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Tubulars...(6 posts)

Oct 22, 2001 7:33 AM
what the big deal with tubulars ...
I want to get a new wheelset for TT-crit and hills :
Should it be tubs¿?
are they it a big deal to install them¿?

...What are your advices for wheelsets...(I have Vector Comp)
YMMVKerry Irons
Oct 22, 2001 5:08 PM
As a tubular user for nearly 30 years (even toured on them and had them on tandems) who switched to clinchers at the beginning of 1998, my comments follow (many of you have seen this before).

When I started riding "good" bikes, there was no comparison. You could easily do a tubular tire/rim combination for 600 gm, and a clincher rim alone was 600 gm (nobody ever talked about clincher tire weight back then because nobody considered them a high quality option at all). Even when the first light weight clinchers came out in the early '80s, you were still about 200 gm per wheel ahead to go with sew-ups. I converted many a clincher rider over to the nirvana of tubulars: fast tire changes, better ride, lighter weight, stronger wheels. Each winter I would patch tires - three per hour while watching TV. I always kept a year ahead on my tires, too. 20 years ago, tubulars were significantly lighter, tubular rims were significantly lighter, tubulars were widely available across the price range, and almost all tubulars rode significantly better than the best clinchers. The hassles of gluing them on and repairing them were about the same as they are now. For the same total weight of tire/tube/rim/rim strip, tubulars were probably also more durable.

Fast forward to 2001 and the weight difference has gone from 200+ gm per wheel to about 50 unless you go to something really exotic, the ride differences are much less (some would argue that only a top of the line tubular rides better than a top of the line clincher), tubulars are less durable, and realistically (US mail order catalogs or pro shops) the selection of tubulars is small. Also, you have to carry a spare TIRE (250 gm) compared to a spare TUBE (90 gm), so the weigh savings is canceled, though the weight is in different places. The savings in rotating weight are only possible if you use the very lightest tubular rims, and that weight savings only has meaning if you are racing crits where you are braking and accelerating at every corner. And, if you're "that close" to winning those crits and looking for just a little bit more to push you over the top. Even then, it may be more productive to work on your sprint, but that's another story.

Some still swear by tubulars. Many have switched to clinchers. You won't go "wrong" with either, but IMHO you will not get much of a performance improvement with sew ups at significant hassle (if you repair your own) or cost increases. In 1997 (my last on sew ups), I had probably 10 flats in 7K miles, and completely wore through at least 7 tires. In 1998, my first on clinchers, I had 5 flats and wore out two tires (8K miles). The time spent at the side of the road with flats was about the same - half as many flats with clinchers and they take twice as long to change. In 1999, I had 4 flats, and last year 3 flats in about 9K miles (I learned not to ride in "glassy" areas when the road was wet). Tubulars still have a slight performance advantage at the top end, but plenty of pro races are being won on clinchers (25% of TdF riders were on clinchers), so they must be good enough. Call me insensitive, but I can't tell the difference in ride, and I have NEVER given my decision to switch to clinchers a second thought.
i hear ya....dupe
Oct 22, 2001 8:18 PM
you are 100% right in stating that tubular rims were much lighter. i have a new wheel set and and old wheelset. older rims are lighter but i dont perceive any less strength. or am i mistaken in the fact that my new reflex rims are much stronger than i give their added heft credit for?

as both wheelsets are the best ive ever had i dont want to part with them - yet. have given up on conti sprinter's (my choice for years) as i dont feel like they make them like they used to. with limited options available to me i trumped up for tufo's with sealant. nothing but positive so far with 1100 k miles.

deep down i know that ill have to switch over one day as being a recreational rider, although very enthusiastic and discerning, i know the gap in performance for me is now negligable. from what i see in sales of used tubular wheelsets the prices reflect that many others have had their last tubular stand.

i have never been a big flatter. my mates always say i have flat karma but i know how much time i spend ensuring right pressure, cleaning and inspecting after every ride. luckily, as ive been hopeless at stitching and repairing them usually opting to send them to and old roadie for a few extra bucks.

i laugh when i see people upset about blowing a $4 tube. if they only knew. but to a top tier rider (maybe 5% of us) tubies are still where its at. i dont think its a dead tech wise but its obvious where the focus of product development lies. i am still surprised that most tubes for clincher wheels are 70 grams . rim weights have been slashed. tire weights have plummeted. but what great innovation has come for tubes?

seen more dawns than farmers

ciao, ben
re: Tubulars...flying
Oct 22, 2001 10:39 PM

This is a good read.
I have ridden Tubulars ( Vittorias Corsa's )
12+ years. Im sure I always will.
It is no big deal at all to install. I know many say clinchers have come a long way. But when my riding
partners get flats I always feels the sidewalls of the clinchers they take off to repair ( Axial Pro's ) & think no way. I will stick to my supple tires.

Those who enjoy clinchers no problem.
Me... I'm sticking with my tubs ;-)

Good Luck in what ever you decide.
The only tubulars worth consideringRusty McNasty
Oct 23, 2001 3:50 AM
....are Tufos and Vitt Corsas. All the other road tubulars are either way overpriced for the quality you get (sprinters, hutchisons), or are just pain cr@p (conti giros, all other vittorias, etc.)
Vitt Corsa uses a latex tube, which leaks air like a sieve, but is at least light and supple. Tufos vary from being very light, to being very durable and heavy (depending on the model), and have special tires for just about every need. They are always of superior roundness and quality, and the prices on them are extremely good.
Don't waste your money on tubulars if you are going to buy garbage. Get good tires, and you won't go back to clinchers.
Veloflex, too (if you have $$) nmRusty McNasty
Oct 23, 2001 11:43 AM