Simon & Martin Ask The Bike Tart…Written: May 3, 2012
Ask The Bike Tart, Components, How To, Maintenance
…about wheels and tubs. Popular topic lately!
First up, Simon:
“I’m going to building up a set of wheels to go on a new bike soon. The bike will be a do-it-all, any weather, any distance kind of bike to sit with my current No. 1 (Enigma Echo, SR11, nice and light).
I already have two sets of wheels that get used on my No.1 (Enve 45, Tune Mig’n'Mag, CX Rays and Mavic Ksyrium SR) and I am hoping to add a tough wheelset, 32h 3-cross front and rear, based on the bulletproof Royce hubs.
Whilst considering that Mavic Open Pro CD rims would be an obvious choice, my interest is in maybe building the wheels using some tubular rims either Crono or Nemesis. If this proves popular I may even sell my Enve 45 and get the tubular version of change up to the Smart System (marketing crap aside).
My question is how hard is it to live with tubs? They may well get used for commuting and will almost certainly get the odd trip along a gravel path or snotty farm track and my worry is getting stuck in the middle of knowhere with a tough fix.
When did you make the switch, did you notice a marked improvement in ride performance and / or comfort and would you ever switch back to clichers? Have you ever been caught out and wished you had a clincher to cary out a five min pit stop? Finally what is your setup when going for a longish (160k plus) ride, do you always take a spare tub, neatly folded and stashed under the seat / in jersey pocket? Do you bother with ‘get you home’ latex a la Vittoria’s Pit Stop?”
And then Martin:
“How do you handle tub flats when you’re out? Spare tyre/sealant etc… I am desperate to give some a go to get a nice black brake track on my Cervelo S1. I am not gonna let you critique it until its up together!”
Ok, lots of questions – here’s what I consider to be the key ones, and there’s a bit about tubs to answer both sets of questions further below…
• Mavic Open Pro CD rims would be an obvious choice…
Why? If a black-walled clincher is your aim you should know that the ‘CD’ coating will wear off pretty quickly, and especially at the merest hint of a wet ride. If that’s your aim, source a set of Open Pro Ceramic rims, although they’re not cheap and you will struggle to find them. Don’t be afraid to buy second hand as long as they’re not dented, and even if they’re built wheels which you have to rebuild onto the Royce hubs (and may I commend you for such a good choice of hub at this point). Otherwise, maybe consider an all silver rim – that way the black brake track is no longer an issue, especially if you’re able to run a nice skinwall tyre.
• My interest is in maybe building the wheels using some tubular rims either Crono or Nemesis
Good choice, but watch the weight suggestion for the Chrono (or F20 as it’s also known) as I seem to recall it’s quite low. Maybe use it on the front only, and a Nemesis on the rear. Note that the coating will most likely wear off on these too!
• How hard is it to live with tubs?
Nowhere near as hard as everyone thinks. You personally will need a robust tub to put up with the commute, the gravel roads and farm tracks you mention, but something like a Conti 4-Seasons tub should suit without ruining the ride quality. I’d almost be inclined to run a 24 or 27c Vittoria Pavé (or similar) based on your suggested use, and assuming your frame has room for them. Challenge also make some 27c tubs as well as a 24c version.
• When did you make the switch, did you notice a marked improvement in ride performance and / or comfort?
Yes. Comfort definitely, I’m more confident through corners because they deform better to grip the road, they smooth bumps because they deform to the shape of the bump rather than bouncing over it, and they generally just seem to roll better. Again, you might lose some of that feel if you need to run a more robust tyre, but I’m much less nervous about them than I used to be. Much of this will come down to the quality of your wheel build too don’t forget.
• Would you ever switch back to clichers?
I still run clinchers – my Lightweights are clinchers, as are my R-SYS SLRs. I’m not a total convert and still see the attraction of running clinchers too… Sort of (although much less so after some time on tubs).
• Have you ever been caught out and wished you had a clincher to cary out a five min pit stop?
Not yet. But you realise it’s quicker to change a tub than it is to change a clincher, right?…
• What is your setup when going for a longish (160k plus) ride?
Same as it is for a 16km ride (see below).
• Do you always take a spare tub, neatly folded and stashed under the seat / in jersey pocket?
Yes. Again, see below.
• Do you bother with ‘get you home’ latex a la Vittoria’s Pit Stop?
I do own a can, but I’m not sure I fully trust it. I’ve seen it in use out on the road and, well, it didn’t work. I’d rather have the option there, although I’d only carry it if I wasn’t already carrying a spare tub.
