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  1. #1
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    Theory on Tubulars and latex tubes

    I've often heard people say things like: something magical, just ride so smooth, roll well, blah blah. High praise without anything really quantifiable basically about tubulars.
    Knowing how a tires impacts the ground I always thought these comments didn't seem to make sense but didn't think people were lying about liking them compared to clinchers either. So I just accepted they rode better and I couldn't explain why. I had only test rode a set of tubulars and while I wasn't blown away there was something special there I felt.

    So I switched to latex tubes about 1000 miles ago (with Vit corsa and paves, same tires I was using with butyl) and I'd have to say the same things I've heard people say about tubular. There's something special there but I can't quantify it.

    So I wonder if that "special something" about tubular isn't the tubular construction at all and just the fact they come with latex tubes inside. And that just using open tubular or other great quality clinchers with latex tubes would save a lot of hassle of gluing, carrying a spare tires ect.

    Waddayathink? Is there really 'something about tubular' or is it just the latex?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    ... using open tubular ... with latex tubes would save a lot of hassle...
    sounds good to me.

    only downside is the cost of the "great quality clincher" and time to reinflate the latex, as they lose pressure more quickly than butyl.
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackfrancois View Post
    sounds good to me.

    only downside is the cost of the "great quality clincher" and time to reinflate the latex, as they lose pressure more quickly than butyl.
    It's actually about $40 per tire cheaper to use clinchers + latex tubes vs the same level tubular. (assuming you're lucky enough to not destroy a few tubes during the tire's lifetime)

    Needing to re-inflate every ride is a minor hassle, I agree. I think a lot of people do that anyway though. Personally I didn't. More like twice a week but with latex it's every ride.

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    Then there's dealing with flats on a ride - Latex are less likely to puncture compared to Butyl tubes I hear. How long would it take to replace a tubular as compared to a tube and how much more room does a tubular take up vs a tube? (I carry butyl tubes for spares and go back to latex when I can change in a more controlled environment with talc etc).
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    Not all tubulars come with latex tubes. In fact, I don't think manufacturers advertise it, nor is there an easy way to know short of cutting open the tire.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter P. View Post
    Not all tubulars come with latex tubes. In fact, I don't think manufacturers advertise it, nor is there an easy way to know short of cutting open the tire.
    I'm pretty sure all the good ones that you hear people rave about (which is what we're talking about here) indeed do and it's not much of a secret. In about 40 seconds I was able to verify via google that Vittoria, Veloflex, Challenge and Michelin use latex in their good tubulars.

  7. #7
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    Once upon a time there wasn't the selection of good clincher tires that we have these days and if you wanted a truly good tire it had to be a tubular, and the ride was magical.

    Clincher tire construction has improved so much that the chasm between tubular and clincher has narrowed enough that much of the magic has diminished and much of the appeal of tubulars is snob appeal.
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    Yes, Vittoria Corsa, Challenge (all) and Veloflex (all) tubulars have latex tubes.

    As for cost, I've found the basic challenge tubulars for ~$40 online, and got Tufo S3 Pro tires for $60/pair last year. Even so, if you price a GOOD clincher with a GOOD latex tube (and also consider the cost of a GOOD rim tape and a set of GOOD tire levers), the price of tubulars is not so different. When you go down to cheap tires, it is, for some reason. Also, cheap tubulars are generally awful....

    As for time required to change a flat tubular on the road (assuming that you aren't going to try using one of the puncture repair liquids..) is as easy as rip the old tire off, then seat a new tire. I'd bet that, on the road, I can change a tire and ride off on a new (spare) tire 3 minutes quicker than it takes to change a tube (not that it's a benefit I would have any need for). As for space, I keep a couple old Clement latex tubulars as spares (cotton casing, kinda cheap and flat-prone, but lightweight and very flexible) as spares, which take up little more space than a tube does. I hear that there is a comparable Michelin tubular available now.

    So, why do tubulars ride better? It mostly has to do with sidewall deflection. Tubulars by design have more sidewall, and a round cross-section, whereas clinches not only have a shorter sidewall, but the sidewall ends in a rigid connection to the rim in the same plane as a common impact vector would be. The tubular flexes, the clincher sends the shock up through the rim.

