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Tubulars - A Different Slant

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Tubulars - A Different Slant

Old 10-21-19, 09:09 AM
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DaveLeeNC
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Tubulars - A Different Slant

I am rapidly 'aging out' (maybe already have) of generating satisfying (to me) road cycling results (DOB is 1949). In my case this would be times in a organized or maybe solo century, possibly the random Strava KOM, etc. But for those occasional 'competitive' rides I like to have good equipment. Currently I am riding a new Emonda SL6 (rim brakes) and my 'race wheels' are clincher/latex/Conti Vittoria Bontrager RXL's (2014 vintage). The wheels are relatively light but are not truly aero wheels and are not the lightest around either.

While I am not inclined to go spend $2.5K on some flavor of new ZIPP's, it occurred to me that there probably is a decent buyer's market for used, rim brake tubulars since many are converting to disk (disc?) and tubulars are going out of fashion.

If I did this they would be wheels ridden only very occasionally and I would leave it up to my LBS to deal with tire installation stuff (other than being sure that I can handle a flat on the road). I just wondered what others thought about this concept (whether I go for saving another couple hundred grams or get more aero - probably go for aero). And I am aware that incremental performance gains from wheels better than what I own will be quite small.

dave

ps. The major cycling goal for 2020 will be to ride (rather than survive) the Six Gap Century.
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Old 10-21-19, 09:21 AM
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The good thing with tubulars is that you can get both. My 50mm/60mm (I think) wheels are supposed to be under 1400g. Paid $400 for them if I recall correctly.
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Old 10-21-19, 09:22 AM
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A carbon clincher rim with a set of high-end clincher tires coupled with latex tubes will roll faster, be more aero, and be VASTLY easier to maintain on the road than a set of tubular tires. Unless your heart is set on tubular tires, there aren't many reasons to run them.
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Old 10-21-19, 09:22 AM
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I have occasionally thought about the same thing over the years. I have worked wheel trucks for pros that use tubulars -- and seeing their experiences perhaps educated me too much. The thought of dealing with a flat on the road, unsupported, kept me away.
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Old 10-21-19, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
A carbon clincher rim with a set of high-end clincher tires coupled with latex tubes will roll faster, be more aero, and be VASTLY easier to maintain on the road than a set of tubular tires. Unless your heart is set on tubular tires, there aren't many reasons to run them.
The primary consideration here was the possibility that the tubular design would come with an inherently lower (used) cost simply due to reduced demand. This is just speculation at this point.

dave
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Old 10-21-19, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
The primary consideration here was the possibility that the tubular design would come with an inherently lower (used) cost simply due to reduced demand. This is just speculation at this point.

dave
The cost of two nicer tubular tires could potentially offset the cost difference between a set of tubular wheels vs clincher wheels. Two GP5K's with tubes costs about the same as one high-end tubular tire.
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Old 10-21-19, 09:38 AM
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Dave, on Proscloset, there are quite a few used carbon sew-up wheels for sale, all at lower prices compared to their clincher counterparts. The one consideration is that in many cases, the rims and the hubs are a couple generations old. The only reason I didn't go in this direction is that I wanted a tubeless compatible setup, and didn't want to worry about heat dissipation on the downhills. I don't believe that's an issue with sew-ups.
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Old 10-21-19, 09:42 AM
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Is Six Gap hilly? I'm guessing it is from the name. Personally I would feel much more comfortable running tubulars than clinchers (if we're talking carbon to carbon) on a ride with lots of braking.
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Old 10-21-19, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
The primary consideration here was the possibility that the tubular design would come with an inherently lower (used) cost simply due to reduced demand. This is just speculation at this point.

dave

Definitely true IME, although it would vary by area- more racing= more cast-off race wheels.

I'm currently on 50mm China carbon wheels that I got w/ tires for $200, and rode many miles on Easton EC90s that were the same price.

Also have a couple of sets of Mavik SL that were ~$100. The most I've paid is I think $325 for EC90SL w/good CX tires & DA cassette.


So I have the road set, another set for winter/poor road conditions (DA carbon w/Pave tires); for the CX bike there is an all around set (alloy w/ 30mm Schwalbe),

a gravel/back road set (alloy w/ Knobby Tufos), a CX race set (Easton w/Challenge tires), and another set w/Tufo road tires. All ready to go & total cost much less

than one $$ carbon wheelset. It only takes a few minutes to change wheels (only the CX race wheels require changing brake pads).


Paying a shop to mount tires would eat up some of the savings, and buying the tires on sale is a factor in keeping cost down.



To the poster above concerned about changing a tire on the road- it's the same or easier/faster than clincher, NBD.

Mounting a tire later is more work than clincher but still less than some folks seem to put into washing their bike after every ride...

