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Why do YOU love tubulars tires and can they work in an urban environment?

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Why do YOU love tubulars tires and can they work in an urban environment?

Old 05-22-24, 08:35 AM
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Why do YOU love tubulars tires and can they work in an urban environment?

Just like to have some opinions and experiences riding with these tires, because I am considering a small racing bike and we like to use it in the city( I am very light weight also). I have tried them out for the very first time, on a bicycle I was considering and liked there feel very much. I felt more connected to the road and they were soft and pliable had a nice ride.
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Old 05-22-24, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Alexthe
Just like to have some opinions and experiences riding with these tires, because I am considering a small racing bike and we like to use it in the city( I am very light weight also). I have tried them out for the very first time, on a bicycle I was considering and liked there feel very much. I felt more connected to the road and they were soft and pliable had a nice ride.
by “urban environment”, I’m reading “lower speeds, fewer hills, more road debris”. In my experience, tubs are a giant faff initially, reducing to a regular faff as you get better at installing them. They’re safer if you flat because they stay attached to the rim - good for high speeds and fast descents. However, if they do flat, they’re a pain to replace roadside and a bigger pain to repair at home. Only you can decide if the somewhat nebulous road feel and legit security is worth the trouble. It wouldn’t be for me
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Old 05-22-24, 09:16 AM
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I love tubulars also but again, not for your use.
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Old 05-22-24, 09:41 AM
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IMO, impractical and little to gain these days for anything but racing. BITD they were lots nicer to ride than the clinchers then available. Tires have improved.
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Old 05-22-24, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv
IMO, impractical and little to gain these days for anything but racing. BITD they were lots nicer to ride than the clinchers then available. Tires have improved.
+1. Clincher tech has advanced vastly since I routinely ran sew-ups and I do not feel the tradeoffs favor them now. Oh those nights spent patching flats.

Then there was the time I went on a training ride with two spares, went through them all and found myself on a payphone looking for an area bike shop that was open and stocked them.

Rode a long way home in the dark that day.
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Old 05-22-24, 10:09 AM
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I have pretty much been riding tubulars exclusively the past 4 or 5 years anywhere I ever rode clinchers - busted up San Diego pavement, gravel, dirt, touring, commuting, over glass, whatever (except I don't race). Plucked out a goat head just the other day - no puncture. After a learning curve, I've found them to be far preferable to clinchers. For whatever it is worth, I average about 5000 miles per year on them, 90% of that "urban." For me, the only downside is whether or not they will remain available.

I love them for the road feel, they ride like a 5mm wider clincher, lower psi, lighter rims, on the road flats are easy/fast tire changes. I'd much rather flat on a commute with a tubular than a clincher - don't have to figure out what caused the flat, just change the tire and go. I'd guess that 75% of my punctures are successfully addressed with sealant (at home).

Last edited by L134; 05-22-24 at 10:20 AM. Reason: missed part of the question
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Old 05-22-24, 10:19 AM
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It can be done. I rode tubulars only for 25 years on all my bikes. Used Tubasti glue which doesn't harden completely and makes for quick tire changes with plenty of stick for a secure ride after changing a tire. Times have changed. My old source of decent,not very expensive cotton training/club race level tires is long gone. (Palo Alto Bikes.) But now we have removable valves and sealant which are game changers.

I am now back on tubulars for all my good bikes. Tire costs are at a new high for me but flats are way down. I've been riding high end tires and seldom riding into Portland on those bikes. I do not know what are now the best tires for city use and a working man's budget. (I justified my use back in the day as offset by not owning a car. That was pretty easy! No car payments, no insurance, no gas, no car repairs. That's a lot of expensive bike rubber!)

