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So what's the deal with tubs these days?

geetee1972geetee1972 Posts: 4
edited May 2013 in Road general
I've got back into road riding over the last 18 months, having grown up on the road from 12 to 16 but then switched to mountain biking. As a kid, I always wanted a pair of 'sprint tubulars' but was never allowed due to the cost. Now having hit the 40 mark and having got back into the road as a way of spending more time on a bike (it's all bikes, it's all good), I am hankering after a pair of tubs for sunday best.

I already have a decent set of all round riding wheels, built around H Plus Son Archetype clinchers and I have enjoyed the comfortable feel of Vittoria Open Paves on these.

But the idea of a high quality set of hand built sprints is very appealing. Is it just nostalgia, curiosity or is there still some performance benefit to be had as there always was?
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  • declan1declan1 Posts: 2,470
    First of all, welcome!

    I have no experience in them, but tubulars are known to have better ride quality and are therefore faster than clinchers. They are, however, not very easy at all to repair at the side of the road if you get a puncture. I would only use them for racing if I ended up getting some.

    Road - Dolan Preffisio
    MTB - On-One Inbred

    I have no idea what's going on here.
  • BarteosBarteos Posts: 657
    Tubs are generally no faster per se but they are more resistant to pinch flats therefore the main benefit is being able to run them safely at LOWER pressure not at ultra high PSI as most of people believe.
    On most surfaces other than a velodrome or smooth tarmac reducing pressure will result in lower rolling resistance and improved comfort.

    Personally I'd go tubeless instead especially when more 28mm tyres become available. It'll eventually render tubs obsolete.
    EDIT: Perhaps pros will be still using them due to weight saving (rims) ...
  • geetee1972geetee1972 Posts: 4
    Thanks for the response guys. I was beginning to doubt whether this was a bike forum at all. A question posted about an oft debated topic and yet no one has an opinion? What is the world coming to.

    I wonder actually whether the lack of insights is because barely anyone runs tubs anymore, which probably tells me what I need to know.

    For the record, while tubs are a pain to repair (I vividly remember my dad with his sewing kit, unstiching his tubs to get at the inner tube. What a faff that must have been), changing a tub can be far quicker than changing an inner tube. Peter Burgin still offers a mail order repair service and was telling me that he could change and inflate a tub in under 90 seconds! It does of course require you to carry a spare (he said he always carries at least two!) at which point any weight saving you might see is lost to the additional weight of the spares.

    The lower pressure point is interesting. I've not yet pinch flatted on the road bike; on the mountain bike it was a routine problem that was solved either by going tubeless (but still running the same pressure as you can still pinch flat a tubeless clincher, it's just that you then make the tyre useless for tubeless application) or running dual ply tyres.It will be interesting to see if it happens on the road.

    I am still hankering after a nice set of Ambrosio Nemesis rims on maybe Royce hubs but I think I will resist :lol:
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    Recently got some for time trials and they seem (with different wheels of course) faster/better to me.

    I can see why people do not try them, but I enjoyed the experience and feel a better cyclist for it :-)

    Lot of negativity on here about a whole load of good things IMO
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,019
    Still commonplace in racing & TTs, even at club level. Not worth using outside of a competitive environment, IMO...
  • GrillGrill Posts: 5,610
    Rode a week in Majorca on tubs last month. Best decision ever.
    English Cycles V3 | Cervelo P5 | Cervelo T4 | Trek Domane Koppenberg
  • I have tubs for racing, highdays and holidays. Lovely.
    Forget the hysteria whipped up about repairing punctures.
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • thegreatdividethegreatdivide Posts: 5,112
    I have tubs for racing, highdays and holidays. Lovely.
    Forget the hysteria whipped up about repairing punctures.

    What he said.

    If you can change a clincher you can change a tub. If you need to take your Dogma to the LBS to get a flat changed they're not for you ;-)
  • lotus49lotus49 Posts: 763
    Sheldon Brown (PBUH) reckons that tubs do not have lower rolling resistance than good clinchers.

    I have never had to change a tub but having watched videos it looks like a big pain. I have read people talking about how long it took to get the old glue off or how hard it was to get the new tub on completely straight etc and that completely put me off. Added to which, tubs are not really repairable by someone who doesn't have experience of doing so.

    I like the idea of tubs but I cannot help feeling that there is a good reason why very few people who don't race use them.
  • bernithebikerbernithebiker Posts: 4,148
    I use tubs every day, 365 days a year.

    1. Comfort - MUCH more supple ride.

    2. Weight - the wheel (rim) is lighter, and you save on the tyre too.

    3. More puncture resistant, not only to pinch flats but also to penetration type punctures

    4. If you carry a spare (if it's not a sportive, I don't bother) you are covered against tyre damage (eg. sidewall blowout)

    It takes a bit of time to glue them up, first time round, but it's a kind of zen like experience, enjoy it!
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    The way I see it is that they are better and faster.

    IMO the reason people who don't 'race' don't use them is that you need to buy new wheels, the tyres themselves are not cheap and there are other hassles and costs which means that financially its probably not worth it for them for the perceived gains.

