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Tubulars?(17 posts)

Sep 18, 2001 12:40 PM
What are the benefits of using tubulars instead of clinchers for everyday road riding?
Bike shops make more money. nmMB1
Sep 18, 2001 12:53 PM
re: Tubulars vs. Clinchers?bubiker
Sep 18, 2001 1:14 PM
I'd appreciate someone explaining the benefits of tubulars vs. clinchers in general,.... if any? I've been led to believe that tubulars were preferred for races, but am seeing more and more winning riders on clinchers, which seems to invalidate that premise. Is there any current legitimate advantage that tubulars have over clinchers?
re: Tubulars?bullski
Sep 18, 2001 1:58 PM
From what I know about tubulars: they're run at a higher pressure for less rolling resistance, have a better "ride", and the wheel\tire combo is somewhat lighter than those of clinchers. Again, just what I believe, not necessarily facts.
re: Tubulars?bubiker
Sep 18, 2001 2:45 PM
Any truth to the rumor that they flat less than clinchers? Would this make them more suited to road races?
re: Tubulars?flying
Sep 18, 2001 3:29 PM
It has been my experience that they flat less.
I have used the same Vittoria CX's for years.
I wear them out & eventually change but in the past
3 years I had one flat from glass.
My milage is not as high now. But back then I was doing 600 to 1000 miles a month.

As to price it is so close now. I buy Vittoria CX's for 49 & sometimes as low as 34-36.

I dont run super high pressure as I am only 145lbs myself so 110 is plenty in my tires.

Actually when you think about it... They should flat less.
They are totally encircled by tire. My riding partner uses clinchers Axial Pros & tends to get snakebites often enough.
While he has the tire open I feel the sidewalls (which seem quite stiff )& cannot imagine that they would ride as nice as the supple casing on sewups. Although I have been told there are some clinchers with supple sidewalls.

This is just my opinions & Im sure they are both good. But I also just ordered a new Colnago Tecno ( 1st new bike in 12 years )& ordered it with Mavic Reflex/ Vittoria CX's.
I did notice that is not the norm these days & many dont even stock that option ;-(
re: Tubulars?bubiker
Sep 18, 2001 4:07 PM
I train and race with Conti GP 3000 clinchers at 120psi, being a heavier rider (180), and have had two flats in the past year, riding 600+ miles/month. What psi do/should tubulars run at? Is this more of a ride FEEL difference, or is there a real performance difference. I'm considering switching to tubulars for racing and possible training, but have heard that tubulars would only be appropriate for racing and too costly for training from some,.. and that there's too little difference to switch from others.
re: Tubulars?Kerry Irons
Sep 18, 2001 4:28 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.

Tire pressures are dependent on the specific tire, not tubular vs. clincher. However, when inflated to the same pressure, tubulars tend to be more comfortable than clinchers, but it is very subtle.
re: Tubulars?bubiker
Sep 18, 2001 4:45 PM
Thank you for explaining the unexplainable, and for sharing your sage experience and insight. Faster flat changes would seem to be the only advantage other than the "Feel", which in a race, could be meaningful, depending on your level. Still don't know if it's worth the change, but at least it's a legitimate reason.
I'm with Kerryzelig
Sep 19, 2001 11:37 AM
in many respects. On tubs for 25 years plus and clinchers for the last 18 months. The spare tire versus spare tube doesn't bother me although I'd say that on a rotational weight basis, tubs till have their advantages. Less so now given the decreasing selection of tub rims and tires. I would say that tub ride quality, in general is still better but the differences, mounting aside, are decreasing. I ride clinchers now because of their ease of mounting, not on the road but when glueing at home as I'm currently in an apartment and I don't have extra sets of wheels, and the availabilty of kevlar belted tires as the environment I'm in has way too much glass for tubs.

When I go back to the States, I'm look forward to returning to tubs but in truth, and I don't race anymore, I'm not sure there's going to be a huge difference. I couldn't begin to count how many tub wheels and NOS rims I have and I still buy them like a rabbit foraging food in the autumn and yet I have a feeling that it's not going to matter.

