Sunday, November 15, 2009

Review: What Tubs?

Some thoughts on that pressing question :- what tubs?

The German powerhouse has always been my tub of choice over the years. I've tried Competitions, Sprinters, Sprinter Gatorskins, Giros and Podiums. My conclusion is that one tire combines the criteria of value for money, rolling resistance, durability, weight and grip- the Sprinter. I'd agree that Competitions are a better choice if value for money / durability aren't such an issue but at pushing 50 pounds a pop it's a hard pill to swallow if you puncture. I found the Gatorskins to add a little grip in the wet at the cost of rolling resitance and weight but most bizarrely I puntured them very quickly. Giros seem to defeat the object of tubs- performance, and Podiums are a bit sketchy as a 19mm tire but seem to be surprisingly durable. GP4000s are an option I haven't tried but all in, the Sprinter seems to suit my needs and I can handle the 25 pound replacement cost once they go. The other thing I like about Continental tubs is that I can add some stans to the tubes to add extra thorn protection / small cuts, but Stans won't cover you against a ripped valve stem.

One of the reasons I posted this was I recently had my Continental loyalty tested when my brand new second hand Corima deep sections came fitted with a pair of Corsa Evo CX. And to say I was impressed by the ride is an understatement. It's difficult to be completely objective as the wheels were a variable but they certainly roll nice and the dual compound / tread seems a good idea. Where these tires fall down is in their use of latex tubes which means 2 things. 1./ You can't put Stans inside and 2./ they loose nigh on 20psi per day which means less sleep in the morning as I have to get the track pump out. I guess the pro's don't have to worry about such things. The only other Vittoria I've tried is the Rally, which is terrible beyond belief. They're also doing a version of the Rubino Pro which sounds interesting and competes with the Sprinter on price point.

Everything I read about Tufo (like riding in melted tarmac) puts me off them but they are useful for one thing- spare tubs. Because of the way they are made, Tufos fold up very small- almost the size of a clincher tube. Combined with a CO2 this'll fit neatly in your rear pocket. Yet another reason not to use those pesky clinchers.

One last word, my recommended reading for tubs in general if you don't know too much / are debating the glue / tape issue (I'm a recent reconvert back to glue) is the following Now, I'm off to add another layer of glue. In Rapha world, how romantic?!?


  1. Great article in the link. I have frequently been tempted to go the way of the tubular but have always been put off by the inability to repair on the road. Sure, you can stick on a spare tubular, inflate it and be on your way but I sure as hell won't be descending at speed on an unglued tub which means a compromise for the remainde of your ride. If you puncture 10 miles into a 140 mile loop that could be a very long ride... Am I wrong?

    Also, I appreciate what Mr Moulton says about manufacturer's reasons for pushing the clincher but even if the tub does ride better than good clinchers, is the difference enough that it will really make much of a difference?

    And I have to say, pros ride them not only because they ride better but because if they get a flat someone gives them a new wheel.

  2. Vittoria have the romance but I don't think you can beat Continental for all round grip, feel and puncture resistance. I've been using Competitions and recently put a Sprinter on the rear following a puncture (my first in more than a year and a half), it's been fine and I also like the 'pre glue' concept. You'd still want to glue them on once you're home but they certainly would not stop me doing a fast descent on the day.

    I have a mix of glue and tape. My only conclusion so far is that the Tufo extreme tape is too much... it takes a massive amount of effort to get the tub off and so not really a roadside repair option.

    I have a couple of questions:
    What's the best brand of glue to use?
    What pressure do you inflate your tubs for rain / dry / racing?

  3. Pete- if you haven't tried tubs I'd warn it's a dangerous game- easy to get addicted. A bit like smoking crack, once you start it's hard to go back to malboro, even if they are reds. regarding performance, if I had to choose between a 32 spoke handbuilt tubular wheel and a carbon clincher I'd take the former. The statistics would probably tell you that the carbon clincher is faster in the aero tests but it'll still have that harsh wooden ride that all clinchers have. This is perhaps related to Matt's question in that I like my tubs at 120psi (...) - down to 100 in the wet, which feels like you're riding a wagon wheel with clinchers.

    On the puncture / spare issue, another reason I like Conti's is that they're quite snug on the rim so I trust them as spares and I've never rolled one (unglued Vittoria Rally is my one rolling experience). The Tufo got me home OK the only time I've had to use it. I would also rate my chances of puncturing a 'stanned' tubbie at about 95% less likely than my clincher wheels (good for turbo trainer and spare spare).

    Matt- on the 'what glue' issue, I'm really not qualified to comment since I used tape for so long but yeah it's a good question. Tubasti doesn't smell as much as Continental and seems more like PVA than UHU, I know that much.

    By the way, there's an excellent quote on :- "I'm not the most romantic person, but I don't find elusive and complicated things seductive, and I especially don't believe that "the tubular tyre has an unquestionable romance" (as Guy Andrews claims in the second installment of his "epic" Rouleur sew-up report). I certainly understand that tubular tires have their benefits, and I'm even interested in reading about how they're made. But as soon as the prose starts sounding like it was composed on laudanum I can no longer remain engaged. In this sense, the tubular tire is sort of the burrito of the cycling world, since people seem compelled to rhapsodize about both, even though essentially they're just stuff wrapped in a skin with varying degrees of quality."

  4. This site gives an interesting perspective on rolling restistance. The best tires are now.... tubulars! Vittorias actually, which tend to place better than Contis, but perhaps they are less grippy in corners?


    What's the latest on using sealant in latex tubes? I thought it was ok to use?

  5. Hmmm so it also seems like latex tubes help rolling resitence looking at these tests, which confirms my thoughts. As for stans in tubs, confirms my suspisions re. stans being a no-goes in latex. However, apparently Vittoria Pitstop will work with latex tubes as it is foam based. Maybe I shall try some in my Corsa Evo's and see if it helps them hold pressure.