    As for the latex vs. butyl, I would say that Conti Sprinters come really close to the latex ride for a butyl tube.
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    Boy. I sure would like to know your procedure for just "ripping the tire off". Mine are on there pretty good. I've started carrying a tire iron just to get the release started.
    I'd say I can make a change in maybe 10 minutes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post
    Once upon a time there wasn't the selection of good clincher tires that we have these days and if you wanted a truly good tire it had to be a tubular, and the ride was magical.
    The ride was "magical" only in comparison to the crap clincher tires of the day. By the time I switched to Clinchers in 1998, I could hardly tell the difference between a high-end Michelin or Conti clincher and the Vittoria tubulars I was riding. In fact, I couldn't tell the difference. And my speed at my local weekly time trials didn't change a smidge either. Short of riding for a team where my mechanic prepares my wheels, I cannot imagine the rationale for riding tubulars in 2017. YMMV

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons View Post
    I cannot imagine the rationale for riding tubulars in 2017. YMMV
    yes, ymmv.

    if you have a large stable of high-end vintage lightweights with tubular wheelsets you've been riding for decades, you're not likely to replace them with clinchers on which you've had little experience.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons View Post
    The ride was "magical" only in comparison to the crap clincher tires of the day. By the time I switched to Clinchers in 1998, I could hardly tell the difference between a high-end Michelin or Conti clincher and the Vittoria tubulars I was riding. In fact, I couldn't tell the difference. And my speed at my local weekly time trials didn't change a smidge either. Short of riding for a team where my mechanic prepares my wheels, I cannot imagine the rationale for riding tubulars in 2017. YMMV
    Yep, that's what I was hinting at.

    Didn't Tony Martin show up at a couple of time trials on clinchers, 2/3 years ago, because they were "proven" faster?
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    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post

    Didn't Tony Martin show up at a couple of time trials on clinchers, 2/3 years ago, because they were "proven" faster?
    yup, I remember reading about that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    So I wonder if that "special something" about tubular isn't the tubular construction at all and just the fact they come with latex tubes inside.
    That's my feeling exactly. I rode tubulars until about 15 years ago. Tried some Vittorias with Vredestein latex tubes and was shocked how well the ride was, and this was on 21mm tires. Tubular tires as far as I see are like manual gear boxes in performance cars; It's simple nostalgia and less performance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    So I wonder if that "special something" about tubular isn't the tubular construction at all and just the fact they come with latex tubes inside. And that just using open tubular or other great quality clinchers with latex tubes would save a lot of hassle of gluing, carrying a spare tires etc.

    Waddayathink? Is there really 'something about tubular' or is it just the latex?
    I think a lot of it had to do with the construction of the tire, shape of the tire on the rim and the latex tube inside. I don't have a lot of experience with tubulars, so take my comments with a grain of salt here. I do long distance, solo / self-supported rides (not a Radonneur, but I could see myself stepping up a bit to short brevet distances) and so I prefer to use clinchers for the ease and speed of changing flats out on a ride, but I have noticed a few things.

    I remember a time, not that long ago, when in order to make a clincher tire that was really good at holding on to the rim and had decent flat protection meant a casing that was pretty thick, had a lower TPI for some rigidity meaning it was not overly flexible and the puncture belts were like steel. In those days, tubular tires rode like silk in comparison. Tubulars of the time were built differently....no need for a stiff bead, often a high TPI rubber tube casing with the tread applied, vs. some hard cooked clincher coming from a mold.

    Today, you have a lot of companies putting out clinchers using higher TPI for more supple casings, far more flexible and forgiving breaker belts and increasing numbers of wider rims (allowing for rounder tire profiles and lower pressures). Add in latex tubes with their more elastic properties, and clinchers can capture far, far more of the tubular magic from days of old.

    Are tubular tires still "magical"? If you're after those marginal gains and have the time to spend dealing with glue and curing then yes, there is still "something about tubular" there. With advances in clincher tech, premium clincher tires, more readily available wide rims and better quality latex tubes, I think the gap has closed significantly. I'd say you can get ~95% of the tubular magic these days from a high end clincher with latex tube on a wide rim without the hassles.
    So 8 times wasn't enough and I'm going back again:my participant page for the 2017 Alberta Ride to Conquer Cancer.

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    I raced a while in the last century and rode sew-ups for about 15 years, mostly Clement Criterium Setas, Vittoria CX/CG's and d'Elassandro's for racing and fast rides and training on whatever cheaper tires were available.
    I always think about that "magical" tubular ride so I've sat down and planned a couple of time to build up a set of sew-ups but can't pull the trigger. I figure for non-racing use a set of HED Belgiums with some 25mm Veloflex's would be nice. Then I think about glueing them up, (Tubasti for training, Continental Gold for racing), patching a flat, resewing and then reglueing the base tape and carrying a couple of pre-glued tires for spares and start to question the wisdom. Then I take a ride on my GP 4000's with latex tubes and realize they have a nice enough ride as it is. Certainly not worth the effort to me.

