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To Tubular or Not To Tubular, that is the question.

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To Tubular or Not To Tubular, that is the question.

Old 08-13-18, 08:17 AM
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To Tubular or Not To Tubular, that is the question.

I have a lovely 1976 Japanese race bike, that fits me , which came with Mavic rims and tubular tires that actually inflated and have kept their air after 42 years. No not riding them, but it makes it much easier to move about the garage.As a young man growing up tubular tires were exotica, the gleaming Schwinn Paramount in the LBS window had them along with a “Do NOT Touch” sign, and “Racers” rode on them, but that’s as close as my Schwinn Corvette Three Speed with massive lugged tires and I ever got, until now.

I equivocate between reason and romance, I know clincher rims, tubes, tire irons, it would be an easy switch of rims/tires, but this bike was made by intention, it once was someone's dream bike, it seems a shame to change a thing so created.

But the learning curve of the right tires, glue, tape, and then the practice to get things right that you take for granted with clincher rims/tires, e.g. no lumps as the wheel spins,no high speed wobbles due to things not being quite true,not throwing away an entire tire vrs an inner tube.

Thus my title, and request for your thoughts, experiences, suggestions for what is the right stuff if I choose to try out tubular, and of course my thanks.
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Old 08-13-18, 08:23 AM
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I vote for staying with tubulars. There is a bit of a learning curve, but good tubulars are soooooo nice. And modern latex sealants almost entirely eliminate thorn and small puncture problems.
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Old 08-13-18, 08:30 AM
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I've got one bike with tubulars, and it is a fun way to renew my skills (i.e. gluing on tires, patching them, etc.) It's also a novelty, and it's been fun to show my riding buddies how to change a flat tubular (fortunately, this hasn't happened often).

At the same time, there are times when you need to fix a flat quickly, so I have a spare set of clincher wheels. They are also a good option for rides where flats might be more likely, and I might need to repair more than one flat.

Steve in Peoria
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Old 08-13-18, 08:35 AM
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A lover of Tubs, buys tires by the dozen, so as each in turn needs puncture mending .
you devote a day to doing a bit of patching and re stitching..

Tufo in CZ has made a line of tubulars with a sealant in mind,

and a double stick tape to take the place of gluing..
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Old 08-13-18, 08:45 AM
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For me, gluing your own tubulars is a right of passage for a C&V cyclist. 'Right in there with building your own wheels.

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Old 08-13-18, 08:46 AM
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Tubulars suck. There was a time they had a weight and handling advantage, but clinchers got better a long time ago.
Tubulars were best for racers, who would get a new wheel from a team van if they flatted. Self-supporting, you have to carry a whole tire folded up, which pretty much washes out any weight advantage.

I had a bike with tubulars for years. Long after I sold it, forgetting what a hassle they were, I built up a similar bike with Campy aero tubular rims I found cheap. On my first ride, I flatted. Then I had good luck for a while, until I had a blowout at the beginning of a steep descent. Granted, I could have switched to a $50 tire instead of $25 Vittoria Rallys, but I over it at that point.

There are modern carbon tubular wheels now, I don't know what they use for tires or if they're any better.
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Old 08-13-18, 08:47 AM
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Tufo tubs

Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
A lover of Tubs, buys tires by the dozen, so as each in turn needs puncture mending .
you devote a day to doing a bit of patching and re stitching..

Tufo in CZ has made a line of tubulars with a sealant in mind,

and a double stick tape to take the place of gluing..
In the UK the Tufo tubs are vulcanised and thus cannot be restitched. Also an earlier thread mentioned self-sealing glob. I can't find a sealant that can withstand more than 70 psi in the tub - 50psi too little
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Old 08-13-18, 09:00 AM
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Try it. Use glue. Don't use tape. Buy three tires because you want a spare. Continentals might not be the best for your first time because they are very tight. The only downside is that you won't have a tube or patch kit to help out others on the road.
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Old 08-13-18, 09:14 AM
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Tubular - If I can do it, ANYONE can.
And I like my tubulars, 8 of 14 wheelsets running tubies. Maybe going to 9 or 10.
But high-end clincher tires and lighter weight wheels have closed the gap.

The silliest choice to me is carbon clinchers over carbon tubulars. But each to their own opinion and buying priorities.

As to @Johno59 's comment about sealants not withstanding high pressures - I have put Stan's and Orange Seal (liquid latex) in road tires and pumped them to 120psi without issue. In fact, I believe almost all my tubulars have had a small amount of liquid latex inserted as 'flat prevention insurance'. I may spend money on nice tires, but have yet to flat a tubular on the road. Priceless.
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Old 08-13-18, 10:24 AM
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If you enjoy the C&V romance, having tubular skills is very satisfying. Whenever I see a classic bike, it's the first thing I check for.


