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Technical Q&A with Lennard Zinn – Saddles and tires and tubes, oh my

Robbie's ride Dear Lennard, I saw photos of it during the Tour, but can't tell what the model name of the San Marco saddle pictured on Robbie McEwen's Ridley is. Kito Dear Kito, It’s a Selle San Marco Regal, nice retro-looking saddle due to its big brass rivets around the back edge. Yet it has a nylon base, foam padding and a cover, just like most modern saddles. Lennard What about silk? Dear Lennard, What ever happened to silk (seta) tubulars? Michael Dear Michael,

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By Lennard Zinn

McEwen's Ridley, with a San Marco Regal Saddle.

McEwen’s Ridley, with a San Marco Regal Saddle.

Photo:

Robbie’s ride
Dear Lennard,
I saw photos of it during the Tour, but can’t tell what the model name of the San Marco saddle pictured on Robbie McEwen’s Ridley is.
Kito

Dear Kito,
It’s a Selle San Marco Regal, nice retro-looking saddle due to its big brass rivets around the back edge. Yet it has a nylon base, foam padding and a cover, just like most modern saddles.
Lennard


What about silk?
Dear Lennard,
What ever happened to silk (seta) tubulars?
Michael

Dear Michael,
The price of silk skyrocketed. Silk, of course, is extremely strong in tension while also being lightweight. However, some synthetic fibers are also super strong, thin and light, and synthetics are now used with good results to improve cotton casings. Vittoria, for example, uses a mixture of polyester and cotton strands in its “Polycotton” casing threads on expensive, high-thread-count tubulars.
Lennard


What wheels with tubeless?
Dear Lennard,
As the cyclocross season is sneaking up, I’ve been thinking that those tubeless Hutchinson tires would solve my pinch flat problem, as I prefer to run fairly low pressures (35-40 psi). But they are rated to work only on Shimano’s SR wheelsets, and at 1500 grams, those wheels seem awfully light for cyclocross. Are those wheels strong enough for ‘cross (I weigh 155)? Are they the only option?
Mike

Dear Mike,
Indeed, the Hutchinson tubeless cyclocross tires are designed to work on the scandium Dura-Ace wheels: the WH-7850-SL scandium clincher (1510g/pair).

I had earlier thought that the carbon/aluminum clinchers were also designed to be tubeless compatible, but I had that wrong.

Depending on how you ride and on what courses you ride, those may or may not be strong enough for you. There are definitely some 155-pound riders who could get away with the WH-7850-SLs.

Hutchinson tubeless road and cyclocross tires are also designed to work with 2009 Fulcrum and Campagnolo 2-Way Fit wheels.

You could also try some other, heavier wheels. My experience with road tubeless on non-tubeless rims leads me to be willing to also try the Hutchinson tubeless ‘cross tires on non-tubeless rims with Stan’s sealing tape and a sealant inside like Stan’s or Hutchinson’s or Vittoria’s liquid latex solutions.

And, to answer a number of others of you who’ve asked about running standard cyclocross clinchers tubeless with a latex solution inside, believe me when I tell you not to do it. The only tire that would be safe to run this way would be the Hutchinson tubeless-specific ‘cross tire. Any others will blow off of the rim, because the tire beads are too stretchy and/or too long. Believe me on this one. It’s not worth the risk.

Another way to avoid flats in ‘cross is with a sealant-filled tube as described below, although it will not work against pinch flats, since those are on the tube’s underside, and the sealant is thrown away from there. So don’t run super low pressure with such a setup.
Lennard


Sealant
Dear Lennard,
While I personally love my MTB tubeless setup I’m not ready to drink the kool-aid on the road bike. But I have a fairly decent compromise.

For the last 1000 miles I’ve been running Stan’s tubes on my road bike. Continental sells a tube with a removable valve core and into each tube I squirt in about 1-2oz of Stan’s and close it up. End result is a puncture-resistant tube. I’d done this for years on my MTB before I switched to full tubeless and never had a problem with tube degeneration.

Stan’s tubes plus a nice Kevlar centered tire selection has been very beneficial for me, as I find myself changing my wife’s tubes almost never now (she has a habit of hugging the curb and thus riding in all the crap Austin has to offer). Last weekend I pulled a staple out of my tire, and while I lost a tiny bit of pressure a couple pump strokes had me rolling again.

None of the traction benefits of full tubeless, but cleaner and open to all tires.
Matt
Hammerhead Bikes


Got milk?
Dear Lennard,
All this talk of road tubeless and sealant reminds me of some postings by Jobst Brandt about the hazards of using sealant in road tires when an abrupt and unsealable puncture occurs.

Undoubtedly tubeless on MTBs has been a revelation. Lower pressure begets better traction, more comfort, resistance to sidewall tears, lower rolling resistance and the sealant reduces flatting. Running conventional MTB tires on Stans rims with his bead hook design is fantastic: none of the burping I experienced with Mavic rims despite using even lower pressures. And it’s a sick (but not at all stupid) light racing setup.

But on the road I’m not sure I get it and with Jobst’s words echoing around in my head I don’t think I’ll ever try using a 23mm wide tire with sealant inside at high speed on pavement and possibly my racing buds close at hand (literally).
Fred

Dear Fred,
I’m familiar with the issues in your link, because in the early 1980s I used to pump evaporated milk into tubulars that had slow leaks in them. I had a frame pump I used exclusively for this purpose. When we were all training on tubulars, we did not want to buy or glue on any more tires than we had to. I did have some blowouts with them and can certainly relate to the putrid smell and the spray on the adjacent riders. But being a tubular, it was not an issue to control the bike with the blown tire, despite the milk inside.

I have also had an open tubular clincher blow off of my rim when I set it up tubeless with Stan’s sealant, and I know that was slick as snot; my front rim was slithering back and forth around in the open tire carcass as I fought to control the bike. I did manage to avoid crashing, but I want to avoid that happening again at all costs.

However, I have had a blowout on a front Hutchinson road tubeless tire on a steep descent at high speed, and I found it to be no more of a problem to control than a blowout on any other front clincher. Admittedly, a front blowout at speed always sucks, but the fact that the beads fit so tightly on the rim prevents the tire beads from blowing off of the rim and the rim from slithering around on the slippery latex sealant, at least for a while. By the time I had come to a stop, I remember that the bead was off in one place, but it certainly did not just blow off.
Lennard


Technical writer Lennard Zinn is a frame builder (www.zinncycles.com), a former U.S. national team rider and author of numerous books on bikes and bike maintenance including the pair of successful maintenance guides “Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance” – now available also on DVD, and “Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance,” as well as “Zinn and the Art of Triathlon Bikes” and “Zinn’s Cycling Primer: Maintenance Tips and Skill Building for Cyclists.”

Zinn’s regular column is devoted to addressing readers’ technical questions about bikes, their care and feeding and how we as riders can use them as comfortably and efficiently as possible. Readers can send brief technical questions directly to Zinn.

Zinn’s column appears here each Tuesday.