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Tubular Advantages???(8 posts)

Tubular Advantages???fab4
Jan 23, 2004 9:15 PM
I'm think'n 'bout buying a tubular wheelset for fast training and racing. What's the advantage and disadvantage in going tubulars?
re: Tubular Advantages???Dave_Stohler
Jan 23, 2004 9:43 PM
Advantage: Weight, ride, puncture resistance, speed changing puncture on road, wide range of pressure available, controllability when flat, rolling resistance (only when pumped up to highest pressures)

Disadvantages: Time for preparation, cost, repair, weight of spare, availability on road, replacing in wet conditions, rolling resistance (at lower pressures)
Time, money and a better rideaOldMan
Jan 24, 2004 11:38 AM
Tubulars are great tires but they do have some downsides. Primarily the extra time it takes to get them set up on the wheels. On new wheels, you can figure two or three days to get the tires glued on correctly.

Tubulars are also more expensive. Unlike clinchers, you cannot buy inexpensive tubulars. In fact you can, but they (at least most) are of poor quality and are best avoided. They will 'flat' more often, are often out of round and they ride like 's**t'. So you need to purchase quality tubular tires.

Good quality tubulars are hard to find at your average LBS. The best option is to order them from speciality mail-order/internet tire shops. Biketiresdirect.com, totalcycling.com, deesidecycles.com and worldclasscycles.com are all good shops for quality tubulars. You need to figure that that you are going to spend at least $40. per tire (Conti Sprinter) and as much as $80 for a Conti Comp or Veloflex Roubaix. Because you cannot find them everywhere, you need to keep some inventory of the tires you use. This all adds up to extra money.

Tubulars are also more complicated to fix when they flat. I would not say more difficult, but there is more skill needed to repair a tire. Many cyclist avoid tubulars for this reason alone. After you have fixed a couple, you will find that it is not much harder than fixing a clincher. A good read on how to fix a tire can be found at:
http://www.yellowjersey.org/tubfix.html

So those are the downsides of tubulars. They cost more, require more time to mount (at first), are not as widely available and require some skill to repair.

Now the upsides.

Tubulars have a different road feel than clinchers. Some people love it, others cannot tell the difference. Personally, I ride tubulars for this reason alone.

When you get a flat on the road, changing a tubular is much faster than changing a clincher. When you fix a tubular, you are changing the tire and tube. You do not have to worry about booting a badly damaged tire.

Tubular tires do not get snake bite flats. You cannot puncture the tube when mounting it on a rim. You don't have to worry about rim tape.

Tubular tires can be ridden with higher and/or lower pressure than clinchers.

Quality tubular tires and wheels are lighter than the comparable clincher.

For most people, tubulars are best avoided. But for some cyclists tubulars provide a different ride that is appreciated and worth the money and trouble.

I ride both, but prefer to ride tubulars during the warmer months.
two or three days to get the tires glued on correctly??Dave_Stohler
Jan 24, 2004 6:43 PM
I really can't imagine what could take "two or three days to get the tires glued on correctly". Is there some sort of ceremony you perform? Sacrifices made to the god of tubulus? All-night dancing and exorcism? Please, enlighten me...

Whenever I've had a new rim, I put on one layer, let it dry for an hour, then put on another thinner layer, then put the tire on. Once, I actually did a whole 3 layers-wow!!

I've heard stories of guys who put 10 extremely thin layers on a rim before mounting, and some who actually even remove every speck of glue every time they replace a tire. I laugh at these people! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

Really, unless you are prepping a CF rim for the USPS team spending 2-3 days preparing a new rim is bordering on being anal-retentive.
FYIaOldMan
Jan 25, 2004 2:57 PM
For a first time tubular owner it means new tires and wheels. The tires should be stretched to avoid a sticky mess when gluing them. I always stretch my tires 24 to 36 hours before gluing. New wheels should have two layers of base glue. The glue should harden between coats. This can take from 3 to 24 hours depending upon humidity and temp. The third coat of glue is required on mounting. This only takes 30 minutes of drying before mounting the glued tire and wheel. After the tire is mounted, it should be pumped up and left to cure overnight. Add up the time and it is measured in two or three days.

Now if you want quick and dirty, I have done that too. Fifteen minutes and I am riding. Screw the glue, the pressure will keep the tire on. Use some tubular tape and you are off and running in less than an hour.

When I first started gluing tubulars, I used one layer of glue and did not prestretch the tires. Total time, less than an hour. By and large it worked fine. Never rolled a tire, but did have the tire move a couple of time, resulting in the 'thump', 'thump', 'thump' sound.

However, doing the job right has value. Thirty years ago I did not bother very often to do the job the right way. But things change. The responsibility of family and kids , plus thirty years of tubular experience all point me to take the time to stretch, glue, wait, glue, wait, glue, mount wait and then ride. I feel better descending large mountians knowing my tires are as secure as possible.

I take the time to mount them because I can. With multiple bikes, if one set is not ready, another one is.

Before you slam me, you should take the time to do the research on the adhesive characteristics of tubular glue. There has been a fair amount of research that has been carried out on glues and their adhesive properties. A good strong bond takes good prep work and application, not to mention the proper glue selection. Does it matter, maybe or maybe not, depending upon the rider and terrain. But, in my opinion, it is irresponsible to suggest to a new tubular user that he is going to be up and running quickly. An experienced tubular rider can take shortcuts, a new rider is best to error on the side of caution.

PS. Have you ever tried to mount a pair of Conti comps without a day of stretching?
As to the ride differencesKerry Irons
Jan 24, 2004 6:27 PM
Some would claim a much better ride with tubulars, while others would say they can't tell the difference from a high end clincher. Erik Zabel, for one, falls in the latter category. Certainly the riders using this forum are more sensitive than him.
Veloflex tires; Michelin Latex tubes. .Won't do tubbies again(NM)davidxy
Jan 25, 2004 4:45 PM
Adhesive bondingCalvin Jones-Park Tool
Jan 27, 2004 8:05 AM
Tubulars are held secure to the rim by:
1.-the tire stretch itself
2.- air pressure from the tire
3.- rim glue

As to #3, technique is important, and part of that technique is allowing adequate time for the glue to cure. The solvent must be allowed to leave the bond. It is of course possible to use and race a tubular before several days pass, but the bond does gain strength with time.

See also http://www.parktool.com/repair_help/tubular.shtml