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    Made the switch to Veloflex Arenbergs on carbon 38 section rims. Don't see a significant difference in prep from clinchers, but only have about 1k miles on them so time will tell. Haven't heard much good about carbon clinchers, at least with rim brakes.

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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by mackgoo View Post
    Boy. I sure would like to know your procedure for just "ripping the tire off". Mine are on there pretty good. I've started carrying a tire iron just to get the release started.
    I'd say I can make a change in maybe 10 minutes.
    Back in the day, the "procedure" was to glue them on just enough to hold, but no more than that. It's difficult to explain--had to do with the choice of glue, how much you put on the rim and how much on the tire, and when exactly you put the tire on the rim.

    Then there were tricks if you were worried about not being able to do a tire change in less than two minutes. One of them was to put a strip of paper on one rim space between two spoke holes (on 36-hole rims) for a starting place. If you didn't fear death, you put two strips of paper on two rim spaces (not adjacent, but separated by one glued rim space) to give you two starting points for your two thumbs. Not recommending this, just the way it was back then.

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    I've just started riding a set of Vittoria Corsa G+ with Conti Race Lite (butyl) tubes. We sold through our stock of latex tubes and all the distributors have been out - maybe the word is getting out about this? Anyhow, if there's a nicer riding road tire of any format - tubular, tubeless, whatever - than these, I'd sure like to try them. The tests say these are fast, so I'll have to take that for what it's worth. My rear end says they're the most supple tires I've ever used, and the grip is kind of insane. What they'll feel like with latex tubes I can only imagine (although the thin Conti tubes are pretty great.

    I don't expect them to last too long but if they die tomorrow it will be one of those "'tis better to have loved and lost..." deals. They're good.

    Coincidentally, I've been thinking for the last couple of weeks that tubulars could easily be the next flavor of the month for road use. As people become hip to the fact that aerodynamic differences between various rims are nowhere close to what people had come to believe they are, the next place to go is light. And no rim does light quite like a carbon tubular can. The physics aren't there to support substantial performance gains, but just this morning I read a bike review that called a 750g difference between variants of the same bike a "serious performance hamstring when climbing" or some such hyperbole. And while no one has a wind tunnel in the basement and people can (and do!) argue the veracity of wind tunnel tests until the cows come home, everyone has a scale and the scale isn't subject to interpretation.

  20. #20
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    I didn't find the grip all that impressive.. was riding them on damp roads and they spooked me a number of times. Back to arenburgs and turbo cotton. I may try the g+ again if it ever stops raining


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    Quote Originally Posted by scott967 View Post
    Made the switch to Veloflex Arenbergs on carbon 38 section rims. Don't see a significant difference in prep from clinchers, but only have about 1k miles on them so time will tell. Haven't heard much good about carbon clinchers, at least with rim brakes.

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    You're kidding, right? There is no 'prep' for clinchers, and there is a plenty of it for tubulars. You must have been thinking ride quality, at least I hope so.
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    Quote Originally Posted by November Dave View Post
    I've just started riding a set of Vittoria Corsa G+ with Conti Race Lite (butyl) tubes. We sold through our stock of latex tubes and all the distributors have been out - maybe the word is getting out about this? Anyhow, if there's a nicer riding road tire of any format - tubular, tubeless, whatever - than these, I'd sure like to try them. The tests say these are fast, so I'll have to take that for what it's worth. My rear end says they're the most supple tires I've ever used, and the grip is kind of insane. What they'll feel like with latex tubes I can only imagine (although the thin Conti tubes are pretty great.

    I don't expect them to last too long but if they die tomorrow it will be one of those "'tis better to have loved and lost..." deals. They're good.
    November Dave, I'm glad to hear it. I've got the same tires lined up for this season with latex tubes. I've heard a lot about the Vittoria Corsa tires (especially about them being a bit fragile) over the years, but the Corsa G+ (not the Corsa Speed) has been getting pretty favorable reviews all around. I don't expect to get much more than a season out of them with my Clyde butt riding around, but I suspect that they will put my previous tires to shame in terms of ride feel.

    I've used Conti GP4000s's in the past, not bad, but the feel was muted a bit. Tried the Schwalbe Ones after that....latex tubes and a little more lively casing made them really nice, but they took a bit of a beating...they get to start the season for me, but I expect to be getting more flats soon.
    So 8 times wasn't enough and I'm going back again:my participant page for the 2017 Alberta Ride to Conquer Cancer.

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    I'm going to give latex tubes a go with 4000s ii.

    I'm also needing a set of 25s for the Speedster, prob going to stick with 4000s ii since that's what I know and they have been fast, reliable, and good puncture resistance.

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