Technical FAQ with Lennard Zinn: Belgian Tape and wide rims

Lennard Zinn takes questions on Belgian Tape, wide rims for tubulars and carbon braking surfaces.

2011 Lennard Zinn FAQ, gluing tubulars
When gluing up tubulars for cyclocross, be sure to use the right tape. Photo (Lennard Zinn (file)

Q. Dear Lennard,

I just finished reading your November 1 FAQ and I wanted to clarify something about “Belgian Tape.” You say “Don’t use Jantex (a.k.a. “Belgian”) gluing tape on a road tubular.” While I don’t dispute the use of tape on a road tire, you allude to our Belgian Tape as being the same as Jantex. We source our own tape and while it seems very similar, it is fact quite different.

The Jantex tape is thicker than the tape we use and the Jantex has a tighter weave of fabric material than our tape. As such we notice that it doesn’t seem to “melt” into the glue nearly as well as our tape.

A couple of seasons ago we used the Jantex on some team wheels because we were out of the Belgian tape we normally use. After a couple of races we had some issues with tires having adequate adhesion to the rim.

We started to peel them off to investigate and found that they peeled off with considerable ease compared to tires we had done with our tape. We glue about 100 tires in a season and use the same method for each one. We ended up re-gluing a number of tires that had the Jantex and never had any issues after that.

This is just from our observations after using both the Jantex and the Belgian Tape, but I would say they are different and shouldn’t be labeled the same. I hope this helps to clear things up.

—Stuart Thorne, managing director,

A. Dear Stu,

I now see the folly of my assumption that your Belgian Tape and Jantex gluing tape (French, by the way) are the same. Since the yellow-brown paper release tape covering it looks the same and the sticky tape is white and of the same width, the only obvious difference is that the diameter of the roll your Belgian Tape comes on is larger than the Jantex roll. And since your Belgian Tape comes without packaging or logos of any kind, I was tempted to come up with a name or a brand for it other than “Belgian Tape.”

Last season, I used Belgian Tape with very good adhesion and nary a tire-rolling incident, despite running very low pressures (28-33psi) for somebody my size. This season, however, I didn’t want to bug you for more, and it’s easy to get Jantex tape with our normal QBP orders.

So I glued up three sets of carbon wheels with Jantex tape, using the method I’ve outlined here of two or more Vittoria glue layers on the rim, then tape, then glue over it, then mounting the tire. The tires had at least two layers of glue that had set on the base tape, and I moved them straight across from a glue-free stretching rim onto the freshly glued, taped wheel.

I also had three sets of carbon wheels that I had left glued over the summer with Belgian Tape. I’ve been racing and training on all six sets of those wheels this season, and I have yet to roll a tire off of any with Belgian Tape. However, I’ve now rolled three of the six tires off of the Jantex-taped wheels—a rear one off of a Campy Bora CX (no crash), and both the rear (no crash, but tore the valve stem off) and front (landed on my face in a dry irrigation ditch) of a pair of ENVE 1.25s.

So, my informal survey would lead me to believe that there is indeed a difference. I need to get some more Belgian Tape! Sorry I assumed they were the same.


Q. Dear Lennard,

Your articles are always so useful, and more times than not I’ve been able to find my answer to a bicycle-related question somewhere from something you or your colleagues at or Velo have written.

I have questions regarding the benefits of a wide-rimmed road tubular. I know that you create a larger contact patch on a clincher with a wider rim — is this also true for tubulars? I also prefer a wider tire to begin with (Vittoria Open Corsa CX 25mm). Would a wider rim better suit that width?

As a 20-year-old self-sponsored rider/racer, I want to try an aluminum tubular set before I commit to carbon (someday) and while I’ve been doing my research, I’ve found options to be slightly limited on both ends, so I just wanted to get a little input before I made a final choice.


A. Dear Chris,

The wider rim won’t create a wider contact patch with a tubular, but it will hold the tire on better.


Q. Dear Lennard,

I’ve been reading with no small amount of interest your ongoing commentary regarding carbon braking surfaces, specifically relative to the abuse they receive from pads with bits of embedded metal resulting from swapping wheelsets.

In your most recent review of Ritchey’s superb ‘cross offering, I noticed carbon rims on the Swiss Cross build. This got me to thinking: If bits of metal are problematic, surely hard braking in mud would be like building brake pads from carborundum … right? I presume there is more to this than marketing, as Tom is one of the more thoughtful builders on the planet. Am I missing something obvious here?

By the way, I don’t own carbon rims, as the debate around durability and the hassle factor has simple given me reason to pause and enjoy my old standbys. My question is, therefore, purely theoretical.


A. Dear Matthew,

Thing is, you don’t brake that hard in cyclocross, especially when it’s muddy, as the rider tends to be moving slowly and is bogged down. There’s no comparison to required braking force when descending a steep mountain road with tight switchbacks.

The low weight and mud-shedding ability of deep carbon rims means that they’re here to stay for ’cross, but I really have noticed minimal wear on my carbon wheels in muddy races.


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