Originally Posted by vinfix View Post
Tubulars suck. There was a time they had a weight and handling advantage, but clinchers got better a long time ago.
That might be an appropriate response in the racer forum. But this is C&V.
Tubulars are quintessential C&V equipment, and are an enjoyable part of the C&V experience in the same way that downtube shifters, lugged steel frames, and wool jerseys are.

Last edited by DiabloScott; 08-13-18 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 08-13-18, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by vinfix View Post
Tubulars suck. There was a time they had a weight and handling advantage, but clinchers got better a long time ago.
Love the honesty!😀

And I agree...
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Old 08-13-18, 10:44 AM
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No flat tubs.

Originally Posted by Johno59 View Post
In the UK the Tufo tubs are vulcanised and thus cannot be restitched. Also an earlier thread mentioned self-sealing glob. I can't find a sealant that can withstand more than 70 psi in the tub - 50psi too little
Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
Tubular - If I can do it, ANYONE can.
And I like my tubulars, 8 of 14 wheelsets running tubies. Maybe going to 9 or 10.
But high-end clincher tires and lighter weight wheels have closed the gap.

The silliest choice to me is carbon clinchers over carbon tubulars. But each to their own opinion and buying priorities.

As to @Johno59 's comment about sealants not withstanding high pressures - I have put Stan's and Orange Seal (liquid latex) in road tires and pumped them to 120psi without issue. In fact, I believe almost all my tubulars have had a small amount of liquid latex inserted as 'flat prevention insurance'. I may spend money on nice tires, but have yet to flat a tubular on the road. Priceless.
Wow. I had six different bikes with tubs. I had 30 buck tubs and 120 buck tubs. I filled everything with what I was assured was the best. I do 7000 TT miles a year flat out. I can sew tubs better than most. I gave up at least a dozen beautiful wheelsets - many given to me by Master wheel builders coz I was so tub fanatical - as I couldn'"t justify a 120 buck puncture.
No flats on the road? Wow you are in a league of your own. Truly amazing.
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Old 08-13-18, 10:51 AM
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love Tubs always raced on them but never trained on them the race day was that extra buz.
worked with with some AU teams road and track always used shallack on track wheels never had one roll and a joy doing them
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Old 08-13-18, 10:54 AM
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love Tubs always raced on them but never trained on them the race day was that extra buz.
worked with with some AU teams road and track always used shallack on track wheels never had one roll and joy doing them
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Old 08-13-18, 10:56 AM
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Tubular
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Old 08-13-18, 11:27 AM
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In my world of restoring or street restoring vintage road bicycles, the rule of thumb is - if the bike came with tubulars, tubulars get installed. This policy, for me, means that everything I build, for myself, is fitted with tubular wheel sets. Why? Because I tend, these days, to build bikes from the very early seventies and older. None of the newer vintage road bikes interest me much anymore.
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Old 08-13-18, 11:30 AM
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I love tubulars too and use them on four of my bikes, but I agree that the very best clinchers (Compass!) now can offer almost as nice a ride.
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Old 08-13-18, 11:43 AM
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Sew the bump

Originally Posted by Aubergine View Post
I love tubulars too and use them on four of my bikes, but I agree that the very best clinchers (Compass!) now can offer almost as nice a ride.
Tubs offer superior roundness and less rolling resistance. However, after you resew them, that aspect is compromised.
Obviously if you are blessed by the cycle gods and never puncture your tubs, this shortcoming doesn't apply. But a repaired clincher rolls very much the same as it did before you repaired it.
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Old 08-13-18, 11:51 AM
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So the next question is the vintage tubular rims. They are Mavic 36H made for Presta valves. The current 42 year old tubular tire on these rims when inflated to 60 psi is either 22 or 23 mm in diameter. Would a 25 mm tubular tire fit on the Mavic rims currently filled by the 22/23 mm tubular tires?

There is spacing in the fork/frame for 28mm and perhaps even 30/32mm tires, but I doubt the rim could carry the width of such tires? And WOW $110.00-116.00 prices for 28/32 mm at Bike Tires Direct.And yes, I love the Compass Extra Light tires my clinchers ride upon.

All my other bikes wear clinchers of either 28 or 32 mm tires, sizes I really like. One set of clinchers is 23mm rear due to lack of space under the brake bridge and 25 mm front, which actually doesn't ride as bad as I remember 120 psi 21mm, got to love a good steel frame/fork.

Last edited by since6; 08-13-18 at 12:01 PM.
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Old 08-13-18, 11:53 AM
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Yes
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Old 08-13-18, 11:54 AM
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I raced on the track in summer 2014, so I built myself a bike with tubulars. I don't ride the bike any more, so I'm not riding tubulars. I went through that and am not interested in doing it any more. It's a lot of trouble. Well, that's somewhat because I'm frugal, and I always patched my punctures. You could just replace them or pay the premium to have someone else do it for you.

