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Tubulars - should I or shouldn't I?

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View Poll Results: Are tubulars worth the extra hassle?
YES - they are a significant gain and worth the extra work
55.88%
NO - modern clinchers are good enugh to make any gains marginal
44.12%
Voters: 68. You may not vote on this poll

Tubulars - should I or shouldn't I?

Old 12-08-10, 04:38 PM
  #76  
Dawes-man
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Originally Posted by sciencemonster View Post
So is there a lot of broken glass on the streets of Japan? I like my tubulars, despite what that bummer KonTiki Snake guy says, but I do get flats.
I've been here for so long that I can't really compare it. When back in the UK I drive in London and only cycle in the countryside but I can't say I go around here noticing a lot of broken glass. Small nails sometimes.

Tubular = puncture is something you read quite often, so I wonder. For weird, I have to say clincher. I had a tyre that would go flat within 20 minutes of repairing it. I repaired it once, then my LBS twice (and he is no amateur) and me once more. Each time in a different place. I changed the inner tube and then the tyre when the new tube went flat and the problem went with the tyre. There was nothing we could feel or see with the old tyre. Now, over a year later and the new tyre is still fine. Both Vittoria Rubino Pros.
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Old 12-08-10, 05:07 PM
  #77  
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Originally Posted by Chombi View Post
In mint condition??.....are you sure??
I thought my Turbo VS was still in good shape till I decided to pump it up to pressure last year and......

BANG!!!
Turns out that it's what you cannot see is what could kill you.....

Chombi


Warning duly noted! But the tire looks awfully good.

I will likely never know as I am riding the Challenge Parigi-Roubaix and Criterium clinchers right now. I also have a spare set of Challenge for when these wear out. The Challenge tires are also foldable, which is very nice for long trips when you want to take a spare with you.
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Old 12-08-10, 05:23 PM
  #78  
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This debate is very popular on C&V. Lengthy versions has been up time and again.

Filter out the emotions and the hard to quantify feel and ride quality and these are the facts:

Tubular pro's:
Looks right on vintage racers.
Lower eBay prices on wheelsets.
Less susceptible to pinch flats.
Lighter.

Tubular con's:
More difficult to repair.
Can come unglued on extreme descents.
Less securely attached after fixing a flat on the road.

All in all the cost of the rubber seems pretty comparable between clincher and tubular. Do they flat less? Not for me.

Last edited by jan nikolajsen; 12-09-10 at 02:32 PM.
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Old 12-08-10, 06:37 PM
  #79  
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Originally Posted by devinfan View Post
I will never understand the concept that tubulars are difficult or a pain to deal with, it's just the opposite! CLINCHERS are a pain. Ever tried changing a tire on a set of Ambrosio Extra Elites? I just did it for my brother last week and the usual swearing, sweating and grunting ensued before it was done. The secret is the glue, it's all about Tubasti (the one in the rainbow striped tube). ONE COAT is all I ever do, on the rim, and then I stretch the tire on and pump it up to 120 psi. The next morning it's good to go. It takes 10 minutes and 1 beer to do this. Wear those blue doctor's gloves and you won't have to worry about getting glue anywhere. I know that it works because my tires never budge, and when I do flat and have to rip them off, I have to put my back into it every time.

Changing a tubular is also way easier on the road, you just rip it off, stretch on your spare and ride home, then glue it properly. I wouldn't do any fast corners on an un-glued tubular, but you can definitely ride on it. I hate clinchers so much I ditched the set on my Gitane and switched to tubulars at the first available opportunity. Now all my bikes run tubulars, and I commute on them in the city every day. Gommitalia Champions are cheap and pretty durable - I use them all the time, and find them less "lumpy" than the Vittoria Rallyes, although they're not too bad either if you put some extra glue around the valve.

Anyhow, do it!
LOL, that doesn't really sound any easier than clinchers.

I'd like to try some tubular tires someday but I don't have the money to spend on a wheelset and all trimmings.

It would also be neat to run some double-blind studies and see if there is statistical evidence or even some measurable differences in performance. Someone needs to open a bicycle science centre.
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Old 12-08-10, 06:42 PM
  #80  
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For me, the biggest single factor in reducing the frequency of flat tires was to go to a larger diameter rear tire. I used to get lots of, way too many, flats in the rear with tubulars.

When I switched away from tubulars I went back to equivalently-sized clinchers but the problem remained - way too many flats in the rear. Before switching to tubulars I rode 1 1/4" clincher tires and I had almost no flats. With tubulars and skinny clinchers I got them all the time. So, after abandoning tubulars altogether, I compromised and went to a 1 1/8" rear clincher tire. I have to be meticulous about keeping the REAR tire fully inflated but the flats miraculously disappeared.