Last edited by woodcraft; 10-21-19 at 10:12 AM.
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Old 10-21-19, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
The primary consideration here was the possibility that the tubular design would come with an inherently lower (used) cost simply due to reduced demand. This is just speculation at this point.

dave
Having LBS do the glueing will save you a lot of headache. But flats can be very expensive. That Light Bicycle thread makes Chinese carbon hoops sound pretty attractive. Food for thought.
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Old 10-21-19, 09:50 AM
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If any of you are braking to the point of rim failure, your riding style needs to be addressed long before your equipment should be altered.
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Old 10-21-19, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post



To the poster above concerned about changing a tire on the road- it's the same or easier/faster than clincher, NBD.
*only if you carry a new tire around with you
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Old 10-21-19, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
*only if you carry a new tire around with you


Remember, that spare tubular tire will get your hapless clincher riding buddy home if his/her tire is destroyed miles from nowhere.
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Old 10-21-19, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
Remember, that spare tubular tire will get your hapless clincher riding buddy home if his/her tire is destroyed miles from nowhere.
I think you and I have very different riding styles.
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Old 10-21-19, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Is Six Gap hilly? I'm guessing it is from the name. Personally I would feel much more comfortable running tubulars than clinchers (if we're talking carbon to carbon) on a ride with lots of braking.
Somewhere around 11K' of climbing. I was certainly on the brakes at times, but the descents were mostly manageable, IMHO. I did not ever feel the need to 'ride the brakes' for any extended period of time. And I was occasionally passed on downhills. www.6gap.com

dave
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Old 10-21-19, 10:43 AM
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Tubulars with a small amount of Stan's or OrangeSeal are extremely flat proof.
Tubular wheels are lighter.
Tubular tires from UK/EU suppliers ~ $65 if you wait for deals (VeloFlex Arenberg/Roubaix/Vlanderen).
Tubular tape is easy, if you don't wish to glue.

If you are serious about lightweight wheels, the problem with tubulars is IN YOUR HEAD.

High-end clinchers with latex tubes are super nice as well - and about the same price.

edit: Vittoria G+ tubulars for $49, Veloflex from $65.
https://www.merlincycles.com/road-bi...e_type=tubular

I think it's funny, guys riding $5000+ bikes, disc brakes, carbon wheels complaining a small price difference for tubulars as a reason not to convert.

Last edited by Wildwood; 10-21-19 at 10:58 AM.
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Old 10-21-19, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
I think you and I have very different riding styles.


Hopefully, you would not describe your riding style as "slam-dancing"
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Old 10-21-19, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Is Six Gap hilly? I'm guessing it is from the name. Personally I would feel much more comfortable running tubulars than clinchers (if we're talking carbon to carbon) on a ride with lots of braking.



Just a few rollers Great ride, looking forward to doing it again next year!

FWIW, I'm on GP5K clinchers and they're great, fast and handle really well. I'm even running butyl tubes (Conti Race), I have a set of latex tubes that I'll try eventually (I've used them in my TT setup with good results).

Edit - I'm also on disc brakes, so braking doesn't factor into rim/tire choice, on alloys at the moment, but will get some carbons eventually.
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Old 10-21-19, 12:59 PM
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Why such good deals on tubular wheelsets? Two reasons off the top of my head... first, tubular rims are far easier to manufacture than clincher rims. The two 'hooks' on the clincher rim (required to hold on the tire) take a lot of brake heat, brake compressive (clamping) forces, forces from tire inflation, and road impacts. Lots of careful engineering, manufacturing and quality materials required to make these 'hooks'.

Tubular rims largely avoid these problems. Tubular rims are fundamentally superior, in terms of strength to weight, heat dissipation, isolation from tire inflation forces, ability to withstand brake compressive forces and impacts. Plus the rounder shape of the tubular rim profile avoids pinch flats.

The superior rim shape is why tubulars are used (exclusively) at the elite levels of the sport, past, present, and will be until the end of time.

So you can buy a new set of 1,400 gram aero carbon tubular wheels within minutes for less than $600. These wheels will be superior in every respect to any clincher (tubeless or otherwise) ever made or is possible of being made. Again: the two 'hooks' required to hold on clincher tires are the problem. They are heavy (rotating mass: at the worst place on a bike), fragile, and cause pinch flats.

Second reason: elite-level riding is done on tubulars. Except the rare short time trial where a top-name rider has garbage bags full of money dropped on them to ride a sponsor's (front only) clincher wheels. First name: Tony. Anyway, because racers have a rapid turnover of gear due to changing product lines and sponsorships, their high-end swag ends up heavily discounted on the second-hand market.

You want to be close to sponsored riders for their cast-offs; this is where you want to bottom-feed for tubular wheel cast-offs.

Hint: tubulars are almost impenetrable to flats if you pre-inject about 20cc of Stan's sealant. Make sure you get tires with removable valve cores. I have put big miles on some Tufo's this summer, with zero flats. I suspect that the cords on these tires will be showing before I flat these.
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Old 10-21-19, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
I think it's funny, guys riding $5000+ bikes, disc brakes, carbon wheels complaining a small price difference for tubulars as a reason not to convert.
I tried tubulars with an open mind (everybody kept telling me they were the bee's knees) and it was a mistake.