Unless you race, and even then, pick what you prefer and don't think about it afterwards.
Tubulars!alex the engineer
Sep 18, 2001 5:11 PM
I would agree with most of what Kerry says, although I plan to stay riding tubulars on my road bikes. There IS a noticeable ride difference, and there are advantages in weight, rolling resistance, and flat change time. Tubulars also stay attached when flat-nice on quick descents.
One thing which wasn't mentioned is the terrible quality of cheap clinchers. There isn't a single thai-built tubular that is worth a $hit. In fact, there aren't any tubulars worth considering for less than about $40 each. Tufo makes some very good tires, some of which are very light and durable, others which are affordable and durable, and still others which are just extremely light. Continental still makes the Sprinter (quality varies, though), and the professional, but forget the giro. Vittoria still makes the corsa, but forget those awful rally's and F1's-they are cr@p. Likewise with Hutchison gold, D'Allesandro, and any other oriental tubulars. If you really need cheap, throwaway training tires, people tell me that Michelin liberty's are good and round (rare in that price range), but my $38 Tufo S33 specials are round, long lasting, and tough as iron. Haven't had a single flat with them in nearly 3000 miles, and that's a record for me. The belts are just about to appear on the rear, so I'm replacing it with another this week.
Sep 18, 2001 5:27 PM
If one were to make the switch, and acquire a pair of higher end tubular rims for racing while keeping the clinchers for training, not having ANY experience with tubulars other than knowing what they look like,.. what advice would you give? Could you recommend a good tubular tire to go with such rims for someone that has a reasonable budget and is willing to pop for some decent tubulars tires, (for racing)? Anything else a new convert to tubulars should know about the tires or rims?
Tubulars!mad badger
Sep 19, 2001 1:48 AM
I've always raced on tubulars & trained on good quality clinchers. In my experience cornering is more grippy on tubulars, I've more confidence in them, just feel more "sure footed", I know that is completely subjective however!
I'd recommend Vittoria CX on Campag Nucleon wheels, used them for 1 year now, still totally true & v lightweight, even with 10speed cassette in place, no problems with durability & great hubs too.
As for flats, I can't recall my last, I usually wear out my CXs before they flat.

PS I also use double sided tape to stick my tubs, with no problems.
Double sided tape?hammer_cycle
Sep 19, 2001 3:49 AM
How well does the double sided tape work? I've always been paranoid about my tubulars rolling so I always glue them up nicely. For non-flat changing, is the tape strong enough to hold a tire on during intense cornering?

Sep 19, 2001 9:03 AM
I would also agree with Alex. I have both a clincher wheelset that I train on (Rolf Vector Comps) and a racing tubular wheelset (Zipp 404). I use Tufo Pro S33s on the Zipps. Between the two wheelsets, the Zipps including the tires are almost 600 grams lighter than my Rolfs with tire and tube. I have experienced only one flat with my Tufo after 1500 miles of use. Having the Tufo sealant in the tire which adds approximately 20 grams of weight, almost instantly sealed the leak. The tubular set has the advantage of lighter weight, less rolling resistance, and under high speed cornering, better handling I've noticed compared to my clincher tires which are Continental Ultra 2000s. I just recently tried Tufos time trial tire their Pro S3 which can be inflated to 220 psi!! There is definitely a lot less rolling resistance even when comparing it to the Pro S33 which can be inflated to 175. One big advantage tubulars have over clinchers is that if you do totally flat on a tubular, you are still able to ride on the flat tire without damage to your rim. Almost like the run-flat technology that you see with new car tires these days. Hope this helps.
re: Tubulars?mackgoo
Sep 18, 2001 6:17 PM
The cheapest tub's are as good or better than the best clinchers. Check out for prices these guys are unreal.
re: Tubulars?morey
Oct 2, 2001 5:25 AM
1. They are very much smoother
2. They are lighter
3. They are easier to change when you have a flat
4. They seem to corner better
However, they are expensive but worth every penny!