    I would not be surprised if a lot of the people going on about top of the range clinchers being nearly as good, do not even have top of the range clinchers!

    I agree that they are probably better for racing, but racing is just riding fast at the end of the day, and most of us want to do that a lot!

    Am well jealous of what Grill did. I love the idea of riding on the continent and thinking about doing it on tubs (now that I have tried them) sounds like heaven.

    Have not had a puncture yet but agree with berni on the 'zen experience' as it was a lot of pleasure putting them all together :wink:
  • lotus49lotus49 Posts: 763
    Carbonator wrote:
    Have not had a puncture yet but agree with berni on the 'zen experience' as it was a lot of pleasure putting them all together :wink:
    At home perhaps, by the side of the road in the dark and the rain, definitely not.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    lotus49 wrote:
    Carbonator wrote:
    Have not had a puncture yet but agree with berni on the 'zen experience' as it was a lot of pleasure putting them all together :wink:
    At home perhaps, by the side of the road in the dark and the rain, definitely not.

    Why would I be racing about in the dark and rain?

    I feel they are more for racing and would not be using in a situation where a flat would leave me stranded or with difficulties.

    I only got them for time trials and have a tube of sealant to put in if one flats.
    My Time trial would be over anyway so worse case my mate would come to pick me up when he had finished, or I would have a long walk back to the car.

    If I used them on other events I would make sure I had back up plans.

    If I ever get to use them on a european cycling holiday I think I would look forward to a puncture ;-)
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    I would have thought the actual changing of the tyre is no harder (if not easier) than a clincher/tube anyway.
    The pain/worry for me (if I used them on normal rides) would be having to take 2 whole tyres, not having done it before and the cost.
    I have deep section rims which I would not use on normal rides anyway.

    Having tried them (and liking them) I would get some more standard tubular wheels and four sets of tyres to use on normal rides........... if I had the cash.

    Anyone tried latex tubes in their clinchers?
  • thegreatdividethegreatdivide Posts: 5,112
    I'm glad I took the plunge this year. Rode 88 miles in the sun on my tubs and 303's yesterday. It was bliss. I left the house with a can of Pitt Stop, a rolled up Tufo that's only slightly larger than an inner tube, a C02 and head. That means I'm ready for both scenarios if I'm miles from home. Small hole? Pitt Stop. Ripped tyre - back up tub.

    +1 to tub gluing Zen btw :-) I really enjoy the gluing process. Cleaning a rim to factory fresh was a pi$$er at the start but I've found a solvent that means it only takes as long as a TiVo'd Tour stage :lol:
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    Mine is 'tape Zen' to be honest :oops:

    My OCD will not allow me glue :shock: (too messy and random)
  • DHTTDHTT Posts: 345
    I think tubs are mainly used for racing, but when my friend went to Holland for a racing trip all the guys he was training and racing with were running tubs apparently and they just carried a spare under the saddle. Another rider I know has loads of alu tubulars for racing and a few sets for training.

    I've only ridden 50mm carbon tubulars which I use for racing only and I can feel a slight difference in feel of the tubs, I think Pinch flats are supposed to be eliminated (but could be wrong!)

    I've been hankering after a set of alu tubulars for a while now as a low profile set of race wheels. On the plus side I did my work experience the other week at Bike Chain in Cornwall and whilst there I found a load of tubular rims Mavic, Wolber etc. So hopefully I'll have a pair soon and be able to give you some first hand views on them.
  • jordan_217jordan_217 Posts: 2,580
    Carbonator wrote:
    Mine is 'tape Zen' to be honest :oops:

    My OCD will not allow me glue :shock: (too messy and random)


    Use an acid/flux brush to apply the glue, be methodical, take your time and its not messy at all. Just ensure you do it in a well ventilated area.

    I fitted my race bike with tubs and the ride is sublime. They are low/mid range Conti tubs and in comparison to high end Conti clinchers they just feel nicer to ride. Cant comment on any differences in speed, after all its the same engine!

    Arundel make the Tubi saddle bag which fits a single spare tub and I carry some Tufo sealant too.

    As others have said, I'm so glad I took the plunge. In fact the sun is shining so I'll give the race bike a spin tonight :)
    “Training is like fighting with a gorilla. You don’t stop when you’re tired. You stop when the gorilla is tired.”
  • lotus49lotus49 Posts: 763
    +1 to tub gluing Zen btw :-) I really enjoy the gluing process. Cleaning a rim to factory fresh was a pi$$er at the start but I've found a solvent that means it only takes as long as a TiVo'd Tour stage :lol:
    What, only 3 hours! Replacing a clincher inner tube takes about as long as an ad break in a Tour stage.

    I am quite prepared to believe that tubs give a nice ride but this reaffirms my belief that it cannot be worth the effort. I have limited free time (job, three children etc) and I just don't have time to take hours over a simple puncture repair.

