tubulars or wider tubeless tires
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  1. #1
    dcb
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    tubulars or wider tubeless tires

    I used to race quite a bit but my schedule hasn't allowed much of it in the last couple of years. This year there might be few races that I can take part in and I'm thinking about tire setup.

    In the past I've never raced on anything but tubular or tubeless 33mm tires. I've noticed that this year at Nationals they are allowing 37mm tires and it has me thinking about running some wider tubeless tires. In the races I've done in the past I don't think anybody cared to measure any tires and there's an occasional mtb here and there. I've never cared what anybody else does but I like to generally be within the rules which is why I've never run anything larger than 33's. Now that the rules have changed a bit, here's my conundrum:

    I've got a set of tubular wheels with one good tire on them which is a Challenge Limus S addition. I think it's in good enough shape to run it in a few races this year should the need arise. I'd just have to replace the other tire on the set as the Chicane that's on the rear wheel is shot.

    So I'd end up with a set of tubulars that I'd use for muddy races and mount up some bigger 35-37mm tubeless tires to my other wheels with lower profile treads for faster, dryer courses.

    Or, I could sell or tear down my tubular wheels and use the hubs to lace up to another set of tubeless rims and run 2 sets of tubeless wheels.

    I don't care about the added effort of gluing tubulars. I've done it plenty of times and yes, it's harder than mounting tubeless tires, but it's fine with me.

    I'm primarily asking about other riders experiences with wider tubeless tires vs 33mm tubies. I've also noticed that there are some 34mm tubulars available that might be an option as well.

  2. #2
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    I think it really depends on the courses you intend to run. How bumpy/rooted/etc. they are. And how much you intend to race. You might also consider buying some latex tubes and a few sets of decent "open tubular" clinchers with various tread types. Unless you are running super low pressure, I've found that set up to work pretty well, down into the mid-30 psi using 32-34mm wide tires. And I ran tubulars as well, and found for me running lower on the tubs wasn't a benefit, as the tires were too squirmy at pressures below what I could achieve with the latex tubes and clinchers. I'd imagine using a tubeless rim could give you a lower psi to work with, as it would secure the tire a bit better. Take that with a grain of salt from a pretty slow light on my wheels/tires rider.

    As for widths... unless things have changed in the last few years you are only subject to tire restrictions if you are racing USAC Pro/1 or UCI Pro/1 events or going for an age-related national championship. So for the bulk of us, you can run whatever you want from skinny to fat.

  3. #3
    dcb
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    Thanks Krisdrum! That's interesting about the latex tubes, I've never run them before. I should have mentioned that I do have a tubeless setup as well although I've usually raced tubulars. I've got a set of Clement PDX tubeless tires set up on my clinchers. So I've typically used the PDX's for sloppier courses and the tubulars for dryer faster courses, which is most of them. So I have experience with tubeless setups and I mountain bike as well. I'm just really wondering more about wider tubeless setups.

  4. #4
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    Yep, you did mention you already have a tubeless set-up. I guess the question for me is, if you can legally go wider, why wouldn't you? Obviously (I hope) there is a trade off between rolling resistance and comfort/contact patch size/ability to lower your psi. I'm sure as you push the width bigger there is a tipping point at which the advantages of a wider tire become outweighed by the drawbacks. With cross, I'd probably prioritize the comfort/grip/suspension a wider tire with lower psi provides, as the increase in rolling resistance is probably minimal for the tire sizes I assume you are looking at (34-38mm). I doubt you'll feel much difference unless you are looking at tires significantly heavier than your current tubeless set-up, as that would impact how quickly the wheel would spin up on hard accelerations. There may be some conditions where a narrower tire excels (mud, where you might have a more solid layer beneath and want to cut through instead of float on top), but overall I would think a wider tire would be an advantage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dcb View Post
    Thanks Krisdrum! That's interesting about the latex tubes, I've never run them before.
    I'm a big fan. IMO latex is what makes tubular tires so good not that they are just tubular per se.

    But a huge part of my being fan is being lazy and incompetent with regard to tubular and tubeless. I suppose you could always try them with a tubeless rim then reverse course and go tubeless if it doesn't pan out.

    Regarding pinch flats with (latex) tubes. I have no real scientific proof but from what I've read and experiences they are very resistant to pinch flats.
    I don't 'race' cross but do a lot of that type of riding. Glass, wire and that type of flat that tubeless would seal up don't seem to be much of an issue on those surfaces.

    One issue when you get up in size is limited options. As far as I know Challenge is the only option for latex 33 and above and they are not always easy to find.
    Last edited by Jay Strongbow; 2 Weeks Ago at 04:06 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    I'm a big fan. IMO latex is what makes tubular tires so good not that they are just tubular per se.

    But a huge part of my being fan is being lazy and incompetent with regard to tubular and tubeless. I suppose you could always try them with a tubeless rim then reverse course and go tubeless if it doesn't pan out.

    Regarding pinch flats with (latex) tubes. I have no real scientific proof but from what I've read and experiences they are very resistant to pinch flats.
    I don't 'race' cross but do a lot of that type of riding. Glass, wire and that type of flat that tubeless would seal up don't seem to be much of an issue on those surfaces.

    One issue when you get up in size is limited options. As far as I know Challenge is the only option for latex 33 and above and they are not always easy to find.
    Yep, this mirrors my experience as well. I have found latex to be a very good option that is often overlooked. It does a lot of the stuff you are looking for from tubular and tubeless in a more convenient package.

  7. #7
    dcb
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    Well my decision has kinda' been made for me. I put my tubular set up on ebay a few weeks ago at a decent price for me without caring too much whether they sold or not. I figured if they didn't sell I might have bought another tire and used them, or taken them apart and used the hubs for a tubeless build.

    Now that they've sold I'll be looking for another tubeless setup. I'm not sure what I'm going to get yet, but I may try the latex tube thing. We will see.

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