolli...e-tubular.html
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Old 05-27-12, 11:37 PM
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you get tubulars for racing nowadays, or if you are redoing a classic bike. while they have slightly higher rolling resistance, the reason one may desire them nowadays is because of their ability to not get a pinch flat (ability to ride with lower psi... or higher if desired) and because they are way lighter. ( i have 2 almost identical wheelsets- 1 tubular, 1 clincher- and after the weight of the tires etc etc the tubular wheelset shaves nearly 1lb from my bike, and the tubular set has 4 more spokes too!)
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Old 05-27-12, 11:43 PM
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According to Jobst Brandt, the glue used makes a big difference -- the hard glue used at the track has low rolling resistance, but the softer glue used for road riding has higher rolling resistance.
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Old 05-27-12, 11:48 PM
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Looks like their testing was done on a steel drum. Which makes it essentially meaningless, unless you ride on a steel drum.
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Old 05-28-12, 01:32 AM
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how many points in the decimal fractions of % is going to matter? x.001?
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Old 05-28-12, 01:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Six jours View Post
Looks like their testing was done on a steel drum. Which makes it essentially meaningless, unless you ride on a steel drum.
Oh, so true! What wasn't mentioned is tubulars/sewups have a smoother ride, tend to corner better and are faster at same "quality" levels, recently confirmed with Vittoria CX Pave' in both clincher and tubular, ( my own)

If you ever get a chance to ride silk/seta tubulars, DO IT!, they are nothiung short of incredible!- the bad part? - the cost is around $160 ea and more for dugasts, ridden in the of disguise of their sponsors by top pros, other brands? $120 ea min.

Oh Yeah, tubular flats are a %(^%$*#@*&*# to fix, so always carry a spare and ride it 'gingerly"

Last edited by pat5319; 05-28-12 at 02:28 AM. Reason: incomplete
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Old 05-28-12, 04:38 AM
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Rolling resistance is overrated as it doesn't mean squat when it comes to cycling performance. What really matters is aero-drag and the faster you go, the more significant aero-drag becomes the limiting factor on your speed:



The advantage of sew-ups isn't rolling-resistance. It's weight-savings and cornering. With wheels of equal-strength, tubular wheels will come in at 1/2 to 1-lb lighter than clinchers. That's significant for hill-climbs and crits where you have A LOT of accelerating out of each and every corner. I've also found that tubulars using box-section rims, have much more dynamic vertical-compliance (suspension) when cornering over rough and bumpy tarmac. You can go around the exact same corner 2-3mph faster on the tubulars before your tyres start to skip off the bumps and slide.
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Old 05-28-12, 09:07 AM
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Not sure if you care, but I have ridden tubular tires exclusively for the last 30 years. In fact I have never owned a bike with clinchers. I can no longer afford good tubular tires anymore. A good Vittoria or Veloflex tubular will set you back $100 US per tire now days. I go thru on average 8 tires a year. I am changing over to clincher rims.

Tires are easy to glue up. To clean the glue off my carbon and aluminum rims I purchased a stationary grinder and put a cloth buffing wheel on it. I buff all the glue off the rim in about a minute. I have learned over the years that I only need to put glue on the rim and then mount the tire. None of this 4 and 5 coats on the tire and the rim. I have never had a tire come off the rim and it makes changing the tires a breeze. If you flat on the road, carry a can of Vittoria Pit Stop. It has never let me down.

The price of tubulars has just become to Crazy for me anymore!
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Old 05-28-12, 11:05 AM
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Aaarg. Have I been misled all these years by my own vanity? I thought 1.125 in tires @ 100 lbs offered significant advantages over 1.25 in tires @ 80 lbs. (I'm a casual roadie, 160lbs, ride for pleasure and exercise) I had it backwards by the info in this thread. Seems rolling resistance has been misunderstood by a lot of us.

So, does anyone have charts showing wind resistance numbers for different tire widths? I would love to see the difference between different tire widths (even theoretical) and what % that might comprise of the total wind resistance of the bicycle. (If I'm hijacking this thread, sorry bout that. But I do think it's relevant)
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Old 05-28-12, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by RoadTired View Post
Aaarg. Have I been misled all these years by my own vanity? I thought 1.125 in tires @ 100 lbs offered significant advantages over 1.25 in tires @ 80 lbs. (I'm a casual roadie, 160lbs, ride for pleasure and exercise) I had it backwards by the info in this thread. Seems rolling resistance has been misunderstood by a lot of us.

