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Tubulars (sew-up) for Cyclocross?

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Tubulars (sew-up) for Cyclocross?

Old 08-01-23, 02:41 PM
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Tubulars (sew-up) for Cyclocross?

OK so after 40 views w/no replies I pretty much got the answer to what must have been (perhaps) an inane question I'd asked.

(Seems I can't delete this thread so I'll just delete my question. Y'all can return to your regular programming now....)

moderators note: since this has gotten plenty of attention, I'm reposting the original question
Hey I'm new here so please excuse what may be (perhaps) an inane question I have.

I've just finished refurbishing a 1972 Motobecane Grand Record road bike. Right now it's running 700c x 20mm MAVIC tubular rims & Vittoria Competition 27" tires. These are glued to the rims, there's no beads on 'em to grip clincher rims.

I'm curious if there are tires more suited to sharpish, loose gravel roads I often encounter for short stretches on the routes I ride around where I am now that would mount on tubular rims?

I certainly don't expect to be leaping logs or doing hill climbs with this bike so really aggressive, mud-slinging tread designs aren't what I'm looking for. Rather something that can be ridden on pavement but where it ends in gravel for a mile or two they'd stand up to the change in surface (ridden at reduced speed!) until pavement returns. Something in the 22mm - 26mm width, maybe a tad more but not much.

Last edited by unterhausen; 08-04-23 at 09:43 AM.
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Old 08-02-23, 10:06 AM
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I didn't see the original question - but yeah... people run tubulars for CX. Mostly just the pros now, but back in the day before tubeless it was common to see lots of amateurs riding tubulars for race day.

I had a set of tubular wheels for my old rim brake CX bike. I loved Challenge Baby Limus - so supple and soft, it was like adding 20mm of suspension to my bike. I'd run them at 20psi and float over everything - they were amazing. Tubular wheels are also lighter than clincher rims, so the whole thing felt super light and floaty.
On the downsides - the tires were very expensive, and running low PSI wore them out very quickly. Gluing is difficult/messy so I had to pay a shop to do this every year or two. I only had one set of wheels, so I had to pick a single "all around" tire to run for the whole CX season. The tires need to be glued on very well to avoid rolling, and as a result you can't remove them from the rim without tools, so there is no way to fix a roadside flat.

Once I upgraded to a disc bike, it came with tubeless wheels and I stopped riding tubulars. Tubeless gives me about 75% of the benefit of tubulars, with almost none of the downsides. The ride quality isn't quite as great, and I can't go much lower than 30psi without burping them - but I can ride them every day, fix roadside punctures easily, and switch tires as needed for dry/wet conditions, different sizes, etc. I have 3 different pairs of tubeless CX tires at the moment, and now that Challenge makes tubeless tires I'll probably pick up a pair of those to add to my collection.
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Old 08-02-23, 11:25 AM
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Thanks!

I guess 40 views weren't enough to expect at least one reply, I shoulda waited!

Msu2001la thanks, your's is welcomed. You sussed out the gist (likely from my topic title) of what I deleted anyway.

I'm looking for tougher-skinned tubies for my road bike. Where I am now the roads can be gravel for sections between pavement. What I'm running now are mid-pressure racing Vittorias, I don't want to risk riding 'em on roughage.

No shame in not wanting to 'roll your own' onto rims, I've done it almost forever. If you can provide links to sources where you found what you're using I'd be most appreciative!!

Meantime another Forumite has a pair of clinchers laced to hubs that'll fit my half-century old Motobecane Grand Record so I may have a Plan B as a fall-back if I decide to go w/clinchers instead.
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Old 08-02-23, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by spclark
I guess 40 views weren't enough to expect at least one reply, I shoulda waited!

Msu2001la thanks, your's is welcomed. You sussed out the gist (likely from my topic title) of what I deleted anyway.

I'm looking for tougher-skinned tubies for my road bike. Where I am now the roads can be gravel for sections between pavement. What I'm running now are mid-pressure racing Vittorias, I don't want to risk riding 'em on roughage.

