Tubular Tyres. A Beginner's Report.


Old School Grand Master
Right. I have completed my first six months using tubular tyres. Whoopee Do I hear some of the more seasoned riders out there shout. However, one or two of you have asked me for a report and one or two others may benefit as well so, here we go with what is going to be a bit of a dull monologue as my camera has broken!

The Choice. This was sort of made for me. I had to build a bike with bits I had to hand. I had ended up with some tubular wheels so I went with them. Perhaps not the wisest choice for a winter bike?

The Tyres. Cheap! That was my criteria. If the experiment didn’t work then I hadn’t wasted too much money. If it was a success, better tyres could be next. I went for Continental Giros. I have since heard that these can be sods to get on. Indeed, I had to resort to using toe straps to help get them on the Mavic GP4 rims.

Preparing the Rims. This was pretty awful. The old glue stuck to the rims like, well, glue. I tried acetone. This worked but would prove expensive. Also the girl in the chemist thought I was making a bomb. GT85 didn’t touch it although it worked on some much older glue on some vintage rims I have. In the end I used paint stripper. It should be noted I think it has gone off. It is very watery with an occasional lump in it. I tested a small area and it didn’t seem to harm the surface so I went for it. It still took two coats and scrubbing with a kitchen scourer and a good hour of my life that I won’t see again! CHECK AN AREA BEFORE YOU TRY! I then washed the rims in the bath with lots of soapy water.

Preparing the Tyres. I only had time to pre-stretch the tyres for a week. I fitted them to the cleaned wheels with the aid of a couple of toe straps as mentioned above. Once centred, I inflated to more or less running pressure and left them to it in the garage for a week.

Fitting the Tyres. This being my first attempt at it I asked the RetroBike Massive and looked at YouTube. Being a traditional sort of chap I decided on glue. I struggle with packing tape with the damn stuff sticking to itself, surrounding junk and the cats. The thought of trying to soak rim tape off the fur of an elderly and very angry feline swung me towards glue. Looking at YouTube and seeing some procedures that took weeks, I went for this method: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2y5lgeWBCA
Basically, you apply glue to the tyre and, whilst that is soaking in, you apply one thin layer to the rim. Then, a thicker layer is applied to the rim and the now touch dry tyre is fitted to the rim. Watch the two parts. He does a tyre in real time. You then need to centre the tyre. Now roll the wheel with a lot of weight behind it, (easy for me) to remove any high spots and then leave it to set properly. I found that breathing in the vapours (not on purpose!) gave me the squits!

First Ride and First Impressions. It felt a bit weird to carry on with the track pump once three figures were reached on the gauge. A rock hard narrow tyre profile was the result. As it was a new build, I couldn’t really compare it to previous rides. Also with wind chill at -5 and snow on the ground, it was hardly a fair test. A few rides in and I couldn’t say it was less comfortable because of the pressure. Ride quality felt to me like a better standard of clincher. I have always gone for the cheapest tyre so when I tried some Rubino Pros, (still not that expensive) I really noticed a change for the better. The cheap tubs are at least as good as them if not better. The roads here are in a shocking state. I hit holes that I know would have killed a clincher/tube set up. The tubular tyres stood up the Council’s slovenly repairs. I found that I had to apply thread lock to everything. The bottle cages kept coming loose.

Puncture! A flint punctured the rear. I used a tin of Pit Stop and, whilst I ended up wearing a quantity of it (see separate report), it sealed the hole and inflated the tyre enough to get me home. I managed to inflate the tyre at home and it seemed to hold OK. I managed another few hundred Kms without issue. Result!

The Tyre is Dead. Long live the Tyre! Last weekend the rear died. I know I should have changed it but I hadn’t. I hit a Staffordshire pothole and the tyre instantly deflated. It only did this because of the previous puncture I think. The front fit hard as well and was fine. The tyre went down very rapidly and of course stayed on the rim. I was doing at least 20mph and there was no drama at all. Having no spare (D’oh!) and the wife being busy, I had to ride/walk the final 2 miles. I found that as long as I stayed below 10mph, I could ride the bike as normal. I tried to keep my weight forward out of the saddle and I managed to get home on the flat.

I’m going to order some slightly better quality tyres next and see what the hype is all about.


MacRetro Rider
98+ BoTM Winner
Good write up. Am about to take the plunge myself, having looked at Giro's I settled on Vittoria Rallyes. Hopefully they'll have removable cores as I'd like to add a slug of stans fluid to save any long walks home.
Don't know how much I'll use them but the wheels were only only £80 on top of the bike and worth it just for looks alone.


rBotM Winner
PoTM Winner
Veloflex Extremes will be good for getting positive response from the road whilst being reasonably robust.

If silks go for Dugasts Strada's or FMB CX's for a what a tub should be :)


Old School Grand Master
Hi Mark,

Great post. I am on my way to getting a set built. I will try tub tape initially as i suspect i am even messier than you!!! I might try the glue in the future. I have 2 pairs of tyres - old Allessandros (i tink is the make) and new Vitttoria Rallys (Decahelon £13.99 each) - i will use the new tyres first as i can replace them and keep the older ones for my next venture.

Was there any reason you didn't have a spare with you when you punctured? Or was it cost related?

I had an old set of rims which i cleaned using petrol to get the old glue off - it was fairly hassle free - apart from fumes. I had tried acetone and it did not work very well (at all). Once cleaned with petrol the rims need washed to remove any chemicals which are present in the petrol.

Have a great weekend, i am sick and the sun is out (bloody typical!!!)



Retrobike Rider
Gold Trader
PoTM Winner
GT Fan
danson67":3thjdme1 said:
Vittoria Rallyes. Hopefully they'll have removable cores
Sadly not :x
Safe with fancy Vittorias, Contis, Schwalbe or Tufo, though. Not sure about others.

All the best,

i fixed a vittoria rally with some latex using a seringe , not issue at all .


Old School Grand Master
FWIW you don't actually need to keep going on the pump, one you get to your usual clincher pressure, just stop. 100-110psi is fine.

The silly triple digit pressures only really give you a benefit on mirror smooth tarmac or the velodrome. (Some track only tubs are rated to the thick end of 200psi!)