Why I Ride Tubulars

I was asked a question about “venturing into the dark side” and riding tubulars today. As usual, I got silly and convinced myself that what I was writing might be a good manifesto to post here, so…for your toleration, “Why I Ride Tubulars.”

Well, I’ve ridden tubulars for the past 25 years or so, so yes, I’m a fan.

I was sold my first set of tubular wheels by Bob Beck, whose Albany, Georgia bike shop was noted for exceptional bikes and components…so exceptional that he scared away most of his clientele who were simply looking for another gas-pipe contrivance for little Jimmy to propel around the block at Christmas. Bob had TASTE and CLASS. Bob carried Mavic and Campagnolo and LOOK. Bob built wheels. Bob knew John Howard. Bob was AWESOME. (And he could move those 50-year-old legs a sight faster than we 19-year-old layabouts could suspect on the local training race. Bob could HURT you.)

My first set of tubies were Campy Omegas laced to Chorus hubs. Not super light, but superb wheels for a Cat 4 to start strutting around with. Those loose bearings hissed like a cat smeared in lard. Smooooooooth. And they still ARE. They’re a little less shiny, now, but they’re still rolling and still amazing wheels, fit for rolling smoothly on the worst chip-and-seal 1988 Albany had to offer, and probably worse. These WERE and ARE better wheels than my own cycling capability. This has been a consistent theme throughout my life.

From the first, I fell in love. I still recommend bike enthusiasts try a pair, just to have the experience. Why?

1. From a ride standpoint, they’re second-to-none. A nice, expensive tubular has a smooth, supple feel on the road, especially in corners. You never feel “on edge” like you can with narrow clinchers. That ride inspires confidence in corners and on descents. And, you’ll find that you start liking wider and wider tires just because they feel SOOOOO good! Luckily, the old beliefs about narrow being faster are pretty much horseshit, and provably so.

2. Tubulars are expensive, comparatively, in both cost and time. Learning to glue, then wait, then glue, then wait, then glue, stick, then wait again…that’s a bit of a pain when you’ve got a new set of wheels in front of you that you just HAVE TO RIDE. It’s not actually difficult, it’s just a pain. You WILL end up sticking yourself to your garage floor at LEAST once, and until you discover the use of cheap flux brushes for gluing, you’ll be picking glue off yourself for days. Still, you will learn that tubular glue isn’t “glue,” it’s CONTACT CEMENT. Layers and curing are your friend…your sticky, sticky friend.

3. Cheap tubulars can be pretty horrible in comparison to expensive, wide open-clinchers. Cheap tubulars aren’t always sewn straight, so they are sometimes hard to align properly on the wheel, and that’s annoying. Cheap tubulars are sometimes prone to tread separation or base tape separation, which is one more thing you don’t see in expensive brands very often. So long as you stay within some brands and read around a bit, you can figure out what works and what doesn’t…it’s not that difficult, and the penalties aren’t all that great for finding out you don’t like something.

4. Repairing tubulars on the road is pretty much nonexistent. You take a spare and maybe some Tufo tape with you, stick it onto the cured rim, air it up, and go. You’ll get props for carrying a tire in your jersey pocket (which looks pro as hell), but it’s not as convenient as a couple of tubes and some levers. Still, it’s super-pro, and looks count for something, right? Repairing tubulars is something you do with a Velox sewing kit during the long, cold, wet Winter evenings. Your wife knits. The cat sleeps by the fire. You cut, patch, and sew tubulars you flatted last season. Again…SUPER-pro.

5. You’ll be sucked into the lore and mythology of cycling. Yes, you’ll experiment with hanging $200-dollar handmade silk FMBs in the rafters for a couple of years to “age” them. Whatever THAT’S supposed to do. Still, you’ll be connected to the glorious past of cycling greats.

6. If you’re like me, it’ll mean yet ANOTHER set of wheels. And if you have multiple bikes, you’ll end up getting another set for EACH of them, because I’m an idiot.

All that said, you should try them. You should definitely try them. You should try them on a nice, double-walled set of alloy rims with a name like Ambrosio or something-something-“Paris-Roubaix” labeled on them. You should buy the fattest pair of tires that will fit through your fork and stays. You should ride them on a road that is pitted and rocky and awful. You should experience the magic and chuckle knowingly as your friends are scraping along on their 23mm clinchers while their hands go numb.

Ride tubulars.

(But keep some nice clinchers handy, too.)

FOR SALE! Shimano Dura-Ace Wheelsets

Welcome to the next part of my big clear-out, the WHEELS! Up first is a trio of Shimano Dura-Ace wheels:

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(See below for more photos.)

Shimano Dura-Ace 50mm Carbon tubular wheelset (WH-7801 Carbon 50mm)
Weight: approx 1500g
Spokes: 16 front (bladed, radial), 20 rear (bladed, radial drive-side, 2-cross non-drive)
Hubs: Shimano Dura-Ace 7800
Compatibility: definitely 10-speed or less (with spacer). I am unsure about upgrade paths to 11-speed.
Skewers: none
Condition: Very good+. Tires are mounted, and if you can get use out of them, so be it. I’d recommend pulling the tires and remounting them, however, as glue can dry out, and I’d rather you be in charge of your own tubular security. Otherwise, no nicks, scuffs or damage to the rims. I did notice a decal flaked up a tiny bit.
Price: $550 shipped in Continental US.

