Another reason to ride tubular tires

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Forget all the reasons that are apparent to race tubular tires, better ride, better cornering, more supple, etc. One of the main reasons to ride them that is hardly ever mentioned is that they stay on your rim when they go flat. I hate riding fast descents on clincher tires. I always have this thought in the back of my mind that there is a chance that I’m going to flat and if that happens, I would probably fall. I never have that thought on sewups.

Everyday here in La Jolla, I descend a road named Via Capri. It is steep and curvey. With lots of cracks and some potholes. I love it. But, that being said, it is pretty dangerous. Lots of slow cars descending to pass and lots of other car coming out of side streets. I try to have a max speed of just over 50 mph at the bottom. It is hard because there is a sharp left turn that you have to really jam the brakes on to negotiate.

This morning I noticed my rear tire was showing threads. I don’t have another tire, so I put it on my front. Anyway, I was not big at all going that fast, cornering, with bare threads showing. I still got over 50 going down, but it wasn’t an easy 50. I was thinking it would not have been a problem on tubulars. In a perfect world, I’d only train on sewups.

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10 thoughts on “Another reason to ride tubular tires

  1. seis pendejos

    Oh, how I miss the days of training on tubulars too! It was the best when you’d meet up with the Soviet team and they would sell you those big honkin’ Russian tubulars for $3 each to get the hard currency. Of course because of modern clearances the only frame those would fit into these days would be a ‘cross frame. The best part was that the tires were so large that many times when you punctured, the leak would self-seal at about 40 psi, so you could still ride it home. I remember Scooby once saying that he was riding down PCH and got a flat. He chucked the tire over the cliff toward the beach (back in the day when you “tree-ed” your flat sew-ups as a marker for where you had been). Unfortunately, the spare he had folded up under his seat leaked worse than the tire he had just thrown over the edge.

  2. Gary Ziegler

    When I returned to racing 4 years ago I still had my ancient equipment. I got a flat on a group training ride and immediately drew a crowd of riders who had never seen someone change a sew-up (as I still call them)!! Of course it didn’t take long and I hand pumped it up and was off again riding! Ha!!

  3. Scott Dickson

    Ed Burke always had plenty of Ruskie tubulars for sale in Iowa City in the late 1970s. The tough, yellow side-wall tires were not true sew-ups, but rather glue-ups as the casing was glued together which made patching a bit of a challenge.

  4. J

    you have any thoughts on running tubless with stans. i seem to have pretty good luck with that. still have gotten a get flat or 2 but can ride in on them wtih 20lbs or so of pressure.

  5. Ted Lewandowski

    The Russian tires were great – we all used to train on them all the time – I don’t think they were bigger than the standard tournig Vittoria tires at the time 29mm.

    Here is a fasinating video on how tubulars are manufactured by Vittoria – obviously no longer in Italy.

  6. seis pendejos

    Scott, you actually tried to repair them? The closest I ever got to that was to use a can of Fix-A-Flat, which didn’t really help.

  7. Jordan


    Those Dura Ace are Tubeless. I run those with Tubeless tires. What are you thoughts on them?

  8. Scott Dickson

    I was successful in repairing a few Russian tubulars and resealed them with Weldwood contact cement. However most attempts to open the tires resulted in a butchered casing.

  9. beav

    +1 on the tubeless with Stans. I’ve been running them for a couple years with the same DA wheelset you have and think they are great. Not quite the ride of sewups, but close. Short of a deep tire destroying cut, the Stans seals up small holes and when really flatted the beads do not easily unseat plus there is enough strength in the sidewall to ride them flat for a while without trashing the rim. Much more confidence inspiring when flat than regular clinchers.

  10. Rod Lake

    Saturday flying down a long fast decent in the Hill Country I look down to see 49 mph and then it happened–I start thinking about: “hate riding fast descents on clincher tires. I always have this thought in the back of my mind that there is a chance that I’m going to flat and if that happens, I would probably fall. I never have that thought on sewups.”


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