A huge plus of tubulars - when you do flat, the change can be very fast, even in the dark, when tired, perhaps after alcohol, in the wet and snow ... Bad neighborhood? You are gone in 10 minutes. For sure. Even if you put the tire on completely crooked.
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Old 05-22-24, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by L134
I have pretty much been riding tubulars exclusively the past 4 or 5 years anywhere I ever rode clinchers - busted up San Diego pavement, gravel, dirt, touring, commuting, over glass, whatever (except I don't race). Plucked out a goat head just the other day - no puncture. After a learning curve, I've found them to be far preferable to clinchers. For whatever it is worth, I average about 5000 miles per year on them, 90% of that "urban." For me, the only downside is whether or not they will remain available.
+1 I'd "Like" this but I don't see the button. Edit: I guess the Like button is a little slow to post. It's there now.
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Old 05-22-24, 10:30 AM
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I ran sew-ups, as we used to call them, back through the 1970's. I loved the ride quality but the expense and maintenance aspect was less than desirable.

I switched my fixed gear and single speed bikes to Challenge "Open Tubular" (Strada Bianca's) tires a few years ago and LOVE them! Almost an identical ride when paired with real latex tubes but the convenience of clinchers. I run one bike with butyl tubes and the ride isn't quit as "saturated", read connected, as latex tubes but it's still a great ride quality with less pressure loss.
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Old 05-22-24, 11:00 AM
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There is a huge amount of confusion regarding tubulars. First off, we're talking tubulars, not tubeless clinchers.

If I had no constraints regarding cost and time, I'd ride tubulars 100% of the time. The key misconception about tubulars is that the tire is the advantage in that system; the rim actually provides the advantage in the tubular system.

Look at a cross-section of a clincher rim vs. a tubular rim.. Note the 2 hooks or downwards protrusion in the clincher rim required for holding the clincher tire on... Those 2 hooks are heavy (at the worst place on a bike), they are fragile (impacts), the sharp edges cause pinch flats, and the hooks are difficult and expensive to manufacture. Plus the clincher rim is susceptible to inflation pressures (blows the hooks apart), and the clincher rim contains dead air between the hooks. That is, about 20% of the total air volume in a clincher tire (between the hooks) does nothing in terms of protecting the rim from impacts.

The tubular rim profile is far superior, as it dispenses with all of the above problems at the expense of a few grams of glue. Look at the tubular rim in cross section: it is inherently lighter, stronger, does not cause pinch flats and is is a hell of a lot safer in a sudden blowout, as the tire stays put tight on the rim, as opposed to a flat clincher squirming around and eventually the tire or tube gets jammed in the brakes or the stays.

Why are tubular tires perceived to be fragile and prone to flats? Because tubular tires, especially now, are overwhelmingly super light race tires. Tubulars do not suffer pinch flats, so they are actually less prone to flats than equivalently constructed clinchers.

So-called: "ride quality': I've ridden on dozens of different clincher and tubular tires over several decades, and I cannot tell the difference between similar level tires. Tire construction, volume and inflation pressure makes all the difference. Rolling resistance? Trivial differences between high-level tires. If you are comparing clinchers with latex tubes over tubulars with butyl tubes, then the clinchers will win (slightly).

Last edited by Dave Mayer; 05-22-24 at 11:17 AM.
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Old 05-22-24, 11:21 AM
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Really good points, Dave. I would add that one of the driving factors that moved me away from tubulars/sew-ups is the glue factor. Glue doesn't last forever and it does need to be removed and re-applied. That is a not a fun thing to do. That and having to remove the tire from the rim, find a leak, cut through the stitching to get to the leak and patch it, re-stich and remount, hoping the glue is still tacky enough to hold the tire.......that whole thing was more than I wanted to do any more.

Like I said above, the Challenge Open Tubular tires seem to replicate the ride of tubulars but you are correct, they do nothing to reduce pinch flats, like tubulars can do, or provide more safety in the event of a massive blowout. I weighed all of that and decided to stay with the "open tubular" designed tires.
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Old 05-22-24, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by drlogik
Really good points, Dave. I would add that one of the driving factors that moved me away from tubulars/sew-ups is the glue factor. Glue doesn't last forever and it does need to be removed and re-applied. That is a not a fun thing to do. That and having to remove the tire from the rim, find a leak, cut through the stitching to get to the leak and patch it, re-stich and remount, hoping the glue is still tacky enough to hold the tire.......that whole thing was more than I wanted to do any more.

