By Lennard Zinn
In a recent article you make mention of the fact that you do not use adhesive tapes, like that produced by Tufo, on tubular wheels, preferring instead to use the old system of building up with glue.
I have ridden clinchers for years and just recently, after weeks of research, bought my first set of tubular wheels and tires. I had ridden with many friends that ride tubulars and have always found the excess glue on the wheels and tires to be unsightly. This is not to mention the amount of time that it takes to glue tubulars on. It is obvious that the old way would require two sets of wheels, one to ride while the glue cures on your other set.
I tried Tufo tape and found it to be easy, clean and stuck the tire to the wheel with confidence.
I am not sure why everyone that rides tubulars would not use Tufo tape.
I do use Tufo tape, but I wouldn’t use it on wheels that must be set up to be as fast as possible. The reason is that test results that I have seen indicate that the rolling resistance is higher with the Tufo tape than with rim cement. This is presumably due to energy loss through hysteresis, caused by the tape squirming around.
Given that many of the people using tubulars these days are doing it because they are looking for a weight and performance advantages (and have carbon tubular-only wheels for that reason), it seems that they would be interested in keeping rolling resistance to an absolute minimum.
You are absolutely right in that Tufo tape is a much easier way to mount a tubular than using rim cement.
That said, while gluing tires is difficult, I can promise you that it becomes easier – and cleaner – with practice. It’s important to ensure that you have enough glue to keep the tire on the rim. You obviously do not want to run the risk of rolling a tire on a tight turn, simply because you wanted the end result to be cleaner. With practice, you can avoid having the excess ooze out and stick to the braking surface and tire sidewall, while still putting enough of a base on the rim to keep the tire in place. Yes, it’s time-consuming and for that reason many riders do take the two wheelset approach, opting to train on clinchers and using their properly cured and carefully glued tubulars for racing. These days, that seems like a good approach.
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.