So, does anyone have charts showing wind resistance numbers for different tire widths? I would love to see the difference between different tire widths (even theoretical) and what % that might comprise of the total wind resistance of the bicycle. (If I'm hijacking this thread, sorry bout that. But I do think it's relevant)
Think about it this way: Look at Danno's chart. There are several factors that hold you back when you bicycle. Among them are the rolling resistance of the tires and the mechanical resistance of the various bearings. HOWEVER, compared to the energy that's required to push your torso through the air, once you surpass about 15 MPH, everything else is small potatoes.

If you want to ride faster, work on your position on the bike.
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Old 05-28-12, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
Think about it this way: Look at Danno's chart. There are several factors that hold you back when you bicycle. Among them are the rolling resistance of the tires and the mechanical resistance of the various bearings. HOWEVER, compared to the energy that's required to push your torso through the air, once you surpass about 15 MPH, everything else is small potatoes.

If you want to ride faster, work on your position on the bike.
Compared to rolling resistance the bearings and chain in the drive train are not important. Add wind resistance and the first two are not significant. A pound or two of extra weight might cost a pro twenty or thirty seconds on a 4 mile 8% climb, but for most of us it doesn't matter.
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Old 05-28-12, 08:10 PM
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JYL you are worried just for nothing. The only way for you to know actually is just riding the stuff. I been riding tubulars for about 30 years now, have used several brands of clinchers as tubulars aswell and pretty much I'm still sticking with tubulars more than nothing because I can't get punctures using tubulars, havent punctured any tubular in the last 3 years or more. The other thing is that from what I have noticed the sidewalls in tubulars deform way less than in clinchers at the same pressure, that allows you to turn with more confident. Because of the way clinchers are built they can't work the same way than a tubular but are really close now.

The ride is different that's all i can tell you. So far the best clincher i have used is the schwalbe but in the corners can't match my crappy cheap tubulars, same with continental and vittoria clinchers.

Good luck and forget that table... just BS
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Old 05-28-12, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by AEO View Post
rolling resistance is somewhat overrated. What's really annoying is wind resistance. That is what holds you back from going faster, more so than anything else that causes resistance on the bike.
True enough, although riding on the white line can often be good for an extra gear...
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Old 05-28-12, 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Hairy Hands View Post
Not sure if you care, but I have ridden tubular tires exclusively for the last 30 years. In fact I have never owned a bike with clinchers. I can no longer afford good tubular tires anymore. A good Vittoria or Veloflex tubular will set you back $100 US per tire now days. I go thru on average 8 tires a year. I am changing over to clincher rims.

Tires are easy to glue up. To clean the glue off my carbon and aluminum rims I purchased a stationary grinder and put a cloth buffing wheel on it. I buff all the glue off the rim in about a minute. I have learned over the years that I only need to put glue on the rim and then mount the tire. None of this 4 and 5 coats on the tire and the rim. I have never had a tire come off the rim and it makes changing the tires a breeze. If you flat on the road, carry a can of Vittoria Pit Stop. It has never let me down.

The price of tubulars has just become to Crazy for me anymore!
I had a set of tubulars back in the day, rode the bike for transport... I didn't keep it up. Flats were a disaster.... I gather it's not so bad these days though.

And the take-home from your 30 years' experience on em reminds me I'm starting to consider building up another set...
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Old 05-28-12, 11:24 PM
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I need to order some tubulars STAT.

This weekend I took some wheels off my regular commute bike and put them on the bike that came with tubulars, and went for a ride. Damn, that is a nice bike. Cannondale R1000 with Mavic group. I'm keeping it! But my commute bike wants its wheels back, and the mismatched, heavy wheels with Pasela clinchers has made the Cannondale well over 1 lb heavier. So, time to get off the stick and get new tubulars mounted.

Can you guys recommend a model/brand? Criteria are: affordable, some flat resistance, reasonable rain traction, blackwall, not crazy hard to mount. Oh, and not too hard to find, would help.
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Old 05-28-12, 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
True enough, although riding on the white line can often be good for an extra gear...
true, but that stuff is so slippery. The μ coefficient must be significantly less.
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Old 05-29-12, 12:37 AM
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Originally Posted by jyl View Post
Can you guys recommend a model/brand? Criteria are: affordable, some flat resistance, reasonable rain traction, blackwall, not crazy hard to mount. Oh, and not too hard to find, would help.
I've had very good luck with Panaracer Tourguard tyres. They have a kevlar belt for puncture protection and very supple casing for silk-like performance. They used to come in 180 & 200gm 20mm slick versions that I used for racing. These were the only tubulars I actually wore out rather than losing them through flats. I think now you can only find the 240 & 300gm treaded versions. Still a good deal though.
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