Carrying a Spare Tub
Lots of people seem to think you can only carry a lightweight skinny tub to limp home on as nothing else rolls up small enough. Sure, it will roll up smaller and easier, but I prefer to use the same tub that I’m using on my wheels – at least on my Ambrosios where my weapon of choice is a 22c Schwalbe Milano. I’m able to roll a pre-glued one to be small enough to fit into a Rapha Seat Pack without looking too big, or into a Lezyne Caddy Sack with room to spare for a CO2 inflator, spare CO2 cannister, Di2 tool, chain link, multi-tool, spare drink tabs, lip balm (yes, I’m soft), cash and glasses bag:
An alternative to the Lezyne case that I’m keen to try is the Lab-Gear ‘Analogue’ Ride Bag - I saw this in the flesh earlier this week, and with is full zip it’ll be much easier to use than the Lezyne option whilst being every bit as stylish as the Rapha Essentials Case:
How do I roll the tub up to be as small as possible? Like this:
In The Event of a Flat
If I’m unfortunate enough to flat I’ll pull off the old tub, unroll the pre-glued tub, get some air in it to ease the mounting (about 30psi will do), then mount the tub just as I would if fitting it originally – only this time without the usual fresh layer of glue. After a bit of wriggling to make the tyre mostly central (something I spend a lot of time getting right when doing it properly) and pump it up to my normal riding pressure. As this tyre won’t be as securely mounted I’ll either be more careful with the rest of my ride (hurling the bike round a corner might result in rolling the tub!) or make a judgement call and limp home to re-fit the replacement tyre properly. This is why many will decide to carry a thin, light weight tub purely because they know they will limp home if they get a flat.
Also worth noting at this point that a good check of your tyres is always worthwhile after a ride (tubs or otherwise). Something worth doing after rolling through debris is to rub a (gloved) hand over the tyre to help remove anything that might have attached itself and could otherwise work its way into the tyre to cause a puncture. Be VERY bloody careful when you do it though, especially on the back wheel where it’s trickier to reach on the move!
As for the tyres I use and have used, I’m currently running the Schwalbe Milano on my Ambrosios because they’re a fantastic value tyre that’s not too heavy, is nice and grippy, has a nice skinwall colour and generally looks pretty good. They’re not quite as nice rolling as a Vittoria Corsa Evo CX (which really do roll nicely), but at around half the price and an only-just-perceivable difference I’m not going to worry about that. In fact with their removable valve core the Milanos are a decent prospect for use with valve extenders – which is a particular frustration on the Schwalbe Ultremo HTs I’m currently running on my MadFibers, to the point where I may even run the Milanos on my MFs too despite the HTs also being a really nice, high quality (and quite pricey) tyre.
Continental Competitions seem to be a popular choice, both for the amateur and professional. I’ve never run them so cannot comment, but they seem to get mixed reviews from what I can tell.
What about tub tape?
It’s not for me. I’ve used it before but was never really happy or confident on it. If you flat your only real roadside option is sealant, and even then replacing the tyre when you get home is much more of a hassle than glue because (unlike glue) you have to remove the old tape before you put new stuff on. With glue, unless there’s loads of it that’s ages old, you just apply a fresh layer to the rim and whack a pre-glued tub on. Ok so new rims and tubs are a bit more of a faff (3 or 4 layers of glue on a new rim, 2 layers on a new tub, 6-12hrs of curing between layers, mount the tub, allow to cure for 12-24hrs), but I’d still rather do that than tape.
A punctured tub can be repaired if you haven’t used sealant – there’s a guy in the UK who repairs tubs for about £12 a go. If you have used sealant the tub is a write-off for repairs, but the sealant should hold until it goes off.
A lot to take in, and there’s so much more you could learn too, but I hope that all helps you both Simon & Martin?
If anyone else is curious about mounting techniques and advice there’s a whole wealth of things I can share – as a relative newbie to tubs I’ve learnt pretty quickly and already know what works well for me. That’s a whole new blog post though…
All that leaves me to say is give tubs a go. I reckon the only other way you could feel such an inclusive part of something so critical to your bike is if you’ve built your own wheels or painted your own frame. Do it!
Tags:4 seasons,ambrosio,chrono,Conti,Continental,corsa evo cx,f20,milano,nemesis,pit stop,Schwalbe,sealant,stans,tubs,tubular tyres,ultremo ht,valve extenders,Vittoria,Zipp
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