To help explain the need for the larger rear tire, I am solidly inside the "Clydesdale" category. No, I am not HUGE but I am 6'2"/225 lb. Yes, you want to draft me when I am in the pack.

Regarding tubulars, I've been wanting to use the larger rear tire strategy and retry tubulars. I like them for their ride qualities. Now that I know larger diameter tubulars exist, I may give tubulars another try.

Last edited by Mike Mills; 12-08-10 at 11:32 PM.
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Old 12-08-10, 07:41 PM
  #81  
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I wanna buy this wheel but it comes in tubular. Its gonna be a rear on my fixed gear. I plan on skidding alot so is there a tire that is reasonably priced and can withstand a lot of skidding? Thanks!
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Old 12-08-10, 08:29 PM
  #82  
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Originally Posted by Mike Mills View Post
For me, the biggest single factor in reducing the number frequency of flat tires was to go to a larger diameter rear tire. I used to get lots of, way too many, rear flats with tubulars. When I switched to clinchers, the problem was the same - way too many flats.

The thing was, when I rode 1 1/4" tires I had almost no flats. I finally broke down, compromised and went to a 1 1/8" rear tire. I have been meticulous about keeping the REAR tire fully inflated. I use a 1" (25mm) front tire, medium-firmly inflated. The flats miraculously disappeared.

Just for reference, I am solidly inside the "Clydesdale" category. No, I am not HUGE - 6'2"/225 lb. Yes, you want to draft me when I am in the pack.


I've been wanting to use the larger rear tire strategy and retry tubulars for their ride qualities now that I know larger diameter tubulars exist.
I am unable to make sense of this post.
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Old 12-08-10, 11:22 PM
  #83  
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Guess what?

I got a flat on my way home from work tonight. I was forced to pull near the curb as a car went by and I picked up some crap that went rattling through the fenders. Shortly thereafter, I had a flat. I did not have a pump with me. It was sitting at home.

Flats are the bane of cyclists.


GB - I spent some time trying to make my ramblings a little more comprehensible for you.

Last edited by Mike Mills; 12-09-10 at 02:07 PM.
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Old 12-09-10, 07:33 AM
  #84  
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Let's all get something perfectly straight, the ONLY way there could be more or less flats attributed to tubulars is pinch flats and ONLY pinch flats. Based on rim design, tubulars are less likely to get pinch flats.

Flats due to road debry is mostly attributed to tire compound. You can buy BOTH tubulars and clinchers in compounds for flat resistence or other attributes that float your boat. But to say you get more flats on a particular tire because "you" got more flats on a particular tire is just plain silly.

And for the record, in the last 5 years I have had 1 flat on tubulars in 15-20K miles and 1 flat on clinchers in 5-8K miles of riding. Both due to the fact I rode them to thread bare and was too cheap to change them earlier.
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Old 12-09-10, 08:37 AM
  #85  
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i vote yes because it is seriously not as big a deal as it might seem, and you will love the ride, responsiveness and feel. and if you flat, its a 5 minute operation to change the tire, with no skinned knuckles, tire levers, fiddling with a tube and etc .....
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Old 12-09-10, 08:44 AM
  #86  
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
Let's all get something perfectly straight, the ONLY way there could be more or less flats attributed to tubulars is pinch flats and ONLY pinch flats. Based on rim design, tubulars are less likely to get pinch flats.

Flats due to road debris is mostly attributed to tire compound. You can buy BOTH tubulars and clinchers in compounds for flat resistence or other attributes that float your boat. But to say you get more flats on a particular tire because "you" got more flats on a particular tire is just plain silly.
This needs to be repeated on every tubular thread until people get it.

If you get a lot of flats, tubulars are probably not for you. Flats are not the bane of every cyclist.
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Old 12-09-10, 09:50 AM
  #87  
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Although I have had 6 flats in the last year on tubulars, I still vote yes. When I was younger I rarlely got flats on them (30 years ago). I think it what is ont he road that counts not the tire (tyre?).
Do you pitch the Ralleys or repair them?
As far as repair, it is theropudic like reloading and being a C&V person. Surely you ride with the spare wrapped around your torso!
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Old 12-09-10, 10:05 AM
  #88  
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Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
This needs to be repeated on every tubular thread until people get it.

If you get a lot of flats, tubulars are probably not for you. Flats are not the bane of every cyclist.
I think this makes a lot of sense. I probably hate them because I get a lot of flats...it's impossible to ride a lot in Philly and NOT get a lot of flats. There is glass and accident debris all over the roads here and I probably average one a month. There's one section in particular that I often commute near where several auto garages and glass shops lead to constant debris and flats. I could see how tubulars would be far more practical in areas with cleaner roads or better trails. I didn't think tubulars were more prone to flats, I just think they;re more diificult/expensive when you get them!

