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Clinchers or Tubulars?(27 posts)

Clinchers or Tubulars?Sean OConnor
Apr 15, 2003 4:45 PM
I'm getting new wheels, and I wonder if I should consider tubulars? I might use them on a 'cross bike, as well.
Clinchers!the bull
Apr 15, 2003 7:12 PM
Tubulars are probally only good for race only wheels.
Clinchers are far more practical for every day use.
Clinchers or tubularswielerpret
Apr 16, 2003 2:33 AM
Mr. the bull is right. Tubulars are nowadays only used by (not even all) professionals and moneyed snobs. They cannot be repaired and are expensive. The best clinchers nowadays (Michelin, Continental, Schwalbe, Vredestein, Hutchinson etc.) are perfectly allright for all purposes.
Good luck. Luke. Amsterdam.
"can't be repaired" my @$$!!Alexx
Apr 16, 2003 5:40 AM
Hey, bucko-I just repaired 2 yesterday! What have you been smoking??

Seriously, these are obviously the comments of somebody that has never owned tubulars. If you want a good ride, and are willing to deal with the shortcomings, go ahead. But, if you want them for your primary bike, or don't want to be bothered, buy clinchers.

Buy a sewing kit! Easy. nmSpunout
Apr 16, 2003 6:03 AM
no wonder I never won a tdf!!the bull
Apr 16, 2003 8:36 AM
I am going to order some tubulars right now!!!!
Maybe I should hire a guy to follow me around in a car on the group ride with a wheel too huh?
re: TdF: they all had a team car right behind ... nmDougSloan
Apr 16, 2003 8:50 AM
They had a team car in 1898?? (nm)Alexx
Apr 16, 2003 9:47 AM
they had no choice in 1898 nmDougSloan
Apr 16, 2003 9:50 AM
those guys were so tuff they could ...the bull
Apr 16, 2003 5:08 PM
Ride without tires on bare rims while smoking cigerettes!!!
"can't be repaired" my @$$!!wielerpret
Apr 17, 2003 4:17 AM
OK mate, I get your point. I wasn't clear enough. My experience with tubulars dates from more than 20 years ago. Repairing a tubular is an aquired skill and not well possible by the side of the road.
Pro riders get new ones for each ride. Still, for the latest Paris - Roubaix some riders had some very special square fiber silk etc... etc... tubulars. Flats were rife; Museeuw alone had 4.
In 1898 one apparantly had to dig a little hole in the ground for a candle, and melt, sew and stick... If you were a skilled repairman, you won races.
How many km's did you manage until your 2 flats occurred?
Cheers, Luke
re: Clinchers or Tubulars?MR_GRUMPY
Apr 16, 2003 10:09 AM
Clinchers are the best for JRA and for training, but when you want something really light or something that you can really lean into a turn with, go with sewups.
Pro teams that ride clinchers, ride them because that's what their sponsors tell them to ride.
If you don't race, don't bother with them.
Not familiar with tubularsRJF
Apr 16, 2003 10:52 AM
What happens if you are off on your Sunday ride and you take a huge piece of glass in your tubular tire? Can you patch it on the roadside? Do you need to rip the tire off and glue on another? I guess as a practical matter you wouldn't use them for training anyway, but I was just wondering.
That's correct...BenR
Apr 18, 2003 2:25 PM
Unless you want to carry a sewing kit too, and know where the hole is, and have lots of time on your hands, you could repair it on the road. However, it's a lot easier to rip it off, glue on your spare, and carefully ride home while taking corners very slowly. If it's a huge piece of glass, your tire might be toast as well and any tubular worth riding costs much more than the best racing clinchers.

Clinchers are definitely more convenient but tubulars are really nice to race on (especially weight savings with carbon rims), or even for doing super long rides where comfort is important. On the other hand, you then have to haul around 350 grams of tire and glue in addition to all the food for the ride. Bottom line, clincher technology has improved so much that tubulars aren't worth the fuss unless you have a set of expensive race only wheels.
I was watching the TDF last yearAmbishawn
Apr 16, 2003 12:41 PM
And there was a tech tip after the stage where OLN talked with the bicycle mechanics and they said that the gule dries for 4 days before they have a team member ride them. I realize that they ride better in every way but there too much trouble for eveyday use.
Not much reason for tubulars these daysKerry
Apr 16, 2003 3:58 PM
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, since a lighter rim allows a heavier tire.

Fast forward to 2003 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, 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 (70 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. If you're that close to winning those crits and looking for just a little bit more to push you over the top, tubulars offer an advantage. Even then, it may be more productive to work on your sprint, but that's another story.

Some still swear by tubulars. Most have switched to clinchers or never used tubulars in the first place. 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. Tubulars still may have a slight performance advantage at the top end, but plenty of pro races are being won on clinchers (25-30% 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.

Despite all the glowing testimonials on sewups, I never really noticed much of a difference when switching to clinchers (Michelin's top tire at the time) after nearly 30 years on sewups. IMO, people are more likely feeling the wheels rather than the tires when they compare them. My comparison was Vittoria tubulars mounted on Fiamme Ergal (280 gm) front rims and Fiamme Iride (350 gm) rear rims built with Campy C-Record hubs going to Campy Electron wheels with the Michelins. I really didn't feel much difference - certainly no revelations and nothing I would attribute to the tires alone.
How many times are you going to post the same post?Alexx
Apr 17, 2003 4:08 AM
Geez-every 2 months, you cut-and-paste the same lame diatribe! Your other post above shows quite distinctly that you are waaaay behind the times in your knowlege of current tubular technology, so why don't you just give it a rest, OK?
what do you expect?DougSloan
Apr 17, 2003 7:59 AM
If people keep asking, what should we do, start making up new information?

