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Clinchers or Tubulars(6 posts)

Clinchers or TubularsThadimire
Apr 5, 2003 8:36 PM
In the market for a wheel set. I found a pair of Mavic classics pro on sale. The only problem is that they have tubular rims.

What are the pros and cons?
Are tubulars safe as clinchers?
How long do you have to let the glue set up before riding?

Thanks in advance for your help
re: Clinchers or TubularsAlexx
Apr 5, 2003 9:09 PM
They ride better.
15 minutes.
what ever happened to the search function? nmcollinsc
Apr 5, 2003 9:33 PM
what ever happened to the search function? nmBaadDawg
Apr 6, 2003 12:47 PM
collinsc ---what ever happened to the search function? nm

Man these smart ass replies really bug me. Either give a thoughtful answer or keep it in your pants.

I wanna see snobs all I have to do is head on over to
poor Kerry down there has written so many repliescollinsc
Apr 6, 2003 2:07 PM
I wouldnt be suprised to find out he had the answers cataloged. These questions come up like three times a week.

Oh, and trying that "if you dont have anything nice to say..." line on me is equally snobish.

But then, if you are entitled to that response, then I am entitled to mine.
An old question, with no straight answerKerry
Apr 6, 2003 1:58 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 (see Alexx post). 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 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.

As a final point, I would never recommend tubulars to new riders, who have lots to learn about riding, training, racing, and bikes without adding the burden of tubulars to the learning curve.