I'm almost tempted to get a set for use only on cleaner trails.
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Old 12-09-10, 10:35 AM
  #89  
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Originally Posted by Mike Mills View Post
GB - I spent some time trying to make my ramblings a little more comprehensible for you.
That's better, but your use of "diameter" to describe the cross section width of a tire is not exactly effective communication.
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Old 12-09-10, 01:57 PM
  #90  
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
Let's all get something perfectly straight, the ONLY way there could be more or less flats attributed to tubulars is pinch flats and ONLY pinch flats. Based on rim design, tubulars are less likely to get pinch flats.

Flats due to road debry is mostly attributed to tire compound. You can buy BOTH tubulars and clinchers in compounds for flat resistence or other attributes that float your boat. But to say you get more flats on a particular tire because "you" got more flats on a particular tire is just plain silly.

And for the record, in the last 5 years I have had 1 flat on tubulars in 15-20K miles and 1 flat on clinchers in 5-8K miles of riding. Both due to the fact I rode them to thread bare and was too cheap to change them earlier.
Please explain the basis for your argument, as your conclusion is the opposite of my experience.

This seems to be a very angry post but the argument being made doesn't ring true with me. Posting something "loudly" and getting someone to agree with you doesn't make something true. Still, I am willing to listen to your explanation.

Last edited by Mike Mills; 12-09-10 at 02:05 PM.
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Old 12-09-10, 02:01 PM
  #91  
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Originally Posted by Grand Bois View Post
That's better, but your use of "diameter" to describe the cross section width of a tire is not exactly effective communication.
Huh? Please explain.

Tires have a circular cross section. I use the diameter of the tire to characterize that cross section. This is standard nomenclature and is technically accurate.
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Old 12-09-10, 02:15 PM
  #92  
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Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
If you get a lot of flats, tubulars are probably not for you. Flats are not the bane of every cyclist.
Flats are a real issue for every cyclist I know. Urban roadways are littered with broken glass, nails and other metal debris, sharp gravel, etc, With cyclists required by law to ride to the right, they are forced into the debris and flat tires are the result.

If you live and ride in a more suburban or rural area, such that you can ride on the car-cleaned surfaces with only an occasional dip into the debris when a car passes you by, well,... you might have a different set of experiences.
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Old 12-09-10, 02:37 PM
  #93  
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
I didn't think tubulars were more prone to flats, I just think they;re more diificult/expensive when you get them!

I'm almost tempted to get a set for use only on cleaner trails.
I think they are more prone to flats. I'll explain. I am waiting for an explanation of why they are not.

Tubular tires tend towards very light weight construction - thin cords and thin rubber treads. This is what makes them so light and so lively to ride. It is also what makes them more prone to flats. There are objects which can penetrate their thin treads that cannot penetrate the generally thicker treads and cord bodies found on the generally thicker and heavier clincher tires.

There is one other phenomenon which is important. Clincher tires generally use fairly thick-walled butyl rubber tubes, where as not all tubulars do. Many tubulars use (or used to) use latex tubes and/or thinner walled butyl tubes. The tubulars' tubes leak air faster and they lose pressure faster. This results in (eventually) riding them under-inflated unless you are scrupulous about topping them off every ride and have a pressure gage to ensure consistent pressure. Failing that, even once, you are at greater risk of puncture due to low inflation.

These are my experiences, yours may be different.

Last edited by Mike Mills; 12-09-10 at 02:43 PM.
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Old 12-09-10, 03:32 PM
  #94  
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Originally Posted by Mike Mills View Post
Huh? Please explain.

Tires have a circular cross section. I use the diameter of the tire to characterize that cross section. This is standard nomenclature and is technically accurate.
Being of a technical mind, you can appreciate that there are two diameters: the one that includes the axle of the wheel (around 680 mm), and the one you speak of. The diameter of the tire cross-sectional circle (only true for a tubular) is commonly called the width.
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Old 12-09-10, 03:37 PM
  #95  
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Originally Posted by Mike Mills View Post
I think they are more prone to flats. I'll explain. I am waiting for an explanation of why they are not.

Tubular tires tend towards very light weight construction - thin cords and thin rubber treads. This is what makes them so light and so lively to ride. It is also what makes them more prone to flats. There are objects which can penetrate their thin treads that cannot penetrate the generally thicker treads and cord bodies found on the generally thicker and heavier clincher tires.

There is one other phenomenon which is important. Clincher tires generally use fairly thick-walled butyl rubber tubes, where as not all tubulars do. Many tubulars use (or used to) use latex tubes and/or thinner walled butyl tubes. The tubulars' tubes leak air faster and they lose pressure faster. This results in (eventually) riding them under-inflated unless you are scrupulous about topping them off every ride and have a pressure gage to ensure consistent pressure. Failing that, even once, you are at greater risk of puncture due to low inflation.

