Gluing Tubulars

Today at work I got an unexpected treat, a chance to glue tubulars onto some old Araya rims built on Suntour Superbe Pro hubs for an old Schwinn Prelude. I used to ride tubulars and as the silly season that is the week before ragbrai here in Iowa is upon us and as such it is a busy shop I got the call up to do the gluing. Geoff asked if I had ever glued tubulars. I said yes, my own. He asked if I was good at it. I said it had been years as my performance needs no longer justified the hassles but that I had never rolled one I had glued. I got the job. It was a treat to get sticky fingers again!

Gluing the tires brought back a flood of memories. I remembered how much I loved cornering at Snake Alley on my first set of tubulars back in 1991 or so. I remembered going to pick them up at the UPS depot, my first race wheels with Mavic GL330 rims and Ultegra hubs. Vittoria’s for sure! I remembered blowing one that was redlined at 160 psi at a crit in Madison, that was quite a POW! I remembered Rod Woton actually going to the trouble of finding where a puncture had occurred in a tubular and cutting into it to patch the tube and then sewing the whole thing back up with dental floss. I remembered my last set of tubulars which were Spinergys and how great they were and how I finally got scared to death of them after chattering through one too many corners at 30+ mph and wondering if the guy on the inside was going to drift out and lose his foot into my wheel just before I lost my teeth into the pavement. Them are the wheels I am riding in that picture at the top of the page with Ira in the helmet with the beer. Some of you may remember this incident as well.

Such was my fear that I up and sold that wheelset for $50 and now wish I had it back just for the occasional cross race. Some of the local cross big-wigs got really into tubulars last year and I can’t remember how many they rolled at super low pressure but it was more than 2… Now that I have had another good huff on the tubular glue of history I wonder if maybe I should get myself another set? I need to build some wheels, maybe this would be good practice!


7 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Ari said,

    Some of those Spinergys broke at the edge where the little rivets are at. I remember reading about a rider in wisconsin that had a front wheel fail and he did a fatal faceplant. I think the modern tubular tire like the Tufo is really good. You can even fix punctures with the special liguid that you can buy.

  2. 2

    Brian said,

    Good post Steve; I love the old racing memories. I have never had any tubulars, but I often dream of getting a nice light set and running some Vittoria Paves on them (in a 27, just like the guys at Paris Roubaix). I figure this would make the perfect wheelset for fast group rides, shitty chip seal, and light gravel exploration. And if I ever get them, now I know who to call for gluing assistance.

  3. 3

    d.p. said,

    I used to buy blown tubies from Michael’s for $10 and repair them as a junior (in the mid 70’s). I always figured that’s why racer shaved their legs, cuz’n the tubasti knots in leg hair sucked. Alex Lipisch almost had me convinced I need to build some up last week, almost.

  4. 4

    bikeiowa said,

    d.p. you gotta be careful around Alex, he can hypnotize ya! I think I gave him all my spare tubulars when I gave up the habit and he was very happy. I always miss you when you are in town…

    Brian, I can not claim that I did a great job on that poor guys wheels, the valve stems were a bit crooked and I struggled to get them tires on yes I did but I think I can figure it out again and especially if I get some practice.

    And Ari, good riddance to the Spinergy’s and I will check out the tufo’s if the time ever comes.

  5. 5

    ira ryan said,

    i happen to know that there are some tubie rims at the bike library for dirt cheap……good wheel building practice for sure. the tufos are super popular for cross out here along with the challenge cross tubs. already miss coffee and bike talk in iowa city. good luck with silly ragby prep.


  6. 6

    andrew said,

    hey there!

    I actually had been looking for your pic there with your broken spinergy wheel! I had been researching more about this wheel and am running it on the front of my fixed gear bicycle. I have posts on my blog about the differences in hubs, the weakness of rivets and improper mountings and would love to have your experience hosted on my blog. It sounds like you road the rims quite a bit and liked them a lot, please share any feed back with me! i know they are quite old now, but there is quite a bit of buzz over them on fixed gear bikes.

    thanks and btw, the pic you had there had been removed from – where it was originally posted.

    nice to know u had it!

  7. 7

    bikeiowa said,

    Wow, an old post resurfaces. I remember that pic being on velonews, it was taken by
    Rick Paulos and is still hosted on his photo page that I can never remember how to get to but will point to it with some gumption.

    As for the fixie buzz, well…

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