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Tubular vs. Clincher....650C vs. 700C(3 posts)

Tubular vs. Clincher....650C vs. 700Csanewman
Aug 23, 2001 7:25 PM
Alright, my first post. Let me first start by saying that I started tri's this year and fell in love with the sport, I am hooked. It's great to see so many Women in the sport!

I currently have a Specialized Epic (carbon fiber w\aluminum lugs) that is in large part still stock from the 5 years that I have owned it. I have used it to tri in this year with some pretty good results. I am considering getting some aero wheels but am not sure whether I should get Tubular or clincher style rims, further I dont know if I should stick with 700C's or go with a 650C. I have always heard that tubulars cant be changed on the road and have to be mounted by a bike shop. Doing some reading it does not seem to be the case. Are tubulars harder to change out on the side of the road versus a clincher? I have always owned Clinchers and liked them despite the lower psi. Although having a tire with a higher psi and lower rolling resistance is appealing. It appears that most high performance aero wheels use only tubular as well.

The 2nd question is should I go with a 700C or a 650C. I understand from again reading that 650C's accelerate quicker but is that the only thing about 650's? It also seems that most Tri bikes use 650C wheels. My concern is that if I should go with say a Aegis in the future then I might as well EBAY my 700C aero's and loose some money. Any suggestions?
re: Tubular vs. Clincher....650C vs. 700CAkirasho
Aug 24, 2001 4:45 AM
"I am considering getting some aero wheels but am not sure whether I should get Tubular or clincher style rims, further I dont know if I should stick with 700C's or go with a 650C"

*** As the performance gap between tubulars and quality clinchers has narrowed over the past couple of years, the reasons and wherefors for tubular tires has narrowed as well.

Let's look at a few generalities (as you pointed out)...

1. Ride qualities: This can be subjective, but many report a better overall feel and handling with tubular tires (they have a more symetric cross section (round) than virtually any clincher (ovate).
2. Rolling resistance: Because of higher attainable pressures for tubular tires (and rims), tubulars have lower rolling resistance than comparable clinchers.
3. Mounting and repair: Tubulars require a lengthy glue up process to mount. Clinchers can easily be mounted and/or changed in a matter of minutes. Tubular tires are difficult (if not impossible) for most folks to repair (there are professional services that will do this work). Because of their design, the inner tube is either sewn inside the casing (modern designs are difficult to open to repair said tube) or an integral part of the casing (Tufo uses an integrated casing/tube). Folks who use tubulars on long rides will often carry a spare (pre glued) casing or two in case of a serious flat (though there are products that can seal small punctures in tubular tires with little or no air loss). Clinchers can often be repaired by patching the inner tube or booting the casing. Remounting tubulars requires time and patience.
4. Rim design and saftey: In general, tubular rims are lighter than comparable clincher rims. Since this weight is at the rim, saving grams here actually does pay back in enhanced performance. Tubular rims can be made of composite material, again shedding a few more grams. Because the casing is glued directly to the rim, there is little chance of the tire blowing off a properly glued tubular rim. It's nearly impossible to get a pinch flat on a tubular rim. Oftimes, it's possible to ride, albeit slowly, on a deflated tubular tire.

Which is right for you depends on what you need and/or are willing to put up with. Many a lightweight aero wheelset are only available in a tubular version (a ZIPP disc for instance). You might add a few grams on a relatively flat course and opt for a clincher wheelset. While they are a hassle to mount and repair, tubular tires (in general) have great handling characteristics (IMHO) and catastophic failures are rare irregardless (yes that is a word, just not a good one) of the type of tire/rim used. Tubulars can be used to intimidate your opponents... they figure that if you're running tubulars, you must be good! ***

"The 2nd question is should I go with a 700C or a 650C. I understand from again reading that 650C's accelerate quicker but is that the only thing about 650's?"

*** This one is subject to debate. Since framesets are designed to be wheelsize specific, the general rule of thumb these days is to give one the "option" depending on the frame size (650C for smaller frames and 700C for larger). There are a few framemakers who offer the 650C option on all frames regardless of size, but I think it's great that one can choose a wheelset that fits the frame and by default the rider. Arguments about acceleration, aerodynamics and such are inconclusive and at best, small. I ride two 61cm frames... one with 700C and on with 650C. I don't notice any differences I'd attribute to the size of the wheels. Also note, that since the frame is designed for one or the other, you generally are "stuck" with one size or the other... you can't just switch (unless you've got two bikes). ***

I chose tubulars (for TT's) to get the abovementioned... lightweight aerodynamics... and so far, so good. I understand the risks and hassles involved in using a tubular and have accepted suc
re: Tubular vs. Clincher....650C vs. 700CAnde
Oct 19, 2001 4:45 AM
Concerning clinchers vs. tubulars. Tubulars can be changed on the road, however, they are tougher than clinchers are because they're glued to the rim. When you install the tires leave a small portion of the rim directly across from the valve stem unglued to aid in removal.

You should also engage your brake a little harder on the wheel that has flattened in order to heat up the glue. This will aid in removing the flat tire. Have your local bike shop show you how to change a tubular if you decide to go this way, however, with the new style clinchers there's really no reason to go this way. Clinchers now allow for very high pressure, i.e. Continentals hold 150 psi as well as others.

As for the 700c vs. 650c issue. What size of frame do you ride? If you ride a 55cm or smaller fram you'll benfit more with 650c wheels. 56cm or larger I recommend 700c wheels. I ride a 56cm with 650c wheels and even though I have no trouble with them I wish I had 700c on my bike. 650'c do accelerate a little quicker than my road bike with 700c, but I also have to maintain 2 different sizes of tires, tubes and spokes.

Hope it helps.

Ande