Like I said above, the Challenge Open Tubular tires seem to replicate the ride of tubulars but you are correct, they do nothing to reduce pinch flats, like tubulars can do, or provide more safety in the event of a massive blowout. I weighed all of that and decided to stay with the "open tubular" designed tires.
I've switched over to the new tape (Jantex) on most of my wheels. Stick seems excellent and mounting is a joy. Really, really easy to lay the tire down as straight as (and sometimes better than) it was made. So far, I have not had a flat on either my glued or taped tires since I started using tape. I have no idea how a tape on the rim surface can arrange that but I see no reason to look gift horses in the mouth. Since I haven't flatted yet, I do not know how difficult changing the tire will be so I'm carrying everything; two spares, steel tire iron, sealant and valve wrench, glue, tape ... Eventually I'll narrow down to one system and just enough to be redundant enough to spare myself of "epic" rides which are less fun as a 70 yo. (The switch back to tubulars was because I never want to roll a tire off after a blowout at speed again. I now have peace of mind going down fast hills again.)
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Old 05-22-24, 04:48 PM
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I don't see a benefit to tubular tires unless I am racing and have a team mechanic otherwise way more benefits to using a clincher or tubeless set up and even still as a racer most of them are starting to go tubeless.
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Old 05-22-24, 04:55 PM
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OP- What bike are you considering that has tubulars? Something vintage, I'll bet.
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Old 05-22-24, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv
OP- What bike are you considering that has tubulars? Something vintage, I'll bet.
Here is some context:
Vintage Gios Torino Super Record

OP, I think you just should buy this bike and see whether it suits your needs. You seem to be trying hard to convince yourself that it’s the one, and maybe it is!
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Old 05-22-24, 06:18 PM
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^^^Thanks for the heads up. Too much yap yap, over and out.
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Old 05-22-24, 08:46 PM
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Hard finding rims these days. I guess Velocity Major Tom is still being made. Aside from limited availability, see no reason to avoid tubular with tape and sealant.

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Old 05-23-24, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by scott967
Hard finding rims these days. I guess Velocity Major Tom is still being made. Aside from limited availability, see no reason to avoid tubular with tape and sealant.

scott s.
.
Unfortunately the Specialized Ground Control tires are MTB tires and not tubeless because Velocity and Spesh could have a winning combo and a funny ad: In search of new wheels and tires: Major Tom to Ground Controls a match made on Mars. They could add a spiderweb side wall go all in for an excellent long running Bowie joke.
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Old 05-23-24, 12:12 PM
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I've been riding tubulars in London (UK) for almost 3 years, I love them.
I got back into cycling 3 years back and the (vintage) bike I bought had tubulars, which I'd never heard of.
My backup clincher wheelset now lives on top of a cupboard.

I've had 3 flats in 3.5k miles, and they were all my own fault:
1) didn't know about sealant, then I got some - Orange Seal.
2+3) apparently you're supposed to top up the sealant. My initial 1oz per tyre lasted the first year then 2 flats in a week until I topped up.
.
I never carry spare tyres or sealant, I can get on the tube or put the bike in the back of a black cab if I'm really stuck.

My bikes are vintage so I'm using old rims (which are also quite cheap):
Mavic Monthlery Pro / Route
28mm Vittoria Rubino Graphene 2 (butyl tubes, removable cores)
Using tape: Jantex lately and it's damn fine, I can mount a tyre in 20 mins. I've also remounted one tyre and it wasn't a problem - leave a 3 inch gap in the tape opposite the valve.
.
I did a thread on polished silver tubular rims recently, they're mostly vintage but possibly worth a look: Tubular Rims (polished silver)
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Old 06-05-24, 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv
OP- What bike are you considering that has tubulars? Something vintage, I'll bet.

