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So far it’s a solo ride.

The Tubular Argument part 1

Anthony Little |

Racing on tubulars is great. In a race, you want every advantage you can get... you use the lightest wheels with the fastest tires, you don't worry about mechanical issues because the team car will bail you out, and you never let cost get in the way of performance... But can tubulars be a viable alternative to clinchers as an EVERYDAY tire?? We've always thought so in theory. But what about in practice? Saving you, our readers, the trouble of answering this on your own, Chad and I have sworn to ride tubulars and ONLY tubulars from now until January 1. We'll dispell (or prove) the myths and the hype. We'll suffer the ignominious delays in group training rides as we fumble to yank off a stubborn flat. We'll roll with all the buttery softness and hardcore heritage that tubulars have always promised. You get the idea...

First we had to put on some tubulars. For my complete step-by-step process, see below. Here are some highlights:Chad filled up his tires with Stan's to mitigate the danger of flats. The cap popped off and Stan's went everywhere. Oops.
Getting the old tire off was a bit of a chore. Chad broke a tire iron and almost had a hernia in the process.
Gluing was easier and faster than I expected. Even so, I did get glue all over my hands after mounting the tires on.On my first wheel, I didn't hold the tire down hard enough as I stretched the tube on and the valve stem got yanked crooked. Not a performance disadvantage, but it definitely looks very un-pro.

All in all, the gluing and mounting process for two wheels took me about 40 minutes. This was my very first experience with setting up tubulars. It turned out to be a lot easier and faster than I expected.

Mounting up a set up tubulars:
I'd never glued a set of tubulars on before. The task always seemed best left to someone with a lot of experience. But how hard could it really be? Turns out it's pretty easy.

There are as many ways to glue tubulars as there are codgy old mechanics. I went for the quick and dirty method. Cleaning gluey rims involves toxic solvents and a few hours of hard scrubbing. I skipped all that. Instead...
-rip your old tires off
-don't clean anything
-put a dollop of rim cement between each spoke hole and smear it around with your finger (wear a Nitrile glove or suffer sticky fingers!)
-do the same for wheel #2
-put another round of cement on wheel #1 and take it out of the truing stand.
-don't even bother with glue on the tire.
-with the wheel on the floor and your second coat of glue still wet, take a tire inflated to about 20psi, put the valve in the rim's valve hole, press down and hold it with one hand while you stretch and seat the tire on the rim with the other.
-stretch and seat working in both directions from the valve until you get to the side of the wheel opposite the valve, and flip the tire into place.
-pump it up to 110-120psi
-do the same with wheel #2

If you've done everything right, the tire will be even and straight. If you don't stretch it enough, it will have a "low" spot. If you don't put it on straight, it will have a wobble. In spite of my rookiness, my tires were very straight with no low spots. I did learn the hard way to make sure the valve stem is in straight.

At first, the tires still squished around a bit on the rims. But the next morning the tires wouldn't budge. You can put the wheels on your bike as soon as you've glued on the tires and take a quick roll down the street to really seat them in there properly, but I skipped that step. Like I said, quick and easy.

Oh yeah, and I don't vouch for the effectiveness of any of this! I'm just telling you how I did it. Like I said, this was my first time. If my tires roll, I'll let you know.
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