Hey kerrys got good info!the bull
Apr 17, 2003 9:28 AM
I think his posts are well writen no need to knock him!
How many times are you going to post the same post?Trent in WA
Apr 17, 2003 10:58 PM
Honestly, if you're going to flame somebody for contributing a substantive and well-written post, the least you can do is back up your points. What is the state of the art in current tubular technology, and why does it negate his arguments?

good recap; I think it boils down to using all carbon rimsDougSloan
Apr 17, 2003 7:54 AM
To me, no reason to use tubulars except to take advantage of very light and more aero all carbon rims, and then only in a crit or with support.

Agree!Hey.....the bull
Apr 17, 2003 9:33 AM
besides if someone has to ask which is better for them to use they are obviously are in need of clinchers!If I was new to the sport and someone told me I should go with tubulars cause they ride better and nobody ever wins tdf on clinchers!Ha! You know what I am sayin!
Apr 17, 2003 9:17 AM
Tubbies are mostly used for racing these days. If you ride with tubbies you pack an extra tire as a spare and swap it out with the one you are riding with in case of a flat. Then you repair the punctured tubbie at a later time when you get home. With a clincher you can pack a spare tube (or two), and a tire patch kit and not worry about having more than one flat. I rode with tubbies years ago, but I would not consider going back to them. The new clincher tires are right up there with the tubbies. I'd ride with tubbies if all I had to do was raise my arm in the air and get a wheel swap when I punctured...
re: Clinchers or Tubulars?russw19
Apr 17, 2003 1:01 PM
In today's world of racing and tires....
I would race a tubular, but not train on it. I would build a set a race wheels that were ultra light tubulars (even though I am big enough to not ride ultra light wheels anymore) and I would use them only in a race that had a wheel truck or neutral support. And even then, the wheels I put in the wheel truck would be an extra set of clinchers. If you put wheels in the wheel truck you need 2 sets of tubulars if you want to change to another tubular wheel. That's not something I would personally do. But if I flatted, I would just put on a wheel that was a clincher to finish the race. If the race had neutral support (which I don't see too much of these days) I would also ride tubulars. But I wouldn't train on them as changing one on the side of the road isn't any faster than changing a tube if you have done it enough. I work in a bike shop and can change a tube in about 3 minutes now as I have changed about 1,000 tubes in my lifetime.

However for everyday riding, I wouldn't ride a tubular anymore. The tire technology has advanced so far today that a good clincher (Michelin Axial Pro Race, Conti GP 3000 & Supersonic) are just as nice and nearly as light as all but the best tubulars. If we are talking $50 a tire, the difference is minimal, but you can change a tube really easy in a clincher. Now if we are talking a hand-built $200 tubular, that's another ball game played in another park.

But for the sake of arguement, I would say (and flame me for it if you need to) that anyone who is asking about the differences and advantages of a tubular over a clincher really doesn't have the necessary experience to really be riding one. If you have never riden a tubular, will you know ahead of time that you really should pre-strecth them at full pressure on an old wheel before you try to mount them? Will you know how to find the whole in the tube, open the casing, patch the tube, then resew the casing without puncturing the tube again? Will you know how to glue a rim and tire prior to using it in a crit with lots of corners and know what it feels like right before you roll it off the rim? Most people won't. And that is why I would advocate clinchers. Clinchers are simple, almost idiot proof. While tubulars aren't brain surgery, they do require more thought and effort to use.

I hate to say what I am about to, because I don't want to sound elitist, but if you have to ask, you probably should stick with clinchers. The gap is now close enough that the extra headache of tubulars is not worth it to all but riders at the highest level of competition where a tire may make or break your chances of victory in a particular race. If you are a pro in Europe where you are followed by a team car and a neutral support motorcycle carrying 25 sets of wheels for you when you flat, cool, go tubulars and be happy. But if you are like those of us stuck in the real world, clinchers make more sense for everyday riding and non-supported racing.

Just my opinion,
Ever have 2 flats on the same day?Straightblock
Apr 18, 2003 12:29 PM
If you're training or racing in unsupported road events on tubulars, especially if you might be off the back, you'd better be carrying a phone. With clinchers, a stranger will give you a patch or even a new tube, but nobody on the road will have a spare tubular you can borrow. A tubular can be used for an emergency spare on a clincher rim, but nothing works on a tubular rim except a tubular tire.
yes, and on tubularsDougSloan
Apr 18, 2003 5:14 PM
Long time ago I rode only sewups and carried only one spare -- and a patch kit, the needle and thread kind. Spent many a long time on the side of the road stitching up sewups. Not fun.

re: Clinchers or Tubulars?mackgoo
Apr 21, 2003 9:21 AM
I use tubs on my road bike and cross bike. I never had any problems. I carry one spare tire if I flat, which I haven't I'll just roll the tire on and go home. Pumped up it take an awfull lot of force to roll a tire off, even with out any glue. If both flat oh well, I'll walk home.