You are surely right. and I'm delighted to have purchased her, a baby Gios of 48cm
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Old 06-06-24, 12:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Aardwolf
I've been riding tubulars in London (UK) for almost 3 years, I love them.
I got back into cycling 3 years back and the (vintage) bike I bought had tubulars, which I'd never heard of.
My backup clincher wheelset now lives on top of a cupboard.

I've had 3 flats in 3.5k miles, and they were all my own fault:
1) didn't know about sealant, then I got some - Orange Seal.
2+3) apparently you're supposed to top up the sealant. My initial 1oz per tyre lasted the first year then 2 flats in a week until I topped up.
.
I never carry spare tyres or sealant, I can get on the tube or put the bike in the back of a black cab if I'm really stuck.

My bikes are vintage so I'm using old rims (which are also quite cheap):
Mavic Monthlery Pro / Route
28mm Vittoria Rubino Graphene 2 (butyl tubes, removable cores)
Using tape: Jantex lately and it's damn fine, I can mount a tyre in 20 mins. I've also remounted one tyre and it wasn't a problem - leave a 3 inch gap in the tape opposite the valve.
.
I did a thread on polished silver tubular rims recently, they're mostly vintage but possibly worth a look: Tubular Rims (polished silver)
I am in New York City which may be a little worse than London these days I am not sure London looks better to me having been there quite a few times. I am sure I'm going to love tubulars also . I've never had a bike before that used these tires didn't know anything about them I just purchased the bike a couple of days ago.



it needs a tuneup, and here are the tires. Not a pretty sight wouldn't you say . I am surprised I was able to inflate them lying around for 15 years. I wish I could do something about that lump but I figure it isn't fixable,........or is it?

the wheels are Mavic GEL 280 . there beautiful wheels , that's about all I know. I'm not a newbie to riding bicycles at all .it's just that I've only ridden one bike for most of my life here in the city, ( 78' Motobecane Grand jubilee 53 cm ) and I wanted to try something smaller and better for me. and I think I found it. But time will tell. Where to begin? First obviously I'll have to get the right tires to replace these, and then work with them. Tubulars are quite expensive , but I never ride too far and there's always a subway around if I get in trouble. But I would like to learn how to fix a flat or a puncture in a tubular , to get the most mileage out of my purchase.

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Old 06-06-24, 01:23 AM
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Looks like a previous fix gone bad, to me, and an unlikely successful repair. You could take it off and have a look. Or just get new ones.

Tubular Road Tires Cycling Products - BikeTiresDirect

Tires | Wheels and tyres | Bikeinn (tradeinn.com)

I've ordered from both these vendors without any problems. Shipping will be about $24 from bikeinn in the UK, but they have some nice prices, and a huge selection. I've used Vittoria Rallys and Corsa Controls, and Continental Giros. Make sure you get ones with removable valve cores so that you can use sealant. I also use Jantax tape instead of glue. No muss, no fuss. I find sew-ups easier to deal with than many modern clinchers. And they are just so cool - always were.

You have the good taste to avoid all-black ones, right?
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Old 06-06-24, 02:39 AM
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Best guess about the lumpy tire: the tire was installed with insufficient glue or the tire was glued and then the bike was ridden immediately (before the glue had hardened) or both. The tell-take sign is that the lump is next to a crooked valve. That's what happens when the tire can slide on the rim when pedaling or braking force is applied.

Had that happen once, back in the '80's, when I flatted while riding a bike with cyclocross tubulars on a muddy trail. The spare tire had glue on it, but the mud not only rendered the glue useless but also acted as a lubricant, so the tire was free to move circumferentially on the rim, with the movement constrained only by the valve stem.

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Old 06-06-24, 10:24 AM
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The good thing about NYC is that you are never far from a subway station. If you get a flat, just wheel the bike onto the train and take the train home.
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Old 06-06-24, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by scott967
Hard finding rims these days. I guess Velocity Major Tom is still being made. Aside from limited availability, see no reason to avoid tubular with tape and sealant.

scott s.
.
you can stll get the classic Ambrosio Nemesis aka the king of the north

I have a set that i have to tape some tires on....
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