Lightweight tubular rims are cheap. To get clincher rims that light, you have to pay a lot. So in one respect, tubulars are more economical.

I suggest you check youtube to learn how to glue a tire on. Then decide. I hope there are also videos on repairing them.
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Old 08-13-18, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by vinfix View Post
Tubulars suck. There was a time they had a weight and handling advantage, but clinchers got better a long time ago.
Tubulars were best for racers, who would get a new wheel from a team van if they flatted. Self-supporting, you have to carry a whole tire folded up, which pretty much washes out any weight advantage.

I had a bike with tubulars for years. Long after I sold it, forgetting what a hassle they were, I built up a similar bike with Campy aero tubular rims I found cheap. On my first ride, I flatted. Then I had good luck for a while, until I had a blowout at the beginning of a steep descent. Granted, I could have switched to a $50 tire instead of $25 Vittoria Rallys, but I over it at that point.

There are modern carbon tubular wheels now, I don't know what they use for tires or if they're any better.
I don't think it's quite as cut and dried as you suggest. Yes, cheap tubulars are crap compared to the best clinchers, but the best tubulars are still as good or a bit better than anything in a clincher. (Of course they're crazy expensive at full retail, so there isn't any comparison if you are talking "value") (Thanks to sales and UK suppliers, I never pay more than about 40% of "retail")

Good sealants (Orange seal), pretty well take care of all the hassle involved in tire changing in the field. Flatting a tubular using sealant is a pretty rare occurrence, and so far, I haven't had a flat that couldn't be fixed with some extra sealant. (I don't know what your roads are like, but I haven't had a tubular flat in the last 2500 miles, including the 90 mile Eroica CA route.) Also, as a matter of speed, have you seen someone experienced with tubulars change a flat? It's less than a minute to strip the old tire off, and slap on a new one. I'd give the flat change speed edge to tubulars over clinchers. (Of course, you've then used up your one and only spare, and you need to be mindful of rolling it off in corners, so maybe the advantage isn't all that great.) :-)

Also, you can run them at much lower pressures, without risking pinch flatting -- good for rougher stuff than you might get away with using clinchers of the same size.

All in all, i'd say it's a wash. If I was building new wheels for a bike, I'd probably go clincher, but more from an economic point of view. For absolute ride quality, and low weight, it's hard to beat something line a Veloflex Roubaix or Vlaanderen.
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Old 08-13-18, 12:13 PM
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My first real bike was a Guerciotti I built up in 1983. I built two sets of wheels, one tubular and the other clincher. Two weeks later, after three flats, I had two clincher wheelsets. I agree tubulars suck.
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Old 08-13-18, 12:13 PM
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And God said "Orange Seal"

Originally Posted by cdmurphy View Post
I don't think it's quite as cut and dried as you suggest. Yes, cheap tubulars are crap compared to the best clinchers, but the best tubulars are still as good or a bit better than anything in a clincher. (Of course they're crazy expensive at full retail, so there isn't any comparison if you are talking "value") (Thanks to sales and UK suppliers, I never pay more than about 40% of "retail")

Good sealants (Orange seal), pretty well take care of all the hassle involved in tire changing in the field. Flatting a tubular using sealant is a pretty rare occurrence, and so far, I haven't had a flat that couldn't be fixed with some extra sealant. (I don't know what your roads are like, but I haven't had a tubular flat in the last 2500 miles, including the 90 mile Eroica CA route.) Also, as a matter of speed, have you seen someone experienced with tubulars change a flat? It's less than a minute to strip the old tire off, and slap on a new one. I'd give the flat change speed edge to tubulars over clinchers. (Of course, you've then used up your one and only spare, and you need to be mindful of rolling it off in corners, so maybe the advantage isn't all that great.) :-)

Also, you can run them at much lower pressures, without risking pinch flatting -- good for rougher stuff than you might get away with using clinchers of the same size.

All in all, i'd say it's a wash. If I was building new wheels for a bike, I'd probably go clincher, but more from an economic point of view. For absolute ride quality, and low weight, it's hard to beat something line a Veloflex Roubaix or Vlaanderen.
I have two 1975 Colnago's and an Eddy Merckx of similar vintage. I can't face putting clinchers on them but as such I seldom ride them.

However this Orange Seal Godliness gives me hope.
I shall pay homage and seek the light some among us boast so proudly.

See you on the road scag.
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Old 08-13-18, 12:17 PM
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OP,
you can either get new wheels, rebuild the current wheels to clincher, or go tubular. I would suggest go tubular, and if you don't like them go for a new set of wheels. then you won't wonder.
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