These are my experiences, yours may be different.
I don't know of any reason tubulars are or are not more prone to flats. I have very few flats, and I think it's because our streets don't have much crap on them. I also watch the road as well as the traffic. I know that when I lived in Chicago I got good at repairing tubulars.

I want to echo your "yours may be different." We need to be careful not to assert our experiences are representative of everyone else's experiences. We all make this mis-generalization from time to time. I'm going to try harder not to do so.
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Old 12-09-10, 03:44 PM
  #96  
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
Let's all get something perfectly straight, the ONLY way there could be more or less flats attributed to tubulars is pinch flats and ONLY pinch flats. Based on rim design, tubulars are less likely to get pinch flats.

Flats due to road debry is mostly attributed to tire compound. You can buy BOTH tubulars and clinchers in compounds for flat resistence or other attributes that float your boat. But to say you get more flats on a particular tire because "you" got more flats on a particular tire is just plain silly.

And for the record, in the last 5 years I have had 1 flat on tubulars in 15-20K miles and 1 flat on clinchers in 5-8K miles of riding. Both due to the fact I rode them to thread bare and was too cheap to change them earlier.
I recant! Now that I found this, I agree with Dave. Tubulars don't have pinch flats. An entire mechanism of killing bike tubes is eliminated.
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Old 12-09-10, 04:20 PM
  #97  
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Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
I don't know of any reason tubulars are or are not more prone to flats. I have very few flats, and I think it's because our streets don't have much crap on them. I also watch the road as well as the traffic. I know that when I lived in Chicago I got good at repairing tubulars.
Is this the Ann Arbor that is located in MI and the bike lanes are more commonly referred to as debris fields?
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Old 12-09-10, 04:34 PM
  #98  
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In the 1970s I was a messenger in NYC on a Legnano track bike, obviously on tubulars. I was on that bike all day every day during a time when the city was paved in broken glass and flatted maybe once a week. spares were easy to carry and quick to change and I did at least as many runs as the rest of the messengers. I would repair the flats at night, when we had some substances to make the task more enjoyable. I can't recall what those were.
I toured on tubulars too and flatted more often in fewer miles on rural roads! go figure. Sewing by the fire was fun.
Now I only have clinchers and I'm terrified of flatting because I haven't! Not one. Once I get used to it I will feel qualified to comment on the difference. I think the ride is way different but I haven't ridden a tubular since 1989 so I could be wrong.
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Old 12-09-10, 07:26 PM
  #99  
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Originally Posted by Mike Mills View Post
Flats are a real issue for every cyclist I know. Urban roadways are littered with broken glass, nails and other metal debris, sharp gravel, etc, With cyclists required by law to ride to the right, they are forced into the debris and flat tires are the result.
How much of an issue is "a real issue"? I probably average one flat every other month... big deal. Fewer on my tubulars (zero this year) because I ride them only on the even better roads and only when it's dry. Lots of people hardly ever get a flat, they might like tubulars.

Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
I recant! Now that I found this, I agree with Dave. Tubulars don't have pinch flats. An entire mechanism of killing bike tubes is eliminated.
Incorrect, the probability of pinch flatting a sew up is less than with clinchers, the probability is definitely greater than zero. Even the term "snake bite" was first used about sew up patching.
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Old 12-09-10, 07:59 PM
  #100  
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well-- for one- generally, tubulars aren't much smaller than 25's in my experience, and even still, they're more often more like 28's. so more air volume. as well- you don't risk puncture on tubulars by running your tires lower -- that's just false logic- they don't pinch flat. well made tubulars, in my experience don't leak any more than clinchers, and also, there's no reason NOT to check your air pressure for every ride. ALL tires leak, and all road conditions aren't the same-- or at least they aren't here- so i ride my tire pressure constantly to adjust for road wetness or terrain.

i know plenty of people STATE that they flat easier, but after a million years-- i still haven't found that the case, and i honestly never flatted tubies OR clinchers, and both have similar life spans. i've ridden silk tubulars, and cheap crap training ones, and i've ridden tough touring clinchers, and more supple ones, belted and otherwise. no flats.

this 'more prone to flatting' biz is straight up myth. some PEOPLE flat more than others. the tires aren't the mitigating factor-- the rider is. and working in a shop- i can tell you that more people pinch flat due to OVERLY low tire pressure than EVER blow tubulars- race tires or otherwise.

EITHER format is durable and good riding nowadays, and properly done is not better or worse. they're just different. but the idea that tubulars are somehow inferior or more prone to flats just isn't true in my experience at all.
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