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Technical FAQ: Tubular gluing and taping, cold-weather braking and tire changing

Zinn answers questions about 'cross tubular glue/tape combos, the right brakes for cold-weather riding, and how to stop a slipping cleat

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Dear Lennard,
My shop recently glued up a set of Clement MXPs for me using Tufo Tape and layers of glue. I’ve since been doing some research and found that there’s a bunch of negative reviews about this method, but most seem to reference Tufo Extreme and Tufo Regular tape. It seems Tufo has updated their tape since most of these reviews with just a general Road tape option. I’ve found one review on this presumed newer tape that’s favorable but no other information.

Have you heard any feedback on Tufo Tape and CX recently?
— Logan

Dear Logan,
I checked with Tufo, and the response I received was, “no changes, one tape for road, one tape for MTB, no tape for CX.”

I have tried what your shop did, and I can say that Tufo road tape didn’t work adequately for that application. I used a combination of both Tufo Extreme and Tufo standard road tape and glue about five years ago on a number of cyclocross wheels, and all of them either rolled off in races or would have if I hadn’t re-glued them. I did roll three of them in races before I had the sense to pull them all off. The Tufo tape delaminated (it’s a multi-layer tape), and the tires came off incredibly easily. It’s possible that the glue caused the tape to delaminate, but I know that adhesion without glue is also insufficient for CX with Tufo road tape. I recommend you have the shop re-glue those tires; at least pull one off to see what the adhesion is like before you attempt racing on the other one.

I’ve also tried a combination of Velox Jantex tubular gluing tape and layers of glue, and that also didn’t keep the tires on. I rolled three of those in races, too, before I had the sense to pull them all off.

I only recommend gluing CX tires with’s “Belgian Tape.” Here’s the method, and it also mentions my preliminary experience with Tufo tape and glue in CX; unfortunately, the photos showing the gluing process as well as the delaminated Tufo tape were not archived with the article.
— Lennard

Dear Lennard,
I live in Minneapolis, and with all the new (sort of) road bikes with disc brakes, larger tire clearances and fender mounting, I’m considering a wet/cold weather commuting bike. My question also pertains to fat bikes, which are very common up here.

I’ve looked all over the web, called a few manufacturers, and no one seems to have good information about cold weather performance of disc brakes, whether operating or storage. I’ve seen mention that mineral oil should be stored at room temperature, but that’s very generic advice, and that DOT fluid will absorb moisture.

What’s best in the cold — mineral oil, DOT fluid, cable, or cable/hydraulic with mineral oil (TRP HY/RD)?
— Greg

Dear Greg,
Since hydraulic disc brakes work so much better than anything else in warm and down to quite cold weather, and since there aren’t too many days each year that the temperatures in Minneapolis get down to -10F or colder, I’d still use hydraulic discs. Given that the viscosity of mineral oil and DOT fluid is about the same to start with, I’m willing to bet that the added sluggishness both of them develop in deep cold will be similar.

Below are some answers from some diehard winter riders.
― Lennard

From an any-weather rider in Winnipeg:
“I like mechanical disks for really cold weather, especially if you store your bike indoors. A warm rim planted into soft snow will instantly render rim brakes useless, as the snow melts onto the rim and freezes again. That said, I rode with rim brakes for years, and got by okay. I recently rode with a guy on expensive hydraulic brakes in minus 25C (-13F). He said they worked, but were a little slow. I would stick with less expensive, more robust cables.”
— Andrew

From a dedicated New Hampshire fat-bike snow rider:
“I really have never had an issue with my hydro discs in the winter, aside from sometimes (and this is only an Avid issue) some howling. That being said, I recently switched to the new SRAM centerline rotors and they are very quiet so far.

I also have always run the organic pads instead of sintered. They wear faster, but have much better performance right out of the box.

I personally love my Avid Trail 9 brakes, but next time around I’ll be switching up to the new SRAM Guide brakes.”
— Kris

Dear Lennard,
I have a question for you about road tubeless tires. I was doing my Milano-Sanremo impression yesterday by riding in snowy weather, when I flatted my rear tire. It’s a Hutchinson Fusion tubeless, on a Bontrager race 29 tubeless wheel, on my CX bike. I went to put a tube in, but spent 30 minutes in the cold just trying to get the tire off with no success. Eventually I had to call a cab before hypothermia set in.

In my warm living room this morning, the tire comes off by hand in 10 seconds. I’m assuming the cold yesterday (~34F) shrunk the bead, locking it in super tight? But that’s not really workable if I can’t change the tire in an emergency. Is there a magical tool I don’t know about for cold weather removal, or do I have to switch to clinchers for the winter?
— Alex

Dear Alex,
I think the answer is that there is no such magical tool. I asked a bunch of tubeless riders, including Stan of Stan’s NoTubes itself, and they all said they hadn’t run into that before. So I don’t imagine a tool exists for something that not many people run into. I can’t personally remember changing a tubeless tire at freezing temperatures.

I’m assuming that you meant “around 34F” (i.e., just above freezing) and not “-34F”, when you wrote “~34F.” But if you actually meant you were trying to change a tire at 34 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, then I think there’s a deeper issue here, in addition to the fact that the sealant would be frozen.

If you ride above the freezing point, and even within a few degrees below it, you’re still less likely to have a flat if you are running tubeless tires with sealant than if you’re running tubes. So I’d still tend to stick to tubeless tires for their reliability and chalk this one up as a one-off that you probably won’t ever have to face again.
― Lennard

Dear Lennard,
I have Shimano shoes with hard/slippery plastic bottoms and Look cleats with hard plastic bottoms. No matter how much I tighten the screws (I am strong) they slip after five or six spin classes.

I have tried Loctite blue and red they still slip out of my desired position. I weight 185lbs and spin pretty hard.
— B.

Dear B.,
Try gluing a piece of sandpaper, rough side out, to the bottom of the cleat; I suggest using contact cement (put it on both surfaces, allow them to dry, then stick them together). Once it’s glued on, trim around the cleat and in the cleat holes with a razor knife. The sandpaper will dig into the hard shoe sole and keep it from slipping.

I also wonder if Park Tool’s SAC-2 SuperGrip Carbon and Alloy Assembly Compound might work. This stuff is amazing at how it makes a carbon seatpost that constantly slipped down become super difficult to pull out of the frame.
― Lennard