No shame in not wanting to 'roll your own' onto rims, I've done it almost forever. If you can provide links to sources where you found what you're using I'd be most appreciative!!

Meantime another Forumite has a pair of clinchers laced to hubs that'll fit my half-century old Motobecane Grand Record so I may have a Plan B as a fall-back if I decide to go w/clinchers instead.
I found the Donnely "tubeless tubulars" to be very tough and durable. I am a fan of the MDX for mixed surface/gravel use, and the last set of tubs I had glued up was their PDX. The PDX is overkill for gravel/smoother surfaces, but worked well in pretty much all off road conditions. The Donnely tubulars are unique in that they are actually a tubeless casing that is sewn up, so there's no inner tube. The casing is air tight and punctures can be fixed with tubeless plug kits (theoretically). They also come with removable valve cores so you can add sealant to them - though I never did and never had a flat with them.
https://www.donnellycycling.com/coll...t=724118732818
You could also check out the LAS which has a file tread - this is likely very good for gravel riding:
https://www.donnellycycling.com/coll...0-x-33-tubular

The main downside to this design is that the tubeless casing is stiffer than something with a cotton casing, so the ride isn't quite as plush. It rides more like a regular tubeless tire, except that you can go very low on tire pressure and not worry about burping (or pinch flatting because there is no tube).
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Old 08-02-23, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by spclark
I guess 40 views weren't enough to expect at least one reply, I shoulda waited!
Keep in mind that you're asking for information on a fairly narrow topic, and sometimes people click on threads just to see what it's about, even if they don't have any knowledge that is applicable. In my case, I opened the thread to learn more, even though I don't ever expect to use CX tubular tires. msu's info seems pretty helpful.
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Old 08-02-23, 03:49 PM
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Thanks for the details in your follow-up msu2001la. I'll add my second to Eric F's comment on the helpfulness in your contributions here.

Donnelly appears to have done some significant work to bring more than one tubular tread design to this discipline. The PDX is sold out, but the LAS is an attractive option though at, as you indicate, a hefty price-point.

Biggest issue I see is the 33mm width in all their specs; my pair of MAVICS measure 20mm across the bedding surface, meaning the Donnellys would put over 6mm beyond the rim edge, sidewalls putting some hefty cornering leverage into rolling a tire off a too-narrow-for-it rim.

As I said I'm a newbie here though well-seasoned to other 'net forums I participate in. The depth of knowledge and experience each forum's members makes available regularly astonishes me, and often on a variety of topics not always pertinent to the main forum's focus as well; each has a different pulse if you will.

BTW here's a link to the USA webstore page for Challenge tires to add something to what MSU2011la made mention of in his initial reply above.

I'll become more accustomed to the one here in time, maybe not so quick with the <delete> button next time.

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Old 08-03-23, 06:00 AM
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Originally Posted by spclark
Biggest issue I see is the 33mm width in all their specs; my pair of MAVICS measure 20mm across the bedding surface, meaning the Donnellys would put over 6mm beyond the rim edge, sidewalls putting some hefty cornering leverage into rolling a tire off a too-narrow-for-it rim.
If you want narrower CX tubulars, they exist. You'll have to look at fancy handmade brands to find this and these are fairly rare, so they're priced accordingly.

Check out A. Dugast, they sell tubulars in 30mm size.
Also FMB has a few options in the 27-30mm size that might work.
Challenge sells a few of their road tubulars in 27mm and 30mm size (the Strada Bianca might work for you). They also offer their mud tread tubulars in 30mm.
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Old 08-03-23, 09:12 AM
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There is nothing wrong with running a 33mm tubular on a 20mm wide rim. You are over thinking this.
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Old 08-03-23, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by trailangel
There is nothing wrong with running a 33mm tubular on a 20mm wide rim. You are over thinking this.
I'm guessing that's been pretty common for a lot of years.
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Old 08-03-23, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by trailangel
There is nothing wrong with running a 33mm tubular on a 20mm wide rim. You are over thinking this.
Good to know, widens my choices.