People are talking about cost in this thread because that's important to @DaveLeeNC.
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Old 10-21-19, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
Why such good deals on tubular wheelsets? Two reasons off the top of my head... first, tubular rims are far easier to manufacture than clincher rims. The two 'hooks' on the clincher rim (required to hold on the tire) take a lot of brake heat, brake compressive (clamping) forces, forces from tire inflation, and road impacts. Lots of careful engineering, manufacturing and quality materials required to make these 'hooks'.

Tubular rims largely avoid these problems. Tubular rims are fundamentally superior, in terms of strength to weight, heat dissipation, isolation from tire inflation forces, ability to withstand brake compressive forces and impacts. Plus the rounder shape of the tubular rim profile avoids pinch flats.

The superior rim shape is why tubulars are used (exclusively) at the elite levels of the sport, past, present, and will be until the end of time.

So you can buy a new set of 1,400 gram aero carbon tubular wheels within minutes for less than $600. These wheels will be superior in every respect to any clincher (tubeless or otherwise) ever made or is possible of being made. Again: the two 'hooks' required to hold on clincher tires are the problem. They are heavy (rotating mass: at the worst place on a bike), fragile, and cause pinch flats.

Second reason: elite-level riding is done on tubulars. Except the rare short time trial where a top-name rider has garbage bags full of money dropped on them to ride a sponsor's (front only) clincher wheels. First name: Tony. Anyway, because racers have a rapid turnover of gear due to changing product lines and sponsorships, their high-end swag ends up heavily discounted on the second-hand market.

You want to be close to sponsored riders for their cast-offs; this is where you want to bottom-feed for tubular wheel cast-offs.

Hint: tubulars are almost impenetrable to flats if you pre-inject about 20cc of Stan's sealant. Make sure you get tires with removable valve cores. I have put big miles on some Tufo's this summer, with zero flats. I suspect that the cords on these tires will be showing before I flat these.
So you are a huge proponent for the advantages of tubular tires, but you run the slowest tubular tires on the market?
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Old 10-21-19, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
So you are a huge proponent for the advantages of tubular tires, but you run the slowest tubular tires on the market?
I got the tires for free. They refuse to die. I've resorted to daily high-speed runs on packed gravel on these 22mm tires. Still won't die.

And what do you me by slowest? Differences between rolling resistance of various tires are trivial compared to aero effects and rotating mass. When you're trying to hang on in a fast group ride on a climb.. your tongue is rubbing on your front tire, and your heart is about to jump out of your chest. You have to stay with the pack, or you'll end up suffering solo for the next 10 miles. In this situation, low bike and especially wheel weight are the overwhelming need. This is where tubulars are the key advantage.

Who cares if your wheels are 10% more aero, as 95% of your riding time will be in the pack - sheltered from the wind.

BTW: large volume tires (such as 28mm+) have the worst aero and rolling resistence. They are definitely heavier. I tried some clinchers in 28's; between the porky rims and heavy tires they made my bike ride like a farm tractor.
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Old 10-21-19, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
I got the tires for free. They refuse to die. I've resorted to daily high-speed runs on packed gravel on these 22mm tires. Still won't die.

And what do you me by slowest? Differences between rolling resistance of various tires are trivial compared to aero effects and rotating mass. When you're trying to hang on in a fast group ride on a climb.. your tongue is rubbing on your front tire, and your heart is about to jump out of your chest. You have to stay with the pack, or you'll end up suffering solo for the next 10 miles. In this situation, low bike and especially wheel weight are the overwhelming need. This is where tubulars are the key advantage.

Who cares if your wheels are 10% more aero, as 95% of your riding time will be in the pack - sheltered from the wind.

BTW: large volume tires (such as 28mm+) have the worst aero and rolling resistence. They are definitely heavier. I tried some clinchers in 28's; between the porky rims and heavy tires they made my bike ride like a farm tractor.
Rolling resistance is trivial? Your tires are costing you 40+ watts more than my setup at 25 mph. A TT bike with a trispoke and a disc would barely make up that deficit... Your argument about being in the pack makes rolling resistance even more of an issue.
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Old 10-21-19, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
Rolling resistance is trivial? Your tires are costing you 40+ watts more than my setup at 25 mph. A TT bike with a trispoke and a disc would barely make up that deficit... Your argument about being in the pack makes rolling resistance even more of an issue.
??? At 25mph, the hammerhead at the front of the pack is putting out 400 watts. At the back, we're eating little sandwiches and yakking about the movie we saw last night. 100 watts.

The only gaps occur during the climbs, at 10 miles per hour. Low profile carbon tubulars for the win.
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Old 10-21-19, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
??? At 25mph, the hammerhead at the front of the pack is putting out 400 watts. At the back, we're eating little sandwiches and yakking about the movie we saw last night. 100 watts.

The only gaps occur during the climbs, at 10 miles per hour. Low profile carbon tubulars for the win.
400W to go 25mph? 100 watts at the back of the pack? Gaps forming at 10 mph on a ride where dudes are putting out 400W on the flats?

It doesn't sound like you have the experience or knowledge to be discussing this topic...
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