Shimano Dura-Ace Carbon tubular wheelset (WH-7801 Carbon 24mm)
Weight: approx 1300g
Spokes: 16 front (bladed, radial), 20 rear (bladed, radial drive-side, 2-cross non-drive)
Hubs: Shimano Dura-Ace 7800
Compatibility: definitely 10-speed or less (with spacer). I am unsure about upgrade paths to 11-speed.
Skewers: none
Condition: Very good+. No nicks or damage.Tires are mounted, and if you can get use out of them, so be it. Again, I’d recommend pulling the tires and remounting them, as glue can dry out, and I’d rather you be in charge of your own tubular security.
Price: $350 shipped in Continental US.

Shimano Dura-Ace tubeless clincher wheelset (WH-7850-SL)
Weight: approx 1470g
Spokes: 16 front (radial), 20 rear, radial drive-side, 2-cross non-drive)
Hubs: Shimano Dura-Ace 7850
Compatibility: definitely 10-speed or less (with spacer). I am unsure about upgrade paths to 11-speed.
Skewers: none
Condition: Very good+. No scuffs or scrapes.These are tubeless compatible and are currently rigged tubeless with the Hutchison tires and tubeless stems. I would recommend new tires, though. These may be a little dry. (Note: I love these wheels and am keeping a set for myself. It’s hard to improve on these.)
Price: $250 shipped in Continental US.

These wheels are all VERY low mileage, easily under 500 miles. I purchased them when I began experimenting with wheels back in 2008 or so, and have kept them bagged up in my bike shop for the majority of their lives. To be frank, I needed to lose the weight on my BUTT before I lost weight on my bike.

There are TIRES on these rims, and if you can use them, great, but I’m only shipping them to protect the rims in transit and will NOT be guaranteeing the tires. Some tires age better than others.

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Whoops! Account creation now FIXED

If you’ve read this blog and attempted to create an account, you have undoubtedly received an error of some sort. It is unfortunate that WordPress is under persistent, daily attacks from spam bots and other miscreants, and even more unfortunate that I had locked down the account system a little TOO tightly. This probably gave you all the impression that I didn’t want to hear from you…and you’re RIGHT…I mean WRONG! I would LOVE to hear from you! So, feel free to create an account and comment where you will. I’ll leave the lights on for you.

SOLD, Day 5: 60cm Roark Titanium Custom Road bike

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The crazy savings continue with this bicycle, a 60cm custom Roark Titanium road bike. If you don’t know Roark, they’re an aircraft manufacturing company in Indiana, who happen to perform miracles with titanium. This particular miracle is a custom road race bike that I purchased during my years feeling out custom geometries and marks. It’s polished Ti, which shows fingerprints, but MAN, does it shine! In any other stable, this would be a lifetime bike, but I have to clear some room for my incoming Zanconato steel.

I recently found out about a recall that occurred prior to this bike’s construction. This bike is NOT affected by the recall.

It’s race-ready and a steal at $1600, shipped in the CONUS.
SOLD!

Geometry:
Toptube 60cm
Seattube 59cm C-to-C
Headtube 19.5cm
Stand-over 82.5cm
Stem 120cm

Equipe:
Dura Ace 7800 10-speed gruppo, 175mm 53-39 crank
SRAM cassette
Easton EA90 SL clincher wheels
Thomson cockpit
Ritchey WCS saddle
Ritchey WCS carbon bars (44cm)
Chris King headset
Easton EC90 carbon fork
Pedals are NOT included

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SOLD! Day 4: SRAM Components

Cleaning out the boxes, and this is the first box of parts, a bunch of early-generation SRAM Force and Rival. The Rival is all polished silver, whose demise leaves me sad. The world needs polished silver bits.
Prices do NOT include shipping, but I’ll be super-cheap for those of you in the Continental US.
I WILL combine shipping and consider multiple-item discounts.

2 pair – SRAM Force 10-speed shifters/levers with black hoods – $80/pair
2 pair – SRAM Force rim brakes, polished silver with Swisstop Yellow King pads, good condition, some etching, rust on brake bolt – $40/pair
1 – SRAM Force carbon crankset, 53-39, 175mm – $60
1 – SRAM Force carbon compact crankset, 50-34, 175mm – $60
1 – SRAM cyclocross crankset, polished silver, 46-38, 175mm – $60
1 – SRAM Force carbon crankset, 53-39, 175mm, with FSA aero chainring (54T) – $60
1 – SRAM Force front derailleur, 34.9 clamp, polished silver, NIB – $25
1 – SRAM Force front derailleur, braze-on, polished silver, some spots – $15
1 – SRAM Force 10-speed rear derailleur, short cage, polished silver – $40
1 pair – Avid BB7 road disc brake calipers – $40/pair
1 – SRAM Rival 10-speed rear derailleur, short cage, polished silver – $30
1 pair – SRAM Rival 10-speed shifters/levers with black hoods – $60/pair
1 – SRAM Rival front derailleur, braze-on, polished silver – $15
1 – Truvativ Rouleur carbon crankset with polished rings, 53-39, 175mm – $40

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