Thanks to you both.
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Old 08-03-23, 03:23 PM
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As a person that can’t see your question I used to race CX on tubies.
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Old 08-03-23, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Germany_chris
As a person that canít see your question I used to race CX on tubies.
Not your fault!!

I posted a question about availability of tubular tires used by CX practitioners looking to learn what might be available to me here in the USA for more casual riding on sometimes gravel roads.

After 24 hours and 40+ views there were no replies so I assumed answers weren't going to come forth.

I was wrong, should have left it up for more views, maybe earn some replies with good info which, as it turns out, have begun to appear in posts before yours, maybe even more as this thread gains traction.

Thanks for your reply Chris; the more replies get posted here the more I'm inspired to keep looking.
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Old 08-03-23, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la
Challenge sells a few of their road tubulars in 27mm and 30mm size (the Strada Bianca might work for you).
Ordered up a pair of Strada Pro 700x27's just now, discounted a bit making them an attractive choice.

Strada Bianca looks to be a clincher-only product from what I'm reading on their US webstore page.

Dugast & FMB are priced beyond my pocket's depth (at least for what remains of this year's biking season, where I am), appear to be more the knobby / gravel - mud style, maybe not much fun on 75% paved roads.
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Old 08-03-23, 06:21 PM
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My question is what kind of clearance your road bike has, since cyclocross tires are wider than road tires. I also raced, and still race cyclocross on tubulars. Itís really not necessary in the tubeless era, but thereís still nothing that beats the ride feel and grip of a tubular tire for cyclocross. The Victoria Terreno Dry is a nice tire that does well on mild gravel while still having a low profile tread that rolls nicely on pavement, if thatís a useful characteristic for you. If you have room for even wider tires than 33 mm, Challenge offers a tubeless tubular version of their Getaway gravel tire in 36 and 40 mm, which must ride really nicely.

Originally Posted by spclark
Biggest issue I see is the 33mm width in all their specs; my pair of MAVICS measure 20mm across the bedding surface, meaning the Donnellys would put over 6mm beyond the rim edge, sidewalls putting some hefty cornering leverage into rolling a tire off a too-narrow-for-it rim.
Yeah, this is fine. A cyclocross tire at 20 psi with the cornering forces of a cyclocross race will stay on the rim, and you wonít be running pressure that low or cornering that hard on gravel. Yes, rolled tires do happen of course, but usually due to inadequate technique. And thatís under very stringent conditions - with more pressure and less grip, it gets a lot less likely to roll a tire. Width isnít much of a factor, here. But you do need to do a good job gluing that tire down! There are some tips and tricks to follow here but the biggest is simply using enough glue. You need to lay it on really thick, basically.
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Old 08-04-23, 05:24 AM
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Thanks for that grolby, you've added more new info to my understanding of how things are to be set up a bit differently compared to 100% road use. (Meantime I've figured out how to delete a thread I'd authored as well as come to feel I'm glad I didn't know how a few days ago! This thread's getting exactly the kind of replies I was hoping for when I opened it. Thanks all!)
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Old 08-04-23, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by spclark
I guess 40 views weren't enough to expect at least one reply, I shoulda waited!

Msu2001la thanks, your's is welcomed. You sussed out the gist (likely from my topic title) of what I deleted anyway.

I'm looking for tougher-skinned tubies for my road bike. Where I am now the roads can be gravel for sections between pavement. What I'm running now are mid-pressure racing Vittorias, I don't want to risk riding 'em on roughage.

No shame in not wanting to 'roll your own' onto rims, I've done it almost forever. If you can provide links to sources where you found what you're using I'd be most appreciative!!

Meantime another Forumite has a pair of clinchers laced to hubs that'll fit my half-century old Motobecane Grand Record so I may have a Plan B as a fall-back if I decide to go w/clinchers instead.
I use my '72 Peugeot PX-10 for light gravel and run 30-33mm cyclocross tubulars on it. Works great. I'm a cheapskate, so I look for closeouts, or buy NOS tires on the big auction site. There's a good thread on the C+V Forum for finding tubulars. Totally Tubular
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