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Technical FAQ: Tubular care and hacking SRAM hubs for 11-speed

In Tech FAQ, Lennard Zinn and industry pros weigh in on storing tubular tires, peeling carbon wheels, and modifying SRAM hubs for 11-speed

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Happy December, readers. We’re into the waning hours of cyclocross season here in the States and we’re fielding a number of questions on tubular care for the cyclocross off-season, so I’ll address two of those here. Additionally, a reader wrote in with a great question on hacking SRAM hubs for 11-speed retrofits. I have thoughts on this and SRAM also weighed in on the topic.

How should I store tubulars?

Dear Lennard,
I’m trying to figure out how to take care of tubular tires during the off-season. Should I try to suck out the Stan’s in the tires if I’ve put some in? Should I keep them pumped up when I’m not using them? Should I do anything special before I ride on them again besides inspecting closely to make sure the glue job is still strong? What’s the life of a glue job anyway? Does it differ from a road tubular to a ’cross tubular?

Dear Jay,
Well, my method has been to drain, rinse with water, and, when possible, suck the sealant out. However, suction only works on Tufos and Clements; it won’t work on tubulars with inner tubes inside, because the opposite wall of the inner tube will immediately get sucked against the valve opening, and no air can pass from the nether regions of the inner tube.

If you had sealant in them, no matter how well you thought you got it out, keep air in the tires, and keep rotating them throughout the off-season, or when you pump them up next fall, you will hear the stuck areas try to come unstuck as you’re inflating, and the inner tube will suddenly blow. In other words, don’t leave the valve open over the off-season, as it allows the tube to dry inside and stick to itself. I’ve had this happen to me with a number of tires, and it can be very disheartening. It is a real pain to replace the inner tube in a tubular, but when they’re practically unworn and are so pricey. …

I think the little bit of water left in there after rinsing out the sealant (or moisture from in air from an air compressor if you pump your tires with one that is not drained regularly) can stick the inner tube together, too. As there is no inner tube inside them, this won’t happen with a Tufo or Clement tubular, but if you don’t rotate one of those regularly, any remaining sealant will dry in a blob in one spot inside if the valve is left open.

Here is what Stan says:

He will never be able to get the sealant out. Tubulars have tubes inside them and the evaporation will be very slow. I have a set of tubulars I used for demos. I would poke holes in them and did it for years without adding sealant.

I would tell him to leave the air in because it’s already 100 percent humidified. If the tire loses air, do not put in fresh air. Just leave it flat until the next time he wants to use it.
—Stan Koziatek
Founder, Stan’s NoTubes

From Effetto Mariposa:

Here’s my 2 cents.

Regarding storage, I’m on the same page as Stan’s, except that I wouldn’t leave the tubulars completely deflated: tubulars don’t get completely deflated anyway, but it’s important not to deflate them on purpose and/or leave them on the floor so that the wheel weight pinches the tubular. No real tubular aficionado would do that, and it becomes more important when there’s sealant inside (there’s a remote chance that a thin layer of sealant pinched that way glues two sides of the inner tube together).

As for the life of a glue job, I have my experience coming from my Vittoria years, but I read the same in one of your answers (perhaps two years ago?) to a similar question … checking the tubular at low pressure and common sense are the key.
—Alberto De Gioannini
Founder, Effetto Mariposa

As for the glue, inspection is key before using them again, yes. Try to peel them off at low pressure. No way to predict life of your glue job, as it depends on the job and on the environmental conditions where it was during the on- and off-season. Here in dry Boulder (normally, that is, our September flood notwithstanding), I consistently get at least two seasons out of a cyclocross tubular glue job. Road tubulars, due to the higher pressure and better fit to the rims, don’t have to be glued as securely as cyclocross tubulars, so they can certainly go that long with a good glue job.

More on peeling carbon with tubular removal

Dear Readers,
In the question from Ryan at the bottom of a column from September, he asked about carbon stuck to the base tape of his tubular tire being peeled up with the tire. As I said in my answer, it’s happened to me many times before. It happened to me again recently when peeling tubular gluing tape off of an Enve rim and a Xentis rim, so I asked Jake Pantone at Enve about it, and his answer is below.

Answer from Enve:

The tire bed of the rim bears a relatively minor role in the overall strength of the rim. The tire bed completes the structure by connecting the two sidewalls and of course provides the mounting surface for tires.

When material is removed from the tire bed in the process of removing tape/tires it is not a catastrophic event and as you know you can simply remount a tire and ride on (as you have experienced). What can become a problem is if, when the tire is pulled, fiber is removed and it peels into the brake tracks and sidewall of the rim. This of course will create uneven braking that will most likely result in further deterioration of the brake track over time.
—Jake Pantone
Marketing and Sponsorship Manager, Enve

Can I hack SRAM hubs for 11-speed drivetrains?

Dear Lennard,
Further to your writings on 10-speed wheels (notably Zipp) and 11-speed Shimano, I have read on a forum (yes, a dubious source) of someone simply leaving out a cog from an 11-speed Shimano cassette and installing it on a 10-speed wheel with a 1 mm spacer. The rear derailleur limit screw was then adjusted so the 11-speed components were to be used as 10-speed for the time being, until the expense of newer wheels can be justified by the rider. Do you have information about this working or not?

Also: my recollection from the time of Zipp’s changes to its 2012 188 hubs was that the only thing changed was a fine-tuning of the angle for the non-drive-side spokes. Yes, Zipp is a company that frets over details, but can that subtle change of spoke angle really negate earlier 188 hubs from carrying an 11-speed Shimano cassette? If a simple 11-speed hack for 10-speed wheels is to switch to a Campagnolo 11-speed freehub body and cassette, which can be done with a pre-2012 188 hub, then I have a hard time believing the same 188 hub cannot carry a Shimano 11-speed cassette.

Dear David,
Yes, that works — leaving a cog and spacer out of an 11-speed cogset and using it on a 10-speed freehub. I’ve done it myself, and Shimano’s Wayne Stetina described doing that himself in a column from October.

As for the Zipp hub, I’ll let Zipp answer that below.

From Zipp:

We have provided a popular service to convert our 2012 model year wheels to become compatible with 11-speed cassettes. Those 2012 wheels are built using our 188v8 (or 188 version 8) hubs, which are those with the Beyond Black or Falcon Grey-colored hubs. Previous model 188v7 hubs (silver) have a narrow flange width and therefore the threads on the axle for the v7 hubs were placed more inboard so the clinch nut could thread up to the bearing on the non-drive side. Our 11-speed kit has the v8 axle where the threads are placed more outboard to accommodate the wider flange spacing of the 188v8 hub. If you try to use the v8 axle on a v7 hubshell, the clinch nut would run out of thread and not contact the non-drive side bearing. All model year 2013 and 2014 (with 188/v9 hub) model-year wheels are 11-speed compatible. For more information on our conversion service, visit our website.
—Dan Lee
Public Relations Specialist, Road Cycling and Cyclocross, SRAM/Zipp/Quarq