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Tubulars vs. Clinchers...??(4 posts)

Tubulars vs. Clinchers...??Flothru
May 11, 2001 7:58 PM
Are there advantages to either one. Is the choose totaly a personal preferance? I hear a lot of people saying that they will ride clinchers for winter and early spring training and then switch to tubulars. Are tubulars that much faster? They seam to be reasonably priced???? ANyway I would appriciate some feedback so I can learn something new this week.

Jim C.
Well . . . . .Kerry Irons
May 11, 2001 8:12 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 (MAVIC Heliums are the same weight clincher or tubular), 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.

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, 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. YMMV.
the short answer...dave
May 12, 2001 6:08 AM
Tubulars aren't easily fixed if you get a flat, it can't be done on the road. You have to carry a preglued spare (big and bulky). What if you get a second flat? Start walking.

Yes, the rims are a little lighter, but there is little difference between the weight of a top quality clincher with ultralight tube, and a good tubular.

Stick with clinchers for everything but racing.
My clincher wheels are collecting dust...biknben
May 13, 2001 8:08 PM
I just built up a new bike and decided to go with Tubulars for the first time. The biggest factor in my descision is that I felt I had to at least try them at some point. It was one of the few things on a bike I had no experience with. The second most driving factor was weight. I bought a pair of Zipp 303s and wrapped them with Conti Sprinters. Dropped over a pound from my clincher setup. Admitantly, the other wheelset was a 32 spoked mavic rim with DA hubs. Not exactly a flyweight.
Anyway, After a couple weeks of riding I notice a slightly faster ride. Could be because of the mid-V rim but the tubs run at higher pressure and offer less rolling resistance.
Gluing was not as big a deal as I thought it would be. I actually stressed about that for quite a while.

All the pros and cons eventually cancel each other out (arguably) and your left with personal preference.

I have to admit I saw someone roll their tubular last weekend at a race and it was not a pretty site. Broken colar bone, road rash, and a chewed up Corima carbon rim. Made my stomach turn a bit.