    To those of you who are happy with your tubs, I wish you well with them, but this thread has confirmed to me that, for most people, tubs are for racing only.
  • GrillGrill Posts: 5,610
    Teach your kids how to glue tubs. It's a good character-building exercise.
    English Cycles V3 | Cervelo P5 | Cervelo T4 | Trek Domane Koppenberg
  • mycoolmycool Posts: 35
    I thought that another reason that the Pros use tubs is that you can still ride a reasonable distance on a flat meaning they can ride until the team car gets to them to change the wheel?

    Might be complete bobbins but kind of makes sense - although not sure I'd like to ride my race wheels for any distance with a flat.
  • bernithebikerbernithebiker Posts: 4,148
    mycool wrote:
    I thought that another reason that the Pros use tubs is that you can still ride a reasonable distance on a flat meaning they can ride until the team car gets to them to change the wheel?

    Might be complete bobbins but kind of makes sense - although not sure I'd like to ride my race wheels for any distance with a flat.

    True. I've ridden the last 5km home with a flat rear tubular - very gently and with my weight over the front - the rims were fine.
  • southdownswolfsouthdownswolf Posts: 1,514
    mycool wrote:
    I thought that another reason that the Pros use tubs is that you can still ride a reasonable distance on a flat meaning they can ride until the team car gets to them to change the wheel?

    Might be complete bobbins but kind of makes sense - although not sure I'd like to ride my race wheels for any distance with a flat.

    True. I've ridden the last 5km home with a flat rear tubular - very gently and with my weight over the front - the rims were fine.

    It's not the fact that you can ride a distance, more the fact that you can still corner. If a clincher punctures as you are going around a corner, then the tyre could come off the rim. That is unlikely to happen with a tub as it is glued on, therefore it is safer if it does puncture.
  • TakeTurnsTakeTurns Posts: 1,075
    mycool wrote:
    I thought that another reason that the Pros use tubs is that you can still ride a reasonable distance on a flat meaning they can ride until the team car gets to them to change the wheel?

    Might be complete bobbins but kind of makes sense - although not sure I'd like to ride my race wheels for any distance with a flat.


    True. I've ridden the last 5km home with a flat rear tubular - very gently and with my weight over the front - the rims were fine.

    How'd you manage that...I tried that on my first ever puncture on tubs. It was a wet, rainy day and the rear wheel would just randomly slide about. Had to cab it home. Maybe it was because the moisture had affected the glue and made it weaker? I did use tape back then, perhaps that may have been an influence as well...
  • bernithebikerbernithebiker Posts: 4,148
    TakeTurns wrote:
    mycool wrote:
    I thought that another reason that the Pros use tubs is that you can still ride a reasonable distance on a flat meaning they can ride until the team car gets to them to change the wheel?

    Might be complete bobbins but kind of makes sense - although not sure I'd like to ride my race wheels for any distance with a flat.


    True. I've ridden the last 5km home with a flat rear tubular - very gently and with my weight over the front - the rims were fine.

    How'd you manage that...I tried that on my first ever puncture on tubs. It was a wet, rainy day and the rear wheel would just randomly slide about. Had to cab it home. Maybe it was because the moisture had affected the glue and made it weaker? I did use tape back then, perhaps that may have been an influence as well...

    Maybe yours wasn't glued on very well. I still had to pull hard to get mine off when I got home.

    I think the difference here is that if a clincher deflates, the rim contacts the ground almost immediately, whereas if a tubular deflates the tyre protects the rim.

    I would imagine a pro could easily finish a race at 30km/h+ on a flat tubular if he wasn't bothered about the cost of the wheel......!
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,689
    Barteos wrote:

    Personally I'd go tubeless instead especially when more 28mm tyres become available. It'll eventually render tubs obsolete.
    EDIT: Perhaps pros will be still using them due to weight saving (rims) ...

    I have no idea what you are basing your assumptions on... who said tubs will become obsolete? You?
    Why tubeless is better? In which way tubeless would be better? Because you can gunk them with half a litre of sealant and make them kind of puncture proof? You can seal anything, from your trousers and roof to your tubs and clinchers...
    I think your opinions are completely unfounded
  • geetee1972geetee1972 Posts: 4
    I've been away so am late coming back to the thread and all the responses. Thanks for all the comments and insights. I think I can see the way through the pros and cons.

    One other question, how many people running tubs actually mend their own punctures (as opposed to sending them off to someone else to do it)?
  • racingcondorracingcondor Posts: 1,434
    Send them off for me (or will be when it happens).

    If you don't then you have to source some appropriate glue, twill tape of the right width and then you still have the rather time consuming job of fixing the thing. I might do it once so I can use coloured base tape but I expect that to be the time that convinces me to leave it to the experts...
  • If you need to change a tub out on the road, you don't need to glue the new one on, just ride carefully and sort out properly when you're back home. Residual glue on rim and tub is more than enough to hold it in place.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,689
    geetee1972 wrote:
    I've been away so am late coming back to the thread and all the responses. Thanks for all the comments and insights. I think I can see the way through the pros and cons.

    One other question, how many people running tubs actually mend their own punctures (as opposed to sending them off to someone else to do it)?

    I have fixed a few... nothing I would be proud of, but they do work, except the base tape is not as well glued as it was before, but I suspect even the man in Doncaster cannot glue it back like Vittoria did
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